Jake Fox Three-Run Blast Powers Cubs to Victory

Jake Fox slammed a three-run homer and Joey Gathright had three hits, a walk, an RBI, a run scored, and a stolen base (and made a nice running catch in right-centerfield as well), as the Cubs defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 7-4 in Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in sunny Mesa, Arizona this afternoon, before another smallish crowd (6,711).

box score

Sean Marshall got the start and went two innings (30 pitches - 20 strikes - 1/3 GO/FO), allowing one run on four hits. Marshall kept bouncing his curve and left a few of his other pitches too high in the strike zone, but overall it wasn't a bad outing.

The Brewers scored a run in the top of the 1st when Chris Duffy tripled to CF and then J. J. Hardy followed with a double to left-center. The Brewers missed scoring another run in the inning, however, when Hardy was cut down 7-6-2 (with a perfect relay throw by SS Darwin Barney to catcher Paul Bako) after LF Micah Hoffpauir lost a fly ball in the sun.

Hoffpauir's misplay in LF in the 1st inning wasn't his only gaffe of the day, either, as he allowed a pop up to drop in front of him in the 5th, eventually resulting in a run during Carlos Marmol's one ining of work.

While Hoffpauir is a Gold Glove caliber defender at 1B (he was voted the top defensive first-baseman in the PCL by rival managers last season), he just doesn't display any defensive acumen in the outfield. But the problem is, Manager Lou Piniella probably feels like Hoffpauir will need to be able to passably play a corner OF spot at least occasionally if he is to secure a spot on the 25-man roster. Today was not a good day for Hoffpauir in that respect.

The Cubs tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the 2nd off Seth McClung, when Darwin Barney singled, advanced to second when PH Steve Clevenger drew a walk, and and scored as Joey Gathright rolled a single just out of J. J. Hardy's reach into LF.

The Cubs took the lead for good in the bottom of the 3rd, when Jake Fox blasted his three-run dinger over the left-field fence following back-to-back walks to Richie Robnett and Micah Hoffpauir. (The Cubs drew 11 walks today, and went deep into the count in a number of ABs).  

The Cubs scored two more runs in the 6th, as Welington Castillo walked and Joey Gathright reached on an infield hit, followed by an RBI single by Aaron Miles )who hit two rockets directly at defenders in his first two at bats), and a sac fly to short CF by Robnett, where Gathright showed his blazing speed by outracing the throw to the plate.

The Cubs scored their final run in the bottom of the 7th, when the left-side of the Brewers infield (Mike Lamb and Alcides Escobar) took turns throwing the ball away.

The Cubs pitchers had mixed results today.

Chad Gaudin followed Marshall to the mound,working two innings (38 pitches - 22 strikes - 4/1 GO/FO), during which he allowed four hits (one of which was a gargantuan HR hit completely out of the ballpark by Mike Cameron) and a walk, while striking out one. He was saved from a much worse line thanks to two timely inning-ending double plays, one 4-6-3 and the other 6-4-3, the latter of which probably allowing Gaudin to complete his second inning without having to be relieved (his pitch count was getting close to 40).

Carlos Marmol worked the 5th and he did throw strikes (13 pitches - 10 strikes), but he also allowed a run (technically  "earned"), thanks to a HBP and Hoffpauir's misplay in LF, 

Veteran LHP Mike Stanton, who is battling for a job in the bullpen, had a perfect opportunity to show Manager Lou Piniella what he could do, facing six left-handed hitters and just one right-handed hitter. The one right-hander (Mike Rivera) slugged a HR, and against the lefty swingers, Stanton struck out two (both swinging), while also allowing a single, a walk, and a hard-hit line drive out to 1st base. Overall, not all bad against the lefty batters, but not all good, either. A sort of mixed-bag for Stanton.

Kevin Hart (15 pitches - only seven strikes - allowing a single while also hitting a batter) , Chad Fox (just eight pitches - six strikes - three up, three down, a GO, a FO, and a K-swinging), and Angel Guzman (ten pitches - seven strikes, allowing a near-HR ground rule double and two loud fly outs, before striking out Scott Thorman swinging to end the game) each threw one shutout inning to close the game out. Chad Fox was especially impressive in his one inning.

The Cubs are now 2-0 in Cactus League play, and will travel out to Surprise tomorrow to play the Texas Rangers.

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Comments

I wonder what would have happened had he hit the ball?
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Milton Bradley’s spring training debut was cut short by an injury.

The Cubs new right fielder had a six-pitch at-bat Thursday that ended with a walk in the first inning of a 7-4 win over the Milwaukee Brewers. He then was lifted for a pinch-runner as soon as he reached base.

The injury was described as mild tightness of his left quadriceps, but Bradley said being removed was precautionary. “You work out hard, you get tight,” Bradley said. “I felt it before warming up. It felt tighter than it should have been. I felt the best course of action was to let them know right now. If it was April 6, I’d play.”

He told us running pregame that he felt a little tightness,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. “We told him to get one at-bat and see what it feels like. We have a long spring, no reason to rush anybody. We will give him a couple of days and run him back out there.”

http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/cubs/14520...

Bradley is either a real tough player who plays through injuries or the biggest pussy on the planet when it comes to injuries.

I lean towards the biggest pussy on the planet when it comes to him.

He is right on track for leaving spring training on the DL.

"I lean towards the biggest pussy on the planet when it comes to him."

Did we already forget Mark Prior?

AZPhil...
... thanks for the response on the previous post. I know that sometimes we can ignore reason as fans, and it was nice to see some more unbiased analysis of Koyie Hill. I truly do feel that he would be a better addition to the roster than the illustrious Gabor, but it was nice to have reason backing my gut and emotion.

Does Koyie really still have the ability to play the field? Either way, he is a great value. I do miss Hank White though...

Secondary note, what do you think about Darwin Barney? From all I read he would be another scrappy middle infielder. Is his defensive prowess as good as I hear? Is he just a punch and judy singles hitter? Thanks, as always, for the analysis. You are another reason I am glad that they are playing ball again...

Carlos Beltran loses balls in the sun during spring training. If that's the reason that Hoffpauir doesn't make the team...

well, lou has already used him in the OF in the regular season and lou never had an issue putting an already-bad-50lbs-ago d.ward out there.

i wouldn't worry that much about it.

Chad Fox (just eight pitches - six strikes - three up, three down, a GO, a FO, and a K-swinging)

Holy shyte. THAT Chad Fox?

Awesome.

Live Blog of Japan vs. Australia
http://forums.simcentral.net/blog.php?b=683

Fukudome replaces the CF in the 4th.
K, K, RBI Double, R.

A previous quote about/from Fuks:
http://forums.simcentral.net/blog.php?b=522
...Kosuke Fukudome is trying to make sure that he gets a starting spot on the final Samurai Japan roster. For the second straight day he collected a hit during situational BP. He also played all three outfield positions when he was on the field.

Said Fukudome, "I was able to hit some balls foul while getting the hit so I feel good about the AB. And I think my body is beginning to react to the off-speed pitches better. Things are falling into place."

And:
http://forums.simcentral.net/blog.php?b=522
(1-1-09) References an NHK (like BBC or CBC of Japan) broadcast which claimed that Fukudome was still favoring his right elbow during the season. I don't remember much talk of his previous surgery during Fukudome's struggles, but this makes me a little more hopeful that he'll rebound.

Just dreamin' but since Manny has rejected the Dodger's latest offer, maybe we should take up a collection. Could you imagine Manny in a Cubs uniform? (Sorryano could move to 2nd.) Our record in the last 3 playoff games is 0-9. Manny is one of the greatest RH hitters in the history of baseball. After all, what's another century...

Que someone bitching about defense in 5,4,3,2,1

"Manny is old, his career is over."
(What I probably would have said last year)

Plus, you know, he's right-handed.

> Our record in the last 3 playoff games is 0-9.

Wow. We've lost three games for every game played. That is abysmal.

Submitted by Hawkeye on Thu, 02/26/2009 - 9:03pm.

AZPhil... ... thanks for the response on the previous post.

I know that sometimes we can ignore reason as fans, and it was nice to see some more unbiased analysis of Koyie Hill. I truly do feel that he would be a better addition to the roster than the illustrious Gabor, but it was nice to have reason backing my gut and emotion.

Does Koyie really still have the ability to play the field? Either way, he is a great value. I do miss Hank White though...

Secondary note, what do you think about Darwin Barney? From all I read he would be another scrappy middle infielder. Is his defensive prowess as good as I hear? Is he just a punch and judy singles hitter? Thanks, as always, for the analysis. You are another reason I am glad that they are playing ball again...

===========================================

HAWKEYE: Koyie Hill has played 1B at Iowa, and he should be able to still play 3B (which he played in college), too. The position he almost certainly can't play is 2B (the position he played for Team USA). He lost a couple of steps after he broke his ankle with the Diamondbacks a few years ago and he just doesn't have the speed or range to play a middle infield position anymore.

Before he was traded to Arizona, K. Hill was a perennial Dodgers Top Ten prospect, and speed & athleticism were a part of his tool box. He even stole 21 bases one year in the minors. But a loss of speed/range shouldn't be a problem at 3B, where you mainly need side-to-side one-step quickness and a strong & accurate arm (which he has).

So the added advantage of having K. Hill as the back-up catcher is that he should be able to play 3B in a pinch (a position Paul Bako has not played). However, K. Hill will still have to be able to hit at least .200 and show some of the power he displayed at Iowa last season (he hit 17 HR at Iowa in 2008) at the big league level if he wants to be the Cubs back-up catcher in 2009.

Darwin Barney plays hard, he has decent range and a strong arm, he's a smart baserunner with average speed for a middle infielder, and he is a fair hitter (so far) with occasional power. He more than held his own in the AFL last year.

My main concern about Barney is that he will not hit much at the higher levels. If he turns out to be a .225 hitter at AAA, I doubt that he will ever be an everyday MLB SS. Barney is the proverbial Old School "field captain," a team leader-type with a high baseball IQ. Steve Clevenger is a lot like that, too, BTW.

Submitted by The Real Neal on Thu, 02/26/2009 - 10:21pm.

Carlos Beltran loses balls in the sun during spring training. If that's the reason that Hoffpauir doesn't make the team...

=========================================

REAL NEAL: It's not just a matter of Hoffpauir losing a high fly ball in the Arizona sun. It's running into Joey Gathright when Gathright was trying cut-off a ball in the gap, and misreading a pop up down the LF line that dropped in for a hit.

Hoffpauir is a lug with a history of knee injuries. He is a Gold Glove caliber 1st baseman, but he appears totally lost in the outfield. He has that Deer Caught in Headlights look. He's just going to get himself hurt playing out there.

Not all 1st basemen can play corner OF. Some can, some can't. Wishing & hoping he can doesn't make it so.

Maybe Lee can be the backup LF/RF and Hoffpauir can play 1b in those situations... :)

I agree with Phil on Hoffpauir. The issue for Lou is can he find a place for an outstanding LH bat off the bench who can DH in all interleague games and play some 1B for DLee?

For years the Cubs have tried to 'shoe-horn' Dr. Strangegloves somewhere in the field because of their bats and their bats never seemed to produce as many wins as their gloves produced losses.

Unfortunately for Hoffpauir, he appears stuck behind DLee unless he miraculously agrees to a trade or gets hurt, and with 2 options left can be sent back to Iowa.
At 29 years old, he really deserves a chance to play regularly for some team that will give him 350+ ABs.

I wish that was 1B for the Cubs in 2009 because I've seen the DLee movie and I know how it ends.

If Hoffpauir doesn't show something in the outfield this spring I have the feeling he will ride the Iowa/Chicago shuttle all year. I know Lou kept Ward on the roster all last season against all reason, but for the most part I think he likes hitters who can help him in more ways than just one (hitting or fielding). I can see Hoff coming up as a replacement for an injured or slumping player, or when interleague starts.

I've watched him play right field though, and it wasn't all that abysmal. Plus if he's on the team odds of him running into Gathright won't be very high, since Gathright will probably be in Buffalo or Seattle.

the proverbial line in the sand...

Boras told the Dodgers that they have until noon to strike a deal.

http://www.latimes.com/sports/baseball/mlb/dodgers...

to which I say, and then what?

Dodgers screwed themselves by not signing Abreu or Dunn.

Should have kept Andruw Jones and hoped for him to rebound. At least then they had 4 MLB quality OFers.

Still, if I'm Ned Colletti I tell Boras to F*#K himself here. Good luck finding a better deal out there jerkwheat.

This is why people hate Scott Boras. Hopefully someone in Dodgerland has some testicular fortitude.

to which I say, and then what?

They set a new deadline.

Inside sources say the real sticking point for Boras and his client are the "Save the drama fo' yo' mama" clause the Dodgers want to include in the contract.

When I read that article, it appears to me that Boras and the Dodgers set noon Friday as a mutual deadline... It appears to me, though, that the Dodgers are pretty pissed off, so I'm not sure that the deadline means much to them any more... I hope they tell them to cram it...

If the Dodgers cut off talks, is Manny really going to sign anywhere else? Extremely doubtful.

If I'm Coletti, I take my chances that Manny's still out there in April or May. Fuck Boras.

Someone would sign him. He'd be playing on opening day.

I don't know if someone would be willing to pony up more than 2/45 for him. First of all if teams had that much money to spend on FAs Bobby Abreau wouldn't have signed for only $5mil (note: not at all comparing Abreau to ManRam, but just making a point that the FA money is tight). Second of all, I believe manny wants a longer term deal, which at 38 (no fact checking, just guessing) i don't see anyone committing more than 2 years on him. 3 is a stretch. The guy can straight rake on the plate, but he's a nut case clown who can't play D and has a more laid back "who gives a shit" attitude than my stoner neighbor freshman year in the dorms.

I don't see any team besides the Dodgers being interested in his services at that price in this economic time of struggle.

I agree, Coletti should wait and when ManRam realizes he isn't playing by may 15th, he'll be ready to talk again.

I could see him sitting out until someone else comes along b/c of injury, the 2nd half run, or something of that nature. But i think he'll be playing for the Dodgers on opening day or no one.

He turns 37 in May, but who is counting...he had a 1.232 OPS in 53 games for the Dodgers, not to mention what he did in the playoffs, hitting over .500.

Even his less-than-Manny-like numbers with Boston were pretty stellar, but the gamble that he drops off badly this year or next makes the dollars pretty tough to invest.

Colletti should just sign Barry Bonds and put him in Left this season.

Even if not, Manny will cede some ground. Look at it this way, if he doesn't sign, he gets $0. $0 is a whole hell of a lot different than the Dodger's current offer.

My prediction? He plays on opening day. I'd put money on it.

Sure I guess he could say well, I'll just sign with the highest bidder mid-season, but I'm almost positive that doesn't happen.

FWIW ... it isn't that Manny didn't like the 2/45 deal. The Dodger's proposal called for Manny to only get paid $10M this year, with $15M deferred.

I can understand not wanting 60% of your salary deferred.

I can understand not wanting 60% of your salary deferred.
---
Getting ONLY $10M and deferring $15M...now that would hurt.

...so he'll have to cut back on the expensive stuff. No Beluga caviar, just a few H3 purchases. only once a month Dredlock maintaince?

Trust me... I get that, but the same argument could (and probably should) be made for every high priced player.

Further... $15M in deferred payments could, cost $450,000 at a relatively conservative 3% interest rate. That is a helluva' lot of differed money.

The money is supposed to be differed interest free

That is my point. That is why Manny loses close to a half a million bucks if he got the money and invested in a half-decent savings account.

I figured that is what you meant Dave. Just not until after I posted.

Boras is playing a really dangerous game. However I guess it isn't his money to lose?

At what point do the Dodgers decide to quit bidding against themselves? If I were Colletti I might just sign Jim Edmonds as the 4th OFer/Juan Pierre insurance and go about my business.

pretty good take on the whole thing and deferring the $$

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/manny-bei...

basically arguing over $2M...

$2M is a decent amount of money to haggle over, imo.

well sure, unless you're talking about a $45M deal...then it just sounds petty.

At some point this has gotta blow up in Boras' face doesn't it?

If a team like the Dodgers decides that Boras clients are too much trouble. Then he begins to really hurt his clients earning potential.

At some point this has gotta blow up in Boras' face doesn't it?

I can only hope. The shit him and Manny pulled to get out of Boston was complete B.S. And if the Dodgers don't sign him, they look a lot like the Reds, which isn't a good thing.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/baseball/mlb...

Boras claims they'll take the deal if the $$ is not deferred. That story says it amounts to about $3M difference.

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