Archive - Mar 2009

Torii Hunter crushed a lead-off first-pitch home run to ignite a seven-run 4th inning, propelling the Angels to an 8-4 victory over the Cubs at Ho Ho Kam Park this afternoon in Mesa, as the Cubs set an all-time single-season Cactus League attendance record. (It probably helped that the 2009 Cactus League season was extended by a week and a few extra home games to accomodate the WBC).   

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The Angels show up in Mesa today sending prospect Nick Adenhart to the mound -  Sean Marshall will go for the Cubs. Here is the lineup according to Muskat:

LF Alfonso Soriano, CF Kosuke Fukudome, 1B Lee, RF Micah Hoffpauir, 3B
Aramis Ramirez, 2B Mike Fontenot, C Geovany Soto, SS Ryan Theriot, P
Sean Marshall.

Other than Hoffpauir in there for Bradley, it's pretty much what we should expect to see on Opening Day.

On the rumor mill, Paul Sullivan says that Chad Fox will head down to Iowa after the Cubs vs. Yankees series which leaves Patton, Gaudin, Guzman and Samardzija for the final two spots in the bullpen. Sullivan says a trade would have to go down by Wednesday and it looks like the Cubs are trying to move Gaudin or Guzman. Also, Lou said, "There will either be a trade, an option.... anything but (putting one of them through) waivers."

March 30th

The Cubs trimmed their roster by two more today, releasing Gabor Bako and LHP Mike Stanton. Congrats to Koyie Hill and his bionic hand. The roster now stands at 28 and the position players and bench are set for Opening Day. The spring roster with just a week left in camp.

CATCHERS - Soto, Hill

INFIELDERS - Lee, Theriot, Miles, Fontenot, Ramirez, Hoffpauir

OUTFIELDERS - Soriano, Fukudome, Johnson, Bradley, Gathright

STARTING PITCHING: Zambrano, Dempster, Lilly, Harden, Marshall

RELIEF PITCHING:  Gregg, Marmol, Heilman, Vizcaino, Cotts, Gaudin, Patton, Guzman, Fox, Samardzija

 

I think the first 5 bullpen spots are locked down, leaving Gaudin, Patton, Guzman, Fox and Samardzija for the final two spots and I don't see why they'd keep Samardzija in the majors with the relatively poor spring he has had and the fact that he has options left. And it's quite possible that Rich Harden will see the disabled list to start the season and the Cubs will then just have to move one of the four left  - Gaudin, Patton, Guzman or Fox (Large cartoon blinking arrow pointing at Chad Gaudin's name).

 

March 29th

Mark DeRosa drove in four runs with two long home runs and a sacrifice fly and scored another run after reaching base on a double, as the Cleveland Indians defeated the Cubs 7-5 before 13,097 fans at sunny and breezy Dwight Patterson Field at Ho Ho Kam Park in Mesa this afternoon.

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Muskat reports the Cubs have optioned Kevin Hart and Randy Wells to Triple A. Outfielders Brad Snyder (who was already outrighted off the 40-man roster) and So Taguchi have been assigned to minor league camp, along with infielders Estaban German and Andres Blanco and catcher Mark Johnson. That gives Joey Gathright the final bench spot with just the decision between Paul Bako and Koyie Hill left for the backup catching duties.

A list of the final 30 players left in camp after the jump.

Gordon Wittenmyer "tweets" that Kevin Gregg has been named the Cubs closer to start the season. While everyone that owns Carlos Marmol in their fantasy league throws their mouse across the room, it's probably the best move for the Cubs...for now. A few blown saves by Gregg and I doubt that Lou will hesitate to flip roles.

The Indians roll into Mesa today with Mark DeRosa and Kerry Wood in tow and here's the Cubs' lineup from Muskrat.

LF Alfonso Soriano, SS Ryan Theriot, 1B Derrek Lee, RF Milton Bradley,
3B Aramis Ramirez, 2B Mike Fontenot, C Geovany Soto, CF Joey Gathright
and P Ted Lilly.

March 28th

Cubs Manager Lou Pniella generally prefers to delegate pitching matters to his pitching coach (that would be Larry Rothschild), but one aspect of the pitching staff Uncle Lou believes he understands is how to get his bullpen ready for Opening Day.

And a big part of this preparation is Piniella's belief that each of his relievers need to throw on back-to-back days once or twice during the last ten days of Spring Training, and each reliever needs to throw two innings one time, too.   

That's where Minor League Spring Training games can really come in handy. 

While Ryan Dempster, Jeff Samardzija, Randy Wells, and Kevin Hart made the two-hour bus trip to Tucson to pitch against the Colorado Rockies at Hi Corbett Field, Kevin Gregg, Chad Fox, and Luis Vizcaino took the 20-minute van ride to the Papago Park Baseball Complex in Phoenix (a former WWII POW Camp) to get their work in versus the Oakland A's AAA squad in a minor league game.      

March 27th

The Cubs scored seven runs in the bottom of the 1st, and cruised to a 9-4 victory over the White Sox this afternoon at Ho Ho Kam Park in Mesa, in front of a Cactus League record crowd of 13,327, a game that I'm sure many of you watched on WGN-TV.

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Last week, Arizona Phil offered a thoughtful, reasoned analysis of the Cubs' threats to vacate their spring training home in Mesa, absent major improvements at Fitch Park. In the meantime, with in-laws living in Vero Beach and no baseball to watch out at Dodgertown during my family's annual spring visit to Florida, I have been thinking about what a swell replacement the tradition-rich Cubs would be for the tradition-rich Dodgers, who began training in Vero way back in 1949. The Dodgers are currently enjoying their first spring training out west, at the Camelback Ranch complex in Arizona Phil territory.

Author Charles Fountain, who recently wrote a book about the history of Major League spring training, took up the Cubs to Vero Beach question in a column published in a local paper on Friday. He writes that the notion of the Cubs moving into Dodgertown is beyond a longshot. Beyond even a long, long, longshot.

March 26th

I had so much fun watching the Iowa Cubs yesterday at Fitch Park, I decided to follow the Cubs' AAA affiliate to neighboring Tempe today as they took on the Angels AAA affiliate (the PCL Salt Lake Bees) at the Angels Minor League Complex at Diablo Park. 

While it isn't unusual for one or more Cubs major leaguers to play in a AAA game (esprcially when the big club has a night game), that wasn't the case today  

Kyle Reynolds smashed a two-run homer and Doug Deeds blasted a solo shot, but that's all the runs the Cubs could muster. And since tthe four Cubs pitchers were (mostly) ineffective, the I-Cubs lost, 7-3.

Here is today's abridged box score (Iowa Cubs players only). Some of the more observant among you might note that most all of the I-Cubs who played today were at big league camp not too long ago...  

I recently purchased a copy of the Bill James Handbook 2009...I know, a little late to the party...but it does a great job of presenting information that isn't readily available, information I'll pass along as they become relevant throughout the season. I'm also going to get a subscription to BillJames.net to update everyone as the season progresses.

But thumbing through the book they have all kinds of stats on relievers and let's see if any of it will help Lou pick his closer on the year.

March 25th

Rich Harden threw four shutout innings and Welington Castillo's two run home run capped a five-run 5th, as the Iowa Cubs (Cubs AAA affiliate) edged the Sacramento River Cats (Oakland A's AAA affiliate) 5-4 before an unusually large Minor League Camp crowd of 50+ at cool & breezy Fitch Park Field #3 this afternoon

Cubs Pitching Coach Larry Rothschild and Assistant Pitching Coach Lester Strode were in attendance, and the place was absoluely crawling with beat writers, bloggers, and assorted Cubs fans intent on watching an actual Cubs major league pitcher throw on a day when the big club had the day off, and they were not disappointed.

However, very few stayed for the whole game. 

So for those of you who want to know how Harden looked, but also just HAVE to know how the Iowa Cubs did it,.. here is... the... rest...of... the... story...

With the Cubs announcing that #31 will be retired in honor of Ferguson Jenkins and Greg Maddux, waxpaperbeercup recently asked if the Cubs should retire #21 in honor of Jason Marquis? Suprisingly, 40% thought the Cubs should do so...which I thought was a bit high for someone that was a Cub for just two years. 

All kidding aside, it's an intriguing question and I imagine I'll get a similar response here, but let's try it anway. For anyone who reads this site regularly, they'll know where I stand when it comes to Sammy Sosa. The man deserves far more gratitude from Cubs fans than the vitriol that seems to be prevalent, but let's put it to a vote and see if we can up the sample size.

 

The Cubs have released 2003 #1 draft pick OF Ryan Harvey.

The 24-year old Harvey had one of the top two or three RF arms in the organization and awesome power (he hit four home runs for Daytona in one game a couple of years ago), but he just was not a good hitter (he is a first-ball fastball hacker--247/298/448 with 83 HR and 539 strikeouts in 471 career minor league games), and he suffered from nagging injuries (knee, hamstring, back, etc) throughout his career,

Harvey's release comes almost exactly a year after the Cubs released Harvey's one-time HS teammate and fellow slugger 1B Brian Dopirak (Cubs #2 pick in 2002). Dopirak signed a minor league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays after he got released and spent most of the 2008 season playing in hometown Dunedin, FL. B-Dope then re-signed with the Blue Jays (he was a minor league free-agent post-2008) and got an NRI to ST with the Jays this Spring as part of the deal (although he has been returned to Tornoto's minor league camp) 

So I wouldn't be surprised if Harvey follows Dopirak to the Blue Jays organization, even if it means he has to go back to the Florida State League again (where he would play for his hometown team) in 2009, although the Jays would probably agree to give him a shot in AA first.  

Harvey's release is definitely not a surprise. He will be a minor league free-agent after this season, and was just not progressing fast enough to think that he would be a candidate to get added to the Cubs 40-man roster post-2009. So cutting him now is probably just the best thing for everybody, especially for Harve. .

Harvey was a combination RF-RHP in HS, and I had thought (and have written here at TCR) that he might be converted to pitcher at some point with the Cubs when he continually struggled as a hitter, but while the Cubs have converted more than a dozen postion players to pitcher over the past couple of years (and no organization converts position players to pitcher to the extent that the Cubs do), they never do it unless the player agrees to the move. So I think it's pretty likely that the Cubs asked Harvey to consider a move to pitcher, but he declined.  

 

I mentioned it when Manny signed with the Dodgers, but here are the final standings for our Free Agent Frenzy contest for this season. Congrats to "CincyKid" for the win, you are the proud owner of "Crazy '08" by Cait Murphy. Email me your address so I can send your prize out.

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