Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Prospect trip - no offensive help for us in Iowa

To begin: it is never a good idea to sit down to write just as James Loney hits one about 6 1/2 miles off of Silva the Hutt.

After several near misses and false starts, I finally got together with my fellow old-school Cubs bloggers Tommy Acuff and Troy Church.  Beginning around 2002 or so, the three of us started sharing our thoughts about Cubs and life its ownself.  As things have evolved, the two of them have gravitated more toward life its ownself and shut their published Cubs thoughts to a trickle.  Thorough and iterative disappointment has that impact on healthy minds.  I of course am still here, so what does that say about my mental makeup?

Anyway, we convened in the compact white bread capitol of the universe, Des Moines, to break some (fermented) bread, get some Ryno  autographs (FAIL) and to turn our eyes to the young men playing for the AAA I-Cubs.  After all, if it is in fact true that Head Chad Tom Ricketts has come back from safari and intends to clean house, we need to see if we have someone ready to step into the lineup, perhaps provide a spark to what has been a dog-ass offense.  I admit to some pre-conceived notions coming in, because logic dictates that IF there was help on the farm, that it would have been here by now.

Unfortunately, I was right.

We saw three games - a loss to the Marlins' affiliate that got away in the late innings, and two fairly well-pitched wins against the hard-hitting yet free-swinging Marlins farm team.  Your 2010 I-Cubs features Micah the Hoff, who has regressed to a below .240 average, which explains why he hasn't come on up to give DP Lee a breather.  Their best hitters are corner outfielders, which of course we have a surplus of.  Jim Adducci is the best looking of all of them, because he plays a nice outfield as well as makes frequent contact, at least at the present.  He looked real nice in Spring Training, too, but somewhere between then and now he must have sucked a lot of pipe, because his BA is below .280.  Other members of the AAAA All-Stars include Brian LaHair and Brad Snyder, both displaying modest production, nothing 2009 Jake Fox-like.

Outside of Adducci, the next most impressive I-Cub in the lineup was - wait for it - The Outlaw Bobby Scales.  Like I said, not a lot of help on the farm.  Darwin Barney is ok, running towards meh.  Matt Camp has no power, and Wellington Castillo is probably at this point in his life slightly better than Koyie Hill.  No saviors here.

As mentioned, the pitching was somewhat better.  Friday's win was due to the efforts of something called Austin Bibens-Dirkx, which we naturally bastardized into Justin Bieber Dirks Bentley.  Tommy saw his act earlier in Tennessee, and said J.B.D.B. throws hard, and gets tired early.  But J.B.D.B. had them chasing his pitches for five-plus, then gave way to sawed off reliever David Cales, who closed that ish out.

Last night was Jay Jackson's start, and six innings, four hits, and five punchouts later, the I-Cubs were on the way to an easy win.  It was a good start.  His last start was bad.  The one before that, good, and the one before that?  Yep, bad.  The braintrust have mentioned him recently as a possible callup, for the bullpen, which is the same story I can tell about several of the I-Cubs pitchers.  It appears most of the Iowa staff are relievers, with the exception of J.B.D.B., Jackson, J.R Mathes, and Thomas Diamond, who didn't do dick in spring training, and is only 5-3 at the moment, yet is the I-Cubs All-Star representative. 

If we decided to trade Ted Lilly and possibly Silva the Hutt, there will be some big, hard, complicated and (to me at least) unpredictable decisions to be made about who would fill in.  Would it be Cashner?  Would Sean Marshall get what he presumably deserves (but at the same time has proven time and time again to be a mistake?)  Would it be Jackson, who is very inconsistent but on his good days can win major league games?  Or would we torture what is left of Ron Santo and bring Austin Bibens-Dirkx to town?  He may eventually perish in the booth, deprived of air as he chokes himself trying to pronounce that name?

Well, Silva's gone.  We obviously waited three weeks too long to trade HIS fat ass.  Now he's shown his true Zambranoesque nature, and we will endure the next two years dealing with over 600 pounds and $64 million of uncontrollable Venezuelan dysfunction between Los Dos Carloses.

I DID see Sam Fuld go deep Friday night.  Just one more thought about Iowa - the outfield walls are clad with metal signs, and since all the I-Cubs outfielders have been here all year, and longer, they are all adept at playing opponent's drives off the walls and holding the runners to singles.  Once they gauge the drive will hit the wall, they retreat forty feel away from the wall and play the lively carom.  I mean, I guess I applaud their ability to adjust to their environment, but shouldn't the park more closely resemble and play like Wrigley, a place where NOBODY has ever retreated from the wall to play the carom?  Shouldn't your 'dress rehearsal' be more like the real thing?

Just a thought.


Hey guys,

I love reading your writeups but have to disagree with the downplay of Thomas Diamond. As an intern here at the AAA club I've gotten a chance to watch him at Principal Park on each of his outings and he seems to be better than you might give him credit for. He currently has an ERA of 2.85 and in 7 of his last 10 starts gave up 2 or less earned runs. Additionally, his overall record would be better if in May, when he pitched two consecutive games giving up a run or less, Samardzija hadn't been given a chance by the pen to come in and vulture both wins in the end. Again, the two starts in July haven't been too kind to his stats, and maybe the guy is like a lot of the team and has AAAA talent, but as a daily witness of the club's performance I just wanted to add he might have a bit more to offer than you alluded to.

As a side note, the walls in Iowa are foam padded and covered with vinyl signs that took hours to get the wrinkles out of. To be mistaken as solid metal signs is a tribute to the hours of slave labor it took to get them right and, although unintentional, the compliment is greatly appreciated.
Keep up the good posts,

Chicago Tribune's Chicago's Best Blogs award