Four Jacks Give Cubs Winning Hand at Riverview Park

Zak Blair (single, walk, 3-run HR, three runs scored), Kevin Brown (single, walk, solo HR, three runs scored), and Erick Castillo (three singles and a solo HR) slugged back-to-back-to-back home runs to cap a six-run 2nd inning, Varonex Cuevas clubbed a two-run HR, singled, walked, and scored two runs, and Roney Alcala drilled a two-run double, as the Cubs decimated the Diamondbacks 15-3 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #6 at the Under Armour Performance Center in Mesa, AZ.  

Fernery Ozuna belted a solo HR, a triple, and a single, and Damion Smith slugged an RBI double, singled, walked, and stole two bases for the D'backs in a losing cause.

The Cubs came into game having homered only five times in their first 42 Cactus League EXST games (Tyler Alamo, Rashad Crawford, Erick Castillo, Jeffrey Baez, and Rony Rodriguez with one each), so hitting four dingers in one game was a bit of a surprise. (And Erick Castillo now leads the team in HR with two).   

In EXST Cubs roster news, 22-year old LHP Tyler Ihrig (Cubs 2013 23rd round draft pick - College of Marin) and 22-year old RHP Trevor Graham (Cubs 2013 13th round draft pick - Franklin Pierce University) have been promoted to Hi-A Daytona, replacing RHP Jose Rosario (assigned to Extended Spring Training) and RHP Zach Cates (placed on D-Cubs 7-day DL). Graham and Ihrig have been the two best starting pitchers so far at Extended Spring Training and the duo very likely would have been the Boise Hawks top two starters, too. Graham was scheduled to start today's game at Riverview Park and Ihrig was scheduled to start tomorrow, so the EXST Cubs pitching plans were thrown into disarray with the two promotions (although nobody is complaining).   

THE PITCHING LINES FROM TYLER IHRIG'S SEVEN 2014 CACTUS LEAGUE EXST OUTINGS
4/11 - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 1 K, 2/2 GO/FO, 40 pitches (25 strikes)  
4/16 - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 3/0 GO/FO, 25 pitches (15 strikes) 
4/23 - 3.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 4 K, 3/2 GO/FO, 51 pitches (32 strikes) 
4/29 - 3.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (0 ER), 1 BB, 4 K, 4/1 GO/FO, 38 pitches (26 strikes) 
5/5   - 3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (0 ER), 0 BB, 5 K, 3/1 GO/FO, 39 pitches (27 strikes) 
5/10 - 4.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K, 2/5 GO/FO, 53 pitches (39 strikes)  
5/16 - 4.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (0 ER), 1 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 1 PO, 1 GIDP, 5/2 GO/FO, 61 pitches (41 strikes)
TOTAL: 21.0 IP, 16 H, 8 R (4 ER), 4 BB, 26 K, 1 WP, 1 PO, 1 GIDP, 22/13 GO/FO, 67% strikes, 1.71 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, .211 OppBA

THE PITCHING LINES FROM TREVOR GRAHAM'S FIVE 2014 CACTUS LEAGUE EXST OUTINGS
4/10 - INTRASQUAD GAME
4/15 - 3.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 1 GIDP, 7/0 GO/FO, 43 pitches (26 strikes)  
4/21 - 3.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K, 0/3 GO/FO, 33 pitches (24 strikes)  
4/26 - INTRASQUAD GAME 
5/2   - 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 4 K, 2/2 GO/FO, 65 pitches (36 strikes)   
5/8   - 4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 2/6 GO/FO, 52 pitches (30 strikes) 
5/15 - 4.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 6 K, 1 WP, 4/1 GO/FO, 68 pitches (45 strikes)
TOTAL: 17.0 IP, 14 H, 4 R (3 ER), 5 BB, 22 K, 1 HR, 1 WP, 1 GIDP, 15/12 GO/FO, 62% strikes, 1.59 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, .226 OppBA   

Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs players only):

CUBS LINEUP:  
1. Charcer Burks, CF: 1-4 (F-7, 1B, K, 4-1, BB, 2 R, RBI, SB)
2. Zak Blair, DH #1: 2-4 (1B, HR, BB, F-9, 6-3, 3 R, 3 RBI)
3. Kevin Brown, LF: 2-4 (1B, HR, BB, K, L-7, 3 R, RBI)
4. Erick Castillo, C: 4-5 (1-3, HR, 1B, 1B, 1B, 2 R, 2 RBI)
5. Roney Alcala, 1B: 1-4 (2B, 4-3, K, BB, K, 2 RBI)
6. Gleyber Torres, SS: 1-4 (K, BB, 1B, 4-6-3 DP, 3-U, RBI)
7. Adonis Paula, DH #2: 0-4 (6-3, BB, K, 6-4 FC, 6-4 FC, 2 R, RBI)
8. Varonex Cuevas, 3B: 2-4 (BB, 1B, HR, 6-4 FC, F-7, 2 R, 2 RBI)
9. Ricardo Marcano, RF: 1-4 (1B, 4-6 FC, F-7, 4-3, R)
10. Dalfis Ortiz, 2B: 0-2 (1-3 SH, BB, 4-3, K)  

CUBS PITCHERS:
1. Trevor Clifton: 3.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R (3 ER), 2 BB, 3 K, 1 HBP, 1 HR, 1 WP, 2/4 GO/FO, 69 pitches (35 strikes)
2. Adbert Alzolay: 2.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K, 1/4 GO/FO, 46 pitches (28 strikes)
3. Josh Davis: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 0/3 GO/FO, 34 pitches (22 strikes)
4. Greyfer Eregua: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 2/2 GO/FO, 10 pitches (8 strikes)

CUBS ERRORS: 1
1B Roney Alcala - E-3 (missed catch on pick-off attempt at 1st base allowed runner to advance to 2nd)

CUBS CATCHERS DEFENSE:
Erick Castillo: 1-5 CS

ATTENDANCE: 7

WEATHER: Sunny a bit breezy with temperatures in the 80's

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Comments

Bring him up! He'll fit right in.

I have some not-so-surprising observations from the ball game today:
1- Castro looks like a goddamn pro in the field. He's playing some of the best defense this side of Omar Visquel. 2- Sureoutz looks completely lost/overmatched. 3- Same for Barney. 4- Veras' days must be numbered

There's no reason at all for Sureouts or Barney to be getting any at bats. Kalish isn't a masher but he'll get as many home runs as Sureouts will, so may as well play him every day. If Theo is really trading Shark, though, he really ought to try to get a young major league ready outfielder to take over right field. The Cubs don't have anybody in the system ready to come up, thanks to Soler Urgent Care and their stubborn refusal to give Bryant reps. I guess they're just not sold on Olt yet. These people make interesting decisions. They get their wish in Castro and Rizzo turning things around but don't bring in anybody in support of them. Especially outfielders. Their lame offseason is being fully exposed for the travesty it was.

Chicago Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts is offering a new pitch to long-suffering fans as he struggles to get a Wrigley Field renovation underway: If the rooftop owners are going to sue us anyway over blocked views into the stadium, we might as well get more of what we want in an upgraded ballpark.

To that end, he plans to submit a revised proposal to City Hall that would feature more large electronic signs, additional seats, bigger clubhouses and a relocation of the quaint bullpens from foul territory to a spot under the bleachers by removing bricks and some of the iconic ivy and covering the space with a material that would allow relievers to see onto the field, according to a high-ranking Cubs source.
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-ricket...

Cubs to push forward with expanded plan for Wrigley renovations
http://politics.suntimes.com/article/chicago/cubs-...

Good to see them trying to move forward.

The Courts will now Settle Things - Ricketts Ends Negotiations

Ok Guys - Its gonna be a field day for the news outlets, blogs, etc.

Hold on to your seat belts!

http://www.wrigleyfield.com/

I'm sure with the lawsuit in mind, Ricketts made a pointed of emphasizing that it is an expansion.

Planning an expansion of the ballpark is certainly appropriate, seeing as how they're putting an expansion team on the field.

GM Ranking (Damn slideshow)

http://www.sportingnews.com/mlb/story/2014-05-22/baseball-general-manage...

Beane #1, Hoyer #20, Amaro Jr. #30

it being a list and all, commence bitching

and the write-up for my most favorite GM, Kevin Towers

When your grand strategy is that Mark Trumbo will fix everything by hitting 40 home runs, and you give up a hitter who could eventually basically be Trumbo, Matt Davidson, to get a so-so closer in Addison Reed when you already have Brad Ziegler, it’s worth wondering exactly what you’re thinking. Meanwhile, Towers is the architect of a starting rotation whose ceiling is something like five No. 3s, or maybe a No. 2, three No. 3s, and a No. 4. Really, Arizona was at a crossroads after going 81-81 last year, and without actively embarking on a rebuilding project, Towers put Arizona in a position where one appears inevitable now.

also, the Justin Upton trade...

Hoyer could use a lift (2nd pic down)

http://donaldandlisasorensonfamily.blogspot.com/20...

You can't really give a high rating to a team that's been deep, deep deep in the loss zone like the Cubs are every year. If The Plan works, and the Cubs become a dynasty, the number will improve.

He's caught between a rock and a hard place.

danny worth (2nd/3rd, DET) pitched an inning today. he had a shockingly good knuckleball with great command/control, though the velocity was rather ordinary/low (68-71mph).

1ip 1h 0bb 2k

btw...this isn't going to be a "thing"...it's just the 2 guys i've posted about lately have had shockingly good or surprising stuff for someone pitching throw-away innings as position players. d.butera (C, LAD) has actually pitched twice in a short period of time with his 94mph fastball...go figure.

tough day for Rangers

Fielder out for season most likely, cervical fusion surgery in neck and Profar reinjures shoulder, out 8-12 more weeks, was suppose to be back mid-June.

all the more reason to cough up Alfaro, Gallo, Perez and Luke Jackson for Samardzija

Mike Olt batting 5th tonight?!

I'm just so happy... *tear*

The real beauty of it is that Sureouts isn't batting right after him. Why Sureout is in the lineup at all is a mystery.

Dammit I was gonna go to tonight's Round Rock game but I had to work late. Baez is back! Bring him up! Oh, and Javy? Learn second. Thanks.

It's wear your "Waiting for Baez" t-shirt night. 4-4, HR and two doubles.

Someone asked me if that was from a Joan Baez concert?

and Bryant 3-3 with 3 rbi.

Is Javy is wearing a "Waiting for Bryant" t-shirt?

Where's (Kobe) the Beef?

Javy had been heating up prior to tonight's big game -- I think he has now hit in 7 straight games.

27 total bases in his last ten games. Just for some perspective, Bryant has 24 in his last ten. .984 OPS for Baez in those last ten, 1.054 for Bryant.

The Cubs would be a very different team if those two were up and playing. Believe it or not, in spite of my usual "bring em up" mantra, I'm not advocating that yet. But when they do come up, and if they manage a similar pace, that changes things a lot.

In the case of Bryant, and Olt, all the more reason to get Olt as many ABs as they possibly can. He went 0-4 last night? Tough shit. Get him out there again tonight. And get Bryant some playing time in the outfield if you are serious about playing him out there. Olt's quite a fielder. At least Olt was nearly 1-4, but for a good play by the SS. That wasn't a bad AB. Another AB I saw he did his best Brett Jackson impersonation. ABs, ABs, ABs, captain Happy.

Interesting Fangraphs piece on Samardzija:

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/jeff-samardzija-in-...

Interesting about his release point.

Still, I think many pitchers are benefiting from this new dead ball era ("dead ball era" might be too extreme... Call it what you want). I think some of it is less PED use and some of it is due to these extreme and detailed shifts that teams are putting on players based on the large amounts of data the teams have at their disposal. They even adjust their shift based on the batter's count. It's crazy out there. Anyways, this should be part of any discussion when comparing numbers from year to year.

Baseball Prospectus, Minor League Update:

Hitter of the Night: Javier Baez, SS, Cubs (Iowa, AAA): 4-5, 2 R, 2 2B, HR.
No, one hot week doesn’t make up for six horrendous weeks, but it looks like Baez is officially out of his funk. He’s now 12-for-his-last-28 over his past seven games, and the power has returned as well, with five doubles and three home runs in that stretch. The most important indication that he’s turning things around, however, is that he has just five strikeouts over that span, and three of those came on Wednesday. For a player whose free-swinging ways are what gets him in trouble, putting the ball in play is half the battle, because when he does, he usually does it very hard.

Paul Blackburn, RHP, Cubs (Kane County, A-): 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K. The Cubs need pitching help now, and Blackburn won’t help with that, but if they’re patient, they could watch him develop into a mid-rotation starter. The former supplemental first-rounder is throwing a ton more strikes this season and his sub-1.00 WHIP shows the difference.

Kris Bryant, 3B, Cubs (Tennessee, AA): 3-3, R, 2B, 2 BB, SB. No one has ever hit over .300 with more than 190 strikeouts (which Bryant would be on pace to break if he were playing a 162-game season), so something has to give, but I wouldn’t count on it giving way in Double-A. The swing-and-miss in his game figures to be an issue at some point, but not a big enough one to keep him from being an incredibly productive player and cornerstone piece for the Cubs.

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?arti...

Baseball America's latest mock draft:

1.Aiken, 2.Jackson, 3.Rodon

4. CUBS: The Cubs would love for Rodon to fall here and would like a college pitcher. But injuries to East Carolina righthander Jeff Hoffman and UNLV righthander Erick Fedde and Texas Christian lefthander Brandon Finnegan’s recent slide have thinned that crop. Team president Theo Epstein was part of a Cubs contingent checking out Kennesaw State catcher Max Pentecost at the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament this week in Fort Myers, Fla. If the Cubs aren’t comfortable with Texas prep fireballer Tyler Kolek or Louisiana State righthander Aaron Nola, they appear poised to take Pentecost, who could sign a money-saving deal that would allow the Cubs flexibility later in the draft.

Projected Pick: C Max Pentecost
http://www.baseballamerica.com/draft/2014-draft-pr...

If the Cubs aren’t comfortable with Texas prep fireballer Tyler Kolek
---
Why wouldn't they be comfortable with Kolek? Downside is injury, just like all pitchers, no?

how much risk though vs expected bonus of a high schooler? Not that I think they would pass Kolek because of bonus demands, but if there's something to give them pause on his stuff, mechanics, etc, then those factors might be considered.

I know the McLeod/Hoyer/Epstein trio aren't batting 1.000 on draft picks over all their years, but man, that track record is kind of ridiculous in my opinion on drafting and developing talent. Sure the bonus/compensation thing is different now, but you have to give them the benefit of the doubt imo.

downside on Kolek btw is that he's a big boy/250 pounds, would be the biggest HS pitcher ever drafted and secondary pitches aren't great at the moment.

"they appear poised to take Pentecost, who could sign a money-saving deal that would allow the Cubs flexibility later in the draft."

aka, 2nd round pick = jeff hoffman

a lot of obstacles to get that though, quite a few teams with extra picks and extra bonus money before Cubs get their 2nd pick.

Callis latest mock draft:

Aiken, Jackson, Rodon
4. Cubs: Nick Gordon, SS, Olympia HS (Orlando, Fla.)
Though Chicago needs and wants pitching, it could spend a top-10 choice on a position player for the fourth straight year. If Aiken and Rodon aren't available, there's a growing sense that the Cubs would pass on Kolek in favor of Gordon or Jackson. A healthy Hoffman would have been the obvious choice here, and if Chicago doesn't see an obvious fit, it could cut a deal with Kennesaw State catcher Max Pentecost and save money to spend elsewhere.
http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/mlb/mock-draft-ast...

nick gordon going #4 would be as much of a joke as max pentecost going #4...and that's who the cubs are linked to as of today.

meh.

pentecost makes some sense...nick gordon is a contact hitting, good fielding, SS...you can get that out of trea turner while buying a few years of experience to get him up quicker.

Baseball America Chat:

Hi JJ, Please compare and contrast Corey Seager with Kris Bryant. who do you prefer? Thanks.

J.J. Cooper: I think both of them are third baseman long term, but I’ll take Bryant. Yes, Seager is younger, but Bryant has some of the best power in the minors. I think he’s a safer bet and one with just as much if not more upside.

Wondering if you think Baez will be a top 10 prospect by year's end, or did the poor start hurt him too much?

J.J. Cooper: He was coming into the year and as bad as the start has been, I’d still have him top 10 right now. I assume his numbers will get better from here.

http://www.baseballamerica.com/fantasy/prospect-ho...

Going into action on May 23, the Cubs have a +4 run differential, are 6 games out of a playoff spot, and have a playoff probability percentage of 19.8%. The pitching is better than average, and the offense is one bat away from being OK with several unblocked position to choose from.

Given the above, there are about 28 teams in baseball that would be in "compete this year" mode (note the difference from "go all-in"). But even if the Cubs were to hang around the fringe of the race into July, it's unfortunate that Ninja and Hammel are probably history, plus Veras and Sures if they gains any value back and Barney if anyone wants him. The last 3 granted have not contributed much but could rebound, and the first two are part of the reason this team is not terrible, maybe bad, maybe OK, and maybe a couple of acquired role players and a Hot Javy away from sniffing the WIld Card.

2014. Believe.

I have a feeling if they were to be 6 games back of a playoff spot in July, they might not be selling. 3rd worst record in baseball at the moment, so if the winning record starts to match the peripherals that will correct itself and maybe they don't sell, but start calling up some of the potential impact players.


Or they stay in the bottom 5 in baseball, and continue to trail the other 4 teams in their division, all of which obviously have more talent and be sellers again.

Have to think if Blue Jays keep this up, Sanchez and Stroman may become available for Samardzija.

I like that 19.8% number quite a bit, actually. This team has a one-in-five chance to do something, barring a selloff.

If the Cubs managed an extension with Samardzija, this could be a fairly different season. If they manage to sell off Schierholtz, Veras, and Barney, that may not adversely affect the roster at all--heck, the team may even get better with more playing time for Valbuena/Olt and Kalish/Ruggiano.

But it's hard to imagine the rotation maintaining any semblance of MLB quality without Samardzija and Hammel, who have been pretty stellar thus far.

I'm still in the mode of hoping they get MLB-ready talent in the significant trades this year, that way 2015 will really be the year of the roster arriving and not another year of waiting on A-ballers and AA kids to get their ABs.

Seems like Baez, Bryant, and Alcantara should all arrive by the end of this year or beginning of next. Needs more pitchers.

And of course, one game later, their run diff is -6 and their playoff odds are down to 12.6%. Never prognosticate during a winning streak, amirite?

What team would give the Cubs ANYTHING for Darwin Barney? I mean, seriously.

Well, a team in the pennant hunt might want a late-inning defensive replacement for the final month or so of the season. The Cubs would likely be willing to let him go just to save a few hundred thousand dollars in salaray for those 6+ weeks. The trade will be a for a player to be named later, and then to complete the "trade" the team would send a low minor leaguer that they planned to cut anyway to the Cubs sometime in October, who will likely never play a game for the Cubs. The Cubs save cash, open up a roster spot, and get some playing time for younger guys for the end of the season. That's my guess for how it would look if he is dealt.

saving loot has worked out wonderfully so far...it's allowed for additional lawyers, architects, lobbyists, commercial advertising specialists, and promotions department employees.

one day they might add a ballplayer they plan on keeping for more than 1/2 a season, too...not counting e.jackson...i wish that didn't count.

Well, they have also spent a lot of money on the draft and on international signings, and some are very young so you haven't seen them yet--but they are players the team has already kept for more than 1/2 a season and will likely be in the system for many years.

Barney is potentially headed for outright release or to be put on waivers, if the Cubs decide they want to open up a roster spot for some reason.

Also, RE: crunch, I'm not sure this is what you are doing, but complaining about the Cubs trading Barney to save some cash seems silly--the Cubs will get rid of Barney to be rid of Barney, and saving cash while doing so if possible is just like picking money up off of the ground; it would be silly to just let it lie there.

no, i'm just commenting/joking on what "saved money" has brought the team so far.

i'm all about getting rid of barney. his biggest team strength right now is he seems to be that he's the primary SS backup...and that's not exactly a pressing issue even if he is eventually needed to fill that role because of his anemic bat. i could very much live with valbuena playing 2nd until someone else emerges...if that happens. valbuena may not be a GG caliber 2nd baseman, but he's good enough to play there.

"What team would give the Cubs ANYTHING for Darwin Barney?"

You're forgetting that Barney is a shortstop, and quite a good one.

Light hitters who play SS at a high level can survive in the majors a long time: see, for example, Cesar Izturis's twelve-year career and Neifi Perez's thirteen years--just to mention two shortstops who were much hated by commenters on TCR.

Barney's first couple of seasons with the bat are fairly comparable to Andrelton Simmons's. If Barney can't be traded now, he's another casualty of the Cubs' recent attempts to overhaul a hitter's approach at triple-A or above, in order to turn him into someone who would have been drafted by McLeod in the first place.

Yes, you can stick in the majors as a bench player for a long time if you are a good defensive middle infielder even if you don't hit much. That's not the same thing as being a player who will bring back anything of value in a trade. There's always another Cesar Izturis around.

What you said...and the age difference between Simmons and Barney when they started

edwin jackson...the "plan B" that keeps playing like a "plan S".

the "S" is for sucks...because ejax sucks...that's the joke.

hahhahahahahahaha...sigh.

I keep wanting to make fun of the Pads lineup, which features the 4-7 hitters with averages under .200, and 8 hitter with a .204 average, and career 4th outfielder Seth Smith as the cleanup hitter.

But they made Jackson look pretty bad in that first inning.

This ump tonite sucks

I hope Capt Happy makes Jaxson wear this tonite.

Tonight's SP (T.Wood) has a higher slugging pct. than the #7 (SureOuts) and #8 (Darwin B) hitters in tonight's lineup.

Awesome.

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