Cubs

On the Farm: What did Cubs get back for Lee?

On the Farm: What did Cubs get back for Lee?

Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2010
8:53 PM

By Kevin Czerwinski
CSNChicago.com

While the Cubs continued to trade away Major Leaguers on Wednesday afternoon, sending popular veteran Derrek Lee to the Braves, they are also continuing to stockpile minor leaguers and load up a system that already boasts several top-notch prospects.

The trio of pitchers Chicago received-right-handers Robinson Lopez and Tyrelle Harris and lefty Jeffrey Lorickarent household names, that much is true. But each, particularly Lopez, have an upside, one that could be felt at the Major League level within the next year or two.

Lopez is the biggest name of the bunch. The hard-throwing native of the Dominican Republic turned 19 this season and has shown flashes of being dominant this season while pitching for Rome in the South Atlantic League-though he seems to have run out of steam in the second half of the season. Coincidentally, he moved into the starting rotation in mid-May and thats when his numbers started to dip.

Overall, hes 3-8 with a 4.37 ERA in 92 23 innings but hes 0-5 with a 7.02 ERA in his last nine starts. Lopez didnt make it out of the fourth inning in five of those starts. He has a nice fastball that can reach the mid-90s though not with regularity and it has a tendency to flatten out. His curveball is a bit slurvy, however; while his changeup is effective when he uses it.

Lopez projects as more of a reliever than a starter at this point but hes still young and experience will prove to be his best teacher. Hell likely head to Peoria of the Midwest League.

Harris seems to get around quite a bit. He pitched at three different colleges before the Braves finally grabbed him in the 19th-round in 2009 out of the University of Tennessee. He pitched in Danville Rookie and Rome A last year and has spent time at Rome, Myrtle Beach High-A and most recently Double-A Mississippi, where he has a 1.46 ERA in 12 13 innings.

Hes already been assigned to Tennessee after Jeremy Papelbon was placed on the disabled list Wednesday afternoon. Harris hasnt allowed a homer in 49 23 innings this season and didnt allow one in 17 23 innings last season. He also combined with Julio Tehran to no-hit Mobile on Aug. 2. Harris pitched 3 13 innings in his Double-A debut that day, earning the save.

While he has some occasional life on his fastball, dont be fooled by the no-hitter or his numbers. Harris, 23, is not destined for big things in the big leagues. Rather, hes a back end of the bullpen type of pitcher who may have little or no impact on the organizations future.

The Braves also grabbed Lorick in last years draft, taking him in the 20th round out of Virginia. He was recently bumped up to Myrtle Beach of the Carolina League so figure on him sliding over to Daytona. He pitched two shutout innings in his lone appearances for Myrtle after pitching to a 2.32 ERA in 26 appearances in the South Atlantic League. He was pretty hard on lefties in the Sally League, holding them to a .128 average in 47 at-bats.

Lorick was recently moved into the rotation at Rome, where he was 0-2 with a 3.24 ERA in four starts. While he may develop as a starter think more lefty specialist.
Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at ktczerwinski@gmail.com.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Jon Lester struggles against the division-rival Cardinals

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Jon Lester struggles against the division-rival Cardinals

It was a tough day for the North Siders.

The Cubs got obliterated by the Cardinals as Matt Carpenter had a three-homer, two-double day. Ben Finfer, Seth Gruen and Maggie Hendricks join David Kaplan on the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast to talk about the blowout.

Was Jon Lester due for this kind of terrible outing? And do the Cubs have enough to swing a big trade before the deadline?

Plus, the panel discusses Matt Nagy’s first training camp practice in the rain and Roquan Smith’s absence in Bourbonnais.

You can listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Jon Lester saw a start like this coming

Jon Lester saw a start like this coming

Jon Lester had easily his worst outing of the year, allowing the Cardinals to score eight runs on seven hits, the veteran All-Star only managed three innings before Joe Maddon turned to his bullpen. 

The Cardinals would take game two of the series by the score of 18 to 5, and while none of the Cubs pitchers could silence the Cardinal bats, Lester didn't shy away from his poor outing. 

"You know, I don't want to chalk this up as bad days happen," said Lester. "I think mechanically this has kinda been coming." 

Lester knew he was struggling to hit his spots, and while his ERA was a sparkling 2.58 coming into this start, his peripheral stats had him pegged as a potential regression candidate in the second half of the season.

His 4.35 FIP and 3.30 walks per nine innings show a pitcher who is relying heavily on his defense to get outs, which isn't surprising for a 33-year-old veteran but the walks are a concern. 

Cubs manager Joe Maddon was aware Lester had been working on his mechanics, but even he was surprised that Lester's start went downhill so quickly. 

"I thought he had good stuff to start the game, hitting [92-93 mph] and I'm thinking this might be a good day," said Maddon. "But you could just see from the beginning he was off just a little bit." 

Over Lester's last four starts his ERA has been an uncharacteristic 4.57, issuing 10 walks over those four starts, and only making it past the 6th inning once. At this point of Lester's career, he knows the best way for him to get outs isn't through strikeouts but by inducing soft contact and avoiding walks. 

And while both his hard contact rate and walks have increased this season, Lester's experience and high baseball I.Q. has allowed him to navigate his way through sticky situations. 

"I've been getting outs," Lester said candidly. "I just feel like when I've had that strikeout or I have a guy set up for that pitch I haven't been able to execute it." 

And while this outing was one to forget, it's at least a positive sign that Lester is aware of his issues on the mound. The veteran knows how to get outs and he knows what he needs to do to be successful in the latter part of his career. He just needs to get back to executing those pitches. 

Just don't expect Lester to dive head first into the analytics on how to fix his issues, he'll stick to hard work and baseball common sense. 

"I'm not too concerned with the analytic B.S., I'm worried about my mechanical fix for my next start."