No Antidote for Carmona

Fausto Carmona threw six innings of two-hit shutout ball and Austin Kearns reached base three times and scored two runs, leading the Cleveland Indians to 9-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs in Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park this afternoon in warm & sunny Mesa.



box score


Battling for a spot in the Cubs starting rotation, Jeff Samardzija got the start and worked four innings (63 pitches - 41 strikes, 4/4 GO/FO), allowing two earned runs on four hits (two doubles and two singles) and two walks, while striking out four (Mark Grudzielanek, Jhonny Peralta, Chris Gimenez, and Mike Redmond).


Samardzija looked OK (not great), but better than he has at any time previously this Spring. Jeff Baker made an outstanding leaping catch in the 3rd to prevent a double that would have made The Shark's day a lot worse, but the inning before Samardzija was the victim of some shaky Cubs defense and a mental error that led to a run.


Austin Kearns led-off the top of the 2nd with a double, and then Derrek Lee fielded a chopper and made an inadvisable throw trying to cut down Kearns at 3rd base instead of taking the easy out at 1st, putting runners at 1st & 3rd with no outs. 2nd baseman Bobby Scales then made a terrible relay throw on what should have been an easy 6-4-3 DP, and the Indians scored their first run of the day, although it was an earned run because no official errors were charged.


The Indians scored their second run of Samardzija in the third, when Anderson Hernandez led-off with a single and stole 2nd (Samardzija did a poor job of holding baserunners today). Then after Samardzija got a couple of outs (one being the spectacular Baker catch) and was on the verge of getting out of the inning, Jhonny Peralta ripped an RBI single to drive-in Hernandez from 2nd base.


John Grabow came into the game in the 5th, and could not finish the inning. He threw 25 pitches (16 strikes), allowing two unearned runs (thanks to a fielding error by third-baseman Baker that kept the inning alive, allowing the Indians to string together three hits and two runs off Grabow when the lefty should have been out of the inning).


RHP Jeff Stevens and Blake Parker were both brought up from Minor League Camp for today's game (possibly to be showcased for the Toronto Blue Jays?), and Stevens was brought into the game with two outs and the bases loaded in the 5th, getting the final out (and stranding all three inherited runners in the process) on a line-drive to shortstop. But then the Indians did score a run off Stevens in the 6th, as Brian Bixler crushed a lead-off triple, and--after Stevens got two pop-ups and (like Samardzija earlier in the game) appeared on the verge of getting out of the inning unharmed--Matt LaPorta laced an RBI single past Ryan Theriot. Stevens threw 1.1 IP (21 pitches - 15 strikes), allowing the one run on two hits.


Blake Parker was better, throwing a 1-2-3 7th (14 pitches - 9 strikes), coming back from a 3-0 count to strike out Jose Constanza for the 3rd out of inning.


Rule 5 pick Mike Parisi entered the game in the 8th, and was terrible, failing to retire a hitter and having all kinds of trouble throwing strikes (17 pitches - only five strikes). Parisi allowed a lead-off line double to Chris Gimenez, then walked Brian Bixler and Anderson Hernandez to load the bases, before uncorking a wild pitch and hitting Matt McBride with a pitch.


Even though he is a Rule 5 pick and would have to be offered back to the St. Louis Cardinals if the Cubs decide not to keep him on their 25-man roster, Parisi is not guaranteed a roster spot. Unlike David Patton--who was selected by the Cubs in the December 2008 Rule 5 Draft as more of a "long term investment"--Parisi has two full years of AAA experience (249 AAA IP 2007-08) as well as 12 MLB games under his belt, so he was drafted by the Cubs as an "MLB-ready" guy. While Parisi did have Tommy John Surgery post-2008 and missed most of the 2009 season, he pitched very well as a rotation starter in the Arizona Fall League post-2009 and has had no arm problems so far this Spring. But I would say he is in big trouble right now.


Justin Berg was brought into the game in relief of Parisi with no outs and the bases-loaded, and proceeded to allow all three inherited runners to score (one on a 6-3 ground out and another on a Donnie Webb two-out, two-strike, two-run RBI triple), although he himself was not charged with any runs. Berg does throw strikes (18 pitches - 14 strikes today), but he pitches to contact and doesn't miss a lot bats, so he is less likely than a "strikeout pitcher" to strand inherited runners.


RHP (and ex-catcher) Jake Muyco was brought up from Minor League Camp and tossed a 1-2-3 eight-pitch 9th.


Other than Alfonso Soriano, the Cubs could do nothing with Fausto Carmona today (Soriano, rapped a two-out single in the 2nd and a one-out double the 5th, but was left stranded both times), as Carmona retired 12 of the first 13 men he faced.


And the Cubs in fact remained scoreless until the bottom of the 9th (they couldn't do anything with Jamey Wright or Saul Rivera, either), as Kosuke Fukudome reached base on an E-6 (errant throw) and advanced to third on a James Adduci double into the LF-CF gap with one out, before both scored with two outs on a two-strike two-run RBI ground single into RF (off LHRP Rafael Perez) by Micah Hoffpauir, who--after being in an ice-cold slump for most of Spring Training--has started hitting the crap out of the ball the last few days.


Xavier Nady in particular had a bad day at the plate, going 0-4 with a ground out, a pop out in foul territory, and two strike outs (both swinging, the last one with one out and runners at 2nd & 3rd).


Andres Blanco returned to game action today after missing the last two weeks with a sprained knee, and made two nice defensive plays, one ranging far to his left to capture a ground ball and throwing out a batter 6-3, and the other ranging far to his right and making a fine running catch in foul territiory.


The Cubs travel to Surprise tomorrow to play the Kansas City Royals.

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Comments

Thanks PHIL.

Are there days when the club, other than folks really fighting for a job, just "mail it in" out there?

Also, what do you think is up with Grabow? Is he hurt? Putting in extra time with coaches? He is supposed to be our "lock-down" LH out of the pen?

Finally, do you really believe that Lou will want to have BOTH Millar and Tracy on the bench?

Submitted by The E-Man on Mon, 03/22/2010 - 7:33pm.
Thanks PHIL.

Are there days when the club, other than folks really fighting for a job, just "mail it in" out there?

Also, what do you think is up with Grabow? Is he hurt? Putting in extra time with coaches? He is supposed to be our "lock-down" LH out of the pen?

Finally, do you really believe that Lou will want to have BOTH Millar and Tracy on the bench?

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

E-MAN: There are some players who appear to phone-in Spring Training in its entirety.

I think Grabow is probably just not in gear yet. He knows he has a job, he knows how to get ready for the season, so he's just getting his prep-work in, and isn't trying to do anything beyond that.

I think Lou would LOVE to have both Millar and Tracy on his bench, but he would also like to go with an 11-man pitching staff, too. I suspect that the bench will be Baker, Hill, Nady, Tracy, and either Blanco, Fuld, Colvin, or Millar (still TBD).

If the Cubs feel they need a true 4th OF who can play all three OF positions, PR, PH, and replace Soriano in LF in the late innings when the Cubs are trying to protect a lead, then it's probably Fuld. If the Cubs want somebody who can platoon with Byrd AND replace Soriano in the late innings when the Cubs are ahead, then it's probably Colvin. If the Cubs want a true SS who can spell Theriot when The Riot needs a day off or if he's off for a few days with an injury but not long enough to go on ther DL, then it's Blanco. If the Cubs don't care about a 4th OF who can be a Soriano defensive replacement or a true shortstop to back-up Theriot, then it could be Millar. Or Millar could replace Baker, but if that happens, Blanco (or Barney) HAS to make the team.

Actually the Cubs could at least start the season with an 11-man pitching staff (and six-man bench) by putting Carlos Silva on the 15-day DL this Friday (the first day players can be placed on the 15-day DL) and having him start a couple of minor league AAA ST games next week, and then (presuming Silva gets the 5th starter gig) he can be reactivated from the DL on Saturday 4/10 or Sunday 4/11 (whenever the 5th starter is needed), and then a position-player can be cut at that time.

Remember, Blanco and Baker are out of minor league options and would have to clear waivers in order to get sent to the minors, and then even if either were to clear waivers, the player could refuse the outright assignment and become a FA immediately (Blanco because he has been outrighted previously in his career, and Baker because he has 3+ years of MLB Service Time), although the player would get no termination pay if he opts to become a FA immediately (if an outrighted player defers the right to be a FA until the end of the MLB regular season, the player receives 100% of his salary through to the end of the season). Blanco would probably get claimed off waivers, but (because he's making close to $1M) Baker might not.

In the case of Baker, IF he signed a non-guaranteed 2010 contract, the Cubs would only have to pay him 45 days salary (which is about 25% of his 2010 salary - or about $250K) as termination pay if they release him prior to Opening Day. That would clear a roster spot for Millar, AND the $750K saved from Baker's 2010 salary would likely cover Millar's $750K or so MLB salary if he gets added to the 40. But again, if Millar replaces Baker on the 25-man roster, Blanco (or Barney) HAS to make the 25-man roster, because otherwise there's just Fontenot and Theriot on the 25 to cover 2B-SS.

Micah Hoffpauir making the 25-man roster would require that he beat-out Chad Tracy, except Tracy has more value to the Cubs than Hoffpauir because he can play 1B AND 3B and is a more-proven MLB LH PH.

Millar's best chance to make the Opening Day roster would probably be if Xavier Nady starts the season on the DL, but the Cubs have said that won't happen, even if Nady can't throw.

And once Tracy and Millar are added to the 40, both would have enough MLB Service Time where they can refuse an outright asignment AND get 100% of their remaining salary as termination pay if they get outrighted (no different than getting released). So the Cubs need to be real sure about both Tracy and Millar before adding either to the 25-man roster (and 40-man roster). On the other hand, both Tracy and Millar likely have opt-out deals where they can be a FA if they are not on the Cubs Opening Day 25-man roster, and Tracy (in particular) might be useful later in the season in case Aramis Ramirez gets hurt again.

Fuld, Colvin, Hoffpauir, Adduci, and W. Castillo have options available (and Barney, Castro, Robinson, and Chirinos would too, if they get added to the 40), so the Cubs can move these guys back and forth from Des Moines to Chicago and back to Des Moines pretty much as needed.

However. Brad Snyder and Bryan Lahair are out of minor league options, so if either gets added to the 25-man roster during the season, it would be problematic sending either of them back to the minors because they would first have to clear waivers.

What does it say about the Cubs that they are counting on a guy (Baker) to be their super-sub (a poor man's DeRosa), who other teams likely wouldn't even claim off waivers? It's pretty sad...

I suppose that depends upon your definition of supersub. If you define it as being able to substitute at a number of positionswithout embarrasing himself defensively, then Baker, Fontenot or for that matter Tracy and Blanco can be called supersubs. If instead you define it as a substitute that is good enough to be a starter at a number of positions as DeRosa was, than no one on the team is a supersub, and most teams in the majors have no supersub.

Yep, DeRosa (currently a starting 3B) is a SUPERSUB. Baker sure isn't. We used to call marginal players that could play multiple positions UTILITYMEN.

Thanks AZ PHIL.

The scenarios you detail are quite complex, and based on the body of Jim Hendry work, I am not terribly optimistic.

"If the Cubs want somebody who can platoon with Byrd AND replace Soriano in the late innings when the Cubs are ahead, then it's probably Colvin."

I certainly agree that Colvin is more likely than Fuld or Adduci to appear on a lineup card at the start of a game; but I see him replacing Soriano or Fukudome, not Byrd.

I just don't think the Cubs like Fukudome at all, which is why they've hired replacements for him the past two seasons. The current replacement is rehabbing his right arm. That's Colvin's opening.

A platoon partner is a replacement? And who was Fukudome's replacement signing prior to the 2009 season?

1) You're dreaming if you think Nady is only going to play once or twice a week, against lefthanders.

2) Fukudome was signed in '08 as a rightfielder, then replaced in '09. He slid over to center, where the offensive expectations are smaller. Where is he now?

The Cubs have to be careful what they say about their expensive mistakes, but we don't.

2) I don't think it's fair to say that when Jim Edmonds wasn't resigned and Bradley was added to the roster, that Fukudome was replaced. Normally if one is moved from RF to CF we'd say that they believed in his defense or were making use of his versatility to adapt to the free agent market.

1) It's not even likely to be a straight-up platoon with Nady until he can throw, and we don't know when that will be. He may also get starts in LF and at 1B, depending upon the health and performance of Soriano, Lee, Fukudome, and perhaps even Byrd (Fukudome could end up shifting back to CF). Even if they split time 50-50 in RF, that's not being replaced.

I do agree that Fukudome is the most likely starting outfielder to be traded, followed by Byrd, but only because their contracts are more tradeable than Soriano's, especially if they perform.

Not here to defend Fukudome, really--I just don't think that it's fair to say that he's been replaced.

If the Cubs want to open a spot for Colvin in 2011, Lee will be off the books unless they resign him. That opens up some other possibilities as well. Although unless they plan to move Soriano there, it would be smart to find room for Colvin by trading an outfielder than by putting up with a mediocre 1B in a big market. If Colvin makes it to the bigs as a starting/platoon player with the Cubs in 2010, it's likely to be because someone doesn't perform or is hurt, and of course because Colvin produces at AAA.

Since they got a first-hand look at Fukudome in 2008, the Cubs have signed three veteran free-agent outfielders, one to play center and two in right. That's what they think of Fukudome. We'll see how many games he starts this year. Maybe I missed it, but I haven't heard Lou use the word "platoon."

according to len/bob on the CSN replay on MLB Network...soriano's been seeing almost nothing but offspeed stuff this ST from pitchers.

either they feel more comfortable trying/warming the offspeed stuff on him or people are just gonna quit throwing the guy fastballs.

Why would you throw him a fastball?
Len also said Rudy help Sori's swing and stance because Sori made changes due to injuries.
I would have his eyes check.

granted...i've only seen him in 3 games this ST (all televised), but he does look like he's trying to make more contact without swinging hard as hell.

still...it's not like he's looking like ichiro or something out there with his bat.

Well, he is 11 for 33 so far. If he can hit .333 off of almost all breaking balls then I am encouraged.

"Why would you throw him a fastball?"

No doubt.

Sori goes through streaks where he clobbers everything in sight. He's capable of carrying an entire team for 1-2 weeks. The problem is he didn't have any such streaks like that last year that I can remember. It was a bad slump at the wrong time.

He did have a streak. Just not a good one.

He had streaks in April 284/364/591 (7 HR) and July 345/409/583 (5 HR), but otherwise he sucked.

Arizona Phil--thank you as always for your updates. I don't comment much, but I always make sure to catch your posts for the great information.

Regarding today, did you happen to catch any of Ted Lilly's simulated game?

SHEFF: I did not see Lilly's sim game.

I am wondering if the Cardinals will even take Parisi back at this point.

Submitted by The Real Neal on Mon, 03/22/2010 - 8:00pm.
I am wondering if the Cardinals will even take Parisi back at this point.

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

REAL NEAL: And even if the Cardinals do want him back, Parisi can refuse the outright assignment to AAA Memphis and become a FA because he's been outrighted previously in his career (rare for a Rule 5 pick). If a club opts to take back a Rule 5 pick, the player MUST be outrighted to the AAA club from which he was selected. So the Cardinals cannot take Parisi back and put him on their 40-man roster, at least not until Parisi is first outrighted to Memphis and is given the option to be a FA. Same thing if the Cardinals opt not to take Parisi back, and the Cubs outright him to Iowa.

It is not really too comforting knowing that Samardzjia and Silva are fighting for the last starter's job. Samardzjia has yet to show that he can handle the role at this level. He is signed through next season and has club options for '12 and '13. Based on his pitching rep, he is better suited for the bullpen. Then again, I understand the reluctance to put him in the bullpen. Very expensive bullpen pitcher who posesses a no trade clause with a rookie contract.

At least in the rotation he can only screw up every fifth game. You know, y'all just had to get rid of Marquis... .500 wpct wasn't good enough for you for a #5 starter...

Say what you want about the guy, but he always took the ball, usually pitched deep into a game, and sometimes even gave you a good game.

I am sticking with my call that unfortunately, Samardzjia will be a bust.

Okay, okay. I'm writing it down and sticking it to my fridge, E-Man.

lol. thanks.

Be sure to call me out on it if he wins the Cy Young. I will not hide.

I have to agree with you. And to answer Ryno, I do not want this guy on the roster at all, even with the lack of pitching depth. This is even more reason why the Cubs need to make a trade.

"He threw the ball really, really well," Hendry said.

http://sports.espn.go.com/chicago/news/story?...

the real quote:

"Really, he threw the ball really really well, it was almost unreal"

Good.

Or, "OBVIOUSLY really, he threw the ball really, really well, from flat ground."

It was a simulated game, which means it was from a mound.

yes, neal. Obviously. And these were simulated quotes.

Was he able to throw a towel curve? See you in July, sucka.

The Tribune Cubs recap today says that Berg "continued to impress" with a scoreless inning. I guess Sullivan can't be bothered to pay attention to the games and just looks at the box score to write his recap. Sheesh.

He's too busy chasing the Mariners down for Milton Bradley interviews to do what he's paid to do.

Luckily we here at TCR have AZ Phil and various other fans who can actually watch and report on games for free.

from flat ground."
---
the ground was really flat and he's really really ahead of our realistic expectations, obviously.

in Fangraphs' organizational rankings

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/orga...

and look at major league roster
http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/orga...

I've been enjoying the series, but how do the Cubs finish behind the Mets?

not sure what exactly their rankings are based on, seems to include revenue, how they use the revenue, GM, talent, etc...

The Mets will get more out of their core of Wright, Reyes, Santana, Beltran than the Cubs (most likely) over the next few years. I'm also guessing it's really close between the two.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htCx7pCGzrE

my all-time favorite from SEA...love it.

placed on waivers by Yankees.

a 3m contract on waivers...must be nice having a 200m payroll...i mean, a brilliant GM who understands tactical moves...

...nah, i mean a 200m payroll =p

at least it's a non-guaranteed contract.

http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/cubs/post/_/i...

"I didn't adjust very well last year," Fontenot said Tuesday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000.

next up, Soto admits he was fat last year and Soriano tells us that he swings at everything.

fwiw, Cubs/Royals on MLB Network in 1 hour.

So you mentioned Parker being showcased for Toronoto possibly. Do you think there is a trade in the works?

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