miCubs Monday

By Jordan Bernfield   Follow @miCubs and @JordanBernfield on Twitter.  

  1. NEWS AND NOTES: As first reported on miCubs, the youth movement has officially begun.  Following the trade deadline, the Cubs have fully committed to finding out what their prospects can provide, promoting Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters before Sunday's game in Los Angeles.  It's well documented at this point that strikeouts have been a major issue for Jackson this season.  At AAA Iowa, the Cubs new centerfielder fanned 158 times in 407 at-bats, a whopping 39-percent of the time.  But he plays quality defense, gets on-base with decent frequency, and was able to hit for extra bases with very high frequency.  In fact, 49 of his 104 hits with Iowa went for extra bases, or 47%. (22 2B, 12 3B, 15 HR).  Dale Sveum said he'll play roughly 90-percent of the time, which means with two months to play, the Cubs will have a good idea of what they have by season's end.  As for Vitters, he was having the best statistical year of his minor league career, posting a .304 batting average with 17 home runs and 68 RBI, while getting on base at a .356 clip.  What kept Vitters from a call up earlier this season was a lack of defensive prowess.  The 3rd baseman will get opportunities to play, but Sveum said it would not be on an everday basis.  The Cubs have now played 14 rookies this season, including seven position players.   And let's not forget today's news either: Matt Garza  may not pitch again in 2012.  His status for the rest of the season remains uncertain with the news a stress reaction in his right elbow has forced the club to shut him down.  He was supposed to pitch tomorrow, claiming Saturday that "you'd better effin believe" he'd pitch Tuesday.  But this most recent setback will delay him from pitching at least another month.  He won't be allowed to throw, at all, for the next two weeks.  He hasn't pitched since June 21st after his dreaded right triceps cramps rendered him untradeable at the July 31st non-waiver deadline.
  2. WEEK IN REVIEW:  With the call-ups of Jackson and Vitters, it has conveniently masked the fact that since the trade deadline, the Cubs haven't won a game.  Entering tonight's contest in San Diego, the Northside Nine have dropped five straight contests.  And as I write this article, they're losing to the Padres.  It's safe to say that for the rest of the season, this section of miCubs Monday will document many losses, with the occasional transaction.
  3. THIS WEEK: The Cubs have begun a three game set in San Diego, which concludes Wednesday.  Thursday they return to Wrigley Field to open a seven game homestand against the red-hot Reds and the miserable Astros.
  4. STAT OF THE DAY: Cubs 2nd baseman Darwin Barney has set a new single-season club record with 92 consecutive errorless games, spanning 738.1 innings entering toinght.  His last error was committed April 17th in Miami.  He broke Ryne Sandberg's mark of 90 consecutive errorless games set between June 21, 1989 through May 17, 1990. [Credit: Cubs Game Notes]
  5. SABR STAT: Prior to Sunday's call-up to the major leagues, Brett Jackson posted a career worst strikeout rate (33.8%) and his worst walk rate (10.1%). But he has consistently excelled in the BABIP category, posting a .372 clip, better than his career average.
  6. THE QUOTE: Dale Sveum earlier today on the Cubs youth moment and the irrelevance of wins the rest of the way to Paul Sullivan of the Tribune: "You know were going to be a little behind the eight ball when you have to match up against the Dodgers' lineup or their bullpen and things like that.  Truthfully, a lot of this is development and watching.  To tell you the truth, even as a manager, you probably do some things you wouldn't do in certain situations, just to see how a guy would handle it in the future."
  7. MINOR LEAGUE STAT:  Here's how some of the Cubs' newest minor league prospects have fared, entering tonight's action:  Christian Villanueva: 5-for-15, 1 2B, 2 HR 2 RBI, 1 BB, 7 K. Kyle Hendricks: 1G, 1 1P, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K. (Both players are in Advanced A Daytona). Jacob Brigham (TEN): 0-1, 1 GS, 3 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 2 K. Jaye Chapman (IOWA): 0-1, 3 G, 4 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 1 K.
  8. PITCHING PROBABLES: For tomorrow, since we're already into tonight's game: Brooks Raley will pitch tomorrow for the Cubs.  The organization's reigning Minor League Pitcher of the Month went 6-10 with a 3.58 ERA at both Tennessee and Iowa this seasaon.  The 22-year old left hander was a 6th round pick in the 2009 draft out of Texas A&M.  He'll be opposed by Ross Ohlendorf, who is 3-2 with a 6.27 ERA. 
  9. QUICK TAKE:  For you fans who were upset that the Cubs weren't playing all the kids, you've gotten your wish.  For better or worse, the franchise will find out what it has in their system, and I applaud them for doing it.  Last year I railed on this team in August for not bringing up their prospects to see what they had in games that are generally meaningful to their opponents.  This year, by bringing up the kids now, they'll see action in games against teams who are in the race, such as the Dodgers (yesterday), the Reds, and the Giants heading into September.  Every game will teach both the players about how to play at this level, but also teach the organization something about their future.  I don't think the team has plans for Vitters, based on numerous questions I've asked people at the ballpark about him.  But I think they have some hope that Jackson will turn out to be a player to build around.  Stay tuned.  At least we're going to find out what they've got.