No News is Good News...I Guess
It certainly has been a rather drama free first week of camp, which doesn't give me much to react to...but I'll do my best.
- A Dave Kaplan tweet says Dale Sveum would bat Starlin Casto third if the season started today. I have no problem with that. I do have a problem with that leading to Darwin Barney probably batting second. Hopefully the front office can talk some sense into him or he'll set a record for losing the benefit of the doubt by fans like me rather quickly. If that is the case, I presume the lineup could look like this against righties: DeJesus, Barney (gag), Castro, LaHair, Soriano, Stewart, Byrd, Soto.
I'd prefer Castro batting second, but if Sveum insists on him batting third, I'd rather see: DeJesus, Byrd, Castro, LaHair, Soriano, Stewart, Soto, Barney.
- An article on Ryan Flaherty's chances of sticking with the Baltimore Orioles.
- Sveum on what he's looking for in a back-up catcher, "[Handedness] matters, but it’s not the final piece of the puzzle,” Sveum said. “The guy who will work and be able to handle pitchers is the biggest thing when it comes down to it.”
That should be one of the spring training battles which from what I can tell come down to the following:
Back-up Catcher: Steve Clevenger, Welington Castillo and Jason Jaramillo
4th/5th Starter: Figure Garza, Dempster and Maholm are locked in leaving Chris Volstad, Travis Wood, Randy Wells, Andy Sonnastine and Jeff Samardzija fighting for 2 spots.
5th OF: Soriano, Byrd, DeJesus, Johnson take up the first four with Tony Campana, Dave Sappelt and Joe Mather battling for a spot.
Back-up Middle Infielder: LaHair, Barney, Castro, Stewart and Baker seem locked in leaving Adrian Cardenas, Blake DeWitt, Matt Tolbert, Edgar Gonzalez and even Bobby Scales fighting it out.
Bullpen: I suspect Marmol, Wood, Russell and Samardzija are locked in. That leaves 3 spots open for the likes of Scott Maine, Jeff Beliveau, John Gaub, Trever Miller, Marcus Mateo, Manny Corpas, Rodrigo Lopez, Casey Coleman, Lendy Castillo and whomever loses out on the starter jobs if they don't get optioned, traded or released.
Obviously a spot on the 40-man gives a player the edge and then it'll be a mix of how they look in spring training versus what Sveum and his coaches feel the team needs and what the player needs (more development time, major league experience, speed, handedness, etc).
If I had to guess today: Jaramillo, Volstad and T. Wood, Campana, Cardenas and Maine, Corpas and either Lopez, Sonnastine or Wells for the swingman job (in order of likelihood).
- The Cubs are half way through the second round of the bunting tourney, here are the 8 that have advanced with 8 more second round match-ups to go.
(1) Beliveau vs. (12) McNutt
(2) Coleman vs. (14) Rusin
(4) Lalli vs. (9) Cardenas
(3) W. Castillo vs. (10) Clevenger
HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC.
ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels.
M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores) the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating.
E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.
Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).
PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.
AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.
Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!
Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.
With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.
it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.
It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.
Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.
That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.
I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.
Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...
These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.
No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.
a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...
it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...
Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.
Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.
Soler BB acumen and plate awareness is excellent. Not unusual for even the best players to react as if they were about to hit them, "even though they weren't that close" from your vantage point sitting on your deck, or wherever.
soler vs inside breaking balls is scary.
he's had 2 inside curve balls today where he reacted as if they were about to hit him even though they weren't that close...one he bailed out of the box on, it was a called strike.