High Ho Silva

Battling for the 5th starter's job and perhaps his big league career, Carlos Silva threw six innings of three-hit ball, retiring 17 of the last 18 men he faced, and Reed Johnson--also battling for a spot on the 25-man roster--singled twice and scored two runs, leading the Cubs to a 3-1 victory over the Oakland A's in Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in sunny & warm Mesa, AZ, this afternoon    

box score

I think most of us know that the Cubs were hoping to find a reason to not release Carlos Silva and pay him $8M ($6M in 2011 salary and a $2M buy-out in 2012) to not pitch for them, and perhaps today's outing did in fact secure the #5 starter job for the veteran Venezuelan.

Silva allowed a lead-off line drive single to Coco Crisp to open the game, and after Ryan Sweney fanned, Josh Willingham doubled into the left-center alley to score Crisp and give the A's a quick 1-0 lead. But Silva then retired 16 of the next 17 men he faced, and although many of the balls hit off him would best be described as "loud outs," he did get the job done, working quickly and (in the main) throwing strikes. And his defense made all the plays required to keep him from getting into jams.

For the day Silva allowed just the one first-inning run on three hits (two singles and a double), striking out three while issuing no walks, in 6.0 IP (78 pitches - 49 strikes, 6/5 GO/FO).

Casey Coleman threw a super-efficient 1-2-3 7th (8 pitches - 6 strikes, 0/3 GO/FO), Marcos Mateo pitched a shutout 8th (16 pitches - 9 strikes, 0/2 GO/FO), allowing just one harmless single while striking out Conor Jackson (although before striking out, Jackson just missed a moonshot game-tying home run down the LF line when the ball curved foul at the last minute), and Kerry Wood tossed an easy 1-2-3 11-pitch 9th (three ground balls) for the Save. 

Meanwhile, the Cubs mustered just enough offense to outscore the A's, scoring twice in the bottom of the 1st, and then adding an insurance run in the 8th.

Reed Johnson led off the bottom of the 1st against A's LHSP Gio Gonzalez with a line-drive single tio left, and advanced to second when Starlin Castro walked. Jeff Baker struck out and Aramis Ramirez flied out, but Geovany Soto and Alfonso Soriano came through with two-out RBI singles to score Johnson and Castro and give the Cubs an early 2-1 lead.  

The Cubs used "small ball" to score their final tally in the 8th against submariner RHRP Brad Ziegler. Reed Johnson laid down a perfect bunt single into the "Bermuda Triangle" between the pitcher, the first-baseman, and the second-baseman to lead-off the inning, Matt Camp executed a textbook sac bunt to advance Johnson to 2nd, and after PH Blake DeWitt bounced out to the shortstop (with Johnson advancing to 3rd), the A's opted to intentionally walk Scott Moore to get to right-handed hitting Welington Castillo. But the plan backfired, as W. Castillo took a walk on a very close 3-2 pitch to load the bases, before Alfonso Soriano was hit by a pitch on the left leg to force-in a run and give the Cubs a 3-1 lead.

If Silva does in fact get the #5 starter's job, that moves Andrew Cashner to the bullpen, leaving one open spot in the pen to be filled by either Casey Coleman, James Russell, Marcos Mateo, Jeff Stevens, or NRI RHP Braden Looper. Since Manager Mike Quade is probably going to want one guy who can throw long relief/multiple innings, Coleman, Russell, and Looper probably have the edge over Mateo and Stevens at this time.   

With two hits, two runs scored, and a couple of nice catches in RF, Reed Johnson did nothing today to keep him from being the heavy favorite to capture the 5th OF job, especially since Fernando Perez has had several defensive lapses in games and is hitting just .147. F. Perez does have one minor league option left, so it would be no big deal to send him to Iowa to start the season.

And while Darwin Barney has almost certainly won the middle-infielder job (and may still be in the mix for at least a part-time gig at 2B), there would appear to be a battle between Blake DeWitt, Bobby Scales, and Scott Moore for the other infielder spot, since Jeff Baker has played well enough this Spring (hitting RHP with no difficulty, something he could not do last year) to perhaps be the everyday 2B. Like F. Perez, DeWiit has one minor league option left, and sending DeWitt to the minors for at least 100 days would keep him from being arbitration-eligible post-2011, not that that would be the only reason to option him out, but it is a factor to consider when making the final decision.  

The Cubs play the White Sox tomorrow afternoon in Mesa.


Excellent write up as always kemosabe.

From a Jim Callis chat:

mike (orlando): why are you so high on Szczur when others (specifically, Law & Goldstein) are not?

Jim Callis: Not sure what they don't like—you'd have to ask them. From my perspective, while he hasn't played much yet, he's a potential 6-7 bat, 4-5 power, 8 speed, 6-7 defender with tremendous makeup. Sign me up for more of those.

Mateo (again) (Boston (again)): If Starlin Castro were eligible (lest we forget he is only 20), would he be the top SS prospect ahead of Manny Machado? Where would Castro rank overall?

Jim Callis: Given the scarcity of stud shortstops, Castro would have to rank in the top five overall prospects. Assuming he hadn't hit .300 as a rookie last year and tore up Triple-A instead, I think he'd have to rank as the game's best shortstop prospect too.


and this buried nugget...

Josh (Cal): Do you think that Darwin Barney can hit enough this season to be the starting second baseman for the Cubs? His glove is really opening some eyes in Arizona so far.

Jim Callis: He won't put up big numbers, but I could see him hitting along the lines of .275/.320/.370. Not great, but coupled with his defense, that might make him the best option for the Cubs.

You forgot the best part (and my wish): "High Ho Silva...Away!"

I said "Posse!!"

A couple random things that I didn't know (but AZ Phil and some others surely did):

The ST experience is one of the coolest things ever. Cheaper tickets, smaller venues, more access to the players (got Garza's autog today and had a brief exchange with Marmol) just by hanging in the right place. Sign me up, I'm gonna try and make it an annual thing, my only regret is it taking me this long to finally do.

Lawn seats are the heat. Room for blankets, strollers, etc. Makes it way more family friendly.

The media guide is actually worth the coin. I never wanted to fork over the $30 or whatever until I paged through one quick, hell, I think it's got the favorite food of everyone on the 40 man.

Feel free to poke fun, but these are takeaways from a great few days in Phoenix. Unfortunately by myself with a newborn, I didn't get to see nearly enough actual baseball, but there's always..... The regular season

"But Silva then retired 16 of the next 17 men he faced, and although many of the balls hit off him would best be described as 'loud outs' ..."

The Trib article is a bit more candid: "'Today I still left some pitches up, but they were hit right at people,' Silva said."

So basically Silva gave up an early run and then continued to pitch rather poorly but benefited from good luck/fielding the rest of the way ...

Does anybody in the Cubs front office truly believe that an occasionally lucky Silva is preferable to a developing Cashner?

Please, Please, Please let them take advantage of Silva's high point of the season to kick in half his salary and trade him for a weak hitting 25 year old Hi-A leftfielder with 2 DUI arrests on his record. Please!

Matt Bush is a pitcher now.

I was going to say that Adam Kennedy plays 2b, not LF.

Cashner needs to build up his inning in AAA if they want him to be a starter.


I have read the beat reporters remark that scouts of several teams were in attendance for the Silva Show.

Did you notice them, and if so, did you have the chance to speak with them about the stud, obese pitcher?

Just to piggyback on the Baker mention, an article over at fangraphs on the very same topic:


Nothing too shocking for those of us who have followed the 2B "discussion" for the last year or so.

From the Silva fluff piece on MLB.com today:

Silva, competing with Andrew Cashner and Braden Looper for the final spot, took to heart some advice from pitcher Ryan Dempster.

"Today he said, 'I don't want you to give me 100 percent, I want you to give me 80 percent,'" Silva said of his conversation with the Cubs' Opening Day starter.

That's really good advice, imo. How many times have we seen it happen, the pitcher who is rolling just makes it look easy while the pitcher with a bunch of talent fights with himself an entire game? Maybe Z should heed the advice and give 80%. 80% of Zambrano is probably good enough to win most games.

via rotoworld

Cubs optioned OF Fernando Perez to Triple-A Iowa; reassigned INFs Bobby Scales, Augie Ojeda, Scott Moore and OF Matt Camp to minor league camp.

5th outfielder seems settled...

That settles all the position players other than catcher, doesn't it? Or is there an infielder I am forgetting?

I guess so, other than who may actually gets the starts at 2b. Somehow Blake DeWitt survives.


"[ ] the Cubs appear to want to give Blake DeWitt, who came from the Dodgers in the Ted Lilly trade, a chance at second base despite his .163 average and questionable defense this spring."

...because not doing so means Hendry and his yes-men really fucked up the Lilly/Theriot money-saver trade. (My favorite part was where Hendry actually thought he could sign Lilly back for less money in the fall)

Of course, we still have Brett Wallach and Kyle Smit somewhere.

Even better Quade is looking at DeWitt at...third base!


Hello Mike Fontentot 2011!

The Cubs still have four catchers, including Max Ramirez, who has a sore left wrist, and Welington Castillo, who is hitting .667. Koyie Hill (.037) is likely to win a spot based on his experience and handling of the pitching staff.


hopefully we get a lineup with Barney, Hill, DeWitt and Baker all playing on the same day.

seemed like a no-brainer w/ dewitt still having an option; after all, ST may be ST, but not like he's ever proven himself or has laurels to rest on - no glove; no stick; has an option, yep, let's keep him!

on that note, Rotoworld blurb says DeWitt will get some time at 3b the rest of the spring training with Barney getting some more 2b time

we'll see how much defense matters I guess...

DeWitt reminds me physically of Greg Jeffries... unfortunately he seems a lot more like Sean Burroughs 2.0.

I am sure all the Iowinians are upset about not getting to see him light up the PCL... at least not until May.

Except Greg Jeffries actually had speed, and could hit well enough at the big league level to have some value.

You mean sort of like Sean Burroughs?

Jeffries finished in the top 17 in MVP voting twice, and had several seasons hitting above .300 as an everday player. His best season was 1993 with STL when he hit .342/.408/.485 in 612 PA. And he stole 46 bases that year, was an all-star two years in a row.

Burroughs/DeWitt will never touch that.

How does, " Blake DeWitt is to MLB hitting as 'Paul Noce' is to reading comprehension ", grab you?


standard stuff, bad BABIP, other peripherals stayed consistent, hit a lot more balls on the ground than he usually does.

"While batting-average-on-balls-in-play (BABIP) is not indicative of good or bad luck... the second-worst BABIP, combined with what appears to be a ground ball-fly ball anomaly, suggests Pena’s 2010 season was more of a result of bad luck than a complete collapse of skill."

That was a really bad article, and it took two people to write it.

What really happened - he hit more groundballs and more defenses played the shift against him, so he hit into more outs.

and more defenses played the shift against him, so he hit into more outs.

honest question, how do you check that?

I've heard it mentioned a couple of times that more and more teams used the shift against him the last couple of years. Not sure how to check it (outside of buying fielding data) but I guess Rays confirm it.

good enough...thanks.


It's a thing now. Get use to it.

if anyone is looking for a fantasy baseball league, there are 3 openings in Transmission's annual "Rod Beck's America" league. It's Head to Head with fairly deep rosters and 12x12 stat categories (mix of ratio and the usual counting stats). The returning members are pretty much all current or former TCR readers/members. It's competitive, but it's a pretty casual league with only two 'rules'. 1) don't be a jerk 2) if you do sign up, you need to be at least semi-active (we'd prefer if you can check in at least once per week) but you DO need to check in at least once per month or we'll shoot you a polite email asking you to please check into your roster to make DL adjustments or whatnot.

The live draft is this Sunday at 1 PM EST, it's free, and hosted on Yahoo. If you can't make the live draft you can pre-rank your selections.

Just go to the Yahoo fantasy baseball homepage (you'll need to register if you don't have an acct), and click the "join custom league" tab and enter the following info

League id is - 132209
Password is - samfuld

if you have any further questions post them here and I'll try to answer them. Thanks

May be 3/44, but if you follow the Cubs on Facebook, you can watch the Cubs/Sox MLB.tv feed right now.

for a bigger feed...


then right click on screen in an upper part of the feed and "zoom in"

fwiw, I believe if you click on the TV icon on mlb.com, it comes up as a free preview for anyone

it works if you have a mlb.com account (no purchase, just the account). that's why i kept getting thrown to the login screen.

Recent comments

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  • Rob Richardson 19 sec ago view
  • Martinez is one of my least favorite pitchers in baseball. I'd love to see a game like yesterday's against him.

    Send Soler down!

    Old and Blue 47 min 46 sec ago view
  • Awesome thanks AZ

    Old and Blue 50 min 3 sec ago view
  • Great report, Phil! This organization has so many hitters to be excited about.

    John Beasley 1 hour 39 min ago view
  • Ben Zobrist is very enjoyable to watch!!!!!!

    Hagsag 4 hours 27 min ago view
  • given that he seems to only be throwing low 90s these days rather than the 93-96mph he used to throw, along with his wildness issues this year, he may end up passing through.

    i dunno if something is wrong with him physically or his past shoulder issues has rendered him what he currently is, but he's been throwing a lot of sliders he can't control well and his fastball isn't as sharp. even when his slider wasn't working in a game he was still throwing a lot of them.

    crunch 5 hours 40 min ago view
  • Any scuttlebutt on where Neil Ramirez gets traded?

    He seems better than some of the relievers on competitive teams. He ought to bring more than the waiver fee.

    My guess? Toronto.

    tim815 6 hours 3 min ago view
  • PHIL: It seems as if Paniagua has always played 1B with the Cubs. At 6'2 and 180#, what is his frame like? String bean? Have you seen him bulk up? Where do you project him? Thanks.

    The E-Man 6 hours 8 min ago view
  • Phil, what's your thoughts on which position players are going to Eugene and who is staying in AZL?

    azbobbop 10 hours 9 min ago view
  • Ahhh...way to bring me down BB.

    Still - a win tomorrow will be an acheivement regardless.

    The E-Man 10 hours 56 min ago view
  • Don't mean to spoil your mood, but with tonight's win the are 3-5 on the trip with one to play.

    While I'm bringing the room down -- Richard comes in to pitch the 9th with a 12-1 lead...and can't finish the game. Woof.

    billybucks 11 hours 29 min ago view
  • jacos 11 hours 30 min ago view
  • It is remarkable how my mood has become uplifted with one game against the Cards.

    That is sick.

    But, I have been an addict for a long time.

    A W tomorrow and it will be a .500 road trip.

    Also, to keep the losses in perspective, if the Cubs were to lose 10 games a month - a lot at this current pace - they still end up 102-60. Six months of the ride!

    The E-Man 11 hours 40 min ago view
  • So, the Mesa Cubs should be solid this summer in the AZL Rookie League?

    And, I like the, "But did you know" lead in there. Something a little different.

    I can tell really like this group of hitters in AZ right now.

    What pitchers out there, other than Cease, should we be excited about?

    Thanks as always for the info.

    Childersb3 12 hours 19 min ago view
  • back on the Run Differential hunt... (aka The Hunt for Blue October)

    Cubster 12 hours 47 min ago view
  • These are the 2016 Cubs I know and love. Also digging that Cardinals OF (lack of) defense.

    Charlie 13 hours 4 min ago view