The latest in a spate of new weekly features at GROTA is named after a punk band that I enjoy. Here is a great song by them.
Across all levels, the Cubs system is going through some growing pains lately. Here are some things that are, for the most part, true:
Confirmed: Robert Coello sucks. He started last night, gave up a couple of home runs, and now has an ERA of 9.00 -- yep, one run per inning -- through his first five starts in Iowa. Meanwhile Tony Thomas, who the Cubs gave up to get Coello, has a .915 OPS in Triple-A Pawtucket for the Red Sox, and has more extra-base hits so far this year (4 2B + 1 3B + 3 HR) than singles (7). Small sample size, or ARRRGGGGHHH?!?!? Up to you, although I'm leaning towards the latter.
James Russell Replacement Watch: Nothing going on here, unfortunately. Maybe Jay Jackson (3.96 ERA)? Maybe Ramon Ortiz (4.15 ERA)? Maybe Doug Davis, who will start for Single-A Daytona soon on his way to Des Moines? Yuck.
AA Tennessee Smokies
Robert Whitenack made his second start for the Smokies last night, getting the win despite giving up four earned runs on seven hits and two walks in five innings, with just four strikeouts. Whitenack started the year in Daytona, but was dominant there: 11 hits, 25 strikeouts, and just one walk in his 23 innings pitched. Now, the 22-year-old appears to be holding his own at the next level, keeping his WHIP down near 1.00 and his K/BB rate above 3. The secret for him is keeping batted balls on the ground; he did that in Daytona (2.5 groundouts for every flyout), and he appears to be doing it early on in Tennesse (1.5 GO/FO).
Other AA notables: Brett Jackson is hitting .299/.404/.506 with three homers and eight steals against two caught stealings; Josh Vitters has cooled off, down to .241/.292/.470; and hard-throwing righty Rafael Dolis was recently moved to the bullpen, and could be on the fast track to help the major league 'pen.
High-A Daytona Cubs
A Nelson Perez grand slam in the bottom of the first helped Daytona win last night. Matt Cerda reached base three times in five plate appearances, and is now sporting a .302/.408/.407, having walked 15 times against 18 strikeouts.
Low-A Peoria Chiefs
The competition between Ruby Silva and Matt Szczur for best outfielder on the team continues; Silva has the better average (.310) and slugging (.408), while Szczur has the better on-base percentage (.405) and speed (5-for-5 in steal attempts). Both reached base multiple times in yesterday's game.
Cubs, Minor Threat
brett jackson, chicago cubs, daytona cubs, iowa cubs, josh vitters, matt cerda, matt szczur, nelson perez, peoria chiefs, rafael dolis, robert coello, robert whitenack, ruby silva, tennessee smokies