Wells and Welington Just What Doc Ordered

Welington Castillo continued his torrid Cactus League hitting, lining a walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th inning to score Bobby Scales from 2nd base with the winning run, as the Cubs edged the San Francisco Giants 3-2 in front of an all-time record crowd of 13,465 under overcast skies at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, AZ, this afternoon.  

box score

Randy Wells got the start for the Cubs today, and he was masterful, allowing singles to the first two men he faced in the game before retiring 18 in a row (including seven on strikeouts). Wells was efficient, needing just 69 pitches (49 strikes) to get through his six-inning stint, including four consecutive nine-pitch innings. He looked like he easily could have pitched another inning or two.

The only blemish on the Wells performance was in the 1st inning, when Emmanuel Burriss singled sharply to left on the first pitch of the game, stole 2nd, and then scored on ex-Cub Mike Fontenot's line-drive RBI single to CF.

After that, Wells was untouchable.

The Cubs took the lead in the bottom of the 4th against Giants starter Shane Loux and reliever Casey Daigle (who was no relief), as Marlon Byrd grounded a one-out single to center (his second hit of the game), and, after Loux was relieved by Daigle, scored on a two-out RBI double into the RF corner by Scott Moore. Bobby Scales followed, ripping a two-out RBI single to RF to score Moore from 2nd base and give the Cubs a 2-1 lead. 

John Grabow made his second appearance in four days, relieving Wells and working a scoreless top of the 7th (16 pitches -11 strikes), allowing just a lead-off single before retiring the last three men easily.  

But Sean Marshall ran into trouble in the top of the 8th. 

Travis Ishikawa singled to lead-off the inning, and Eli Whiteside roped a double into the LF corner, sending Ishikawa to 3rd. Marshall then threw a WP (a high outside fastball that ticked off catcher Welington Castillo's glove on what just as easily could have been scored a Passed Ball), allowing Ishikawa to score the tying run, and moving Whiteside up to 3rd base with no outs. But Marshall went to work, getting two outs on pop ups and the final out on a strikeout, leaving Whiteside stranded at 3rd.  

Carlos Marmol threw a nine-pitch 1-2-3 top of the 9th and Marcos Mateo threw a shutout 10th (18 pitches - 12 strikes), allowing a walk while striking out two. Mateo actually got four outs in the inning and had to work out of more trouble than should have been necessary, thanks to a lead-off E-6 bobble by SS Starlin Castro. Mateo walked the second batter he faced, putting runners at 1st and 2nd with no outs, but then Welington Castillo made an outstanding play on a sacrifice attempt, fielding the bunt on one hop and firing a laser to cut-down the runner trying to advance from 2nd base to 3rd. Mateo then loaded up the tank and gassed the last two hitters on six pitches. Mateo has a "live" arm and has been very impressive (so far), and he probably has a reasonably decent shot at making the Cubs Opening Day 25-man roster if Andrew Cashner begins the season as the Cubs #5 starter (Mateo would take Cashner's slot in the bullpen).  

Meanwhile, the Cub offense was mostly quiet throughout the late innings. Scott Moore did work a two-out walk in the bottom of the 9th, but PR Jae-Hoon Ha (up from Minor League Camp) got a bit adventurous with his lead and was immediately picked-off. 

Facing Giants RHP Josh Banks, Bobby Scales led-off the bottom of the 10th by singling on a 3-2 pitch, his second hit of the day. Josh Vitters faked a bunt and swung away, lining out sharply to LF, but then Scales (representing the potential winning run) showed he still has some speed left in his 33-year old legs and stole 2nd base (easily). Max Ramirez drew a walk, and then Castillo came through with his game-winning hit, an absolute rocket liner to right-center that bounded past the Giants CF.   

With his 1-2 day today, W. Castillo's Cactus League AVG, OBP, and SLG slash-line dropped to 706/789/941.

And Bobby Scales has played as well as anyone in camp, hitting everything in sight and making all the routine plays at 2B. He also has the ability to hit cold off the bench from both sides of the plate, something that could be useful for a National League team.


I wonder if there is any consideration given to Scales getting the LH 2B job. DeWitt has continued to show nothing this spring.

Good to hear reports on Mateo and Gaub getting the job done, that's a pleasant change.

if scales played SS he might...looks like d.barney has it locked.

There's not too much more Scales could have done to make his case. Still, I agree if you take Scales you are sacrificing versatility for a little bit of bat. And if you are depending on your bench middle infielders for offense, then you are in trouble anyways. Bobby is destined to be one of those AAAA bench guys.

Submitted by The Real Neal on Sun, 03/20/2011 - 7:13pm.

I wonder if there is any consideration given to Scales getting the LH 2B job. DeWitt has continued to show nothing this spring.


REAL NEAL: It has not been mentioned in the media, but I don't see why it couldn't happen. Bobby Scales actually hits RHP better than LHP (DeWitt does not), and if there is going to be a platoon at 2B, Baker/Scales would probably make more sense than Baker/DeWitt. It's not like DeWitt is a wunderkind defensively at 2B. He has below-average range and he doesn't even always make the routine play (none of them do).

Scales actually mirrors Baker more closely than DeWitt does (Scales is a left-handed version of Baker), in that he plays 2B-3B-1B-LF-RF, and while he doesn't possess a Gold Glove, 2B is his best defensive position if he has to play somewhere. And Scales can hit cold off the bench (he was an outstanding PH for the Cubs in 2009).

It should be pretty obvious that none of them (DeWitt, Baker, or Scales) are the long-term solution for the Cubs 2B problem, so why not go with the hot hands (Baker and Scales)--at least at the start of the 2011 season--and let things play themselves out over the course of time? Keep Baker and Scales, option DeWitt to AAA, and if it doesn't work out, it can be easily changed back to DeWitt/Baker (or something else) later.

As for DeWitt, he probably should be playing 3B (and not with the Cubs, either... maybe with the Diamondbacks?), because he's a better third-baseman than he is a second-baseman (his defense at 3B improved a lot as he moved up through the Dodgers system). It's just that his bat (decent OBP but lack of HR power) is a better fit at 2B than at 3B.

AZ PHIL: I know the "horse" is way "dead", but is there any remote possibility that Koyie Hill - in spite of the pitcher's infatuation with him - could NOT get the backup catcher's gig?

It has become painful to watch him for me - and the majority of Cubs fans.

1 for 27...yow.

I'd be somewhat interested in Steve Clevenger as the backup, but I suspect that's more likely to happen in 2012 or so.

Submitted by Charlie on Sun, 03/20/2011 - 8:27pm.
I'd be somewhat interested in Steve Clevenger as the backup, but I suspect that's more likely to happen in 2012 or so.


CHARLIE: I agree.

Steve Clevenger (not Welington Castillo) is the guy who profiles as an MLB back-up catcher. He doesn't have much HR power, but he is a "diamond rat" who loves to hit and study hitting, and the pitchers like to throw to him. I think he will be a coach or manager when his playing days are over. In addition to being the back-up catcher, Clevenger would also be a LHPH option and a back-up 1B, and he could play 2B or 3B in a pinch. (He played SS in college and 2B his first year in the Cubs organization, before being converted to catcher at AZ Instructs post-2006, and he has played 1B and occasionally 3B in the minors).

Once he is deemed ready for Prime Time (hopefully soon), W. Castillo will be a front-line catcher. I don't think he'll be a back-up guy. I believe if the Rays did in fact have the option to choose between Welington Castillo and Robinson Chirinos when they made the Garza deal, that they made a mistake taking Chirinos over W. Castillo.

If they all remain with the Cubs, I could see Geovany Soto moving to 1B (to keep his bat in the lineup for 150+ games), W. Castillo the #1 catcher, and Clevenger the back-up C-1B-LHPH (with Soto the #3 catcher), perhaps sooner rather than later. In fact Soto moving to 1B could happen next year if the Cubs are unable to sign Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols and if W. Castillo is ready to take over the #1 job.

Tyler Colvin will almost certainly be the #1 RF in 2012 (once Fukudome is gone), and then Brett Jackson will take over CF (and hit lead-off) whenever he arrives, making Marlon Byrd expendable.

pure speculation, but if welly can take over as the main catcher in 2011 i could see the cubs trading soto away to make room for the loot to sign their mega-1st-baseman.

soto starts to get "real paid" in 2012 and if he can keep up his ob% + power + ability to play decent-enough C he may want to stay there a while...plus he has enough club control and ability to make himself attractive to other teams.

he's gotta show what he's capable of in 2011, though.

Submitted by crunch on Sun, 03/20/2011 - 11:13pm.
pure speculation, but if welly can take over as the main catcher in 2011 i could see the cubs trading soto away to make room for the loot to sign their mega-1st-baseman.

soto starts to get "real paid" in 2012 and if he can keep up his ob% + power + ability to play decent-enough C he may want to stay there a while...plus he has enough club control and ability to make himself attractive to other teams.

he's gotta show what he's capable of in 2011, though.


CRUNCH: I think you're probably right.

The Cubs are going to need to free-up 2012 payroll wherever they can if they intend to make a serious run at Pujols or Fielder post-2011, and trading Soto (presuming W. Castillo is deemed ready to take-over the #1 backstop job in 2012) would be one way to do that, because if the Cubs do sign Pujols or Fielder, Soto ain't gonna play 1B anyway.

So if the Cubs do trade Soto next off-season, I think it would be only after they sign Pujols or Fielder. And if they fail to sign Pujols or Fielder, I would think Soto would remain with the Cubs in 2012 and play 1B.

Phil - What would Soto be worth in terms of prospects after this season? Let's say he puts up a performance closer to his rookie year and last year - he would be easily regarded as one of the best offensive catchers in the game. That's got to be worth a decent haul of prospects, right? Maybe the Cubs could trade for a "sure thing" 1B or 3B prospect?

Hopefully Vitters will be the third base prospect by then, and the idea is that we trade him to free cash for Pujols/Fielder (not that I am on board with that), but now that Lee is gone, unless LeMehiu shows a 2nd offensive skill and that he can play second, the Cubs have a need there. That kid from Seattle and a useful arm would probably get the Cubs' attention.

I hear a lot that Vitters may need to move off of third (assuming to first), but it sure would be nice if he ended up playing a decent 3B

If Vitters someday turns into the 25 HR, .300 batting average guy that many hope he will be, and doesn't develop the sort of plate discipline that would yield a .400-ish OBP, he'd be a decent offensive third baseman, but not as exciting offensively as a first baseman.

Submitted by The E-Man on Sun, 03/20/2011 - 7:41pm.

AZ PHIL: I know the "horse" is way "dead", but is there any remote possibility that Koyie Hill - in spite of the pitcher's infatuation with him - could NOT get the backup catcher's gig?


E-MAN: There is a way, but it's illegal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

remote possibility that Koyie Hill...
The adjustment bureau already tried to saw off Koyie's fingers, and that didn't work.

Seems to me the sawing off part worked fine. Somebody just missed the "Do not reattach" memo.

Not sure I'd want Castillo rotting on the bench instead of HIll, but I think its interesting. I think we should look to trade Soto.

There's also Max 'Max Power' Ramirez.

Well, the Pena signing is looking dumber and dumber, isn't it? Why couldn't the Cubs get Soto to 1B THIS year, with two of Castillo/Ramirez/Clevenger as the catchers? Colvin could be the LH backup at 1B for Soto, Baker the RH backup. Soto can catch of course, so the manager could actually use his backup catcher for once as a PH option late in games. Soto could slide behind the plate in the rare emergency situation where the starting catcher gets hurt in the game. Just all kinds of flexibility with a setup like that. It gets Soto's bat in the lineup every day, it lets the Cubs discover whether Castillo is a long-term option, it gets Colvin more at-bats, just all good.

I hate the dimwits that run this franchise. Project 500!!

I think this is reasonable given the team's depth at C, but generally this is shot down by saying that you're replacing a 1B offense with a C. Granted, Soto is better than Pena until proven otherwise, but you lose the value of a top hitting catcher when played at first

I think you guys are getting way over excited about 20 ST at bats. Anyway, now that we have pereninieal All-Star outfielders in Byrd and Fukudome, and the league's best hitter in Milton Bradley, we can afford to carry Hill and Soto's dead weight.

If Fukudome doesn't pick up the pace, he could find himself playing for the Isotopes.

Pena costs 10M and won't make the difference in winning the division, Garza cost 4 prospects (2 really good ones). I guess if you're not going to contend then work from your areas of strength - there are a number of serviceable C's and nobody in the system for 1B unless you include Colvin and Soto.

I agree that none of it is a realistic plan, but it's fun to consider.

Pena is left-handed power. Pena gives you, what I presume would be, far better defense at first. Pena will probably outperform Soto this year with the bat (I usually use OPS for this measure). By how much, and is it worth the $10 million, I don't know... that's a valid question.

I do have reservations about RELYING on Soto's bat. He's still unproven, imo.

So the guy who hit .196 with the .732 OPS last year is proven and the guy who had a .890 OPS is a little shaky. Got it.

For their careers it's .841 to .831, and Soto's been playing catcher.

Pena outhits Soto this year. :)

Could be, but I don't think it's a reasonable conclusion based on avaialable evidence.

Sample size? Pena has 4200 career PA's..Soto has 1426...
Also Pena has been playing in the AL East, hitting 3rd-6th in the lineup..Soto has been hitting mostly 6th and 7th.
Pena also has hit a ton more HR's, and has played in at least 135 games each of the last 4 seasons.
I agree with you, that Soto isn't shaky....but if Pena even gets to his career averages....around .240/.350/.490 with 28-35 HR's..what's wrong with that? I don't mind seeing Soto at 1B a little this season....but to say we could just move him there permanently?

Wait...what was the point? I seem to have missed it...sorry...

Isn't it easier to be productive batting in the middle of the lineup, with good hitters in front of you and behind you and guys on base regularly, than hitting 6th or 7th behind the likes of Soriano?

Soto's OBP is benefited from all the time he spent in the #8 slot in the lineup getting walked so the pitcher would come to the plate. You don't get pitched around in the 3-6 slots unless you hit in front of Alphonso "low and away strikeout" Soriano.

Yes, you don't get pitched around--which many people argue could result in a higher batting average and better slugging.

[I actually suspect that most hitters benefit more from being in the middle of the lineup than Pena does, though, because he apparently tends to swing through a lot of stuff that is in the zone. But I think Soto would probably see an improvement in his slugging percentage and HR totals if he hit 3-5th more often and had guys on base in front of him and someone at least moderately threatening in the lineup behind him.]

It is great that Castillo is having a great spring. But it is foolish to assume that he has turned the corner until he has had at least one good season (or much of one) in the minors. Trading Soto at this point would be nuts.

Luis Castillo signs w Phils

/start printing those Jeff baker jerseys


from BA...interesting...

"Besides Aroldis Chapman (fastball), Bryce Harper (power) and Mike Trout (speed), what other prospects have an 80 tool?"

"Harper actually has two 80 tools, as his arm also earns top grades. Other minor leaguers with 80 tools: Giants outfielder Gary Brown, Astros outfielder Delino DeShields Jr. and Reds shortstop Billy Hamilton (all speed); Royals righthander Jeremy Jeffress (fastball velocity); and Cubs infielder Junior Lake (arm)."

let me the first to chime in that anyone that thinks that the Cubs would trade a 28-year old Soto away next year coming off a good season is nuts.

carry on...

imo, i think a lot depends on if he's a 20 HR hitter or a 30+ HR hitter after this season...unless things click with pena and they extend him for a few years or whatever...or they decide to open up the check book.

I've been wrong before, but I don't see a big market team trading away a player in his prime that came up through their system cause he starts to get a little expensive and they may or may not have a rookie catcher that isn't even that highly regarded ready to take over.

You start trading away the Marlon Byrd's of the world if you need to make some room in the budget or start seeing if moving Z or Soriano and eating parts of their deals makes sense, well before you entertain moving Soto.

Now in theory, I understand why moving Soto might make sense, but I don't see anything in Hendry's or the Cubs past that would indicate they'd remotely consider it.

me either...im just working on a speculative need point of view...

If Soto becomes a 30+ HR hitter they can play him at either C or 1B and count themselves lucky sons of bitches until he reaches free agency.

Cueto out for a week to rest his shoulder...

~cue dramatic chipmunk music~

Cueto flew back to Cincinnati and had an MRI that found inflammation in the shoulder. He had to leave his last two spring training starts because of soreness. Doctors have advised him not to throw for at least a week.

Well if the Reds really want to be considered the favorites, they'll need to show some depth. It looks like, to this point, the Cubs have got the strongest staff in the NL Central.

Dusty spoke to soon.

If you were watching this game, the announcers thought he hurt his right wrist swinging at the first pitch, but actually......

"Baltimore first baseman Derrek Lee(notes) has a bruised left foot and did not travel to Port Charlotte for a game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Lee fouled a ball off the foot on the first pitch he saw Saturday in his spring training debut. He had been sidelined with a sore right wrist.

The foot didn’t bother Lee until he left the ballpark. He had an X-ray Saturday night and then the MRI on Sunday, which came back negative.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said it looked like “we dodged a bullet.”

...or maybe you didn't.

who the fuck would be watching a preseason Orioles games?

Maybe he who shall not be named was scheduled to pitch.

well..., maybe a Phillies fan?

Submitted by Rob G. on Mon, 03/21/2011 - 11:57am.
who the fuck would be watching a preseason Orioles games?


ROB: Cubs minor leaguers who are eligible to be minor league free-agents after this season.



- one scoreless inning from Samardzija is apparently worth 11 paragraphs
- C. Coleman is apparently in the mix for the long relief role
- Quade has nice things to say about S. Moore, saying he can play all infield positions

He's figured it out Rob, him and Mike "2.25 Team ERA" Quade. We're all good.

Recent comments

Subscribe to Recent comments
The first 600 characters of the last 16 comments, click "View" to see rest of comment.
  • Attaboy!

    billybucks 14 min 13 sec 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 15 min 23 sec 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 16 min 15 sec ago view
  • Well, if Strop had to give up a run...at least he hit Sean Rodriguez to do it.

    billybucks 24 min 11 sec ago view
  • strop...stawwwp.

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

    crunch 36 min 20 sec ago view
  • have a nice bowl of pizza soup deep dish pizza...or a leisurely walk around the notorious south-side (bring money)...shopping at one of the walmart supercenters...waiting in line to waste $20 at willis tower...

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

    crunch 43 min 18 sec 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 47 min 11 sec ago view
  • Jinx remover -- your trip doesn't have to be for a baseball game -- lots of stuff to do here in town.

    billybucks 49 min 38 sec ago view
  • Guess they could always try to White Sox (and Bears...sob) approach: Never Rebuild! Seems to work pretty well for them.

    billybucks 51 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 colorado...in 2014.

    crunch 1 hour 20 min ago view
  • Over 100 pitches, only the 5th.

    Brick 1 hour 22 min ago view
  • coghlan out...got 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 1 hour 23 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. 1 hour 29 min ago view
  • from a sun-times article that I won't link to so you don't have to bear the ad-loading that will crush your browser

    When he left Boston after nine years as general manager, Epstein said he believed in the philosophy espoused by legendary football coach Bill Walsh: essentially that 10 years is a natural shelf life for a high-stress job.

    Rob G. 1 hour 31 min ago view
  • Despite a somewhat slumping September for Bryant (233/310/411), he still leads the NL in WAR by a healthy margin in both fWAR(8.4 vs 7.6 for Seager) and bWAR  (7.6 to 6.5 for Freeman...Seager is tied for 3rd with Arenado at 6.2)

    If you just want to look at offense, Bryant is 4th in the NL in wRC+ behind Votto, Murphy and Freeman with Rizzo in 5th (and possibly ahead after tonight).

    Rob G. 1 hour 42 min ago view
  • hey everyone, this guy...this is the guy we blame.

    have fun in chicago.

    crunch 1 hour 43 min ago view