Team Ramirez Tags Russell at Fitch
Aramis Ramirez ripped a towering home run high over the LF fence onto 8th Street and Max Ramirez drilled a liner off the right-centerfield fence and almost took the pitcher's head off with a line drive up the middle, as James Russell was hit hard in a 25-pitch "live" BP session at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning.
Aram did not take "live" BP last year and did not hit against live pitching yesterday, either, but he looked very comfortable hitting against Ryan Dempster and James Russell today.
And Max Ramirez continued to show off his offensive skills today, battering Russell in a five-pitch AB. A one-time Texas Rangers Top 10 Prospect, the 26-year old Ramirez was acquired off waivers from Boston last month, and he is known as an offensive-first C-1B. Whether he will be able to beat-out Koyie Hill for the #2 catcher job is questionable, because the Cubs pitchers who matter seem to prefer throwing to K. Hill when Geovany Soto is not in the lineup. But if he keeps hitting the ball in Cactus League play as well as he has this week at Fitch Park, it might be tough to keep M. Ramirez off the Opening Day 25-man roster. His best chance to make the team would probably be if Geo's shoulder keeps him from handling a #1 catcher's work-load (at least at the beginning of the season), or if something happens to K. Hill. The other ways M. Ramirez could make the Opening Day roster would be if the Cubs opt to go with just four outfielders (Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd, Kosuke Fukudome, and Tyler Colvin) and cut both Reed Johnson and Fernando Perez, or if they go with just one back-up infielder (Darwin Barney) and cut Jeff Baker.
Among the other pitchers who threw today, Jeff Samardzija got a lot of ground balls on Field #2 facing Fukudome, Perez, Bryan Lahair, and Brad Snyder, and Carlos Marmol was just plain filthy, with Josh Vitters managing to hammer the one and only ball hit hard off the Cub closer (a line drive). All of the Cubs position players except Koyie Hill had the opportunity to face "live" BP against Cubs pitchers today, although Hill did have a lengthy BP session hitting the offerings of Cub coaches on Field #1 after the "live" BP session had concluded.
It was "picture day" today, so the Cubs wore their home white pinstripe uniforms instead of the blue batting practice tops & grey pants they normally wear at Fitch Park.
Koyie Hill (Looper & Silva)
Chris Robinson (Samardzija & Stevens)
Steve Clevenger (Maine & Rice)
GROUP 1 HITTERS (vs Looper & Silva)
GROUP 2 HITTERS (vs Samardzija and Stevens)
GROUP 3 HITTERS (vs Maine & Rice)
Geovany Soto (Dempster & Russell)
Welington Castillo (Marmol & Marshall)
Max Ramirez (Carpenter & Smit)
GROUP 1 HITTERS (vs Dempster & Russell)
GROUP 2 HITTERS (vs Marmol & Marshall)
GROUP 3 HITTERS (vs Carpenter & Smit)
2nd in defensive WAR, NL.
6th in NL in RBI
Go complain about something else, like, "they never play good against the good teams", or some other shit.
Addy really has trouble breaking through .250 BA -- after his hot streak got him to .251, he has gone 1-for-17.
Thank goodness for Jansen's 2 WP on Friday -- otherwise this would have been a sweep.
There seems to be a direct correlation with overconfidence in the Cubs offense against mediocre/young pitchers and really poor offense against mediocre/young pitchers. So, let's fear the Pirate pitchers!
Rizzo due for a power surge -- one HR in August so far. He truly does hit them in bunches.
Sometimes I'm not as supportive of Cahill as maybe I should be. There, I said it.
Rough 8th inning all around -- HBP, Cahill error, Javy's poor decision.
Oh well - given that the Cubs didn't look like they were going to score, it's better to lose in 9 innings, save the bullpen and get changed for the PJ trip home.
Baez still learning
heyward with his 3rd multi-hit game since the all-star break (all in august)...2nd in the past 3 games during his 7 game hitting streak.
he's gone from flirting with a sub-.300 ob% to nearing .310 ob% in 3 games (1 game was just a 1 for 1 pinch hit appearance). all 5 hits in the past 3 games have come in a row...neat.
stewart with 7Ks through 3ip...of course.
that 10-13 mph difference in his fastball/change is working today...and they're swinging at his crappy slider.
brock stewart...steven brault...fun times for the cubs hitters vs allegedly competitive teams...maybe.
Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.
video of Maddon.
always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.
#Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs
Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.
Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.
Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.
I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.