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CubsFailWhaleThings I have learned so far on vacation:

There really is a Pink Cadillac Diner somewhere along I-81 in Virginia, and they make pretty good biscuits. And it has a statue of King Kong out front, because why wouldn’t you have a statue of King Kong out front?

I am really bad at pool.

Gatlingburg traffic is worse than Washington D.C. traffic – and that is not a comparison I make lightly.

Chris Rusin shutting down the Cardinals might just be the best possible way to start a five a day weekend. Every road trip should open with a game like that one. Especially when that road trip includes meeting up with family members who happen to be Cardinal fans.

Because I am on vacation right now this weekly look at the organization is going to be a little shorter than usual. There is still some good info here, though, starting with a recap of the playoff races.

Iowa Cubs : 56-65

The horrors of that Western road trip are over, and Iowa is only four games behind Omaha for the division lead. The Cubs have a lot of home games coming up, and they have been a good home team all year. This division is still winnable, but they need to get hot right about now. They’ve won four in a row now; that is a good start.

Tennessee Smokies : 27-20

The first place Smokies have a two and a half game lead over Birmingham now and are tied with Jacksonville for the best record in the league. They also have the best road record in the division; that is a good sign should they hang onto their playoff slot. The loss of some key rotation arms could hurt them down the stretch, particularly work horses like Kyle Hendricks and Alberto Cabrera (both promoted to Iowa), but if Eric Jokisch keeps pitching like an ace this team should be good shape. That offense is more than potent enough to keep them in nearly every game.

Daytona Cubs : 24-15-1

The Cubs are three and a half games up in the North division, and by winning percentage are the best team in the league. The recent cluster of rain outs has not appeared to harm them at all. The key for the Cubs is likely to be their pitching, and so far it has been up to the task. Should they hang onto first place and make the playoffs, Pierce Johnson and C.J. Edwards could prove to be a particularly tough one-two punch in a short playoff series.

Kane County Cougars : 17-30

Kane County remains the doormat of the league, but they are only a game and a half away from being out of last place. In the meantime, this is still a great team for prospect watching. If an infield that includes Dan Vogelbach, Gioskar Amaya, Marco Hernandez, and Jeimer Candelario is not enough to get you excited, then addition of lefty Rob Zastryzny to the pitching staff might do the trick. The Cubs would love to see Zastryzny handle the Midwest League with ease and force the team to start him in Daytona next season.

Boise Hawks : 9-7

The second place Hawks are just one game behind Salem-Keizer for the second half lead. Unfortunately, so is the rest of their division. The Northwest League is very tight this year. The Hawks have the talent to carry off the title, but some of that talent is likely to be promoted away. Zastryzny is already gone, and first round pick Kris Bryant may not be too far behind.

Arizona AZL Cubs : 6-6

The AZL Cubs are back to .500 and are sitting in fourth place just two and a half back of the leading AZL Giants. That Giants team has been extremely good this season; two and a half games could be a tougher gap to close than the four game deficit facing Iowa.

Sources

Thanks to the advent of Twitter it has become much easier for anyone who is interested to keep up with more minor league information than ever before. The problem, though, is getting started. There are a lot of people on Twitter. Picking out those with good information from those without can been tough. This list is not all inclusive, not by any stretch, but it should be enough to get you started. All of these are people I follow personally, and I have found each of them be well worth reading. These accounts are listed unsolicited.

@BoiseHawksRadio – This is the account for the radio voice of the Boise Hawks. Not only does this feed provide you with the latest and best information on Hawks games, it also from time to time provides a nice behind the scenes look into the life of a minor league player. Want to know what a Short-Season A team does when their bus breaks down on the side of the road? This is the account for you.

@SmokiesOnRadio – The radio account for the Tennessee Smokies is also a very good source of information. The Smokies are currently one of the most prospect-heavy teams in the organization, and this account will tweet a lot of good in-game tidbits about those prospects. If you can’t listen to the games live, following this account is the next best thing.

@harrypav – Harry Pavlidis has appeared on the Bleacher Nation Podcast and remains one of the best minds on the internet when it comes to PitchFX data, the Cubs, and how those two things come together. He is also just a solid source for Cubs data in general.

@danmkirby – Dan Kirby knows his prospects, but more importantly he follows the amateur game as well. Getting good information on potential draft picks can be tough, particularly for players not in the early part of the first round, but following this account will put at least a slice of that information at your fingertips.

@dylan_heuer – You remember those awesome photographs of the Iowa Cubs that are linked from the Daily every now and then? If you follow this account you can see those pictures and more as soon as Dylan makes them available. On top of that, this guy is a great Cubs fan and an all-around good follow.

@keithlaw – Keith Law often gets a hard time from Cub fans, but he remains one of the best national writers on the prospect scene. If you are looking for good info on prospects in general, not just those with the Cubs, then this is a good place to start.

@jimcallisBA – Jim Callis is the Executive Editor of Baseball America, and he’s a Chicago guy. He is another excellent source on the national prospect scene and often offers a nice contrast to the take of Keith Law.

@benbadler – Also apart of Baseball America, Ben Badler is possibly the best mind on the internet regarding International Free Agents and prospects. As the Cubs become more active on the International scene, having an expert like this on your list can only be a good thing.

@BleacherNation – A former lawyer turned full-time blogger, this is not only the best Cubs account on Twitter, it also happens to be the best Cubs blog on the internet. Thanks to Brett and a phenomenal community you will never need to worry about missing Cubs information again. And if you are desperate to know when those addicting chocolate peppermint milk shakes go on sale at Chick-Fil-A, this account has you covered there as well. [Brett: *blush*]

@ltblaize – And last on this list is me. Not all the tidbits I pass on through Twitter make it into one of my articles here on Bleacher Nation, so even if you are a regular reader it probably won’t hurt to be a follower as well.

This list is only the tip of the iceberg. There are lot more names and accounts I could give you … and likely will in future articles … but this should be enough to get anyone started. Remember that interactivity is part of the utility of Twitter. If you toss a question at one of these people, including me or Brett, there is a chance you’ll get an answer (depending on how many others are tossing questions, whether or not the person in question is active on Twitter right then, and so forth).

If you have any favorite Cubs or prospect related Twitter follows of your own, feel free to share them with the rest of us in the comments.  And if you run a Twitter account you think could have been listed, don’t be offended if I did not include you in this round.  I intend to do lists like this with a few new accounts from time to time.

[Brett: That awesomely appropriate picture there was, I believe, created by someone over at BCB. Unfortunately I'm not sure who, so, if you know, drop a comment so we can give some love. That's the Twitter Fail Whale, if you didn't know.]

  • Nick

    Gatlinburg* and you are quite right about the traffic.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Just got here and already spelling like a tourist.

      • MoneyBoy

        Luke … Think of the positives. ‘Gatlingburg’ may have really bad traffic but they make one hell of a good gun!!

        • fromthemitten

          If you were there in mid-July and your name was Sue, you could have run into your father.

          I’m a big fan of Javy Baez’s twitter. Had to unfollow Vogelbach’s for homophobic tweets and don’t really mind if he’s traded at all.

          • Josh

            So fromthemitten: Vogelbachs tweets are bad–hang around the batting cages at Fitch and listen to him–x-rated Usually the cages are a mans world but Muskrat and my wife were taking in b.p. this spring and both had to leave. He looks like Tommy Boy and acts worse . But man can he stroke line drives–just needs to tone his mouth down.

          • chirogerg

            Been following him for ages, and he only seems to tweet about god, family, and how awesome his team is. I have never seen anything like that

            • Scotti

              Ditto. If anything his tweets are inspirational. He has a great relationship with his parents and family. Committed friend as well.

  • ssckelley

    Luke, you do not give yourself enough credit. You and Brett should be one of the top to follow on twitter as a Cub fan and a user of this site. You are great to interact with, one of the few who will actually respond.

    Now I gotta wipe my nose off. :D

  • Corey

    I want to follow all these people, but don’t want to google them. #firstworldproblems.

  • Eric

    Having spent a fair amount of time in both D.C. and Gatlinburg, I can vouch for Gatlinburg having the worst traffic. The best thing to do (if you plan on coming back) is to learn the backroads that take you out of the main strip. Also, do yourself a favor and have a Holy Shitaki pizza at Mellow Mushroom and insist on eating out on the open-air balcony.

    • Nick

      I live ten minutes from gatlinburg, back roads are a must and mellow mushroom is great

      • Rich

        Mellow Mushroom is the worst

  • DarthHater

    Here’s a recording of an amusing moment from a Kane County game: A Four-Minute Skunk Delay

  • BABIP (MichCubFan)

    Twitter is just a lame fad, kinda like smart phones. I’ll just catch up with the next big thing that comes out.

  • chirogerg

    Don’t forget @ProfessorParks ! Not only does he know his stuff, but he is also witty, optimistic about the Cubs system, and basically thinks Albert Almora is the second coming of Jesus.

    • Internet Random

      Maybe Jesus was the first coming of Almora.

  • chirogerg

    Cubs Prospects accounts

    @Javy23Baez – solid, you have a good chance of being retweeted if you praise him
    @AlbertAlmora – one of my favorites, gives insight into minor league life
    @KrisBryant_23 – doesn’t tweet a lot, but solid as well
    @MOlt2222 – hasn’t tweeted since he joined the Cubs
    @Flowbro33 (Pierce Johnson) – solid all around, pretty active
    @SuperSZCZ4 – Just tweets pictures of pretty islands at his girlfriend
    @CEdwardsSBS – solid
    @Flowbro3 (Dan Vogelbach) – pretty good all around, very active
    @Jeimer24C – maybe the most impressive with his outreach to the Dominican community
    @24_PaulyB – meh, lots of retweets
    @RobZastryzny_8 – probably my favorite, really channels the twitterz

    • Mr. B. Patient

      @KimDeJesus9

      ‘Nuff said.

      (check out her twerking tweet. Very cute.

      • N.J. Riv

        She’s very cool. I’ve had some conversations with her on twitter from time to time.

    • http://bleachernation.com someday…2015?

      Olt changed accounts. It’s @mike_olt

  • wilbur

    really useful thread maybe the twitter ids could be listed somewhere in a sticky where people can find them. This site has more useful information than any cubs site on the internet, great work guys, not smug about it either.

    • abe

      mlb top prospects lists includes the players twitter account

  • Jerrymac10

    Cubs Den is a pretty good blog. @tomloxas and @cubden are active and have pretty good insight and sources.

  • Josh

    Carrie Muskrat blog pretty un-usual. Read her comments yesterday as she tells her fans not to argue, that she prefers her blog to be like PBN McNeil-Lehr report with no sports emotion. Guess that knocks out most here. Not kidding–read that blog.

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      Not really a huge fan of Carrie Muskat @cubs.com or Jesse Rogers @ESPNchicago. They do mostly puff pieces, IMO.

      Carrie is great a confirming sources and is very knowledgeable but like you said is she kind of has that “I know all, don’t question me attitude.”

      Jesse Rogers is a good guy, but I honestly feel I know more about baseball then him. He’s a hockey guy not a baseball guy, and the funny thing is that he would honestly admit that. He much rather cover the Blackhawks then the Cubs. I think ESPNChicago put him on the Cubs beat because I think their hoping to find an eventual replacement for Bruce Levine who is starting to get a little long in the tooth and he may be thinking of retiring some time in the couple years or so. I hope Bruce doesn’t retire, he’s informative and has great insight with a very humorous personality.

      I would love to see Brett, Tom Loxas, and John Arguello could do with a press pass and be in the Cubs dugout everyday. But I think since they are bloggers instead of everyday beat guys I think they can take a more firm stance on players and be more opinionated then the beat guys because they don’t have to worry about ruffling as many feather with the players because the beat guys see them everyday in the club house. (I really do think many beat reporters try and not be too critical because they have to see the players everyday. I mean some beat guys do pick fights with players like Paul Sullivan but most don’t like to beat up on a guy because they want to be on their good side and get great quotes)

      I really wish ESPNChicago would hire Sahadev full time because I wish they would take a more analytical approach. Sahadev is very knowledgeable from both saber-metric and baseball approach. I’m a big fan of his work and I think they should replace Jesse Rogers with him. But I could see why they wouldn’t because I feel like ESPNChicago readers are more for the casual fan (Casual fans: need kind of dumbed down coverage, because they may not be as knowledgeable about sabermetrics or daily baseball moves) and not the very in depth analysis fans who are much more informed readers at BN and Cubs Den.

  • DarthHater

    Forget it, Donny, you’re out of your element!

  • DarthHater

    Somebody please remind me why it was a good idea to yank Russell after only 2/3 of an inning and with nobody on base?

    • Kyle

      I dunno. Doesn’t he kind of suck against righties this year?

      • DarthHater

        I know. I was just launching a pre-emptive kvetch.

    • jon

      Need to keep a foothold on that top 5 pick?

  • Mick

    Captain Dale Quade in command.

  • RY

    Total Cluster Fuck job by the bullpen today; Rondon and Bowden have no business being on a major league team at all!

  • N.J. Riv

    Does anyone know when Almora will be back?

    • Mr. B. Patient

      In an interview, Jed said in 10-14 days.

      • N.J. Riv

        From today?

        • Mr. B. Patient

          Check out Brett’s ‘Beating Cardinals….’ post from yesterday. I believe the Jed interview was Friday.

  • N.J. Riv

    Ah well if that’s the case he might have played his last game in KC. I mean if he takes the full 2 weeks there’s only a little over a week of games left in the season. Might as well shut him down and start him at Daytona next year. When healthy, the kid can flat out play.

    • Mr. B. Patient

      The debate around here lately has been discussing whether or not he should play in the AFL.

      • N.J. Riv

        Can Solar and Almora participate? If they had to choose between one or the other I would have to give it to Jorge. The Cubs are expecting a more immediate impact from him than Almora. I know Almora has missed quiet a few games this year, but I believe Solar has hardly played the last year and a half or so. At this point, I think it’s more important to give Solar the more reps.

        • DarthHater

          See the discussion of the AFL rules in Brett’s post from this morning about Castillo.

  • THEOlogical

    Went and saw the Daytona Cubs tonight. C.Black looked really good. Rough 1st inning but was solid. Hit 94 on FB and 83 on changeup. His FB was pretty good but the changeup was swing and miss all night. Geiger had a rough night at 1st base though.

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