Cub Bats Go Silent at Talking Stick

Five Colorado pitchers combined to throw a five-hit shutout, and Jordan Pacheco crushed a pinch-hit three-run home run, leading a Rockies split squad to a 4-0 whitewashing of the Cubs in afternoon Cactus League action at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort on Salt River Maricopa-Pima Indian Community land located east of Scottsdale today.

box score

The Cubs got their lead-off hitter on base in four separate  innings, but could not get the big hit when they needed it.

Geovany Soto reached on a ground rule (fan interference) double leading off the top of the second, but failed to advance to third on a ground-out bouncer over the pitcher's head that would have allowed him to score on another ground out later in the inning.

Starlin Castro singled to lead-off the 4th, but was left stranded at 1st base when the next three Cubs hitters went down in order. (And Castro was totally perplexed by Rockies LHP Jorge De La Rosa's delivery, to the extent that he kept returning to 1st base every time De La Rosa threw the ball home).

Facing RHP Clay Mortensen, Kosuke Fukudome walked to lead-off the top of the 5th, and then Blake DeWitt followed with a line-drive single to right-center that sent Kosuke scampering to 3rd. But Scott Moore and PH Max Ramirez both struck out swinging (although M. Ramirez launched a 400-ft foul ball that drifted just outside the LF foul pole), and Fernando Perez grounded out sharply to 3rd (nice diving stop & throw by Rockies 3B Thomas Field, who robbed Perez of an RBI).  

And finally Jim Adduci led off the 8th with a pinch-hit single up through the box (deflected by the pitcher), but Reed Johnson popped out, Matt Camp struck out, and Lou Montanez popped out to end the inning. 

Bobby Scales also singled with two outs in the 7th.

And that was the extent of the Cubs offense.   

Carlos Zambrano was the Cubs starting pitcher today, and he labored through his three innings. Although he worked fast and didn't walk anybody, he did throw 61 pitches (41 for strikes), including a 25-pitch 1st inning. He allowed one run (earned) on five hits (all singles), but one of the hits was a pop-up to LF that Tyler Colvin misplayed into a single. (Colvin initially broke back, then tried to recover, spinning his wheels as he tried to go forward, as the ball dropped safely in front of him). Colvin has struggled with his outfield defense throughout Spring Training.

While Zambrano did not allow any extra base hits and none of the singles he surrendered were hit particulary hard, he only had one strikeout (he couldn't put hitters away once he got two strikes, as the Rockies hitters kept fouling balls off) and he had trouble keeping the ball down, the second time in a row this has happened. It almost looks like he is either short-arming the ball (even more than usual), or maybe his back is bothering him. But he doesn't look quite right.   

Sean Marshall threw a shutout 4th inning and looked good, except he essentially needed to get four outs because the Cubs infield once again could not turn a routine 6-4-3 DP. (Blake DeWitt's relay throw to 1st was off-line, and 1B Scott Moore missed the batter-runner with the tag). 

Veteran RHP Braden Looper (battling for the 5th starter's job) was next, and he breezed through the 5th & 6th (16 pitches total - 12 strikes), retiring all six men he faced. But then it was as if he hit a wall when he came out to pitch his third inning (the bottom of the 7th), as he was unable to throw strikes, could not control his breaking ball, and lost some velocity on his fastball. It was this inning where (off Looper) Rockies PH Jordan Pacheco hammered his three-run jack. For the day Looper threw 35 pitches (20 strikes), but it looks like if he throws anything more than about 15-20 pitches, he's gassed.  

Burly RHP Robert Coello (recently acquired from the Boston Red Sox for minor league 2B Tony Thomas) pitched the 8th inning, and once again he had absolutely nasty stuff, was almost impossible to hit (he racked up two strikeouts), and he had a lot of trouble throwing strikes (24 pitches - 14 strikes in 1.0 IP). He did throw seven straight strikes after receiving a visit to the mound from new Cubs pitching coach Mark Riggins, however.

Today was my first time inside Salt River Fields (it just opened last month), and it is a magnificent faciility conveniently located between two freeway off-ramps. The main stadium is very nice (comfortable chair-seats, informative scoreboard, steeply-sloped outfield lawn seating, concession stands with grills, rest rooms located right behind the grand stand, and lots of shaded seating). The grounds are shared by the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks (both teams moved their Spring Training operation and Minor League HQ up to Maricopa County from Tucson after last season), with the Rockies practice fields, ticket office, and clubhouse located on the south end of the property, and the D'backs' fields, ticket office, and clubhouse on the north side. Each team's roomy two-story clubhouse includes a fitness center and plenty of office space and meeting rooms. The two teams share the main stadium (one team is home each day). Each side of the shared complex features ten batting cages, four full fields, and a half-field that can be used for bunting drills, baserunning instruction, and Pitchers Fielding Practice. Elevated walkways have been constructed above and next to the batting cages and back fields, providing outstanding views for the fans. 

Most all of the Cub brass was at today's game and gave the facility a close inspection, probably to help gather some ideas for the new Cubs Spring Training & Minor League complex that will be constructed at Riverview Park in Mesa (at 8th Street & Dobson Road) over the next couple of years.      


Your hunch. Coello late reliever in Iowa or makes it to Wrigley in April?

Submitted by tim815 on Tue, 03/08/2011 - 8:33pm.
Your hunch. Coello late reliever in Iowa or makes it to Wrigley in April?


TIM: Right now I would guess Coello goes to Iowa out of Spring Training.

As AZ PHIL has been giving nice updates, including those on Vitter's progress (or lack thereof), he mentioned recently that it is possible that A-Ram might just end up with the Cubs again next year.

Of course a lot of this depends on how both the above players do this year.

I was curious who was a free agent next year in case Vitters does not pan out, and the Cubs do not have any viable internal candidate.

Here is the list of 3B via MLB Trade Rumors:

It is truly the "Old Man's Club".

Blech. I hope Vitters can get his shit together or another player can rise to the occasion. If not, we are potentially looking at another post-Santo to prime A-Ram era again.

The Cubs actually found a great replacement for Santo only a few years after he left but Bill Madlock had the misfortune of being black while asking PK Wrigley to pay him like the batting champ he was.

Then traded Madlock for Bobby Murcer and paid him more than Madlock was asking for. PK was a douche.


Yeah, that was when cynicism first started to make inroads on my attitude about the Cubs' ownership. My first experience of rampant executive stupidity, soon to be followed by the Maddux non-signing debacle. The Maddux thing, combined with the '94 strike, put me off following the Cubs (and baseball) for a good 7 years. Ugh.

Interesting article in that it's hard to tell if Quade or Zambrano does more heroin.

Headline:"Perez's speed an asset to Cubs"

okay, dazzle me with how this will help the cubs win games and how the lack of it has hurt the team recently.

The Chicago Cubs and the San Francisco Giants tied for the fewest stolen bases in the Major Leagues last season with 55.

well that's a poor start...

The last real base-running threat that the Cubs featured in their lineup was outfielder Juan Pierre during the 2006 season. That season, Pierre stole 58 bases for a horrendous North Side team that Dusty Baker managed to 96 losses.

Fantastic, point out that when they did have a stealing threat, they still sucked. I feel Levine didn't do very well in debate club in high school.

further down...

Since 2000, the Cubs have had only three players steal more than 30 bases in a season (Eric Young had 54 in 2000, Corey Patterson stole 32 in 2004 and Pierre’s 2006 season.)

Well if you're goal was to convince me that a basestealing threat does very little to help the team win, by all means, job well done.

Lollercoasters. Well done, Rob.

That reminds me of when I edit ESL 'argument' papers for friends.

"This is what I I'll throw in whatever information I can find even if it disproves my argument".

I'm no debater but it seems to me that Perez might have won a game with his speed just this past Monday.

Perez walked with one out in the ninth, stole second, took third on a fly to center and scored on a two-out single.

Statistically, it would be hard to prove who or what won the game. Possibly it was someone who saw a lot of pitches in an at-bat in the fifth inning. But after Perez scored, the game was over and the Cubs were ahead.

how bad Vince Naimoli was as an owner

One of the Devil Rays' biggest Naimolified public relations disasters involved the St. Petersburg High School band. The team invited the band to perform the national anthem—only to have the appearance canceled after band members were told at the last minute they would have to pay to get into the ballpark.

talks about how Naimoli thought email was a fad and refused to buy it for the Rays as well..

Former Cubbie Luis Salazar hurt by a foul ball.

I hope he's going to be OK.

Lu-is Sal-a-zar (feliz navidad)
Lu-IS Sal-a-zar (feliz navidad)

Wow.. Horribly bad incident. I wonder if that might screw up McCann's (batter of the ball that struck Salazar) psyche for awhile. That could mess with your mind.

BB, BB, 1B, K, BB (Francouer of all people), 3B, 1B

K and a groundout to get out of it, 5 runs total.

23 pitches, 11 strikes, 12 balls, allegedly throwing mostly fastballs

I'm listening to the Royals crew. It sounded like he was trying to make the fastball work, even though the batters were missing the curveball by 1+ foot. I don't think Cabrera would have seen a fastball at that situation during a regular game.

Spring training ... it's just like baseball!

FYI: I heard Levine this am. He specifically reported that Garza told him he will not be throwing ANY curves today at all. It is part of his ST regimen - as he works up to it.

Garza told Levine he would be working on locating his fastball, etc.

Obviously he still needs more work at it!

Mo (Chicago)
Hey Bruce, I know he's not throwing breaking balls yet, but geesh. Should we be concerned about Garza at all? Thanks!

Bruce Levine (1:02 PM)
Good news is he started to throw breaking balls yesterday after he walked the ballpark with his fastball. And they were pretty good. Couple really good sliders. Nothing wrong with his arm, so I expect improvement from him here on out.

not as awesome as this dude

Hey love the chat! why hasn't Matt Garza lived up to expectations?

to quote Allen Iverson

"we’re talking about practice man, we’re not even talking about the game, when it actually matters, we’re talking about practice "

better 2nd inning

K, BB, FO-8, GO 6-4

GO 5-3, K, 1B and Garza is done

J. Jackson comes in and gives up a single and the inherited run

garza - 2.2ip 4h 6er 4bb 4k


maybe silva will send him a text message telling him it's okay.

Ramirez in to catch Marmol. Koyie Haters rejoice.

on what planet does that have anything to do with me or what i posted about garza?

you forgot to take your "meds".

oh, it's another immature and stupid as hell internet day for you.

your mom wears combat boots and stuff.


I think he was just replying to the general game thread that started there...

the real good part starts around :45

i just should have posted my table-cat again. it didn't get any props the last time. i desire props for table cat.

I wish to see table cat.

ah, not as good as middle finger dude, but nice

I couldn't tell what it was the first time, sort of like one of those 3D images you stare at at the mall.

yeah, it can look flunky if not viewed in Firefox (which it's optimized for).

woo...optimized bullcrap.

I also loved table cat. I didn't remember that you authored the middle fingers. I sent that around at work as an email signature for a bit with hilarious results. Of course the moononites are an alltime classic

Mailhag is in:

Including this gem of baseball insight: "Geo may argue with me on this, but he isn't the fastest runner, and you do want someone who can run, first to third, at the top of the order." regarding Soto batting third instead of 102 OPS+ Marlon Byrd.

I'm no debater but it seems to me that Soto might have cost the Cubs a run with his baserunning just the other day (Tuesday). This is from Az Phil's post, above:

Geovany Soto reached on a ground rule (fan interference) double leading off the top of the second, but failed to advance to third on a ground-out bouncer over the pitcher's head that would have allowed him to score on another ground out later in the inning.

But does that outweigh the fact that Marlon Byrd is a thoroughly average hitter, even when he has a decent year (for him)? He makes a fair amount of contact, and that's about all he has going for him--he isn't even fast. Soto gets on base and has more power than Byrd. Byrd is just fine 6-8 and acceptable as a #2 hitter if you want someone in the second spot who can put the bat on the ball and hit it to the right side (of course, Castro is fine for that too, and probably runs better).

Byrd is just very overrated by the Cubs front office and by Quade. He looks like a linebacker, he's got a big smile, and he likes to talk to the press (while saying all the right things), but that doesn't make him a cleanup hitter.

[OT: He also likes sentence fragments quite a bit. Somebody needs to tell him to pull that particular stylistic tic back a little bit on his blog.]

I think the formula the Cubs are following is that your #3 hitter is the best combination of speed and power (and contact) in the lineup. Byrd used to be a speed guy in the minors and he still gets around the bases pretty well. I feel like I've seen him slide safely into home half a dozen times. His best statistical number last season was probably the 84 runs he scored. He comes up a little short in the power department but he did have 39 doubles, so those muscles are not completely wasted. He's not the perfect #3, but hey, on a team of #6 hitters (Jim Bowden's description of the Cubs last week) you have to fill the other lineup slots.

I expect Castro to hit third eventually, not this year.

J. Berg 60.75 ERA so far, 2 more runs today

Marmol and J. Stevens the only scoreless innings today

Team ERA back up over 7.00

Uncharted ST territory.

I'm gonna put that in the next edition of my "That Totally Matters" encyclopedia.

Project .450!!

A few hours later, Wren counted himself fortunate to be able to reveal Salazar was interacting with his family members..."We feel very fortunate and blessed that Louie is alive and that he is responding and able to communicate with his family and talk," Wren said...Salazar suffered multiple facial fractures and will need to undergo further tests to better determine the extent of damage done.

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  • Dan Vogelbach is working on his firstbase defense in Seattle. Seems to say the Cubs didn't teach him properly.

    QuietMan 8 min 59 sec ago view
  • Oh my! Cards down 2-1 to Reds in the bottom of the 9th -- get a leadoff triple -- and don't score!

    billybucks 3 hours 21 min ago view
  • Gameday has stopped at the top of the 8th inning. Google tells me it ended up 8-4 Pirates but I can't get further detail. Guess I'll have to wait until the Cubs' website updates...

    JoePepitone 4 hours 26 min ago view
  • Attaboy!

    billybucks 4 hours 41 min ago view
  • Phil, thanks for posting. Where do find the schedule? I have a condo in Surprise, yet I drove to Mesa and Tempe looking for a game today! Thanks!

    rvimpeny 4 hours 42 min ago view
  • Dear Baseball Gods--
    My trip to Chicago has nothing whatsoever to do with the Cubs. In actuality, I am a Red Sox fan.

    CTSteve 4 hours 43 min ago view
  • Well, if Strop had to give up a least he hit Sean Rodriguez to do it.

    billybucks 4 hours 51 min ago view
  • strop...stawwwp.

    jaso has a cycle and 5 rbis...pit leads by 4.

    crunch 5 hours 3 min ago view
  • have a nice bowl of pizza soup deep dish pizza...or a leisurely walk around the notorious south-side (bring money) at one of the walmart supercenters...waiting in line to waste $20 at willis tower...

    seriously,'s chicago, a lot to do. have a dog for lunch, a great dinner, and catch some local comedy.

    crunch 5 hours 10 min ago view
  • Strange, because he really seemed to have the Pirates number last year.

    Bummer for Jake -- I think this is the first time all year his ERA has been over 3.00, and that will be his number for the year.

    billybucks 5 hours 14 min ago view
  • Jinx remover -- your trip doesn't have to be for a baseball game -- lots of stuff to do here in town.

    billybucks 5 hours 16 min ago view
  • Guess they could always try to White Sox (and Bears...sob) approach: Never Rebuild! Seems to work pretty well for them.

    billybucks 5 hours 17 min ago view
  • 3rd time this season he's given up 6+ runs to PIT...only team he's given up 6+ runs to this season.

    7 runs is the most he's given up since august 6th in 2014.

    crunch 5 hours 47 min ago view
  • Over 100 pitches, only the 5th.

    Brick 5 hours 49 min ago view
  • coghlan his cleats stuck in the wall attempting a play (failed, but looked great doing it). walking off on his own, precautionary/day-to-day looking stuff...hopefully not worse.

    also, jake arrieta is literally worse than hitler. 1-5, bottom 5. ...make that 1-6, bottom 5. ...make that 1-7, bottom 5.

    crunch 5 hours 50 min ago view
  • Coghlan crashes into wall and comes up limping, looks like left knee or ankle. Leaves game...

    Arrieta inspiring no confidence yet again.

    Rob G. 5 hours 56 min ago view