Z’s Six Strong Stick Jints with Loss

Carlos Zambrano threw six innings of one run ball, Ronny Cedeno and Aramis Ramirez hit home runs, Mark DeRosa was 2-4 with a single and a double, and Michael Barrett was on base four straight times on two singles and two walks, as the Cubs defeated the Giants 6-2 before a capacity crowd of 12,752 at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa today. box score Zambrano was in mid-season form, systematically mowing down the Giants through six innings of work (93 pitches, 13-20-18-14-20-8), allowing four hits, one run (earned), one walk, one HBP, and one WP, to go along with five strikeouts (B. Molina twice, and Feliz, Lowry, and Linden once each), and a 6/7 GB/FB. The only run allowed by Z came as the result of a two-out triple by Kevin Frandsen in the 2nd inning that can be blamed on an ill-advised dive attempt by Jacque Jones on a line drive to RF that should have been a single, followed by a WP. Otherwise, Zambrano was in complete control, and looked like he could have gone another inning or two. After the Giants took a 1-0 lead in the top of the 2nd, the Cubs came back with a four-spot in the bottom of the frame against the SF starter (LHP Noah Lowry). With one out, Michael Barrett worked a walk, and Jacque Jones lined a single to CF on a hit+run. Barrett barely beat Todd Linden's throw to 3rd, and on the play, Jones alertly took second. Mark DeRosa followed, lining a 2-2 pitch just beyond the reach of Giants SS Omar Vizquel, scoring Barrett (Jones had to hold up to make sure the ball went through to the outfield), and then Ronny Cedeno celebrated his apparent appointment to the Cubs 2007 Opening Day 25-man roster by lofting a three-run dinger over the LF fence that was aided some by the wind blowing out to left. The Cubs actually threatened to score even more runs in the inning, as Alfonso Soriano singled and Matt Murton followed with a double down the LF line with two outs (Mike Quade held Soriano at 3rd, though I'm not sure why), but Derrek Lee flied out to RF to end Lowry's nightmare inning (some 30 pitches after it started). The Cubs scored once again in the bottom of the 4th on an RBI double ripped over the left-fielder's head by Derrek Lee, following a lead-off walk to Ronny Cedeno and a one-out HBP (Lowry hit Soriano on the foot). Aramis Ramirez finished the scoring for the Cubs, hitting a moonshot over the left-centerfield fence off Giants reliever Brad Hennessey that (apparently) eventually did land (I think). For Giants fans and fantasy players, be advised every single ball hit off Hennessey was hammered. Even the outs were rockets. He didn't fool anybody (well, OK, he struck out Zambrano). With Zambrano pitching six innings, it didn't leave much opportunity for the innings-starved Cubs relievers. But Kerry Wood (making his first appearance in almost two weeks, after suffering a strained triceps after he stepped into a hole in the mound at HoHoKam), Bob Howry (throwing his second day in a row, as he also threw an inning yesterday in a minor league ST game at Fitch Park), and Ryan Dempster did each get to throw an inning, and all three looked sharp, especially Wood and Dempster. Woody threw an efficient nine-pitch 7th (eight strikes!), giving up a one-out double (still another ill-advised dive attempt by Jacque Jones) around an infield pop up and two 3-1 ground outs. Bob Howry got two quick outs in the 8th before allowing a single and an RBI double, but he did throw strikes and only needed 12 pitches to complete his inning (he threw 25 pitches in his one-inning of work in the minor league game at Fitch yesterday). And then Ryan Dempster threw a super-easy 13-pitch 1-2-3 9th (two 1-3 bouncers and K-swinging). Cubs manager Lou Piniella continues to use movement on the bases, calling three hit+run plays. But the outfield defense still needs work, as Alfonso Soriano made an absolutely atrocious play in the top of the first, trying to make a running short-hop scoop of a low liner to center (he must have had a "shortstop flashback") that bounced past him for a two-base error (but thankfully, Zambrano got Ryan Klesko on a pop fly to LF and struck out Pedro Feliz to avoid any damage), and (as I mentioned) Jacque Jones made two ill-advised dive attempts on liners that turned what should have been two singles into a triple and a double. I believe the Cubs outfielders need to concentrate more on making the routine play, and stop trying to make stupidly impossible plays that end up turning singles into extra base hits. The Cubs have a rematch with the Giants tomorrow afternoon at Scottsdale, as Wade Miller tries to nail-down the 5th starter job. And I wouldn't be at all surprised if several Cubs relievers work in a minor league game at Fitch Park tomorrow, too.
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Comments

Nice job as usual Phil.

I heard on 670am that Lou is giving Prior another start on Wednesday, reiterating that he is still in the mix for the 5th slot.

I guess I can't argue with that, 433. Especially if Miller screws the pooch tomorrow.

With the blessings of the heavens...

Sagelike, if I do say so myself.

I'm all for Prior trying to make the 5th starter spot, but where will Miller go? I think it'd be very un-wise to release or trade him with questions still about this pitching rotation.

At this point I would guess that both Prior and Guzman go to Iowa with Wood claiming the final roster spot.

Miller will get 4 starts and if his ERA is above 5 he'll get replaced by Prior or Guzman (assuming they dominate AAA) and be traded.

I love everything about that game except the fact that I can't find the name T-H-E-R-I-O-T in the box score. :(

--
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az phil-
thanks as always.
is there any possibility that quade is holding runners at third to prevent any home-plate-collision injuries in spring games?

Uh-oh, hate to say this, but Carrie Muskat is now my hero, for writing like this:

"We're going to pitch around Zambrano," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said, pulling a Gatorade-stained sheet of paper from his office garbage can that outlined his notes on the rotation through the May 1 game at Pittsburgh. "

Carrie's maybe figured out that her regular game wrap-up reporting can't hold a candle to Phil's, so she's going for the quirky angle.

But it is pretty funny, makes me think of Tom Hanks in "A League of Their Own."

I agree with Real Neal, if the Cubs bring Prior up then they deal Miller and then Prior gets hurt, then you are not like 2006 but I don't want to see it happen.

Keep Miller up he pitches okay, Prior throws lights out in April in AAA then maybe trade Miller.

Z, THE BIGGEST STORY:

The biggest story here, in my view that has not been addressed here in recent days, is that with 10 days left in the ST season, will Hendry and Z come to terms on a long-term deal?

Good point Andrew. Giving Miller the 5th slot over Prior is the more correctable mistake (if it turns out to be one). If you start Miller and it doesn't work out, you can dump him and go with Prior. If you give the slot to Prior at the start of the season and it doesn't work out, on the other hand, Miller won't be there to replace him because he will almost certainly have been traded.

Prior has more upside than Miller to be sure, which is why I hope he eventually lands in the rotation in 2007. (Admittedly, the odds of that upside being realized are sketchy at best at this stage.) We know what we will get from Miller -- 8 to 12 wins, 8 to 12 losses, nice innings, much frustration. If this team is going to make interesting things happen in 2007, Prior's elusive upside needs to be part of the picture at some point. If he's "back", great. If not, we go with a Plan C (Guzman?).

My point is that at some point in 2007, if you want any magic to come together with this team, you have to roll the dice with Prior and see if he can do it.

If you start Miller and it doesn’t work out, you can dump him and go with Prior. If you give the slot to Prior at the start of the season and it doesn’t work out, on the other hand, Miller won’t be there to replace him because he will almost certainly have been traded.

This is a great point.

But where were you the twelve times I made it earlier this month?

http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/cubs/...

Wood and Piniella at a bit of a crossroads...

'He shouldn't be questioning anybody, truthfully,'' Piniella said of Wood's assertions to reporters that he doesn't need the two-inning appearance or back-to-back days of games that Piniella has scheduled for all his relievers.

Soriano 8
Theriot 7
Lee 3
Ramirez 5
DeRosa 4
Floyd 9
Blanco 2
Izturis 6
Miller 1

Don't really like DeRosa in the five hole. Don't really a whole lot about that lineup other than The Riot being in it.

Rich Hill still has minor league options and I'm not a Guzman fan. Anybody like the idea of Prior 4, Miller 5, w/ Hill replacing the first to get injured. I like Hill and would like him to pitch every fifth day but do we really want to trade Miller May 1st and assume that Prior is going to pitch into October? I think we have played that song before.

Uh...no.

The tragedy of all this is that Marquis might be the sixth or even seventh best SP, but his spot is secure.

Thanks, Jim.

I think Hill is probably our #2. I don't want Miller in there and Hill not in there.

And so we're clear B-52, Prior has an option, too.

Yes?

Oh..a net and a straightjacket?
Yes....you'll find B-52 at #16....go get him boys....

Comcast finally acknowledged that they had a hot-gun during Prior's outing.

Miller hitting 90-91 today, looking good.

1-0 Cubs, Aramis homerun off Zito.

What I was trying to say is I don't think both Prior and Miller will be healthy. I don't want to trade Miller. I would prefer to keep Hill in the rotation. What roster options do we have?

Wade looks pretty sharp. Made a couple of mistakes with the breaking ball, but Frandsen and Linden didn't make him pay for it. Working the change in nicely.

What roster options do we have?

Prior and Guzman both have options...but most likely Prior gets placed on the DL, Guzman or Wood take the final bullpen spot, and Miller takes the fifth spot.

Hill absolutely will not be sent down to start the season. That is just a foolish idea.

re: #13 --

CWTP,

Congratulations on your foresight and original thinking! My apologies for posting something you had already expressed, that must be extremely frustrating.

What I saying is.... May 1st, Prior has a good April at Iowa, Miller has 4 good starts in the Majors. I do not trade Miller to make room for Prior. I realize that Hill is 4 and Miller is 5 coming out of ST. see comment 6.

No... Hill is probably 2 or 3. I, along with most others, would say that Hill pitch better than Marquis and maybe even Lilly this year. Not only that, but Guzman should also be better than both Miller or Marquis. Guzman allows you to trade Miller.

Hill does not get sent down in order to make room for Wade Miller.

Len just said "rested on his laurels." Gotta love spring training.

Is the organization better off using Cedeno as a backup or playing everyday in Iowa?

433,

I'm just happy to see someone agreeing with me once in awhile, even if they didn't know it.

From the Sun Times article Rob G. posted:

'I think it's something that we've all talked about before coming into spring training, that it's not necessary for me to go back-to-back days in spring training,'' he said. ''Can I do it? Yeah. What's the point right now?''

Said Piniella: ''I don't know what was talked about in the offseason. All I know is the way I've been preparing bullpens. And I've had pretty good success with my bullpens.

How does LouPa not know what was discussed in the offseason? And it seems like Wood was told something else from LouPa. I hope they can at least get on the same page. I don't know why this is being discussed through the press when it should be discussed in the clubhouse one-on-one. This is one of my problems with Lou and most "fiery" managers, they aren't afraid to blast or deal with players through the media and publicly, and IMO more times than not that kind of stuff hurts more than helps.

Levine said this morning that he spoke to all the scouts who were in attendance for Prior's start and NONE of them had him down for hitting 90 once. 87-89 was the consensus. It's pretty evident that watching the game on CSN today that the gun is hot again. Zito doesn't throw 92-93. So their gun looks to be 2-3 MPH fast.

CT Steve:
"The tragedy of all this is that Marquis might be the sixth or even seventh best SP, but his spot is secure.

Thanks, Jim."

And making considerably more than pitchers who might very well be better options (Miller, Prior, Guzman). Thanks Jim, indeed.

Transacction Guy:
"Comcast finally acknowledged that they had a hot-gun during Prior’s outing."

Who would have thunk that???

Yea...thanks Jim for adding depth to the Cubs starting pitching, was seriously lacking last year.

How many of you would be bitching about Hendry if the starting rotation consisted of Miller and Guzman, and then the Cubs had an injury and needed Marshall again?

Dyson:
"Is the organization better off using Cedeno as a backup or playing everyday in Iowa?

I would rather see him Iowa, in fact with Izturis and Theriot here, I see no reason to have him in the organization anymore. I think we all saw enough of him last year. I don't see him being anything more than a utility IF. I don't care what he has done this ST, last year he was given the resign and was one of the worst offensive players in all of baseball. And his defense which was suppose to be really good was poor.

But if the Cubs are not going to get rid of him, send him to Iowa and get him to play everyday and wait for an injury to Izzy or Theriot and if he is playing well bring him up to give him one more shot. But if someone is willing to take him off our hands, good riddance.

dave:
"Yea…thanks Jim for adding depth to the Cubs starting pitching, was seriously lacking last year.

How many of you would be bitching about Hendry if the starting rotation consisted of Miller and Guzman, and then the Cubs had an injury and needed Marshall again?"

Just because he added depth doesn't mean it was quality depth. Marquis was one of the worst starting pitchers in baseball last year. If Marshall is healthy I don't see how he couldn't put up at least comparable numbers as to what Marquis can.

Hendry should have taken the Lilly, Marquis, and DeRosa money and gone after a top of the rotation guy. That's what we need/ed.

Manny... I don't disagree that Marquis was pretty bad last year, but you do need to factor in that he "took a couple for the team" when he was left out there for way too long in order to save the bullpen.

With that said, I like how he has pitched this spring, and I know that he is capable of pitching fairly well as he has done it in the past.

I know you would have bitched about Hendry not improving the starting pitching if he ended up relying on rookies.

Who else should he have added?

Didn't Marquis have to "take one for the team" because he stunk up the joint and LaRussa just left him out there? And we should discount that for what reason..?

We should have offered Schmidt 4/40.

Sorry, I couldn't resist...

Sorry to hijack the thread here, but if anyone gets a chance to read SI this don't miss the Matsuzaka article. It is really interesting. But if you are part of the pitch count police, I wouldn't read it without a doctor close by.

dave:
"Who else should he have added?"

Just this offseason: Schmidt, Zito, or Matsuzaka would have been nice.

"Levine said this morning that he spoke to all the scouts who were in attendance for Prior’s start and NONE of them had him down for hitting 90 once. 87-89 was the consensus. It’s pretty evident that watching the game on CSN today that the gun is hot again. Zito doesn’t throw 92-93. So their gun looks to be 2-3 MPH fast."

They allegedly had fixed the gun by the fourth inning. Miller was hitting the low nineties, and Zito was back to his usual 86mph.

Hey CT Steve, if you even want to come up to Norwich for a Defenders game, just email me. You are around Hartford, right?

CWTP: "’I'm just happy to see someone agreeing with me once in awhile, even if they didn’t know it.

Oh, because of you producing the convincing Novoa "stats"? I guess Lou didn't agree with your great 2nd half performance last year - or ST THIS year.

MANNY: "And making considerably more than pitchers who might very well be better options (Miller, Prior, Guzman). Thanks Jim, indeed."

Again, if he could have predicted how various pitchers would have performed in ST in 2007, then, he could go work for a large brokerage house instead of plodding along as a GM. He has done quite alot this off-season and while I am furious for the crap he put on the table the last couple years - he has done more than any other GM this off season. You gotta ease up and let the season unfold for 60 days and see how things go, man!

Also, Lou, unlike Dusty, WILL NOT take the shit - if players do not produce (don't throw strikes) they will be sat down! If one of the cats you have problems with do not perform, I have confidence that between Lou and Trammel, they are not gonna hold on to players places because they are "vets" - if there are options - which we finally HAVE SOME this year - due to Hendry's acquisitions. Spring training for the most part is pretty meaningless - let's see how this team starts the season in 2007.

Is the organization better off using Cedeno as a backup or playing everyday in Iowa?

==================

That's a good question. I'm trying to read between the lines (if there are any) about the decision to keep Cedeno in the bigs or not. It's my hope that Cedeno can prove to be a better SS than Izturis, eventually taking over the full-time job in 2008. Whether or not that's possible, I don't know. And I don't know if Cedeno has more of a chance to improve playing every day at Iowa, or sitting on the bench at Chicago. My guess would be that playing every day is better. Although, it could be that being around Alan Trammell and Gerald Perry every day might be better for Cedeno.

I've also thought about the possibility that Lou wants to be around Cedeno to learn more about him. If Cedeno makes the 25-man, it could be because Lou wants to see what he's got.

I agree with Ronny.

Schmidt's number are going to look decent because of his home park and the NL West in general, but I'll go out on a limb and say when you go in and factor park and league adjustments he's going to be a disappointment. His velocity supposedly is still down this spring as it started to do last season.

via rotoworld...

Wade Miller's final spring #'s:

2-0, 3.63 ERA, 16 K, 4 BB, 17.1 IP

not shabby...

better than sucking, right?

although I think rotoworld is smoking something, Miller should get a start in Vegas since if he is the #5 he won't pitch again until the following Sat versus the Brewers.

On another note, I hate the last week of spring training...I couldn't be more ready for the season and I always fear someone will get hurt.

as for this Lou vs Kerry thing...Kerry can go f*** himself. You haven't done s*** for 3 years, shut the f*** up and be happy someone's willing to pay you.

lou's said a lotta "huh?" stuff this spring...its just there's less people looking to pick it apart as if its gospel and everything said to the media makes a man what he's worth.

http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?...

looks like Lou relented a bit, said Wood will pitch 3 times this week, doesn't necessarily need b2b games to be ready for Opening Day.

"This is one of my problems with Lou and most “fiery” managers, "

and they're white?

|Levine said this morning that he spoke to all the scouts who were in attendance for Prior’s start and NONE of them had him down for hitting 90 once. 87-89 was the consensus. It’s pretty evident that watching the game on CSN today that the gun is hot again. Zito doesn’t throw 92-93. So their gun looks to be 2-3 MPH fast.|

Hi, when did baseball remove the concept of 'fast radar gun' and 'slow radar gun'? Fast = Out of the pitcher's hand. Slow = over the plate. It's like the laws of physics suddenly don't apply as of 2007, when we try to ascertain how hard Mark Prior is throwing.

Rob G,

Sometime you should explain your man-love for Prior and you're teenage anxst for Wood. It would be an interesting read.... well, probably not the man-love part.

|I don’t care what he has done this ST, last year he was given the resign and was one of the worst offensive players in all of baseball. And his defense which was suppose to be really good was poor.|

One time... in band camp... a player didn't have a good year his rookie year and turned out to be OK.

Maybe it would be alright for the Cubs to bring a player up to the majors and not win the RoY.

The Real Neal:
"and they’re white?"

What??? Care to explain??

The Real Neal:
"One time… in band camp… a player didn’t have a good year his rookie year and turned out to be OK.

Maybe it would be alright for the Cubs to bring a player up to the majors and not win the RoY. "

Yeah that .265/.316/.376 line in the minors for Cedeno makes me think he will turn out OK. Maybe on the planet you are living on.

Oh, because of you producing the convincing Novoa “stats”? I guess Lou didn’t agree with your great 2nd half performance last year - or ST THIS year.

Is this gibberish supposed to mean something?

I think Novoa is right where he belongs, down at Iowa waiting for a call. Especially when you consider that his banged up shoulder is still recovering from an automobile accident in January.

But Novoa? Who cares?? It's not me who's puffed him up into a universally hated Bartman-like character who singlehandedly destroyed the Cubs great season last year with his mythological crumbiness.

I don't get it...I like them both. I think Prior's the better pitcher when healthy..but I hope they both resurrect their careers as Cubbies and retire as Cubbies. But if it helps, I think they should both shut the f*** up until their pitching at their previous dominating levels for a sustained period of time.

Mark Prior is topping out at 87 MPH and has logged ONE decent outing, and people are all a flutter thinking about the role he shall play in the starting rotation. Jeez Louise.

Guzman....yea or nay?

If it were my decision, I'd have Angel Guzman pitch as a starter at Triple A versus serving as long man in the Cub pen.

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