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.
deno ended the season well even though ajax heavily cut into a lot of his chances to play. it's either him or ajax. i'm a bit partial to deno, but whatever...at least ajax isn't hitting 2nd.
Agreed. And, with Hendricks on the mound, Cubs will probably need to score some runs to win -- why not start Soler for his bat and bring in Ajax for defense later?
NEVER MIND....just re-read the lineup.
If the Cubs have the lead in the 8th, who pitches? Rodney? Travis? Yikes.
The Cubs had some good runs and nice winning streaks that propelled them to the playoffs. Austin Jackson wasn't part of that. I don't quite understand what it is about Jackson that they are so enamored with.
I think the strike zone was very inconsistent, but it's hard to blame the loss on the ump. They had chances and mistake pitches and just couldn't cash in. Lackey ran the ball inside and outside very effectively.
Correct. Castro 5th, AJax 6th; I'll edit my lineup post to fix this.
Lineup: Fowler, Soler, KB, Rizzo, Castro, AJax, Montero, Hendricks, Russell
if he put ajax 1st/2nd in the f'n playoffs he deserves to lose his nearly sure-thing MOY award to terry collins.
I believe Castro batting fifth, Ajax (LF) sixth
Maddon did not listen to me yesterday re Strop, or EricS on Schwarbs today.
Wtf is up w/that?!
Crunch got his wish - Ajax not hitting 1-2 in the lineup ...
I know he's struggles against lefties but Schwarber seems zoned in - hope he starts tonight.
Awesome stuff, Phil.
listening on ESPN 1000, caller says Bill Welke will be the home plate ump today. Supposedly his reputation is for having an even bigger strike zone than last night's Phil Cuzzi. Some of the issues with bad umpiring come from an inconsistent strike zone. Hoping at least for consistency. Last night's called strike on David Ross was outright embarrassing for Cuzzi.
That might work out in favor of Kyle Hendricks, who benefits much from a large strike zone.
it's kind of mesmerizing to watch
should Theo add some Ted Abernathy videos for minor league pitching coordinator's use?
sadly, Ted passed away in 2004 from complications of Alzheimers. I always loved the Cub bullpen trio of Phil Regan, Ted Abernathy and Hank Aguirre. As a kid, I even worked on both Phil Regan (very quirky delivery) and Ted Abernathy (extreme submarine) imitations when throwing a rubber ball against a wall. It wasn't a good imitation unless I could scrape my knuckles off the ground. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for submariners.
HAGSAG: Chris Pieters was sent to instructs to develop his hitting, bunting, and outfield play (he is already a decent first-baseman).
Pieters is tall and rangy , a "long-strider" in the same mold as Trey Martin and Rashad Crawford. He is a very patient hitter (unusual for a hitter with his lack of experience) and has an outstanding (almost uncanny) eye at the plate, and he is a fast runner with unusually good baserunning instincts, and he is a good basestealer, too.