Results tagged ‘ Vine Line ’

Hot Off the Presses: August Vine Line featuring Anthony Rizzo

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Last month, the Cubs kicked off the annual trade deadline frenzy with some big Fourth of July fireworks, sending starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Oakland Athletics for infielder Addison Russell, outfielder Billy McKinney, right-handed pitcher Dan Straily and a player to be named later.

In some ways, the trade was difficult for Cubs fans to stomach, as they lost two of the top pitchers from a team that was suddenly looking, dare I say, formidable. But it might also be the move that finally puts the team over the hump and on the path to sustained excellence at the big league level.

In exchange for a right-hander who was only under contract through 2014 (Hammel) and another under contract through 2015 and seemingly eager to test the free agent waters (Samardzija), the Cubs received the A’s top two prospects, including one of the best in the game, and an arm that could see time in the big league rotation this season.

No one likes trading proven talent, especially a longtime Cub like Samardzija. President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein made it clear several times in his press conference following the blockbuster deal how hard it was to part ways with the Shark.

“Nothing would make us happier than being in the position Oakland is in, which is to aggressively add to the big league team and enhance the team’s chances of making the postseason and winning the World Series,” Epstein said. “Being sellers is not what we want to do, so if we’re going to do it, we need to make it count. And we need to get a player back who significantly impacts the organization, helps change the landscape, helps make our future a heck of a lot better.”

In the past, Epstein has said there are two great currencies in baseball: deep reserves of young talent and massive amounts of payroll flexibility. The Cubs now have both.

Admittedly, most of this talent is still percolating in the minor leagues, but it’s coming fast. A year ago, it was the Big Three: Albert Almora, Javier Baez and Jorge Soler. This year—thanks to strong trades, draft picks and development—the Cubs have a Magnificent Seven of gifted hitters, with Arismendy Alcantara, Kris Bryant, Russell and Kyle Schwarber added to that mix.

Since the end of the steroid era, the big league pendulum has swung back toward pitching dominance, and hitting is becoming a rarer commodity. In other words, the Cubs are stockpiling the most precious resource in baseball—and they’ve got more of it than almost anyone else. With this trade, the organization now owns the No. 2 (Bryant), No. 5 (Russell) and No. 7 (Baez) prospects in the game, as ranked in the Baseball America midseason top 50.

Let me repeat that—the Cubs now have three of the top seven prospects in the game—and Baez is making his big league debut tonight in Colorado. Of course, prospects have a nasty habit of not always panning out as expected. But it’s important to remember all of these minor leaguers are essentially funneling into eight everyday major league spots. Two of those spots are already filled by 2014 All-Stars Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo, while Alcantara and Baez are auditioning for two more.

This month, we look at cornerstone major leaguer Rizzo, who is having a terrific season on both sides of the ball and has taken a huge developmental step forward this year. We also say goodbye to Don Zimmer, a man who left an indelible mark on Cubs—and baseball—history over his 66 years in the dugout. Finally, we move off the diamond to the gridiron to remember what the Chicago Bears accomplished in their 50 years at the Friendly Confines, including Wrigley Field’s most recent championship in 1963.

To keep track of Cubs history—including history in the making—subscribe to Vine Line today and follow us on Twitter at @cubsvineline. With the way things are coming together for the team, the next championship season may not be far off.

—Gary Cohen

Now Playing: Keeping Score with Lennie Merullo, the oldest living Cub

Despite hailing from the Boston area, Lennie Merullo is a Cub through and through. The spry, 97-year-old former shortstop is the last surviving link to the team’s most recent World Series appearance in 1945 and is the oldest living Cub. After his seven-year playing career ended, Merullo remained with the organization for decades as a scout and said he truly bleeds Cubbie blue. He still watches every game, and his house is filled with memorabilia from his years on the North Side.

Vine Line caught up with Merullo when was honored at the park in early June. To read the complete interview, pick up the August issue.

1000 Words: Javy Time

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

Cubs’ 2011 first-round draft pick Javier Baez is slated to make his major league debut Tuesday, as the Cubs kick off a three-game set in Colorado. After a slow start in Triple-A Iowa, MLB.com’s No. 5 prospect was hitting .260/.323/.510 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 23 home runs and 80 RBI at the time of the recall. Twelve of his home runs have come in the last 32 games.

Cubs Minor League Recap: 8/3/14

Tennessee and Boise pitchers got the job done Sunday, while Kane County returned to its winning ways. Iowa was the only team in the loss column. Daytona and Mesa were rained out. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Iowa Cubs (61-56)
2nd Place (-0.5)

Iowa fell out of first place with a 7-5 loss at Omaha.

  • SS Javier Baez (.260) posted his first multihomer game of the season, going 2-for-3 with two walks and two solo home runs. After hitting a combined 11 homers in 72 games in April, May and June, Baez has 12 blasts in 32 games in July and August.
  • DH Josh Vitters (.212) went 3-for-4 with his 13th double of the campaign.
  • RHPs Arodys Vizcaino (7.62) and Armando Rivero (0.92) combined to toss three scoreless innings.

Tennessee Smokies (22-22)
2nd Place (-0.5)

Tennessee held on for a 4-1 victory over visiting Pensacola despite recording just four hits.

  • SS Addison Russell (.293) went 1-for-3 with an eighth-inning, two-run homer.
  • LF Lars Anderson (.351) went 1-for-3 with a double (4) and two RBI (5).
  • LHP Andrew McKirahan (2.65) allowed one hit in two scoreless innings of relief.
  • RHP Pierce Johnson tossed his third-straight quality start, giving up two hits and no earned runs over six innings. He’s holding right-handed hitters to a .181 batting average (26-for-144) this season.

Kane County Cougars (25-17)
1st Place (+4.0)

Kane County won its third-straight game, beating visiting Quad Cities, 9-5.

  • C Cael Brockmeyer (.305) went 3-for-5 with a sixth-inning, solo blast.
  • SS Dan Lockhart (.276) and 2B Chesny Young (.375) each recorded three hits apiece.
  • RF Jeffry Baez (.258) went 2-for-3 with two runs, a double (14), a triple (1) and two RBI (3).
  • CF Trey Martin (.253) went 1-for-4 with two RBI (28).

Boise Hawks (6-7)
4th Place (-3.0)

Boise limited visiting Vancouver to six hits in a 3-2 victory.

  • RHP Trevor Clifton picked up the win, giving up just one hit over five innings and striking out six.
  • 2B David Bote (.328) went 2-for-4 with a third-inning, solo homer.
  • CF Rashad Crawford (.276) went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and his 12th stolen base of the year.
  • RHP Brad Markey (2.84) struck out four hitters in two scoreless innings of relief to earn his second save of the season.

Cubs Minor League Recap: 7/31/14

Individuals came up big, but it was a rough day for Cubs minor league teams Thursday, with only Iowa grabbing a win. Tennessee, Daytona, Kane County and Boise all lost, while Mesa had a scheduled day off. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league Cubs action:

Iowa Cubs (60-54)
1st Place (+1.5)

Iowa topped host New Orleans for their third-straight win following a six-game losing streak. RHP Dan Straily spun six scoreless innings as the I-Cubs shut out the Zephyrs, 4-0.

  • Straily struck out five and walked one, giving up just four hits to pick up the win.
  • 2B Javier Baez (.259) hit his second homer in as many games as part of a three-hit effort. He scored once and drove in two. His 78 RBI rank second in the PCL, two behind Fresno’s Adam Duvall.
  • 1B Mike Olt (.351) recorded his fourth two-hit game in his last five contests, and hit his first Iowa homer. Olt also added his first stolen base of 2014 at any level.
  • 3B Kris Bryant (.310) launched his 13th homer with Iowa, and 35th of the season, ranking second in the minor leagues (behind Joey Gallo’s 37).

Tennessee Smokies (20-21)
2nd Place (-2.5)

The Smokies opened a five-game home series with Pensacola with a 6-4 loss, their third-straight setback.

  • Six Daytona hitters recorded one hit each.
  • 1B Dustin Geiger (.225) hit his 23rd double, the Cubs lone extra-base hit, and knocked in two runs (42).
  • RHP Matt Loosen (5.57), LHP Andrew McKirahan (3.00) and RHP P.J. Francescon (4.03) combined for five innings of relief, allowing one run on one hit.

Daytona Cubs (25-14)
1st Place (+4.5)

The Daytona Cubs were shut out at home by Bradenton, 8-0, managing just four singles.

  • RHP Tayler Scott gave up one earned run over five innings, striking out four.
  • C Wilson Contreras (.241) walked four times. It was his first multiwalk game since August 31 of last year with Kane County.
  • In the second inning, Daytona committed two fielding errors and uncorked one wild pitch, allowing five unearned runs.
  • The Cubs were 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position, stranding 14 runners.

Kane County Cougars (22-17)
T-2nd Place

Kane County allowed four runs in the bottom of the eighth to fall, 7-3, at Wisconsin. It was their sixth-straight loss.

  • RF Jeffrey Baez (.167) recorded two doubles (3) and scored once. It marked his first game with multiple doubles since Aug. 14 of last year with Mesa.
  • C Cael Brockmeyer (.299) added a double of his own, knocking in his 30th RBI and first since July 20 at Great Lakes.
  • RHP Zak Hermans (2-3, 3.94) allowed four runs, three earned, in the eighth inning to suffer his third loss of the year.

Boise Hawks (4-6)
4th Place (-3.0)

Boise plated the first run of the game in the bottom of the first, but ultimately fell 2-1 to visiting Vancouver.

  • 1B Danny Canela (.307, 12 2B) and 2B David Bote (.327, 5 2B) each finished 2-for-4 with a double. Bote knocked in the lone Boise run (7).
  • RHP Ryan Williams (1.50) provided four frames of scoreless relief, striking out two. He was followed by RHPs Daniel Lewis (0.00) and James Farris (0.00), who each threw an additional scoreless inning.

Cubs acquire C Caratini from Braves for LHP Russell, IF/OF Bonifacio

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Reliever James Russell has been sent to Atlanta in a deadline deal. (Photo by Stephen Green)

The Cubs acquired catching prospect Victor Caratini from the Braves for infielder/outfielder Emilio Bonifacio, left-handed pitcher James Russell and a cash consideration Thursday.

The 20-year-old Caratini, a second-round selection in the 2013 draft (65th overall) entered this season ranked by Baseball America as the eighth-best prospect in the Atlanta farm system. Baseball America named Caratini the best pure hitter in Atlanta’s 2013 draft class as well as its best power hitter.

In 2013, Caratini was named rookie-level Danville’s Player of the Year after hitting .290/.415/.430 (58-for-200) with 23 doubles, one homer and 25 RBI. He drew 19 walks versus 17 strikeouts, earning the organization’s Player of the Month honor for August.

Caratini has spent all of 2014 with Single-A Rome, where he was named a South Atlantic League midseason All-Star. He hit .279 (90-for-323) with 18 doubles, four triples, five home runs and 42 RBI in 87 games this season. According to GM Jed Hoyer, Caratini will report to the Cubs Single-A Kane County affiliate.

The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder is a native of Puerto Rico and attended Miami Dade Community College.

Russell, 28, was originally selected by the Cubs in the 14th round of the 2007 draft. He departs after going 10-16 with three saves and a 3.87 ERA (117 ER/272.0 IP) in 316 big league appearances, all but five in relief, since the start of the 2010 season. The lefty was 0-2 with one save and a 3.51 ERA (13 ER/33.1 IP) in 44 relief outings this season.

Bonifacio, 29, batted .279 (77-for-276) with 14 doubles, three triples, two home runs and 18 RBI in 69 games with the Cubs this year. He signed a minor league contract with the Cubs in February after being designated for assignment by the Kansas City Royals on February 2.

Cubs Minor League Recap: 7/30/14

Iowa claimed a doubleheader sweep, and Boise shut out Vancouver Wednesday. However, Tennessee, Daytona, Kane County and Mesa all lost their matchups. Here are the highlights from yesterday’s minor league action.

Iowa Cubs (59-54)
1st Place (+0.5)

GAME 1: Iowa took the first game of the doubleheader at New Orleans, backing a seven-inning, complete-game shutout from LHP Eric Jokisch to win 9-0.

  • Jokisch recorded his 12th quality start of the season and his second career shutout.
  • 1B Mike Olt (.345) recorded his third-straight two-hit game, ripping his fourth double and knocking in his fourth run.
  • 2B Javier Baez (.254) launched a three-run homer in the fourth for his team-leading 20th blast of the year.
  • RF Jorge Soler (.316) belted a two-run shot to knock in his third and fourth runs since joining Iowa.

GAME 2: Iowa completed the doubleheader sweep with a 2-1 win at New Orleans, despite being outhit, 6-5.

  • RHP Yoanner Negrin fanned five over five innings, giving up one earned run.
  • 3B Kris Bryant (.312) singled in both games of the doubleheader, swiping his fifth bag in Game 2.
  • RF Jorge Soler (.316) added a double (2) and a walk in three plate appearances. He has hit safely in five of his six starts for the I-Cubs (.353/6-for-17).
  • RHP Kyuji Fujikawa (1.80) continued his rehab assignment and earned a hold with a scoreless sixth.
  • RHP Armando Rivero (1.02) recorded his first save, finishing the seventh.

Tennessee Smokies (20-20)
2nd Place (-1.5)

Tennessee scored first, but could not hold the lead at Birmingham, as the Barons prevailed, 7-3.

  • CF Albert Almora (.226) launched his first home run in seven games with the Smokies, and his eighth on the year, as part of a two-hit effort. His 2-for-4 line gives him six hits in his last three games.
  • DH Charles Cutler (.319) hit a two-run homer in the ninth. All five of his homers have come with runners on base.
  • 2B Stephen Bruno (.281) finished 2-for-4 with his team-leading 23rd double.
  • 1B Lars Anderson (.409) and SS Addison Russell (.313) each singled twice. Anderson is 9-for-22 with seven walks in seven games with Tennessee, good for a .533 OBP.

Daytona Cubs (25-13)
1st Place (+4.5)

Daytona pitching allowed five runs in the eighth inning to fall to visiting Bradenton, 9-7.

  • CF Jacob Hannemann (.370) hit his first home run in seven games with Daytona, and his seventh on the year. He finished 3-for-5 with two runs and his third RBI.
  • SS Marco Hernandez (.298) followed Hannemann with a 3-for-4 game, scoring twice, knocking in one (44) and drawing a walk.
  • RF Billy McKinney (.301) knocked in two runs. He now has 22 RBI in just 24 games with Daytona, and 55 on the year between Stockton and the Cubs.
  • RHP Michael Jensen (3.06) recorded his second hold, allowing three runs while retiring just one Marauder to begin the eighth.
  • RHP Zack Godley (3-2, 4.40) suffered the blown save (2) and his second loss, allowing two runs in 1.2 innings.

Kane County Cougars (22-16)
T-1st Place (–)

Kane County’s losing streak grew to a season-long five games as they were shut out in Wisconsin, 2-0.

  • RHP Jen-Ho Tseng gave up one earned run over seven innings, striking out three and walking none. He’s allowed more than two runs just three times in 15 games (14 starts).
  • 2B Chesny Young (.333) recorded the Cougars’ lone multihit effort, singling twice. He has six hits in five games since being promoted to Kane County.
  • RF Jeffrey Baez (.100) doubled for his first extra-base hit in 10 games as a Cougar.

Boise Hawks (4-5)
T-3rd Place (-3.0)

Boise came back from a 7-0 deficit to beat Vancouver at home, 8-7, on a walk-off error from Canadians 2B Tim Locastro.

  • 3B Jesse Hodges (.260) finished 3-for-5 with a double (5) and scored the game-winning run on Locastro’s error. Hodges has recorded four three-hit games this month.
  • C Mark Malave (.284, 3 2B), SS Bryant Flete (.296, 1 2B) and RF Charcer Burks (.367, 3 2B) all doubled in the game.
  • Boise was 6-for-17 with runners in scoring position, a .353 mark.
  • RHP Trey Lang (1-0, 1.59) tossed two perfect innings of relief and struck out five to earn his first career win.

Mesa Cubs (1-3)
T-3rd Place (-3.0)

After falling to the AZL Angels at home on Tuesday, Mesa dropped an away contest at the Angels, 5-4.

  • DH Alberto Mineo (.287) and 2B Andrew Ely (.366) both recorded triples. Mineo knocked in two (17), finishing 2-for-4.
  • Mesa stole four bases—one each from CF Kevonte Mitchell (.306, 7 SB) and 3B Varonex Cuevas (.323, 1 SB), and two from SS Gleyber Torres (.280, 5 SB).

Cubs acquire LHP Felix Doubront from Red Sox

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(Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

The Cubs acquired left-handed pitcher Felix Doubront from the Red Sox Wednesday in exchange for a player to be named later.

The 26-year-old southpaw is 26-22 in his major league career with a 4.82 ERA in 98 appearances, including 69 starts over five years. Doubront made at least 27 starts and won 11 games in each of the last two seasons. After beginning the 2014 season as a starter, the left-hander has shifted to the bullpen.

He was the Red Sox’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2010, the same season he made his big league debut at age 22. He originally signed with Boston as a non-drafted free agent in 2004.

Cubs Minor League Recap: 7/29/14

Daytona captured a win on a walk-off blast, and Boise racked up 20 hits en route to a victory Tuesday. Here are some highlights from yesterday minor league action:

Iowa Cubs (57-54)
T-1st Place (–)

Iowa fell to New Orleans, 2-1, as the Zephyrs scored runs in the ninth and 10th innings to record the win. The I-Cubs dropped their sixth-straight game.

  • RHP Dae-Eun Rhee tossed six scoreless frames, fanning five in the no-decision.
  • 3B Kris Bryant (.309) was 2-for-4 with a solo homer, RBI, walk and run scored. He had hit .194 (7-for-36) in his previous 11 contests.
  • 1B Mike Olt (.320) was 2-for-4 with a walk, and has three multihit efforts in his first seven games with the I-Cubs.
  • RHP Marcos Mateo (3.49) threw two shutout innings in relief of Rhee.
  • LHP Zac Rosscup (2.66) suffered a blown save and allowed a run in the ninth on four walks.

Tennessee Smokies (20-19)
2nd Place (-0.5)

Tennessee tied the game at 2-2 with a run in the top of the ninth before Birmingham won, 3-2, in the bottom of the frame.

  • RHP Pierce Johnson fanned eight over six innings, surrendering two earned runs in the no-decision.
  • RF Jae-Hoon Ha (.226) was 2-for-5 with a double, an RBI and a run scored. His ninth-inning infield single plated PR Pin-Chieh Chen to tie the game at 2-2.
  • LF Lars Anderson (.389) drew three walks, going 0-for-1.
  • LHP Jeff Lorick (4.35) spun 1.2 shutout innings in relief of Johnson.
  • RHP P.J. Francescon (4.11) retired the final batter in the eighth, but allowed the game-winning run in the ninth.

Daytona Cubs (25-12)
1st Place (+4.5)

Daytona won its seventh-straight game as C Kyle Schwarber hit a walk-off, two-run homer in the 10th to give the Cubs a 6-4 win.

  • Including the walk-off homer, Schwarber (.265) finished 2-for-4 with a double, two RBI and two runs scored.
  • 3B Wes Darvill (.285) was 2-for-4 with a double, run and an RBI. He has five RBI in his last four games.
  • 2B Gioskar Amaya (.294) had three hits on the night and has hit safely in 11 straight games. He is hitting .419 (18-for-43) during the run.
  • RHP Yao-Lin Wang (5.54) tossed 2.1 shutout frames in relief of LHP Rob Zastryzny, while RHP Stephen Perakslis (4.73) earned the win with two scoreless innings to close out the game.

Kane County Cougars (22-15)
1st Place (+1.0)

Kane County dropped its fourth-straight game, losing the series opener in Wisconsin, 3-2.

  • 1B Jacob Rogers (.269) paced the Cougars with solo home runs in the sixth and eighth innings. He finished 2-for-3 with two runs, the two homers, two RBI and a walk. He has nine RBI in his last 10 games.
  • The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for RHP Duane Underwood (5 IP, 2 ER, 6 K). He still has allowed two or fewer earned runs in each of his last six starts dating to June 28 (1.91 ERA).

Boise Hawks (3-5)
4th Place (-3.0)

Boise used 20 hits to defeat Hillsboro, 11-2. Hawks pitching surrendered just three hits.

  • 2B Danny Lockhart (.625) was 4-for-4 with three runs, two doubles and two RBI.
  • C Mark Zagunis (.330) finished 3-for-6 with two runs, a double and two RBI.
  • 1B Danny Canela (.293) was 3-for-4 with a run and three RBI.
  • SS Bryant Flete (.240) was 3-for-5 with a run.
  • LF David Bote (.319) and DH Justin Marra (.295) had two hits apiece.
  • Following RHP Josh Conway’s three shutout innings, LHP Sam Wilson (3.93) earned the win, allowing two runs in three innings.
  • RHP Francisco Carrillo (2.42) picked up his first save with three shutout innings to finish the game.

Mesa Cubs (1-2)
T-3rd Place (-2.0)

The AZL Angels scored five runs—just one earned—in the first to jump ahead of Mesa, besting their host by a final score of 11-4. Mesa committed five errors, allowing eight unearned runs.

  • 2B Andrew Ely (.378) knocked three singles for his third three-hit game in 11 tries this season.
  • SS Gleyber Torres (.281) ripped his third triple and knocked in two (17). He has reached safely in his last nine games (.429/12-for-28, 9 BB).
  • After RHP Scott Frazier allowed five runs (one earned) on no hits and five walks, retiring just one batter, LHP Jose Paulino (6.56) provided 5.2 innings of relief, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits and striking out three.

1000 Words: The John Baker Show

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BakerSlide
Castro_Hinske

(Images by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)

Cubs catcher John Baker picked up his first career win, coming in as an emergency reliever in the top of the 16th inning of the Cubs’ 4-3 marathon win over Colorado. Then in the bottom half of the inning, Baker walked and scored the game-winning run on a Starlin Castro sacrifice fly to right field. The six-hour, 27-minute game was the longest in team history.

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