Make Mine Piniella

The smell of freshly-cut grass, and temperatures in the 60's with nary a cloud in the sky. A smilin' Lou Piniella strolling from field to field, bantering with the fans and signing autographs. The sound of bat on ball, and pitchers practicing covering first on a ball hit to the first-baseman. Ah, yes. While it might not be absolutely as good as it gets, it's pretty close. Your pal AZ Phil and about 100 hopeful Cub fans attended the Cubs first Spring Training workout of 2007 this morning at Fitch Park in Mesa. It was a mandatory work-out for the Cubs' 30 pitchers and six catchers, but six position players (infielders and outfielders) who were not required to report showed up anyway. Broken up into three groups of nine or ten, 29 of the 30 Cubs pitchers (including Carlos Zambrano) participated in fielding drills (the exception being Adam Harben, who is rehabbing from TJ surgery), and most of the pitchers (not including Kerry Wood, who suffered injured ribs in a "hot tub" accident) started their Spring Training throwing regimen in the "pit" under the watchful eye of Pitching Coach Larry Rothschild. And speaking of Kerry Wood, all that talk about Woody losing weight, well, it was not just talk, folks. KW isn't just thin, he's rail-thin. He looks like Sean Marshall, or maybe like a 13-year old who had a six-inch growth spurt during Summer Vacation. I don't know if the weight-loss will make him a better pitcher, but I'll bet he feels a lot healthier. There were six catchers were in camp today catching pitchers throwing in the pit, but no Mike Mahoney. As you know, I thought he might get a late NRI to ST to help catch the pitchers, but apparently the Cubs will make-do with Michael Barrett, Henry Blanco, Geovany Soto, Koyie Hill, Jake Fox, and Casey McGehee. Kudos to the six infielders or outfielders who showed up for the first day of workouts when they didn't have to be there (infielders and outfielders do not have to report until next week). Gold stars go to: Scott Moore Eric Patterson Felix Pie Alfonso Soriano Ryan Theriot Chris Walker Soriano and Pie spent a lot of time talking, probably in large part because they were probably the only two Spanish-Speakers in their group. But you could clearly see that they got along, as they were laughing and having a good time. Hopefully Pie can help Soriano learn the finer points of CF play, and Soriano can help Pie learn the ropes of being a big leaguer. It certainly was a lot of fun watching both of them hustle their asses off chasing down outfield drives into the gaps during BP. The only other thing of note to report from the first day of workouts is that speedy Chris Walker is learning to switch-hit (he had previously been strictly a right-handed hitter). If he is successful in the endeavor and can actually learn to hit left-handed, it might help him get to the major leagues, maybe not with the Cubs, but with somebody. Go Cubs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Comments

I'm giddy.....

I HATE switch-hitters. I don't like switch-hitters and don't like being around switch-hitters. I am switch-hitter phobic. I don't like switch-hitting and it shouldn't be in the world or in the U.S.

well-played....

Does that replace the former standard of " George Bush hates switch hitters"?

"Scott Moore
Eric Patterson
Felix Pie
Alfonso Soriano
Ryan Theriot
Chris Walker"

Ever see Sesame Street? Remember the "One of these things doesn't belong" game? I do.

I love the fact that Soriano is there. For nothing else, it shows that he is not planning on just riding out the fat contract but he is there to work.

If Pedro can do the Mets caravan tour right after he signed, Soriano can show up a week early for spring training.

It's not the best comparison, but the point stands: The dollars he potentially stands to earn through merch and endorsements by endearing himself to the hometown fans as a "hustle guy" and a "team player" far outweighs spending another week *$!%& his wife.

All that said, he does have to learn a new position, and from most accounts he is a good guy, so I don't just automatically suppose that he's doing it for the brownie points. Just pointing out the other side of the coin.

(-Wood) + (-Dempster) = (+Rusch)

Wood injured falling out of a hot tub.

http://sports.excite.com/news/02152007/v0857....

If he's that thin, maybe we should be lucky he didn't get sucked down a drain?

Phil,

While we all appreciate your knowledge and prognostications, please keep the weather reports to yourself.

It's minus 12 degrees in downtown Des Moines, with a wind chill of nearly 20 below. Shrinkage is defined in Merriam-Webster's as February, 15, 2007--Des Moines, Iowa.

I REALLY don't need to hear about fresh grass clippings, 60 degrees and clear blue sky.

Okay...I lied....keep reporting, man. I want to be just like you someday.

Joey...from Iowa

If Soriano comes up big with the glove, imagine how good an outfield with him and Pie could be defensively. Not as good as the Montreal team with Dawson, Raines and Cromartie, but hard to imagine too many balls getting to the gaps out there.

It's good to know that Soriano and Pie are getting to know each other. Hopefully Soriano takes Felix under his wing and shows him the ropes. Felix could definetly develop into the kind of player Alfonso is and probably better if all goes well.

cubs have hired eddie murphy as a special hot tub specialist for the club in light of the latest wood injury.

very proactive move...cudos.

Transmission — February 15, 2007 @ 3:40 pm

Wood injured falling out of a hot tub.
---------------------

I thought that was a joke. I should have known better...

kerry wood and mark prior walk into a bar...out 5-8 weeks with broken toes.

*rimshot*

AZ PHIL & steve,

There's another, I would say more likely reason, Soriano and Pie spent a lot of time talking.

Felix Pie already is a bonafide centerfielder. Soriano is just learning the position. I have no doubt Pie is out there helping Soriano adjust.

But it can't hurt Pie's hitting to have Soriano for a pal.

Hopefully Pie can help Soriano learn the finer points of CF play, and Soriano can help Pie learn the ropes of being a big leaguer.

Yes, let us hope our mediocre prospects can teach our $100 mil+ outfielder a few things.

FWIW-- Steve Stone thinks CF is the easiest of the three OF positions, so long as you are fast enough. Something about having a good view of the ball coming off the bat.

First injury of the season...at least we got the first one behind us.

(AZ) Phil, nice job as always from my long lost brother to the east. We only need 47 more Phils to have one from each state. Go Cubs indeed.

Crunch - that made me laugh.

Harry Caray - "There will be baseball."

I just read something on a site that Levine said on ESPN radio that the Cubs and Zambrano are working on a 5 year deal. Anybody catch that?

Here's the source, probably not the most reliable:

http://www.prosportsdaily.com/forums/showthre...

According to Muskat, Prior did throw off a mound today, as did Wade Miller.

If anybody runs across some spring training pics, pass along the link. I'm really curious to see just how thin Woody looks....

Kerry Wood is an idiot.

Z said today in camp he wants a 5 year deal.

Sign here my friend.

5 years? That's it? Do it now -- $17m, $18m, I don't care, just sign the dude.

STEVE: I heard the reporting in from my favorite beat reporter, Levine.

Indeed there is certainly negotions going on, and Carlos "recanted his statements" made earlier this week on 'GN. It was reiterated that he did not want the distraction of nogotiations beyond opening day. Although, didn't DLee say the same thing?

Also, Big Z was discussing how Big Z wanted money somewhere near Zito. The current standings are a five year deal, and both parties are "on the same page".

Big Z did not say that Big Z wanted 7. Only 5.

Levine stated that he believes things will fall somewhere betw. Oswalt and Zito $$. But, 5 years.

certainly negotions

Er...that's negotiations.

Jayson Stark today in ESPN.com-

"Most improved teams (NL)

1. Cubs
2. Diamondbacks
3. Dodgers

Is there any doubt the heat is building on the North Side of Chicago? Their arch-rivals in Missouri won the last World Series. Their crosstown rivals to the south won the World Series before that one. And if the Cubbies don't win a Series this year, then next year they'll become the first team in pro sports history to have gone a whole freaking century between titles. Lou Piniella, Alfonso Soriano, Ted Lilly, Neal Cotts, Cliff Floyd and the rest of this $300 million "Extreme Makeover" cast don't guarantee them any parades. But if this team isn't vastly better than that 96-loss mess of last year, Piniella might spontaneously combust. Team that spent $208 million and didn't get a vote"

Awesome that Soriano came into camp so early and is buddying up with Pie. It confirms a lot of what Frank Robinson said about him, that Alfonso works as hard as anyone Robinson has seen and is the happiest and friendliest guy he has been around since Ernie Banks.

Jon Lieber has the world biggest f'ning truck!!!

http://bugsandcranks.com/philadelphia-phillie...

He's from Iowa right?

new post up on Z's comments from today btw...

"Levine stated that he believes things will fall somewhere betw. Oswalt and Zito $$. But, 5 years."

Sounds great! Can we sign for him?

I don't know if it would be binding.

Besides, after plunking down for season tix, I will have to wait until May for more revenue to come in. The Cubs just about broke me.

I can't WAIT to see how much they'll raise prices next year.

Oh, they will be placing logos on all of the bases, except for home plate.

Lieber might be from Iowa, but he went to college at South Alabama. They like their trucks really big in Mobile.

We only need 47 more Phils . . . (#17)

At that point we'll have enough votes to change the name from TCR to Cub-philia.

And if the Cubbies don’t win a Series this year, then next year they’ll become the first team in pro sports history to have gone a whole freaking century between titles.

Only if there are no sports outside the U.S.

What??? You HAVE to drive a big truck to live in Iowa?

Lieber is from Council Bluffs, Iowa. That's ALMOST Nebraska.

Oh to be in Mesa right now taking in the Cactus Cubs. -2 here this morning.....sigh....jealous much.

How many Eddie Gaedels can you fit into a F650? 1300?

Changing gears from Jon to John, Cliff Floyd took a poke at John Thompson for his (Thompson's) negative comments re: Floyd's defense.

http://www.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20070...

"For me, defense has been my No. 1 thing for a long time," Floyd said. "I read that [comment by Thomson] and I thought to myself, 'I could've called a couple people and blasted him back.' At this point in my career, the only person he hurt was my mom and dad's feelings. From what I've seen, he's not one of the greatest pitchers in the game, so it didn't affect me in terms of my pride. I wish him the best of luck. Hopefully his luck will change in Toronto. It didn't change in the National League."

Man, I was sensing high-road for a minute, which was refreshing, then: back to reality.

My real name isn't phil but i'll volunteer for the colorado phil representation.

Recent comments

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  • Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.

    VirginiaPhil 2 hours 9 min ago view
  • video of Maddon.

    http://www.espn.com/espn/now?nowId=21-0561343809737202839-4

    always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.

    Rob G. 17 hours 20 min ago view
  • from Muskat:

    #Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs

    Rob G. 17 hours 26 min ago view
  • http://www.espn.com/espn/now?nowId=21-0561339391889382475-4

    Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.

    Rob G. 17 hours 31 min ago view
  • great defense

    Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.

    Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.

    I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.

    Rob G. 17 hours 42 min ago view
  • If all the starters have FIP > ERA, is that luck or good defense?

    Craig A. 17 hours 54 min ago view
  • #Cubs plummet to 19-5 in August.

    Fun with FIP

    • J. Hammel   3.07 ERA/4.27 FIP (3.68 FIP last year)
    • J. Arrieta     2.62 ERA/3.05 FIP (2.35 FIP last year)
    • J. Lester     2.81 ERA/3.67 FIP (2.92 FIP last year)
    • K. Hendricks  2.19 ERA/3.37 FIP (3.36 FIP last year)
    • J. Lackey     3.41 ERA/3.72 FIP (3.57 FIP last year with Cards)
    Rob G. 18 hours 19 min ago view
  • zastyryzryzryzny put in 3.2ip 1h 0bb 3k

    he's great when his control is "on"...problem is it's rarely "on" consistently. he could vault up the cubs prospect list if he ever gets better with that aspect of his game.

    crunch 18 hours 59 min ago view
  • JD's take was just trying to get in a lefty to better deal with mostly lefty Dodgers lineup.

    My second thought was what you came up with. My first thought was he was trying to light a fire under Hammel.

    Jackstraw 20 hours 11 min ago view
  • Maybe he was trying to spare him another brutal road start? NY, Colorado...

    billybucks 20 hours 28 min ago view
  • joe got a pitcher up for hammel at nearly the 1st sign of trouble in the 3rd...pulled after 2.1

    not injured and though it wasn't his day so far he wasn't looking like a pure disaster.

    really short leash on him. zastryznzryzryny in.

    crunch 20 hours 32 min ago view
  • Russell and Soler can attest that Urias has a pretty good curve/slider - two big strikeouts looking to get out of that jam in the first.

    Eric S 21 hours 17 min ago view
  • Classic Scully - great stuff.

    Thank God we'll still have Hawk next season. (cricket cricket cricket)

    Eric S 1 day 2 hours ago view
  • Here's Scully's call on Bryant's 10th-inning homer:

    "And it's a long fly ball, a mean fly ball, and a gone fly ball."

    VirginiaPhil 1 day 3 hours ago view
  • When the Cubs were the old, hundred-year Cubs, one bad hop did not undo their opponents.

    VirginiaPhil 1 day 3 hours ago view
  • If only he was clutcher. More clutcher.

    Jackstraw 1 day 4 hours ago view