Brew Crew Catcher a Pain in the Kottaras
George Kotarras drove-in five runs with bases-loaded doubles in consecutive innings, as the Milwaukee Brewers hammered the Cubs 10-2 in Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in warm & sunny Mesa, AZ, this afternoon.
Battling for a spot in the Cubs starting rotation, RHP Randy Wells got the start and threw three shutout innings (38 pitches – 26 strikes, 7/2 GO/FO), allowing just two hits. He had no walks or strikeouts.
LHP Travis Wood (also battling for a spot in the starting rotation) piggy-backed with Wells, entering the game in the 4th probably with an opportunity to throw multiple innings and (hopefully) make a good impression. But T. Wood did not even retire the side in his first inning of work before getting yanked out of the game, allowing six runs (five earned) on three hits (two doubles and a single), two walks and an HBP. Wood could not throw strikes (31 pitches – only 15 strikes), and when he did throw strikes, the Brewers hit ropes. The Brewers were also aided in the inning by a Reed Johnson error on a laser line-drive to LF (ball just plain tipped off the top of Johnson’s glove, or it might have gone through his glove, it was hit so hard).
RHP Casey Coleman pitched the 5th & 6th, and had a poor outing, throwing what could best be described as batting practice to the Brew Crew. Milwaukee nailed Coleman for four runs on five hits (including three doubles) and two walks, and even the outs were loud. (Coleman had no strikeouts). There has been talk about Coleman maybe having a chance to win a bullpen job in Chicago coming out of Spring Training, but today’s outing could make Coleman Des Moines-bound sooner rather than later.
The Cubs only runs of the day scored in the 4th, in Milwaukee SP Randy Wolf’s fourth inning of work. Starlin Castro smoked a lead-of double into the right-centerfield alley, and scored when Ian Stewart followed with an opposite-field double off the LF fence. (If Stewart is to get back to where he was a couple of years ago, he will need to use the whole field as he did in that AB). Jeff Baker then laced an RBI single, driving-in Stewart from 2nd.
Otherwise, no Cub hitter had more than one hit, and the offense just generally looked pitiful today.
Rule 5 RHP Lendy Castillo worked two hitless & scoreless innings, although he did struggle with his control, walking two batters in the 9th. The Cubs need to decide by MLB Opening Day (April 4th) whether L. Castillo—a converted shortstop who has only been pitching for two years--can pitch in the big leagues after having never pitched above Full-Season “A” (equivalent to Peoria). So expect to see Castillo get a lot of work in the next couple of weeks as the Cubs decide his immediate future.
If it turns out the Cubs choose not to keep L. Castillo on their 25-man roster because they feel he is just not ready to pitch in the big leagues, he would have to first be placed on Outright Waivers, where any of the other MLB clubs could claim him for $25,000 and assume the Rule 5 obligations, and if he is not claimed, he would next have to be offered back to his former organization (the Philadelphia Phillies), who could re-claim Castillo for half the Rule 5 Draft price ($25,000).
It is at this last point where clubs will sometimes work out a trade, allowing the drafting club to keep the player, with the drafting club sending a different player and/or cash to the player’s former club as compensation. If that were to happen with Lendy Castillo, the Cubs could retain the young right-hander, and send him to the minors (probably Daytona) for further seasoning without any restrictions.
The Cubs have their first “split squad” day tomorrow, with about half of the team remaining in Mesa to play the Arizona Diamondbacks, while the rest of the team travels up the Loop 101 Freeway to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick (on the Salt River Pima Indian Reservation east of Scottsdale) to take-on the Colorado Rockies.
Split squad days provide clubs a good opportunity to get pitchers who need work some game action, and it also gives some of the kids from Minor League Camp a chance to show what they can do in an MLB Cactus League game.
Also, tomorrow is the first day Draft-Excluded Players can be sent to the minors, so expect to see young players like Josh Vitters, Junior Lake, and Matt Szczur to be optioned to the minors tomorrow morning (although they can still play in MLB Cactus League games). Several other players (including some on the 40-man roster, as well as some of the non-roster players who are in camp by invitation) will probably get sent to Minor League Camp at the same time, in prepartion for the start of minor league Spring Training games on Friday.
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.
j.urias optioned back to AAA...guess we wont be seeing him in the LAD series.
so is him actually getting 2 hits in a game (2 doubles!)...first time he's even been on base 2 times in a game since 9 games ago on his 3/4, 1bb day.
im ready for him to at least look like a 2-slot hitter since he's gonna be slotted there no matter what he does.
That Heyward move to avoid Bryant's ball hit at him was a thing of beauty too.
9 pitches in and this game already rules.
HR, double...bryant's turn (who came out to a Kris Kross song for some horrible, horrible reason).
...2 run inning...zoobrest hitting streak at 14.
First time I saw Herrera was yesterday. He took like 100 pitches, fouled off a ton off Lester.
Very nice young player and perfect leadoff guy.
Obviously not Phil. But he mentioned this on Wednesday.
"Dominican Summer League (DSL) Opening Day is Saturday June 4th, so probably about 8-10 pitchers and position players presently at EXST in Mesa will be sent to the Cubs Dominican Academy (probably sometime this week) and be assigned to either DSL Cubs #1 or DSL Cubs #2."
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