Word coming over my Western Union ticker is that the Cubs will send Jake Fox to Iowa to make room for Aaron Miles, who comes off the DL today. The Fox move makes sense for now. I speculated yesterday that the Cubs could do some roster shuffling in two weeks, when they play at Detroit and then come “home” to play the Sox at the Cell. At that point, they can, and probably should, bring Fox back and have him DH. The Cubs really didn’t miss Miles. Bobby Scales and Andres Blanco filled in capably, and that two-year deal the Cubs gave Miles after he was non-tendered by the Cardinals isn’t looking so hot.
Onto the draft. Scouting director Tim Wilken sounded exasperated by the prime-time, made-for-TV draft, which made for a long first round. Get used to it. Actually, it was kind of fun to see video of all the kids picked.
Reading some of the boards this morning, I’m reminded a little bit of New York Jets fans, who get apoplectic over every pick the J-E-T-S make. Talk about good TV.
We’ll see how it pans out for the Cubs. When I read about first-rounder Brett Jackson, out of Cal, the first thought that came to mind was “Tyler Colvin,” Wilken’s first top pick, back in ’06. Colvin is a left-handed hitter who has had trouble with strikeouts and in putting up good OBP numbers. He chalked it up to being an “aggressive” hitter when I asked him about it in spring training of ’08.
On the conference call last night, I asked Jackson about working to make more contact. “I think with experience and proper coaching, it’s something that won’t be remembered,” he said of his 61 strikeout and 29 walks in 218 at-bats this year. “I don’t think that I’m a strikeout guy…In general, I’m an aggressive hitter. That’s the way I play the game. I play the game hard, and I play the game to win. Sometimes, aggressiveness can cause a strikeout. I don’t think that will be a problem in the future. I’m a fast learner, and with professional coaching and professional experience, I’ll learn to be a professional hitter.”
Sounds like a good answer, and the Cubs do lover their “gamers,” don’t they? Jackson did have an OBP of .407 and a slugging percentage of .564 at Cal. Some scouts have compared Jackson to J.D. Drew. He compared himself with Jim Edmonds (let’s hope with a better personality). Wilken compared him with Mark Kotsay, but without the “contact.”
Second-round pick DJ LeMahieu is headed to the College World Series with LSU and their coach, Paul Mainieri, a close friend of Cubs GM Jim Hendry. Mainieri is the former coach at Notre Dame, which produced Jeff Samardzija.
LeMahieu is a 6-foot-4, 193-pound sophomore, and scouts are mixed as to whether he’s a shortstop. So far, he’s batting .340 (84-for-247) with 48 runs scored, 12 doubles, 3 triples, 4 home runs and a .408 OBP in 66 games.
Third-rounder Austin Kirk is a lefty out of Owasso High School in Oklahoma, and he may head for Oklahoma U. Kirk, 19, went 9-1 with a 0.45 ERA in 11 games in 2009 to help lead Owasso to its 11th state championship. He struck out 111 in 61.2 innings pitched. He’s a 6-foot-1, 200-pounder.
Back to the present. Alfonso Soriano’s batting line this morning is .240/.306/.485, for an OPS of .790. In the OPS department, Soriano is trailing Ryan Theriot (.791) Reed Johnson (.794), neither of whom is considered a power hitter. Soriano’s OBP dipped below .300 over the weekend.
It’s still rough sailing for Milton Bradley, the bust of the free-agent crop so far. Bradley’s line after last night’s 0-for-6 is .208/.327/.368 for an OPS of .695. Remember, Bradley’s OPS last year with Texas was .999 to lead the American League. There were 29,669 people at Minute Maid Park last night, and Bradley left them all on base.
On the pitching front, Ted Lilly is making his case to be the Cubs’ lone representative at the All-Star Game at St. Louis next month. Teddy Ballgame, who also tripled, won to go to 7-4 with a 3.00 ERA. His WHIP is a tidy 1.05. For now, let’s call him the ace of the staff.