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.


So what's the deal with Ian Stewart's wrist? I see a blurb and link on Roto that Stewart says his wrist isn't healed from last year and he'll "need to manage it" to get through the season. WTF?? It took D Lee what, 2 years to recover from his wrist injury? I'm beginning to think Vaunted Team Theo did not do their homework with these Marshall and Colvin/LeMahieu trades. Let's see here:

1. Ian Stewart: still injured from last year
2. Casey Weathers: Steve Blass Disease pitcher, no hope
3. Travis Wood: horrible, headed to the minors
4. Dave Sappelt: can't make a 25-man big league roster

That's a whole lot of suck and a whole lot of misses. Ronald Torreyes better be a freaking superstar because if not, these trades are major malfunctions.

I'm also worried about that wrist. It sets off huge clanging red alarms when your starting third baseman, and a guy you're relying on for power, starts giving quotes like "It only hurts on contact."

1. Here's the full article on Stewart:

It's very clear that the team and its medical staff did their homework on this issue; and that he experiences some soreness and inflammation from time to time, and wears the protective brace as a precaution.

2. Still hope, he has time to work things out in the minors, but he was just a high risk throw-in anyway, shouldn't expect much there.

3. Well, he has had a horrible couple of weeks in spring training in March, which shouldn't be used to evaluate a trade.

4. Well, he probably won't make the Cubs 25-man roster in 2012, but again, that wasn't really expected either. There was a chance he could, but the Cubs have a lot of OF depth. He actually provides flexibility in that he can be sent down. Colorado has already sent LeMahieu to the minors, by your logic then that was a failure too.

Wow... Stewart is a 3-b man, not an OF, and where is this supposed depth? Stewart was pegged as THE starting 3b-man almost from the moment they picked him up. ...and Lemahieu wasn't sent down, he was traded away!

Wow...You need to read before commenting. You missed so much there it is ridiculous. #4 was referring to Sappelt, which matches the #4 in the comment I was replying to. And LeMahieu was sent to the minors by Colorado, something that is clearly noted in that sentence. I don't really care if you read my comments or not, but don't attack them without reading them.

While I was never as high on some of the deals as many, even if these trades fail, they still made sense.

Marshall had one year left. Much as I think Wood was over-hyped by some Cubs fans, he was an intriguing cost-controlled lefty (and to be honest, there's a part of me that's always wondered if Wood would be ... Marshall-ish in that he might be better served in the pen). Torreyes provided a lottery ticket (and I'm definitely not as excited as most Cubs fans, it seems, on him), and Sappelt provided upper level depth. I'm not all that enthused about any of the three individually, and in my mind, I probably hoped for better when the trade was being rumored, but it was still a solid return on 1 year of a pen arm, particularly considering the changes in the CBA.

As for the Rockies deal, well, Colvin wasn't going to be much here, and there was a 3rd base void. Stewart had at least proven something before (two decent years before last), and there was the hope that his ailments were the cause of his struggles and you hoped a former top prospect like Ian Stewart could develop. LeMahieu's more intriguing than Weathers to me (but if we were stacking the players up in terms of "perceived value", Stewart would probably top the list). Also, one gets, um, the sense that the new regime didn't particularly care for LeMahieu (and Flaherty), probably viewing them more as bench corner talent than guys with a chance to be a regular.

It could end up that all 5 guys are colossal flops. It wouldn't surprise me if all five were, although I hope for better. In saying that, though, much as I thought some Cubs fans over-hyped the returns, the trades were understandable and made sense. I tend to think trades can't be viewed solely from the prism of hindsight, as it doesn't address the dynamics that the front office were looking at at the time of the trade.

that marshall trade still stings...the reds should enjoy a cheap closer out of him after this season.

i don't mind the trade, but i feel they could have gotten a better haul.

It is difficult to reconcile the concept of Epstein/Hoyer/McLoed as the second coming of Branch Rickey with their inability to evaluate players involved in a trade as well as posters on this board.

1. If they are making decisions that are as stupid on the face of them as those made by Hendry, perhaps we should have stuck with Hendry.

2. Or perhaps since they make a living at it, and have at their disposal 30 full time scouts and a multimillion dollar computer to furnish them with information, that they are in a position to make those decisions than those of us that can form our decisions based upon published stats and the SCR talk show hosts.

I, myself, have to go with number 1.

this offseason, aside from rizzo, has been a "throw at a wall, see what sticks" experiment.

i hate the stewart trade...not because of what was given up, but because i believe he's 3m worth of "fool's gold." hell, i don't miss much of what was given up in any trade except i feel marshall should have gone for a different package and cashner....but cashner was what it would take to get a guy like rizzo so that's moot given the legit need.

i love the volstad trade...that's the kind of trading i was looking forward to seeing and i feel they picked up a guy who's stuff and immediate upside is clouded by his historical numbers.

most of the signings/trades got a 'meh' out of me...i still don't get the young cuban who got 6m, though...even if it only has the payroll sting of a middle reliever or bench player.

the most important thing may end up being that no trade/gamble put the team in worse situation than when they started this offseason.

Considering the contracts they are/were laden with, the shape of the current farm, the fact that not one regular season pitch has been made, there is only one impact player on the team( who is 20), I am going out on a limb to say HoyStein is a complete failure and came to Chicago for five years only to take the money and live high on the hog on the North Side.

Its just plain obvious that Half of the people here, including DAVID P, could run the team better.

I'm just gonna get a Brewers hat and forget about the season.

i think some of us see wheel spinning rather than improving.

myself, the volstad and rizzo trades mean a lot. everything else is shuffling deck chairs.

torreyes is the only guy in the minors (besides rizzo) i like, but i still don't like the package recieved for t.wood...mostly because i don't like torreyes as much as some and t.wood might as well be r.wells. the need for middle/end rotation guys like volstad/t.wood was needed, but i would have preferred another target in the marshall trade.

Their logic was not flawed. T Wood is still pretty young and has had success previously. There is still some risk in baseball (Milton Bradley, for example) as you know, and to trade for a lefty starter that has not had major injury off a down year, plus a solid prospect - for a guy that was not going to help us really get to the playoffs?

I get it. It is just too early to evaluate this trade.

We are not privvy to any other deals that could, or could not have happened, regardless of what WE would have liked to have seen.

the logic isn't flawed, but that don't keep me from not liking t.wood's stuff and thinking c.weathers has the value of a plane ticket.

i know i'd rather have another package of kids in a trade for marshall.

and am i not allowed to like volstad or something? criticism, positive and negative, is flowing properly from most, imo.

no, no...

You mostly criticize just about every move - or what you would "rather have"...

Your perrogative.

Just sometimes armchair GM is pretty far from reality.

But that is what is fun about posting here!

IDK, I just want to see what happens here in this throw out year, by season's end.

everything i've written is still on this site and i'm not much for blanket statements i don't back up.

also, "the most important thing may end up being that no trade/gamble put the team in worse situation than when they started this offseason."

i mean c'mon. i've had plenty of good to say about some stuff. i'm not the only person bringing criticism, good and bad, to this offseason.

i've only made 1 instance to rather having something else with a trade and that's the marshall trade. i wasn't exactly hiding that.

what's so exciting that's been done, anyway? getting a slew of kids just to have them isn't anything new for the cubs...especially ones that haven't even had serious AA time, yet.

there's a more-than-expected-when-looking-at-numbers amount of people unimpressed with torreyes, very unimpressed-even-excluding-the-numbers with the cubs new cuban, and other solid opinions on guys like c.weathers and d.sapplett. t.wood, volstad, and i.stewart are nice projects, but their upside is debated,...some more than others. volstad, sappelt as CF/OF bench, rizzo
...meh on stewart, torreyes, t.wood, r.flaherty
...bleh on the cuban + c.weathers...even stuff that i don't like such as i.stewart don't rank here for me because i don't think anything of value was given up vs. potential upside

The thing is while I like Theo and think he's pretty damn smart and like the vast majority all of his moves with the Red Sox, a lot of other smart GMs are out there too. Sure it'd be nice to get a bigger haul but Theo isn't choosing in a vacuum who to trade for. Perhaps a couple of dudes with upside who are still risky was the best of the possible scenarios no matter how hard he tried because other dudes out there with people we wanted are also pretty smart at the whole trade thing.

I really have no idea. I do know I support the rebuilding thing, think Theo has proven himself in the past and think not one person who is convinced we can compete and rebuild at the same time has ever presented a realistic scenario at how we could do it.

I really have no idea. I do know I support the rebuilding thing, think Theo has proven himself in the past and think not one person who is convinced we can compete and rebuild at the same time has ever presented a realistic scenario at how we could do it.

With all due respect Johann, it has been explained on here in detail by more than one person (myself included). The scenario was realistic (as proven by the fact that other teams have done it) You just didn't agree with the explanation.


...bleh on the cuban

This is pretty funny, man!

I know. I am bleh on Castro. If he is still alive, that is.

Is Starlin dead? Or is there another person named Castro? :)

What I'm a fan of, is that the current regime made the trade with a certain logic that has both the short term and long term in mind. The problem with the previous regime was their inability to put together a cohesive long term strategy. Their long term strategy - if you could call it that - was a series of one year strategies. They kept selling tomorrow's dollar for 90 cents today. And that finally caught up to them and resulted in the crapfest on the field last year.

Really? Torreyes is the only guy in the minor besides Rizzo that you like? To each their own I guess, but the A ball and lower levels of the Cubs system are actually quite fascinating.

the theocorp trades is what i was going on about...

i left out the compensation trades in my rant because the value of theo is harder to quantify without getting into faith issues beyond a player's projection. even bos/chc couldn't even agree on a value even if it was just business posturing trying to get the highest return (or give up the lowest).

standard baseball stuff, on how teammmates have been trying to humble the prodigy. What I like about it, though, is it shows just how hard it is to bat in the MLB.

Then again, everything about Bryce Harper seems to be a topic of massive nationwide interest these days. And that in itself is a fascinating phenomenon.

...Says ESPN in a 3-page article about Bryce Harper...

Tell us something we don't know

can't agree with that...2006 and 2011 just happened.

I'd bet they have a better record than they did in 2011 and they end up poised to improve in both 2013 and 2014.

Sox were pretty good in 2006.

"Cubs GM denies having agreement with Jorge Soler, calls rumors “completely bogus”"

is it 2 weeks ago...i mean 4 weeks ago...i mean 6 weeks ago?

and why isn't brian roberts in a cubs uniform yet?


"An MRI taken Wednesday on Carlos Marmol's right hand revealed no significant nerve issues."

Released: RHP Yohan Gonzalez, RHP Jordan Latham, SS Rafael Valdes, OF Ben Klafczynski, OF Blair Springfield
Traded: RHP Aaron Kurcz to Red Sox as player to be named in compensation package for general manager Theo Epstein
Optioned to Triple-A: RHP Alberto Cabrera, LHP Jeff Beliveau, LHP John Gaub, 3B Josh Vitters
Optioned to Double-A: SS Junior Lake, OF Matt Szczur

The Cubs drafted Blair Springfield out of a Decatur, Ill., high school in the seventh round of the ’09 draft, but he never advanced past short-season Boise in three seasons.

The Cubs signed Cuban defector Rafael Valdes last February and released him little more than a year later. He batted .263/.319/.371 in 232 at-bats last season.

Aaron Kurcz...nice under the radar pick. totally missed that compensation pick by them.

yup, like Kurcz, felt he got under-rated in the Cubs system by some (and still think he'll end up the better pro arm than Carpenter). has me fairly curious who the Padres are targeting.

a guy his age/level who has a fastball and a changeup...just waiting around on his feel for the slider. a change for control is a pretty rare thing for a kid his age with a low-mid 90s fastball.

I remember thinking Jordan Latham was a fascinating guy a couple years back, pre-issues. Good fastball life and good slider. I never thought back then that Blake Parker would end up being the better of the two (since both were pen arms in A ball roughly at the same time). Oh well.

The other guys cut ... I don't really care. Nothing personal, but none of them really had a future worth caring about.

apparently they look like this...

pretty cool

Nice. Mine are waiting for me at home. Sarah Spain is hot.

Recent comments

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  • 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.

  • I doubt we will see Pedro in any more "high leverage" situations this series. With Hendricks and the pen today, we need Bryant-Rizzo-Castro to get going ASAP.

  • One funny thing to see before the game was the two submariner pitchers (David Berg and Corbin Hoffner) playing catch with each other. Both pitchers throw "submarine" even when they play catch, and it's kind of mesmerizing to watch, even for the other players. 

  • CUBSTER: One of the points of emphasis  at "basic" Instructs this year was teaching the position players the art of baserunning and base-stealing, like getting a good primary and seconday lead, reading the pitcher, cutting bases sharply, and different ways to slide to maximize the baserunner's chance to arrive safely. 

  • has some interesting stats/graphs on pitch and strike zones and you can dial up individual games/pitchers. I'd love to see some comments from readers who can interpret this better than I can. I thought the Ump was really inconsistent with a very wide zone. Does this info seem to match up with my eyeball perception? Also, looking at the graphs, Lackey was not throwing as many pitches below the K-zone (certainly more above) while Lester was clearly getting his pitches down and not many above.

  • As I was fearing in my post yesterday, Maddon keeps trotting Strop out against the Redbirds and he constantly fails. I understand the psychology behind this, but in a series where there is a finite lock on who moves on, why does he keep riding the wrong horse?

  • AZ Phil: Agree, this must have been a really fun game to watch. There was a lot of base stealing going on. Are the pitchers not holding runners or is the catching still a work in progress?

  • Cuzzi has long been known as having the biggest strike zone among all umpires.

  • AZ Phil, give me a scouting report on Chris Pieters since he has become a 1B/OF.

  • I think it's probably hard to adjust to an ump's zone mid-game, as least for hitters. Pitchers can locate to an ump's zone, but hitters have minimal time to react.

    But, whatever. Umps are going to miss calls. Let's beat up on the non-Lackey starters.

  • Watched a little of Mets-Dodgers.

    Jason deGrom -- oh, my.

  • Cubs 3-4-5 hitters are 0-21 so far in the post-season.

    Let's change that in a big effin' way tomorrow, boys.