We’ll take care of a few items today and catch up with the Cubs next Monday as they close out the season with three against the Houston Astros at Wrigley Field. The Cubs finish with the Rockies today, and we’ll have info on Darwin Barney’s errorless streak and Brett Jackson’s return from exile.
First, the Cubs today officially named infielder Logan Watkins and right-hander Nick Struck their minor-league player and pitcher of the year, respectively. Word leaked out on Twitter yesterday, with catching prospect Michael Brenly tweeting of Watkins’ honor. The Cubs will have a pregame ceremony for both Watkins and Struck at Wrigley next Monday evening.
My picks were Justin Bour for player of the year and Eric Jokisch for pitcher of the year, but congrats to the guys who won. Watkins, 23, had a line of .281/.383/.422 with 9 homers, 52 RBI, 76 walks, 97 strikeouts and 28 stolen bases for Class AA Tennessee. He led the Southern League in runs scored (93), was second in triples (11) and walks. He also was fourth in OBP. He hit .302 in the second half, compared with .259 before the all-star break.
Watkins was a 21st-round draft pick of Tim Wilken in 2008 out of Goddard (Kansas) High School.
Struck, 22, was 14-10 with a 3.18 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP in 28 games (26 starts) for Tennessee. He led the Southern League in victories, ranked third with 155.2 innings pitched and fourth in ERA. He led the club with 123 strikeouts, walked only 44, and limited opposing hitters to a .238 batting average.
From May 29 through the end of the season, Struck went 10-5 with a 2.29 ERA in 18 games (16 starts). He was the Cubs’ minor-league pitcher of the month for June, going 4-1 with a 2.45 ERA.
Struck was a 39th-rounder in 2009 out of Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham, Ore.
On to today’s finale in Colorado. The Cubs are 59-96 and on pace to finish 62-100. They need to go 4-3 the rest of the way to avoid their first 100-loss season since the 1966 club dropped 103.
Darwin Barney’s consecutive-games errorless streak is at 140, a National League record and one short of the major-league single-season record, set by Detroit’s Placido Polanco in 2007.
Brett Jackson starts for the first time in six games as he bats eighth and plays center field. Jackson had been slowed by the flu. The Cubs also had faced several left-handed pitchers. Jackson’s line is .168/.294/.355 with 54 strikeouts in 107 at-bats. Judging by GM Jed Hoyer’s comments to reporters in Denver yesterday, it appears that neither Jackson nor third baseman Josh Vitters are no sure things for roster spots come Opening Day 2003. That’s as it should be, but it also means Hoyer and team president Theo Epstein will have a lot of work to do this off-season, not only in bringing in at least two competent starting pitchers, but also in looking at options for the outfield and third base.
Ian Stewart, who opened the season at third, reportedly had his surgically repaired wrist examined this week, but I’m still not sold on the notion the Cubs have any serious interest in bringing him back.
We talk quality starts here all the time. They just aren’t happening for the Cubs right now, and that’s not unexpected, given the rotation. Beginning Sept. 9, the Cubs have gotten just 2 quality starts compared with 14 non-quality starts. Since July 31, non-quality starts have outnumbered quality starts 36 to 18. For the season, the Cubs are 41-29 when they get a quality start, and the starters have an ERA of 1.84 in those starts. When they Cubs don’t get a quality start, they’re 18-66, and the starters have an ERA of 7.54 in those starts.
Chris Volstad starts today. He’s 3-10 with a 6.22 ERA, and he’s another candidate not to be tendered a contract this off-season. He has failed to go at least 6 innings in each of his last 5 starts.
On the bright side, reliever Michael Bowden tossed 2 scoreless innings last night. The Waubonsie Valley High School graduate now has pitched 11 straight scoreless innings, dating to Sept. 6. That covers 9 games. He and Jaye Chapman are making positive impressions heading into spring training next February.
We’ll leave you with news you’ve probably heard: Onetime Cub Adam Greenberg will get his chance at 1 big-league at-bat, as the Miami Marlins announced they’ll sign the 31-year-old Greenberg to a one-day contract so he can play next Tuesday. Greenberg was hit on the head in his only big-league plate appearance, for the Cubs against the Marlins at the football stadium back in July 2005. It’s a nice story and all. Greenberg seemed like a great kid at the time, and the sight of him getting hit was frightening. But the Cubs still did the right thing in not being the team to give Greenberg this chance. There is no room on the 40-man roster, and somebody would lose a job. Good luck to all involved.