PTBNL Announced In Barney to LAD Deal

On July 22nd, the Cubs designated second baseman Darwin Barney for assignment. This meant that the Cubs would have to trade or place Barney on waivers within 10 days or he would be released. On Monday, the Cubs found a trading partner, sending the former Gold Glover to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a player to be named later. That player was announced this afternoon.

The Cubs acquired 20 year old, right handed pitcher Jonathan Martinez. The right hander has pitched this year in Low A Great Lakes in the Midwest League. Martinez has pitched in 19 games for the Loons this year, starting all of them, while compiling a 3.47 ERA in 106.1 innings. The 20 year old has only walked 19 batters in that span while striking out 91 and posting a career high 4.79 strikeout to walk ratio. Martinez will likely land in Low A Kane County, which will put him back in the Midwest League. Last week, the righty was ranked as the number 19th prospect in the Dodgers organization by Here is what the site said about Martinez:

19. Jonathan Martinez, RHP (Ranked in Pre-Season list: 35, +16) 
Started: Low-A Great Lakes
Current location: Great Lakes
- Martinez had a rough 2013 season split between Ogden and Great Lakes. This season, he’s basically the Loons’ ace and has posted a couple of really stellar performances, including a 6-inning, 2-hit, 11-strikeout game to start his 2014 season. He has great command, as he has a career-best 1.4 BB/9 and has increased his strikeout rate from 5.7 per nine last year in Midland to 7.7 this year. He could get a call to Rancho if someone there is promoted. If not, he’ll be there next year.

As for Barney, he has been sent down to AAA Albuquerque.

Weekend at the Lake 2014 – Podcast Episode 6.26


Photo Jul 26, 3 42 48 PMWe are all three in the same room to record for the first time since October. This weekend was our now annual party, the Ivy Envy Weekend at the Lake. Although the Cubs lost to the Cardinals on Saturday, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves (and the $5 pitchers of Old Style) at Duffy’s.

The Darwin Barney era is over and we reflect on “the grizzled Cub veteran”. We believe most Cubs fans view Barney the same we do. Although there is a group of Cubs fans that apparently feel like the Cubs have just let Lou Brock go…no really, you’ll hear it in the Internet Muscle Flex segment of the show.

Jorge Soler was promoted from Double-A Tennessee to Triple-A Iowa. Hype is starting to build for Soler and we talk about why he is on a different track than the other prospects in the Cubs system. In the podcast, we reference an article that John from Cubs Den wrote, you can check it out here.

Albert Almora was promoted from High-A Daytona to Double-A Tennessee. We talk a little about Almora, but really use the opportunity to talk about the progress of the prospects. Within a few years, the Cubs have gone from exciting prospects at the lowest levels of the system to those exciting prospects being at the higher levels of the organization, with no real drop-off from any so far.

We have a slew of listener questions and Kurt gives us a Junior Lake Scary Stat of the Week.

This week’s photo for the caption contest was the most well received, and probably the best there’s been in the history of us doing these things. We got over 50 entries and at the end of it all, decided they are all too good to choose just one.

Can the Cubs Harvest the Farm?

This is a guest post from Michael Cotton. Michael is a freelance writer and a strong presence and frequent winner in our photo caption contests.
You can connect with Michael on Twitter – @cottonspew.

cubs logoA lot has been made recently of the Chicago Cubs minor league system and the rise in rankings since Theo Epstein and company have started their version of the annual Cubs rebuilding process.

There seems to be some optimism building in Wrigleyville over this future influx of talent despite the big league club continuing to do its part to help management stockpile high draft picks. Of course, “There’s always next year” is a common refrain in Cubdom, and for every optimist, there is a fan who cannot let themselves believe in these farm system saviors. Only the future will answer this question definitively, but I thought I would see if there were clues to be found in the past.

I decided to look back about 10 years to see how the top farm systems impacted their big league clubs over the following years. I used the Baseball America rankings for this article simply because all of their past rankings were easily available online. I will not be looking at whether individual players made it to the majors with their club because a good farm system can still affect the fortunes of the parent team through trades as well as bringing up home-grown talent.

For this article, I used the top five farm systems from 2004 to 2010 and compared that to the divisional and World Series champions from 2007 to 2013. The three year difference is there to allow time for the minor league to feed the major league club. Those teams, rankings, and champs are listed below this article.

After looking at the numbers, I’m happy to announce that Cubs fans can start to get excited. The correlation between having an organizational ranking in Baseball America’s top five and winning a division or making a World Series appearance is very good. Out of 35 teams ranked in the top five over the seven year period, over 50 percent of the divisional champs were in this group.

The same is true for World Series appearances with seven of the 14 teams over the seven year period being in the top five lists prior to making the World Series. Of those seven teams, four became World Series champions. That is a pretty high percentage especially when you consider that some top five organizations were facing other organizations from the top five list in the playoffs or the World Series. Only four teams who made the top five list did not win a division championship in the following years, but one of those teams, the Rockies, did eventually make an appearance in the World Series via the Wild Card.

For everyone who wants to make the argument that these players will not have an impact any time soon, there are two instances in which the farm system made a definite impact on the big league team in the same year that the team made the World Series. In 2007 the Colorado Rockies had to rely heavily on rookies called up mid-season to go on a historic 21-1 run at the end of the season to make the Wild Card spot.

As a Wild Card team, they made it to the World Series only to lose to the Red Sox. In 2008, the Tampa Bay Rays also called on their farm system when they brought Evan Longoria up as a replacement for an injured Willy Aybar. The Rays eventually lost to the Phillies.

All of this is truly marginal analysis of a small sample size and there are a thousand different things that teams need to do in order to start winning divisions and making World Series appearances, but at least it does put the Cubs in good company. Another plus is that most of the teams that made the top five list won multiple division titles, which shows a positive correlation to extended success. Although the Cubs will need more than just a good farm system to become eventual champions, it does look like there is reason to have joy in Wrigleyville. Good things do seem to be coming our way.

Baseball America’s Top Five Farm Systems 2004-2010.

Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 8.09.15 AM

Angels-Div. Champs ’07, ’08, ’09
Athletics-Div. Champs ’12, ’13
Braves-No titles
Brewers-Div. Champs ’11
Diamondbacks-Div. Champs ’07, ’11
Dodgers-Div. Champs ’08,’09, ’13
Giants-Div. Champs ’10, ’12 World Series Champs ’10, ’12
Indians-No Titles
Marlins-No Titles
Rangers-Div. Champs ’10, ’11 World Series Appearances ’10, ’11
Rays-Div. Champs ’08, ’10 World Series Appearance ’08
Reds-Div. Champs ’10, ’12
Red Sox-Div. Champs ’13 World Series Championship ’13
Rockies-No titles. World Series Appearance ’07
Twins-Div. Champs ’09, ’10
Yankees-Div. Champs ’09, ’11, ’12 World Series Championship ’09

NOTE: Red Sox did win the World Series in 2007, but I did not list it simply because their farm system rankings fell outside of the data set that I was using. Also, the Indians won a division in 2007, but that was before 2010 in which they were ranked in the top five according to this data set. These teams, as well as other teams that had success may have had top five farm systems in years earlier than 2004 when I started the data set for this article.

Discussion with John Arguello of Cubs Den
-Podcast Episode 6.25


John ArguelloWe have another bonus episode for you this week. John Arguello from Cubs Den pops in to discuss a variety of Cubs baseball topics.

I don’t think you can have a Cubs discussion without talking about prospects and the majority of this discussion involves prospects. John discusses the timelines the Cubs have with Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler. While on the topic of Soler, you might be surprised with what John has to say when comparing Soler and Javier Baez.

Pitching comes up and we spend some time on Jen-Ho Tseng, the pitcher that John ranks highest in his list of Cubs prospects. He also talks about prospects that he thinks are flying under the radar with all of the attention on the big names.

We do spend some time talking about the big league team. It appears that Arismendy Alcantara may be sticking with the Cubs. We also discuss the struggles that Mike Olt and Junior Lake are experiencing. With the trade deadline just about a week away, John guesses as to what he thinks the Cubs may (or may not) do.

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Soler Promoted to Iowa. Olt Sent to Iowa.
Almora Promoted to Tennessee.

The Cubs had more roster moves in their back pocket tonight after designating Darwin Barney for assignment earlier in the day.

These moves capped off a wonderful evening of Cubs baseball as the youngsters carried the team. Kyle Hendricks earned his first MLB win and the Cubs were offensively fueled by two home runs by Rizzo and one home run by Arismendy Alcantara.

Jorge SolerBecause of his contract (and spot on the 40-man roster) Jorge Soler is on a different track than the other prospects in the Cubs system. In his third season in the Cubs organization, Soler has under 100 games of experience at levels more advanced than the Rookie League.

Soler has battled injuries last season and the first half of this season, but his impressive numbers at the AA level were enough for the Cubs to move Soler to Iowa. In 21 games at AA Tennessee, Soler was hitting .410/.500/.852 with 6 home runs.
On tonight’s television broadcast of the Cubs game, Len and JD were speaking with Patrick Mooney and the possibility of Soler being called up to the Cubs in September was discussed.

Albert Almora heads to AA Tennessee after hitting .280/.304/.396 in High-A Daytona. His offensive numbers look somewhat puny compared to the silly numbers Soler, Bryant and Baez are putting up, but Almora is a pleasure to watch in the field and that’s where his strength lies. He is no slouch at the plate, but look for him to hit for average more than put up monster home run numbers like the others.

If you’d like to hear an interview we did with Albert Almora, you can listen to it here.

Like the Darwin Barney move, this move with Mike Olt shouldn’t surprise anyone. He’s really struggled this season and the Cubs are sending him to Iowa to get some consistent playing time and probably get a little confidence back. Olt has looked completely lost and overmatched at the plate recently. Olt is striking out in about 40% of his at-bats.

Because 3rd base is occupied by Kris Bryant, Olt will probably play 1st base, DH and some outfield.

I hate to end things on a sour note, but the promotion of Soler and Almora, as well as the performances by Rizzo and Castro this season, and how well Alcantara seems to be adapting to big league pitching should really excite Cubs fans about the (increasingly become more near) future.

I was on the fence about getting back to Iowa for a game this season, but a line-up that includes Bryant, Baez and Soler is pretty enticing.

Darwin Barney DFA’d by the Cubs

With Emilio Bonifacio returning from the disabled list and Arismendy Alcantara holding his own in the big leagues, the Cubs have designated Darwin Barney for assignment.

Barney was an easy player to support after he fought his way onto the Cubs during Spring Training in 2011. A gold glove winner in 2012, he had much more value in the field for the Cubs than he did with a bat.

Darwin BarneyAs far as the season as a whole goes, he’s been pretty ineffective, hitting .230/.265/.328 and those numbers were much worse before his .385 with 2 doubles and 2 triples in the 10 games he’s played in the month of July.

With his recent hot streak, the hope was that the Cubs would be able to move Barney to a team that needs a solid defensive 2nd baseman, but it looks like there weren’t many phone calls coming in.

If Alcantara is staying up with the Cubs, this move would allow the Cubs to use Bonifacio and Alcantara at 2nd and CF.

Like most Cubs fans, I really liked Barney and I hope he lands somewhere and he does well. A move like this was inevitable and there probably weren’t many teams in baseball that would have given Barney the playing time that the Cubs of the last few years could offer.

Cubs Weekly Preview – July 21 – 27, 2014

What happened last week: Swept by Arizona 0-3; 40-57, 5th place NL Central

What’s up this week: July 23 off, July 22-24 vs. San Diego, July 25-27 vs. St. Louis

Who’s pitching: Tuesday (Eric Stults 3-11, 4.98 ERA vs. Kyle Hendricks 0-0, 6.00 ERA), Wednesday (Ian Kennedy 7-9, 3.62 ERA vs. Tsuyoshi Wada 0-0, 0.00 ERA), Thursday (Tyson Ross 8-10, 2.70 ERA vs. Edwin Jackson 5-10, 5.61 ERA), Friday (Joe Kelly 2-1, 2.84 ERA vs. Travis Wood 7-9, 5.12 ERA), Saturday (Carlos Martinez 2-4, 4.43 ERA vs. Jake Arrieta 5-1, 1.94 ERA), Sunday (Adam Wainwright 12-4, 1.83 ERA vs. Kyle Hendricks 0-0, 6.00 ERA)

Who to watch for: San Diego has never had a player hit for the cycle, nor has it had any pitcher throw a no-hitter. Since being called up, Cubs rookie 2nd baseman Arismendy Alcantara is hitting .290 and slugging .548 in seven games.

“Hey Girls! I’m Not Messing Around!”
– Podcast Episode 6.24


Since we are just one series past the All-Star break, we look back at the Cubs team and individual performances on this, the 262nd episode of the Ivy Envy Podcast.

We look at the positives and negatives that we’ve seen from April to July. If you feel that we spend too much time on the prospects in the minor leagues, this is a very major league team centered episode.

There are some very encouraging performances and some downright horrible performances…bad enough to provide us quite a few scary stats throughout the episode and two in the regular segment.

We answer several listener submitted questions and read three internet muscle flexes.

If you’d like to hear our interview with Cubs 2014 1st round pick Kyle Schwarber, listen here: Kyle Schwarber Interview

If you would like an opportunity to win a Javier Baez Iowa Cubs t-shirt jersey, check out our Patreon Campaign and pledge at any level. Pledging levels start at just $1/month.

Kyle Schwarber Interview
Podcast Episode 6.23


June 15, 2013:We have a bonus episode of the podcast for you this week. Kyle Schwarber was the Cubs 1st round selection (4th overall) in the 2014 MLB Draft. I had the opportunity speak with Schwarber last week when the Kane County Cougars visited the Quad Cities River Bandits.

Schwarber has since been promoted to High-A Daytona. Considered the best college bat in the draft, he quickly demonstrated that he was prepared for competition greater than he faced with Boise and Kane County.

In the interview, Schwarber talks about his draft day experience, a possible future position change and how it feels to be part of this young and exciting Cubs system.

If you enjoy this podcast, check out the other prospect interviews we’ve done:
Javier Baez
Albert Almora
Dan Vogelbach

If this is the first episode of our podcast that you’ve heard, we put out weekly episodes. This is our 6th of podcasting on the Chicago Cubs. In addition to being available on our website, you can listen to our episode in iTunes, Stitcher and any podcast app.

Wrigley Field Renovations
with Pat Nagle of Wrigleyville Nation
Podcast Episode 6.22


WrigleyOn this episode of the podcast, we’re talking Wrigley Field renovations. This has been a drawn-out situation with lots of resistance from the rooftops and neighborhoods and lots of altered plans by the Chicago Cubs.

Andy, Kurt and I are 3+ hours from Wrigley Field and fairly ignorant of the neighborhood issues and Chicago politics, so we figured we’d bring in someone that is more familiar with how the city works and this renovation situation. Pat Nagle is one of the hosts of the Wrigleyville Nation Podcast.

Pat is a resident of Wrigleyville and has attended the community meetings with the Cubs. Pat is also a season ticket holder with the Cubs and understands their need to renovate for the purposes of generating revenue and providing players with better facilities.

We cover a lot of angles in this discussion and if you’re not from Wrigleyville or Chicago, I think you’ll enjoy hearing about these issues from the perspective of someone that lives in the neighborhood.

You can find Pat and Wrigleyville Nation at:
@WrigleyvilleNat on Twitter