We Have Baseball (Almost)!
I haven't enjoyed typing anything as much as this in a very long time:
Per the Sun-Times, here is the Cubs' batting order for Thursday's Cactus League opener at 2:05 Central Time against the now Bonds-less San Francisco Giants:
DeLuca and/or Wittenmyer report that following Dempster's two innings, Sean Gallagher will go for two. Ceda, Cotts, Pignatiello, Ascanio, and Hart will then pitch an inning apiece.
Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez are expected to step into the lineup on Friday, when the Cubs host the Giants at HoHoKam.
From Arizona Phil:
The Cubs moved a half-mile up Center Street to HoHoKam Park this morning for the first time this Spring.
There were about 100 fans in attendance for the "free" preview, and as was the case last year, Manager Lou Piniella opted not to play an intrasquad game to prepare for the Cactus League, instead preferring an extended (90 minute) regular season-type infield practice and traditional BP, followed by baserunning practice.
The position players were broken up into two groups, with the "A" Squad taking its infield practice, BP, and base-running drills on DWP (main field), with the "B" Squad doing the same evolutions on the back field.
This was not "live" BP, but rather "traditional" BP (coaches throwing BP fastballs from in front of the pitchers mound, the kind of pre-game BP teams take during the regular season).
The best pure power performances were by Matt Murton (who hit 'em off the scoreboard, over the scoreboard, and into the lower 40) and Derrek Lee (who hit about a half dozen moon shots).
Kosuke Fukudome also had a nice BP session, hitting ropes all over the field followed at the end by about four or five home runs yanked over the RF fence. Fukudome has had no trouble looking good in "traditional" BP, but he struggled in the "live" BP sessions (with pitchers throwing full speed fastballs, breaking balls, and change-ups) last week at Fitch Park.
Carlos Zambrano took BP with the "A" Squad position players on Dwight Patterson Field, and hit a couple over the fence while batting left-handed, but struggled hitting right-handed.
Again, this was NOT "live" BP, so all that can be gleaned from it is a hitter's power, bat speed, hitting mechanics, etc.
I wasn't able to watch both work-outs at the same time, so I don't know if anybody had an exceptional BP performance on the back field.
GROUP 1 BP
Kosuke Fukudome (raked 'em all over the yard)
Matt Murton (showed tremendous power and bat speed--can N.L. get the DH for 2008?)
GROUP 2 BP
Aramis Ramirez (poor BP outing)
Alfonso Soriano (hit the ball very well)
Geovany Soto (also hit the ball hard, but no HR)
GROUP 3 BP
Daryle Ward participated in fielding practice and baserunning drills, but did not hit, while Zambrano hit but did not participate in fielding practice or baserunning drills
Boras is 63, maybe he'll be retired or dead by the time Bryant, Russell, Almora, Albertos all hit free agency. Doubt he will be before Jake hits there though.
Interesting choices when guys get healthy.
LaStella, Fowler & Soler replace Coghlan, Almora and Sczcur? I assume they don't want Almora to sit.
Despite MIggy's demise, I assume they keep him around to mentor Contreras?
I believe Willson now has more CS than MIggy. The kid has an arm. Also, Russell is amazingly good on those plays at 2nd.
oh yeah...thanks joe/billy.
poor outing, still got the win, go cubs.
Although it felt like it, Jake didn't lose to them -- he got the W. (Assuming you are referring to Monday's game)
Arrieta didn't lose to the Reds. He got the win -- he just didn't pitch like we expect him to.
almora's 1st HR!
it's not like this CIN team is lost-cause horrible, but aside from defense and power this is a truly horrible team.
kinda crazy arrieta lost to them and yesterday's game had to go 15 innings for the cubs win.
It looked like Hamilton got screened by Duvall and that Duvall just barely deflected the ball off of his glove--redirecting it slightly without taking away much of its momentum.
At least it didn't turn into a Schwarber/Fowler situation. Hamilton and Duvall are both pretty important youngish players for the Reds.
he walked off the field on his own. aside from a concussion watch and some attention to his leg/knee that buckled a bit under him, the biggest thing hurt was probably his pride after the ball knocked off his skull.
After last night, an inside-the-park HR seems kind of run-of-the-mill somehow.
Sounds bad for Hamilton. Hope he's okay--listening on the radio.
SHOW ME THE MONEY: Jose Albertos has signed with Mega-Agent Scott Boras.
Albertos has already received his signing bonus and won't see any additional significant money until he reaches the big leagues, so this is a long-term investment for the Boras Corporation.
Other Cubs represented by Boras include Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, and Albert Almora Jr.
I am glad Joe is managing this team and not Old and Blue!
Baez had Maddon's ass last night. I didn't hear the reason for taking Contreras out last night but whatever game management thingy it was, you don't take out your second hottest hitter. Or is he third? Anyway, you don't take him out. The guy can probably play anywhere in the field, anyway. Did anybody see that nice catch in left he made? I don't think he got a late start on that, just tracked it damn well for a catcher.
Bryant took over NL lead in WAR after yesterday's effort. 3.9. Rizzo's at 2.8 and 8th in the league. Rizzo actually with better offensive numbers (161 wRC+ versus 146 for Bryant), but Bryant gets a good bump because of defense and position(s) played.
Fowler with a 2.8 WAR as well (9th), Zobrist with a 2.7 (14th).
M. Carpenter leads NL with 163 wRC+ just ahead of Rizzo who is 2nd.