Dempster Strong Outing the One Bright Spot at HoHoKam
Ryan Dempster allowed two runs on four hits and two walks in six innings of work (72 pitches - 50 strikes, 5/8 GO/FO, 3 K), but the Texas Rangers rallied for two in the 8th off Lendy Castillo and two more in the 9th off Alberto Cabrera (two-run HR by 23-year old Cuban defector Leonys Martin) to defeat a Cubs split squad 6-2 in Spring Training Cactus League action this afternoon at Dwight Paterson Field at HoHoKam Park in cool & sunny Mesa, AZ.
Dempster had a very impressive outing today, and seemed to get better as the game progressed. The only blip was a two-run HR allowed to long-time Red Sox AAA (and current Rangers NRI) catcher Dusty Brown in the 2nd, but otherwise he pitched very well. Dempster should get his next start on Sunday or Monday when he will likely get stretched-out to about 90 pitches, and he would be in line to get the Cubs Opening Day start should Manager Dale Sveum decide to go that route.
The Cubs could do nothing with starter Neftali Feliz (the former Rangers closer who is being moved to the starting rotation this season), but scored two runs off ex-Cub (and ex-Sox) LHRP Neal Cotts in the bottom of the 4th.
Jeff Baker drew a lead-off walk, and scored on a one-out Blake DeWitt triple lined into the right-centerfield alley. DeWitt then scored on a Reed Johnson F-8 sacrifice fly. And that was pretty much the extent of the Cub offense today, although Starlin Castro did rope a double and a triple (as he continues to cream line-drives all over the yard), and Anthonu Rizzo had two more hits (both singles).
Closer Carlos Marmol relieved Ryan Dempster in the top of the 7th, laboring through the inning (18 pitches - only nine strikes), before being pulled from the game with what appeared to be a right arm injury after hitting a batter (on an 0-2 pitch) with two outs.
Rule 5 RHP Lendy Castillo got the third out in the top of the 7th, but then ran into trouble of his own making in the top of the 8th. The Rangers loaded the bases with one out on a single, a walk, and an HBP, before scoring two runs on a bases loaded walk, and an RBI bloop single in short RF.
For a 22-year old converted shortstop who has only been pitching for two years and who has not pitched above "A" ball (Lakewood in the SAL, equivalent to the Cubs Peoria affiliate in the MWL), Castillo has handled himself fairly well in MLB Spring Training (so far). The one area where he has struggled is command (and that was especially true today), and I think it is pretty obvious that the youngster is just not (yet) ready for The Show. (Tennessee or even Daytona would probably be more appropiate).
Because he is a Rule 5 player, the Cubs must keep L. Castillo on their 25-man roster (or MLB DL) throughout the 2012 season (with at least 90 days spent on the Cubs MLB 25-man Active Roster, or else he remains a Rule 5 player into the next season) before the Rule 5 roster obilgations are satisfied and he can be sent to the minors by the Cubs without any restrictions.
If the Cubs decide not to keep L. Castillo on their MLB 25-man roster in 2012, there is a three-step process (under MLB Rule 6) that follows:
1. Castillo must be placed on Outright Assignment Waivers, and any of the other MLB clubs can claim him for the $25,000 Rule 5 waiver price and assume the Rule 5 roster obligations.
2. If waivers are secured (that is, if Castillo is not claimed by another club), he must be offered back to the Phillies (the organization from which he was drafted), and the Phils can reclaim him for $25,000 (half the Rule 5 draft price), and if they do, he is automatically outrighted to the reserve list of AAA Lehigh Valley (the actual minor league team from which he was drafted).
3. Or the Phillies could choose (or be induced) to decline the opportunity to reclaim Castillo, which would allow the Cubs to send him to the minors (without any restrictions). This is the point where trades sometimes happen, where the drafting club sends cash and/or a different player to the player's former club in return for the former club declining to reclaim the Rule 5 pick. With Chase Utley out indefinitely with a knee problem, the Phillies are reportedly in the market for a 2B, and so the Cubs could (for instance) possibly send somebody like hot-hitting Blake DeWitt and cash to the Phillies in exchange for the Phillies declining to reclaim L. Castillo.
A Rule 5 player cannot be placed on Outright Assignment Waivers any earlier than 25 days prior to MLB Opening Day (which was March 10th), and a Rule 5 player cannot be sent to the minors any earlier than 20 days prior to MLB Opening Day (which was March 15th), so the Cubs can put Lendy Castillo on waivers now, if they choose to do so.
While one squad of Cubs was losing to the Rangers in Mesa, the other squad played to a 5-5 10-inning tie with the Oakland A's in Phoenix (thanks to a three-run Oakland rally in the bottom of the 9th off Blake Parker). Speedy OF Tony Campana had four hits (including a double) in the game versus the A's, and he also stole a base, and RHP Rodrigo Lopez got the start and apparently had another strong outing: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 4 K.
The Cubs have a day off tomorrow (it's the team's only day off during Spring Training), and will resume Cactus League play on Thursday, in a rematch with the Texas Rangers in Surprise.
Chapman shouldn't be reserved anymore on 40 man.
Interesting split on Heyward according to ESPN. As a CF, his slash line .292/.363/.375/.738. At RF: .212/.204/.300/.604. 21/72 as a CF, 58/273 as a RF.
He's also been better when batting 2nd, but he had a nice start in the 6 hole, but has slumped ever since. He was heating up before the All Star break, but is only hitting .108 in the 2nd half.
When we played the Reds with Chapman, I always thought of it as an eight-inning game. So now other teams have eight innings to try to get a lead against the Cubs. Should be a challenge, assuming three or four Cubs ever start hitting again.
I don't really try to get to know and like these players personally. I'm rooting for laundry, for the most part. Exceptions might be when a player makes trouble in the clubhouse or in the dugout. (Zambrano and Bradley come to mind. Also Papelbon.) But I don't think Chapman is one of those jerks.
Unfortunately, a pretty good summary. It looks like next year Heyward will be getting yet another batting stance adjustment.
The recent good news has been Baez. I'm afraid about the next league adjustment on him, though, which is probably right around the corner.
Bryant I don't worry about too much. Just not seeing the ball well right now. He'll turn it around. Russell's been good with men in scoring position all year and he's 22ish. He'll be fine but next year is likely to be his breakout year.
If Travis' back-to-back-to-back walks cost Hendricks the ERA title, that would really suck.
Edit: "A lifeless loss to a lousy Sox team."
This place is a real downer after a loss to the Sox.
I expect they will go 5-9 games above .500 the rest of the year. 96-98 wins will win the Division.
They should have one more 2-3 week hot streak in them.
However, several players are just "average" for the last month: Zobrist, Ross, Russell, Ceasar. Montero is terrible, plus he cannot throw anyone out. -WAR. Heyward is abysmal at the plate, but a plus in the OF. Still with RISP he has been terrible. KB has not been driving in runs as of late. But Apparently the team is still above average with RISP according to S Sahadev.
I came to that realization tonight. I kept expecting them to play better, but now I realize they aren't going to. They are a .500 team now.
- They have one reliable starting pitcher. Jake's magic is gone, and it doesn't look like it's coming back. Lester has been lousy recently. Lackey's ERA goes up every time he pitches.
- Heyward has been dead weight all year. I can't remember a single series where he was a significant offensive contributor. Not one. Great defense, but but if he were hitting .270 with 10 HR and played average defense, the Cubs would be better off.
new rule...no one's allowed to throw k.bryant a changeup
Team is .500 since early May and is playing like a .500 team. Lack of offense seems to be putting a lot of pressure on the pitchers...and they aren't handling it terribly well.
.500 the rest of the way still may win the division though.
...i hate espn.
nothing like settling into a cubs game to get a few minutes cutaway for an ortiz AB in the 6th inning of the det/bos game.
oh, at least they're doing split screen now...i guess.
I'm liking this rookie Nathan.
Richard DFA'd. Meh...
Throwbacks with fashionable cutouts would be a nice touch.
The next 2 games are nationally televised. I think we dominate tonight, hitting 3 HRs off Shields. Great night for KB to end HR drought facing HR prone pitcher in one of the most hitter friendly parks in the league.