Reds and Cubs Go Batty at HoHoKam

Darwin Barney reached base five times on three singles and two walks, Starlin Castro slugged a three-run home run, and Carlos Pena ripped a double and two singles, but it wasn't quite enough, as the Cincinnati Reds outslugged the Cubs 14-13 in Cactus League action before a capacity crowd of 13,186 at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in warm and sunny Mesa, Az, this afternoon.   

box score

Carlos Zambrano got the start for the Cubs and worked 4.2 IP, allowing six runs (all six earned) on seven hits (including two doubles and two HR) and two walks, striking out four, while throwing 77 pitches (52 strikes), with a 3/4 GO/FO.

The Cubs used a DH today, apparently because the plan was to "piggyback" Zambrano and Carlos Silva, with each pitcher throwing about 75 pitches over four or five innings. By using a DH, the Cubs could keep Silva in the game through the top of the 9th without having to wreck a potential late scoring opportunity by having to let Silva hit in a key spot.  

Zambrano retired four of the first five men he faced and initially looked very strong, striking out Drew Stubbs, Joey Votto, and Jay Bruce in their first ABs. But then Jonny Gomes lined a double into left-center with one out in the 2nd and scored on a Ryan Hanigan broken bat RBI single to give the Reds a 1-0 lead.

The Cubs came back in the bottom of the 2nd inning against Reds starter RHP Sam LeCure, taking a 2-1 lead. Carlos Pena roped a double into left-center, and moved up to 3rd base on a Geovany Soto single. After Alfonso Soriano popped out, Blake DeWitt picked-up an RBI on a 3-6 FC that probably should have been an inning-ending 3-6-1 DP (bad throw to 2nd base after a diving stop by Joey Votto). Darwin Barney grounded a two-out single to right that moved DeWitt to 3rd, and then Tyler Colvin hit a ground rule double to deep left-center to drive-in DeWitt as the ball bounced off the warning track and over the fence, forcing Barney to return to 3rd base (he otherwise would have scored easily). Both Barney and Colvin were left stranded when Starlin Castro flied out for the third out.  

The Reds took the lead in the top of the third. Brandon Phillips doubled with one out, and after Joey Votto walked on four pitches (Zambrano appeared to get squeezed on all four balls), Scott Rolen ripped the first pitch he saw high over the LF fence to the base of the scoreboard for a three-run HR that gave the Reds a 4-2 lead. 

The Cubs came right back in the bottom of the third, however, as Marlon Byrd, Aramis Ramirez, and Carlos Pena each rifled line-drive singles, with Byrd scoring on the Pena safety. After Geovany Soto popped out, Alfonso Soriano launched an RBI double off the CF Batter's Eye (Green Monster) in dead center about 425 feet from home plate, scoring Ramirez and sending Pena to 3rd. Blake Dewitt came through with a SF to score Pena, and then after Soriano advanced on a WP, Darwin Barney ripped an RBI single to left to score Soriano and give the Cubs a 6-4 lead.

Zambrano then settled down and retired five in a row, but he allowed a 5th inning lead-off single and one out later, a Joey Votto game-tying two-run moonshot HR over the RF fence to the base of the Party Pavillion. But the Cubs untied the game in the bottom of the 5th against Reds RHRP Jared Burton, as Darwin Barney and Tyler Colvin stroked one out singles, and Starlin Castro crushed a three-run HR far over the left-centerfideld fence just to the left of the CF Batter's Eye.     

Carlos Silva entered the game at the start of the 6th, and was hammered right from the gitgo, immediately allowing back-to-back doubles (Gomes and Hanigan), and then after inducing a ground out and striking out the pitcher, three consecutive RBI singles that gave the Reds a 10-9 lead.  

Jay Bruce mashed a lead-off double in the top of the 7th but did not score, as Silva got a fly out and a 6-4-3 GIDP (following a walk). But he was not as fortunate in the top of the 8th, as the Reds scored four more runs on five singles packed around a costly Matt Camp E-6 on what could have been a DP ball.

Silva was battered in his three innings of work, allowing eight runs (five earned) on 11 hits (three doubles and eight singles), allowing one walk, while throwing 67 pitches (49 strikes), with a 4/4 GO/FO. As usual he threw a high precentage of strikes (73% today), "pitching to contact" with hittable strikes most batters only get to see in batting practice.

Trailing 14-9, the Cubs mounted a rally in the bottom of the 8th against Cincinnati LHP Matt Maloney, as Welington Castillo, Reed Johnson, and Blake Dewitt roped consecutive one-out singles (Castillo's hit a line drive back through the box that almost took Maloney's head off, and DeWitt's an RBI hit). Darwin Barney walked to load the bases, Kosuke Fukudome singled to drive-in one run, and then Matt Camp plated the third and final run of the inning with an RBI ground out.   

Cubs RHRP Marcos Mateo made his first game appearance in 12 days, working a 16-pitch scoreless 9th, walking one and striking out two. Mateo looked very sharp considering his recent lack of game reps.  

Down 14-12 and facing LHP Jeremy Horst, the Cubs were able to get the tying and winning runs on base with no outs in the bottom of the 9th. Scott Moore sliced a lead-off ground-rule double into the LF corner, and Jeff Baker followed the Moore double by rifling a line-drive single to CF on an 0-2 pitch, moving Moore up to 3rd. Welington Castillo then looped an RBI single into short RF to score Moore and send Baker to 2nd base. With the Reds expecting a bunt, Reed Johnson hit what looked like it might be a walk-off HR, a long fly down the LF line that curved foul at the last minute, before flying out for the first out of the inning. Blake DeWitt then flied out for the second out, but Darwin Barney drew a four-pitch walk, moving the potential tying run to 3rd base and the potential winning run to 2nd. But Kosuke Fukudome grounded out weakly 4-3 on the first pitch he saw, and the Reds left the field victorious.  

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Castillo, 35, was unconditionally released by the Mets in the final year of a four-year, $25 million deal. New York must pay $6 million. In 48 hours -- after 1 p.m. on Sunday -- will be free to sign with another team for the major league minimum salary of $414,000. (That amount would be deducted from the sum the Mets owe.)

Although Castillo refused to confirm this, a source told that the Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies and Florida Marlins are interested in the services of a player.

Would have to outbid Phils

They can't actually outbid any team, as far as salary. When a player is released and clears waivers, he signs for the major league minimum. That is deducted from what his full contract amount is, and the Mets in this case will owe Castillo the rest of the $6 mil this year. If say, the Cubs for some insane reason decided to pay Castillo $600k instead of $414k, the Mets would still pick up the difference. Castillo still would get a total of $6 million this year.

As AZ Phil said, the Cubs (or another team) could promise Castillo more playing time and a chance to lead off, which he might not get with the Phillies. One has to figure that when/if Utley comes back this season he's going to play 2b over Castillo, which might loom large on Castillo's decision making. Does Castillo want a better chance to win and make the playoffs, or is he only looking at the best chance to play everyday and perhaps set himself up for a better contract next season than if he started only half a season for the Phillies? Obviously the Cubs 2b spot has relatively weak competition.

One other thing about Utley, some reporter, I don't remember whom (Olney?) said Utley has looked incredibly stiff at 2b when he has played this spring. With his knee and hip problems it would make sense for him to move to 1b (not going to happen in Philly) or maybe 3b.

Since Gary Hughes was the Marlins Scouting Director when they signed Luis Castillo as a hot-shot 16-year old out of the Dominican Republic in July 1992, and since Jim Hendry would have been Manager at Marlins Extended Spring Training in 1994 when Castillo made his U. S. debut, I am going to go out on a limb and say that the Cubs will sign Luis Castillo.

I am going to go out on a limb and say that the Cubs will sign Luis Castillo
Az Phil: Play out this scenerio if you will...If this happens, what is your thinking on what they get out of LC. We already went thru the Juan Pee-air (we need a leadoff hitter) experience (he made a lot of outs). Switch hitter leading off makes sense but I've read he can no longer run. If Castillo comes here, who is the odd man out (meaning not making the final 25), DeWitt, Barney or Baker?

Submitted by Cubster on Sat, 03/19/2011 - 8:03am.

Az Phil: Play out this scenerio if you will...If this happens, what is your thinking on what they get out of LC. We already went thru the Juan Pee-air (we need a leadoff hitter) experience (he made a lot of outs). Switch hitter leading off makes sense but I've read he can no longer run. If Castillo comes here, who is the odd man out (meaning not making the final 25), DeWitt, Barney or Baker?


CUBSTER: First of all, I would not sign Luis Castillo. I think he's washed-up offensively and defensively, but even if he isn't, he is not my idea of what I want in a lead-off hitter.

However, presuming Castillo can revert to his pre-2010 form, I think Castillo is Hendry's idea of a lead-off hitter, and so I believe he will attempt to sign him, outbidding the Phillies and the Marlins not by offering more money (because nobody needs to offer more than the MLB minimum salary), but rather simply by promising him that he will hit lead-off and play 2B if he signs with the Cubs.

The thing about Castillo is that he is really hated by Mets fans, seen by some of them as one of the scapegoats for the Great Met Collapse of 2007 (and 2008, too), and poor regular season performances in 2009 and 2010 (no Mets fan will ever forget Castillo's dropped pop up against the Yankees). Getting out of New York can only help him psychologicaly, and I'll bet Hendry will point to the performances of two released players signed by the Cubs in 2008 (Reed Johnson and Jim Edmonds) as what the Cubs hope they can milk out of Castillo, at least for one season.

As to who is odd man out if and when the Cubs sign Castillo, I think it's almost certainly Blake DeWitt. The Cubs have to have another player on the 25-man roster who can play SS (and that's Darwin Barney), and Jeff Baker doesn't just play 2B, he also is the primary back-up at 3B in case Ramirez gets hurt (or needs a day off), as well as at 1B when Pena sits against a tough LHSP, and maybe even RF, too, if Quade doesn't want Fukudome or Colvin out there against certain lefties. Also, Baker is out of minor league options.

But DeWitt has one minor league option left, and stashing him at Iowa means the Cubs can always release Castillo and bring DeWitt back at any time if the experiment isn't working out, or DeWitt could get recalled if something happens to Ramirez and the Cubs decide to go with a Baker/DeWitt platoon at 3B while Aram is out.

Of course DeWitt will be very unhappy once he realizes he is going back to AAA, and he might even demand a trade, except he has no leverage.

Another thing to remember about DeWitt is that he was expecting to be eligible for salary arbitration for the first time post-2011, presuming he could just stay on the Cubs 25-man roster and accrue at least 124 days of MLB Service Time in 2011 (or even if he can accrue at least 86 days of MLB ST in 2011 he will have a decent chance to qualify for arbitration as a "Super Two"), but if the Cubs sign Castillo and send DeWitt to Iowa for at least 100 days, he can't be a "Super Two" post-2011 (players must accrue at least 86 days of MLB ST in that season to be eligible for arbitration as a Super Two), and thus he would remain an auto-renewal guy post-2011, and if that happens, he'll really be pissed.

So the Cubs can figure to save about $1M in 2012 payroll if they can keep DeWitt an auto-renewal player in 2012 instead of having to deal with him as an arbitration-eligible player. That might be important if the Cubs need a one-year stop-gap replacement for Aramis Ramirez at 3B if the Cubs decline their club option for 2012.

I love it when Phil talks rules, payroll and roster management. Throw in the scouting and game reports and I'm in heaven.

I agree, it's always enjoyable to read AZ Phil's thoughts on what the team will do, should do, what he would do, etc.

He reminds me a bit of Ed Olcyzk when I watch a Blackhawks game. Eddie will say something minutes ahead of when it actually happens (ala Steve Stone). AZ Phil's projected roster moves are very often dead-on. It almost makes me wonder if Jim Hendry has a schizophrenic side that logs onto TCR and posts.

Word.....I get more Cubs information from an AZ Phil post or comment than the combined Chicago Cubs media/newspaper outlets combined.

Please, No. This would be like signing a 35 year old Ryan Theriot.

You are looking at this too small.

An epic failure means more opportunity for Hendry to get shit-canned after this year.

Always a silver lining!

+1, though Castillo now represents DeWitt with better patience.

My cat would play better 2B than DeWitt.

Just as a further Point of Information, Luis Castillo was placed on Release Waivers by the Mets yesterday afternoon (Friday), and during most times of the year, Saturday and Sunday are not considered business days by MLB, and so Castillo would clear his 47 hours on the waiver wire on Tuesday at 1 PM (EDT).

But MLB considers Saturday and Sunday to be business days during Spring Training up until Opening Day, so Castillo will complete his waiver ride at 1 PM EDT Sunday (tomorrow).

While a club can claim a player off Release Waivers, it usually doesn't happen unless the player getting released is making something close to the MLB minimum salary. That's because a club claiming a player off Release Waivers is on the hook for 100% of the player's salary, where if a club waits until the player clears waivers and is officialy released, the player's new club only has to pay the player the MLB minimum salary (or pro-rated portion of the MLB minimum if the player is released after the start of the regular season), with the player's former club responsible for paying the balance of the player's salary.

Of course waiting until the player clears waivers and is officially released does mean a club might have to compete with other interested clubs for the player's services, but the enticement of being able to sign a player for the MLB minimum salary (and stick the player's former club with the balance) is just too tempting for most GMs. Also note that if a player is claimed off Release Waivers, the player has the right to decline the assignment and become a free-agent, and if the player does this, the player's former club is still responsible for paying the player his entire remaining salary (minus the pro-rated portion of the MLB minimum salary should the released player sign an MLB contract with another club). So there is really no point in claiming a player off Release Waivers.

I say leave Castillo on the street , option Dewitt to Iowa, use Baker as a backup, and put the Cubs future 2b DJ LaMehieu on the field and let him learn on the job.

Even if the Cubs hadn't dropped $10 million on Pena and traded four good prospects for Garza, giving a guy who hit .314/.346/.386 in A+ ball last year and is by most accounts a stiff defender at 2B the MLB starting job is quite a reach.

Was this a joke that I'm just not getting?

Gammon's tweet

"Best thing about Cubs is the refreshed energy of M. Quadde, C. Pena, great Marlon Byrd, T. Colvin and the rock, Dempster bring after '10"

Damn, I was hoping it would be the offense, pitching, and defense. At least nine figures still buys energy.

More Ricketts on the TV broadcast. Today it's Pete Ricketts doing the daily family member interview.

This has to stop.

Yes, I much prefer not hearing from an absentee ownership group for 25 years. Plus, the guy had the gall to foist some charity event on us!

Every spring training broadcast one of the Ricketts has been on. I'm not the first person on this board to find it annoying. TRN, on the other hand, apparently loves the team the Ricketts has trotted out for us and can't wait for more PR goodies.

I'm not the first person on this board to find it annoying.

Ahh, the groupthink defense, always a classic.

TRN, on the other hand, apparently loves the team the Ricketts has trotted out for us

Where did you get that from? Because I don't mind a partial owner doing a charity promo during a ST game?

Cubs expected to pass on Castillo per Wittenmyer

d.barney also points to b.scales not getting a SS with scales. no auggie, too.

No more '03 Marlins! (Except Miguel Cabrera, that'd be OK.)

I'm looking at you, Looper.

This, I'm told, is Sunday's batting order:

4:05pm vs. Giants
(Wells - R)
1) Matt Camp (L) RF
2) Starlin Castro (R) SS
3) Marlon Byrd (R) CF
4) Aramis Ramirez (R) 3B
5) Scott Moore (L) 1B
6) Alfonso Soriano (R) LF
7) Bobby Scales (S) 2B
8) Koyie Hill (S) C A-a-a-rgh!
9) Randy Wells (R) P

versus the Giants'

1) Emmanuel Burriss (S) 2B
2) Mike Fontenot (L) SS <<<---look
3) Pablo Sandoval (S) 3B
4) Pat Burrell (R) LF
5) Nate Schierholtz (L) RF
6) Aaron Rowand (R) CF
7) Travis Ishikawa (L) 1B
8) Eli Whiteside (R) C
9) Shane Loux (R) P

This post is perfect -- I think Koyie Hill's position should officially be C-Aaargh!

Cueto leaves after one inning yesterday
with trainer in tow.

Tightness in forearm and bicep

THERIOT just won't shut up....

Safe to say, Theriot plays with a discernible chip on his shoulder. He still resents the Cubs moving him off shortstop two years ago, still resents the notion that his range is too limited for him to play effectively on the infield's left side.

"I never liked the fact that I was moved from shortstop to second base. I feel like I can be more effective there (at short). But there are things I can work on, like getting better jumps on balls," he said. "I've never been around somebody who pays as much attention to detail as Jose(coach Oquendo) does. He sees everything ... everything."

More...and there is more

If Oquendo thinks Theriot and his javelin throws from short will work he should be fired.

I was thinking Oquendo, who like Theriot didn't have the arm and range for short, is a fine mentor. He also slugged .317 for his career, so there's another similarity.

I know hasn't been mentioned much but Koyie Hill sucks.

Kung Fu Panda has been halved.

5th inning soon, which Ricketts will make TRN's day today with another TV interview?

tom was on radio in third

what was he sellin'?

peace and love
ginsu knives
grateful dead bootlegs
and "plenty of cub tickets for opening home series"

He did almost choked on saying "we have alot of home games in April"


/pwned again.

sober Randy Wells pitches good

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