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.
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.
To be fair to Emery and Trestman the foreshadowing of last year started happening well before them with the failure or mismanaging of multiple draft classes forcing the team to overspend in a free agency market that is even worse than baseball. Kyle Long seems like a good pick but they traded away another good one in Olson because of Martz's stupidity and inability to change his offense to fit the team talent.
HAGSAG: I think Domonic Brown does fit the criteria of a reclamation project, but unless he is willing to accept a minor league contract with an NRI to Spring Training, I don't think the Cubs would be interested given where the Cubs are right now. A couple of years ago? Yes. But probably not now.
Brown would be better-off going to a club that is rebuilding and re-establish his value there, like Chris Coghlan did with the Cubs. And if he can re-establish his value, he could get traded to a contender at the trade deadline and take it from there.
"they just fade away"
(Except in the cases of no-fade lefties like Moyer, Orosco and Rich Hill.)
Amazing to me how quickly it fell apart under Trestman. Year 1, they were a Chris Conte brain fart away from making the playoffs. Year 2 -- coach, staff and GM all fired.
I am sure Jonathon Mota will be signed next.
AZ Phil, what is your thoughts on Domonic Brown as a reclamation project?
He also played LF in deference to Curtis Granderson.
Meh... other moves to make...hope to see a move or two soon.
I haven't seen much Bears football this year - difficult to watch the games out here, but the game I saw the week before I was watching in shock as I saw them actually make tackles. And Cutler has looked really good, too.
I guess people can quibble about play calling, but the team I saw is way more than 50% better coached (my only very minor disagreement with your comment).
Under Trestman, the team didn't do anything right. This team played like a well coached team when I saw them play the Rams.
"What is sometimes overlooked about Vogelbach because of his "bad body" and because he has struggled so much defensively is that he is a hard worker, has a great attitude, loves to play the game, and is very well-liked by his teammates, and while that may not seem important, teams do actually value stuff like that. "
As well they should. Replace a word here and there and you are describing any worker someone would hire.
Hak-Ju Lee signs a minor league contract with SF Giants.
Some closure on the 6 degrees of Separation for Matt Garza/Chris Archer
-0.3 WAR in 7.1ip last year...
-3 WAR projected over the course of a season.
the cubs just added an all-star reliever's worth of work by losing b.schlitter.
Rockies sign Brian Schlitter to a minor league contract. Good luck in Coors Field. Enough said.
i'll take him over frandy since it's unlikely he'll progress as a SS (and 2nd isn't looking much better).
i hope patton's delivery deception skills play well in the bigs over time. cubs need pitching options that are MLB-ready and dude fits the bill for a MLB/AAA mix...both needed.
I'm not saying he's great, but can we agree on the word "decent"? Became a pro at 23, called up at 26; nothing wrong with that trajectory, he hasn't been knocking around. Even in the majors his SO9 is 9.7. In the minors it's 12.2, so he's always missed bats, and without being a wild man: his walks are low. He cost the Cubs an unheralded A-ball middle infielder and a roster spot.
he's a righty (a 27 year old one that's going to be 28 before spring training starts) that throws low 90s with a low-80s slider. that's as ordinary as it gets for a righty reliever.