I had a great time meeting up with a handful of folks after the game yesterday, even if I barely have a voice today thanks to too much shouting conversation in a loud bar. I can still type, though.
- The Cubs took the path of least resistance with respect to their Ian Stewart decision yesterday. The Cubs activated him from the disabled list, and optioned him to AAA Iowa. He’ll keep playing there until he shows something, until Luis Valbuena cools off considerably, or until somebody gets hurt. The Cubs may wind up paying Ian Stewart $2 million to be a very expensive minor leaguer.
- Dale Sveum says Carlos Villanueva’s problem the last two starts has been pitch elevation – in other words, he’s leaving everything up. And, with his mix of slow stuff, you can’t get away with that. Although I’m sure it’s true that the elevated pitches are a problem, I’d also point out that, coming into his last two starts Villanueva had unsustainably ridiculous numbers, like a 100% strand rate and a one-hundred-and-something BABIP. This kind of regression was always coming. Hopefully this is the worst of it, though, because he still very much looks like a guy you’d be happy to have in the rotation.
- (By the way: I don’t know how those pitchers do it in weather like yesterday. Raining, super cold, and once that chill gets in you, it’s impossible to shake. That’s how I felt, anyway, and wasn’t trying to precisely locate a fastball or snap off a breaking ball without my arm exploding.)
- If you were anxiously awaiting a Juan Carlos Paniagua update like I was, Ben Badler heeds your call … but it’s not a great update. In short, Paniagua is still waiting on his visa in the Dominican Republic thanks to a very thorough investigation into his identity. There’s still no timeline on his arrival, because, you know, government, but it’s a shame that he’s already lost a lot of development time. At one time, it seemed plausible that he could rocket up the system and reach AA this year. Now that seems very much like a stretch. Paniagua, according to his papers, turned 23 in early April. He was the Cubs’ big international signing last year (in the international signing period, that is), receiving $1.5 million after previously signing with the Yankees and Diamondbacks, but having those contracts nullified because of concerns about his age/identity.
- The Reds auctioned off Jeff Samardzija’s bloody baseball.
- Rock Shoulders (1.099 OPS) and Eric Jokisch (1.84 ERA) are your Cubs minor league player and pitcher, respectively, of the month for April. Each is legitimately a prospects, and it is thus nice to see them tearing it up sufficiently to receive the honor. Jokisch is in his second go-around at AA and will turn 24 this Summer, so you’d like to see him moving up to AAA at some point this year (the glut of back-end types like him at AAA is the primary thing holding up his promotion, I’d expect). Shoulders was one of the many, many overslot signings from the 2011 Draft, but he didn’t do too much to get your blood pumping in his 2012 debut. He’s crushing it for Kane County this year, though, and at 21, he’s basically age-appropriate for the league. On a team with Dan Vogelbach, Shoulders has been seeing a lot of time at the corner outfield positions.