October 2012

10/30 Barney wins Gold Glove – UPDATED

Darwin Barney became the Cubs’ first Gold Glove winner since 2007 when he took the defensive award on Tuesday night. Barney is the first Cubs second baseman to claim the honor since Ryne Sandberg did so in 1991. Barney made just two errors and posted a .997 fielding percentage. He played in 141 error-free games, tying a Major League single-season record for second basemen set in 2007 by Placido Polanco. Barney was three outs away from setting the mark before he was charged with a throwing error in the eighth inning Sept. 28 against the Diamondbacks.

Barney, who turns 27 on Nov. 8, does own all NL marks for consecutive error-less games at second base, surpassing Sandberg’s former record 123-game error-less streak, allowing for multiple seasons, that ran from June 21, 1989-May 17, 1990. David Eckstein owned the previous NL single-season mark of 113-consecutive games set with San Diego in 2010.

The Cubs infielder picked up the award over the Reds’ Brandon Phillips, who had the Gold Glove three times in the last four years.

“You don’t expect to pass a guy like Brandon Phillips,” Barney said. “He’s exceptional at what he does. He was the best in the game for a long time, and I can’t sit here and say I’m better than him or anything like that. I had a good season and I think either of us could’ve won it. Fortunately for me, I did. He very easily could have won just as easily as I could.”

Barney recalled a conversation he had with Al Geddes, who was the scout who signed the infielder back in 2007. Barney was playing shortstop for the Cubs but admitted that as much as he loved doing that, he thought he could win a Gold Glove at second base someday.

“It’s funny that three years down the road, it happened,” Barney said.

— Carrie Muskat

10/30 AFL update

Cubs prospect Tony Zych picked up his first save in the Arizona Fall League as the Mesa Solar Sox beat Phoenix, 7-5, on Tuesday. The Solar Sox play host to Salt River on Wednesday.

— Carrie Muskat

10/30 Barney looks golden

If you believe Brandon Phillips, Darwin Barney appears to have won the Gold Glove. Phillips, who won the top defensive award three of the last four seasons, tweeted today: “My 2012 Season/Postseason was GOOD … but NOT GOOD enough: No #AllStar + No #GoldGlove + No #SilverSlugger + No #WSRing = #MOTIVATION.”

Barney, Phillips and the Diamondbacks’ Aaron Hill were finalists for the Gold Glove award, to be announced tonight on ESPN2. Barney had the best fielding percentage among the three at .997, commiting two errors. He also set a NL record for consecutive error-less games, and tied a Major League mark.

— Carrie Muskat

10/30 Germano opts for free agency

Justin Germano, who was outrighted last week by the Cubs to Triple-A Iowa, has elected free agency. Germano was 2-10 with a 6.75 ERA in 13 games (12 starts) with the Cubs. He was acquired from the Red Sox on July 19 for cash considerations. The right-hander began the year with Triple-A Pawtucket, and was 9-4 with a 2.40 ERA in 17 games (16 starts). He is the second Cubs pitcher to opt for free agency after being outrighted, joining Manuel Corpas.

— Carrie Muskat

10/30 AFL update

Dae-Eun Rhee gave up three runs on two hits and three walks over three innings in Mesa’s 7-2 loss to Surprise on Monday in Arizona Fall League play. Cubs prospect Rubi Silva was 1-for-4, but struck out three times. Mesa travels to Phoenix on Tuesday.

— Carrie Muskat

10/30 Johnson named pitching coordinator

The Cubs officially named Vanderbilt pitching coach Derek Johnson as the new Minor League pitching coordinator on Tuesday.  Johnson, 41, spent the last 11 seasons as the Commodores pitching coach, including the last three as an associate head coach/pitching coach. He earned National Pitching Coach of the Year honors in 2004 and National Assistant Coach of the Year honors in 2010.

In 2011, Johnson guided Vanderbilt to the school’s first-ever College World Series appearance. Eight of the team’s pitchers were selected in the First-Year Player Draft, including a pair of first round/supplemental first-round pitchers, Sonny Gray and Grayson Garvin. Johnson has helped develop six pitchers who were selected in the first round/supplemental first round of the Draft, including David Price, who was picked first overall by the Rays in 2007.

Johnson replaces Dennis Lewallyn, who just completed his second year as the Cubs’ Minor League pitching coordinator and sixth with the team. Lewallyn was reportedly joining the Braves as a Minor League pitching coach.

— Carrie Muskat

10/29 Baez injures thumb

Cubs top prospect Javier Baez most likely is done for the Arizona Fall League season after he injured his right thumb. Baez was playing for the Mesa Solar Sox. Jason McLeod, Cubs player development director, said Baez was being examined on Monday, and that the shortstop most likely will not complete the AFL season.

On Monday, Baez said on his Twitter account: “I will be alright soon, feeling better. Will be back ASAP”

Baez, 19, was batting .211 in 14 games with the Solar Sox, and led the league with 16 RBIs, and was tied for the league lead with four home runs. He has started 10 of those games at shortstop, four at third base. The Cubs’ No. 1 Draft pick in 2011, Baez batted .333 in 57 games with Class A Peoria and .188 in 23 games with Class A Daytona this season, his first in pro ball.

The injury was not expected to keep Baez from being ready for Spring Training.

— Carrie Muskat

10/29 Gold Glove announcement Tuesday

The Cubs’ Darwin Barney is one of the finalists for the 2012 Rawlings Gold Glove. The top defensive awards will be presented on Tuesday, starting at 8 p.m. CT (TV ESPN2). Hall of Famers Andre Dawson and Ozzie Smith will take part in the presentation. Each manager and up to six coaches on his staff vote from a pool of qualified players in their league, and could not vote for players on their own team. Barney is a finalist for top National League second baseman, along with the Diamondbacks’ Aaron Hill and the Reds’ Brandon Phillips. Barney finished with the top fielding percentage among NL second basemen (.997), committing two errors in 155 games. Hill and Phillips both have a .992 fielding percentage. Phillips has won the award three times in the last four years.

— Carrie Muskat

10/29 Notebook: Camp, Barney & more

* Cubs reliever Shawn Camp became a free agent on Monday, one of 137 players to do so. Teams have exclusive negotiating rights with their own free agents for five days after the completion of the World Series. Free agents can negotiate with all teams beginning at 12:01 a.m. ET Saturday.

* The Rawlings Gold Glove winners will be announced on Tuesday. The Cubs’ Darwin Barney is the leading candidate to be named top defensive second baseman in the NL.

* According to Baseball America, the Cubs have hired Derek Johnson as their new Minor League pitching coordinator. Johnson was the associate head coach/pitching coach at Vanderbilt, and tutored six pitchers who were drafted in the first round, including David Price and Sonny Gray.

“I saw him as a lab technician almost,” Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin told the Tennessean newspaper in confirming the Baseball America report. “The guy immersed himself in pitching. He immersed himself in the development of the kids. It was on his mind 24 hours a day. The thing I like about him the most is there’s no gray with D.J. It’s black or white. And he’s very loyal to the kids and loyal to the program. He stood for all the right things.”

Johnson recently finished his 12th season at Vanderbilt. He was named National Pitching coach of the Year in 2004 and National Assistant Coach of the Year in 2010. He helped guide the Commodores to the College World Series in 2011. Vanderbilt’s pitching staff that year led the Southeastern Conference in ERA and strikeouts, and had eight players who were selected in the Major League First-Year Player Draft, including first-round picks Sonny Gray and Grayson Garvin. A native of Normal, IL, Johnson began coaching at Eastern Illinois in 1994, and was Southern Illinois’ pitching coach for three seasons, beginning in ’95.

— Carrie Muskat

10/28 AFL & more

Arizona Fall League

Matt Szczur went 2-for-4 and scored two runs but it wasn’t enough as the Mesa Solar Sox lost 12-6 to Salt River on Saturday in Arizona Fall League play. Szczur was batting .264 in the AFL and tied for the league lead with six stolen bases. Javier Baez was 0-for-2, and leads the AFL with 16 RBIs. He’s also tied for the league lead with four home runs, and second in the AFL with 55 at-bats. The Solar Sox have Sunday off, and resume play Monday, traveling to Surprise for a 12:35 p.m. MT game.

Winter League

Jae-Hoon Ha posted his second straight three-hit game on Saturday for the Tigres de Aragua in Venezuelan Winter League play. Ha was batting .314 in nine games.

Junior Lake was 7-for-20 (.300) in six games with Estrellas de Oriente in the Dominican Winter League. Lake has two home runs and was playing shortstop. Another infield prospect, Christian Villanueva, was 3-for-10 in four games with Yaquis de Obregon in Mexican Winter League, while Greg Rohan was batting .205 in 11 games with the Venados de Mazatlan.

Extra bases

Several of the Cubs prospects will be back in Mesa, Ariz., this week to take part in what’s become known as “Camp Bussy/Camp Jarrow” in honor of the team’s strength and conditioning coaches, Tim Buss and Doug Jarrow.

— Carrie Muskat