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.
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.
Brooksbaseball.net 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.