Maholm Shoots Blanks at Friars

Paul Maholm and three relievers combined to toss a six-hit shutout, as a split squad oif Cubs blanked the San Diego Padres 2-0 this afternoon in Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in sunny Mesa, AZ

Maholm threw five innings of shutout ball (70 pitches - 40 strikes, 6/2 GO/FO), allowing no runs on four hits and two walks, with six strikeouts.

Carlos Marmol followed Maholm to the mound, and labored through his one inning of work, throwing 22 pitches while allowing a walk and a single, but no runs. Something still does not look right with Marmol.

Casey Coleman continued to pitch well in Cactus League games, tossing two shutout innings of one hit ball. It looks like Coleman could make the Cubs Opening Day MLB 25-man roster as a RH middle-reliever or as the "12th man" (long reliever/spot starter). 

RHP Rafael Dolis notched the save with a scoreles 9th, although two runners did reach base with two outs, one on a strike three wild pitch, and another on a walk, before Dolis induced a game-ending 4-3 ground out. Although there has been talk about Dolis beginning the season in the big leagues as one of the Cubs set-up men, it might be best to let him close at AAA Iowa for a while and work on improving his command.         

There wasn't much offense on display at HoHoKam Park today, but the Cubs did push across a run in the 1st and then another run in the 2nd against Padres starter Tim Stauffer.

Starlin Castro singled with two outs in the 1st, and after stealing 2nd, scored on a Bryan LaHair two-out RBI double off the fence in right-centerfield, and Reed Johnson knocked-in the second Cub run on a two-out RBI ground single ripped through through the box into CF, scoring Jeff Baker, who led-off the inning with a screaming double into left-center. 

What really stood out today, however, was the Cub outfield defense.

Tony Campana hustled to field a bloop hit down the LF line in the top of the 5th, and after a 360-spin, uncorked a perfect throw to 2nd base to nail Will Venable trying stretch the hit into a double, Reed Johnson followed Campana's play with a fine running catch on a line drive to end the 5th, and Daytina CF Matt Szczur (up from Minor League Camp for the day) made tte defensive play of the afternoon, a diving catch of a line-drive in right-center for the first-out in the top of the 9th. 

While one squad of Cubs was blanking the Padres in Mesa, the other squad traveled up to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick to play the Arizona Diamondbacks, losing 3-2. 

I wasn't at that game, but D'backs starter Ian Kennedy threw seven innings of one-run ball, the only Cub run scoring on back-to-back doubles by Blake DeWitt and Ian Stewart in the top of the 7th.

Iowa Cubs RHP Jay Jackson got the start at Salt River Fields, and allowed all three of the Arizona runs on seven hits (including three doubles and a Paul Goldschmidt HR) and one walk over his four innings of work.

This was the last Cubs split squad day of the 2012 Cactus League season, so it would seem likely that the final roster cuts will be forthcoming soon.   





Beautiful day at Hohokam today, Phil, although I was focused on my 1-year-old.

Thanks for the recap as always!

exploding scoreboard has nothing on this...

we all knew it was coming based on the drawings, but seeing it completed and working is just...sad/eerie/facepalm/etc.

Looks like something you'd find at one of those depressing travelling carnivals, right next to the Bearded Lady freak show and the guy who guesses your weight.

Yeah. Reminds me of shooting gallery. Possibly the tackiest thing in MLB for home runs I have ever seen

If they really wanted to make it interesting, they'd have a Sarah Palin look-a-like shooting the dolphins as they circle up.

No politics please.

1) I didn't say anything pro or con regarding Palin. Just a funny visual for me.
2) Sarah Palin is no longer part of the political world's talking points. She is nothing more than a celebrity at this point in her career. Next thing I know, you'll be trying to censor references to other marvelous celebrities, like Dennis Rodman.

saw him last week at LAX getting thrown out of a Chilis...rodman, that is.

he ordered a beer, sat down, a manager came out of the back and told him he's not allowed in the restaurant (i guess he's had run-ins before)...he picked up his beer (still in glass), said "fuck this." and walked out with glass-in-hand into the airport commons.

he was dropping off and holding a "day bag" for mellissa rivers (joan's daughter).

rodman walking out with a beer in a glass in one hand and a purse-thing overflowing with scarves out of the other.

woo LA.

Yup, I saw an article on the Trib's site today about how he is broke and sick (I guess not too sick to swill a beer, tho) and therefore, can't pay his child support, for which he owes about 800k. He's the poster child for kids who think they can do whatever they want when they find some success, especially in sports. I get the sense his fuse is just about fizzled out.

he was sober...or mostly sober...or "working alcoholic" sober at the time, but while he didn't look ravaged he was showing his age. he was working that beer hard before he left and on his way out.

The disturbing silence perfectly mirrors an actual Marlins game.

Marlin's "exploding" scoreboard -- had to be the result of the ingestion of some industrial strength hallucinogens.

Center fielder Marlon Byrd’s name is making the rounds in the final-week-of-spring hot stove as the Cubs try to bolster a thin bullpen and teams such as the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves try to shore up outfield needs.

While I expect Byrd to be traded at some point during the season, there is no rush and I don't think they care about receiving something that fills a hole in the current roster.

With Campana and Skinny Dick in camp, why bother filling the current hole? They just need to keep the seat warm for a couple months.

I think the hole in the roster is in the bullpen.

And I'm sure the Cubs would rather receive a marginally interesting prospect than a throw away bullpen arm. If they could flip Byrd for a young reliever, that might do, though.

exploding scoreboard has nothing on this...
reminds me of this, if you substitute a marlin for the chocolate easter bunny:

Buster Olney mentioned that a number of teams, including D-Backs and Phillies, are looking for catching right now.

I wonder how strong a market for Soto would be right now.

Also, Castillo is clearly not "polished" at this point, but if thrust into action, I wonder if people think he could be "ready," by which I mean at least passable.

When Castillo is as "ready" as he is ever going to be, he isn't going to make enough contact to be a first string catcher. And the Cubs have no one who will be ready in the next two or three years.

They better not trade Soto unless they are truly "blown away", and that isn't very likely.

That's a pretty bold statement about a 24-y-o who had an 875 OPS at AAA last year and a rocket launcher of a throwing arm.

Yeah, I was pretty sure that I had read AZ Phil's take on Wellington that he really just needed work on his receiving. After that, he would be ready to be an everyday catcher, and he would hit well.

I don't think he will ever make enough contact to be a first string catcher. When I see him, I see Henry Blanco.

Everyone has their own opinion.

I could see Blanco. He's always been compared to the Molina brothers, more Yadier due to their ages being closer. I tend to think he could be a mix between Bengie and Jose. Actually, I could see him as a Wilson Ramos type, or Rod Barajas.

I guess, I'm not really agreeing or disagreeing. He has the skillset to be a starting backstop, but if he can't hit for a positionally-passable average, yeah, that could "doom" him as a starter. I tend to think he'll float around the .230-.260 range, given a full allotment of AB's, so IF he provides solid defense and power, I think he could start, akin to how some of the above guys can start.

Castillo's got enough power to be a starting Catcher in the majors as long has he can manage a .240+ average or so, if he has his defense together.

Not a top tier catcher unless he can hit for average, though--don't see him hitting 25+ homeruns consistently.

well, to be fair, Castillo isn't likely to hit for a high average.

That said, the flip side is, if he can provide power, a passable average for the position, and be solid behind the plate, well ... there are plenty of starting catchers that don't offer that.

I'm also in the camp that believes that at some point, Soto should be moved because the chances of Geovany being a key part of our next core is ... quite minimal. I doubt we'd get a huge return right now, though, so I'm thinking that mid-season, if Soto is having a good year, might make more sense, particularly if teams have injuries (of course, this is premised on the idea that Soto stays healthy and is having a good year.

If a catcher that hits between 230 and 260 with some power and passable defense, then Soto is a much better option. At about 29 years of age, if he is too old to be a part of the next core, you have an awful pessimistic view of the new management.

If we can get a great deal for Soto, then we should trade him, just as we should trade Castro if we can get a great deal for him. We should trade ANYONE if we can get more in return than we give up.

But trading Soto now because we think he is going to decline in the next year or two doesn't seem very realistic to me.

By the way, if I were to guess, I think that Clevenger would make a better starting catcher than Castillo over the next 5 years or so. Other than his arm, which is extremely strong, Castillo isn't an exceptional defensive catcher, from what I have seen and heard of him.

I am just parroting things that i have seen AZ Phil write in the past, but he generally described Clevenger as a MLB-backup type that was probably ready for duty. Castillo was described as someone who needed more work, but who could absolutely displace Soto when ready. I don't know if his views of this have changed...

Not to fear gents - you know Koyie Hill is available now.

Thanks a lot!
I just peed a little bit...

That is pretty much what I remember ArizonaPhil as saying.

And I have great respect for Phil and his reporting is probably the best I have ever seen in providing information about unknown young Cub prospects that have not been seen or heard of in the baseball community in general and Cub fans in particular.

But there ARE other sources, as well as stats over the course of Castillo's career, and I have personally seen him play a fair amount of time. It is my opinion that Castillo will not provide enough contact at the plate to be an every day catcher, just as Blanco did not.

As far as Clevenger is concerned, that is probably a result of my own personal prejudices. I value contact and OBA more highly than many fans, and I think that Clevenger will provide more of what the new administration seems to value. He has a good eye at the plate. He takes pitchers deep into the account. He doesn't strike out a lot, and has a relatively high walk rate, resulting in a pretty good OBA that I think will translate well into the majors.

Time will tell.

That said, I think we'd all be in agreement there is a bit of flexibility in a 73-win team.

Tue, 03/27/2012 - 12:42pm — Jace

I am just parroting things that i have seen AZ Phil write in the past, but he generally described Clevenger as a MLB-backup type that was probably ready for duty. Castillo was described as someone who needed more work, but who could absolutely displace Soto when ready. I don't know if his views of this have changed...


JACE: Yes.

That was my opinion, and it still is my opinion.

Keep in mind that unless he is signed to a contract extension, Geovany Soto is eligible to be a free-agent post-2013, and that Welington Castillo needs regular playing time but has only one minor league option left.

So I believe the best thing the Cubs can do is keep Steve Clevenger as the back-up catcher in Chicago (and he can also play 1B & 3B), send W. Castillo to Iowa and let him be the #1 guy there, and then make a decision about trading Soto either at the July trade deadline or next off-sesson.

Low average ... some power ... passable defense ... sounds a lot like Soto. Who makes less? Who can be traded for another ballplayer?

Soto has two years of low average, and two years of average higher than I think Castillo will ever reach. And in spite of two pretty terrible years, Soto still has an OBA higher than most of the catchers the Cubs have had in years.

I don't think that Castillo will approach an offensive career as good as Soto has had up til now, and in my opinion, Soto is likely to do better if he learns to control his weight.

Soto is clearly the better offensive player. Batting average, yeah it's one stat ... but Castillo has an OPS of 875 as a 24-y-o in his first year at Iowa; Soto had a 723 OPS as a 23-y-o at Iowa for the first time, then broke through with a 1062 OPS as a 24-y-o. Both men tend to see their averages rise and fall with BABIP, but Soto on average will hit for a higher average than Castillo ever will.

But what I've read tends to have Castillo long-term as a better defensive catcher. His arm, from what AZ says, is for real. He has enough power potential to be a threat. He's just entering the prime of his career. And his service clock is under 0.1 right now.

So what's Soto worth? You and I don't know. But this came up because Olney wrote that there's a strong demand in the market for catchers right now. At $4M, most teams can afford Soto - and if not, then the Cubs can afford to eat a couple million. What would he bring back? Like I said, no way for you and I to know for sure. What if it's a couple of near-ready prospects? What about Tyler Skaggs? What does an extra $4M buy next offseason - a quality RP?

So yes, you'd clearly step backwards at C in the short term. But in the long term, you get a guy who many project to be a MLB starter in the position; you get more money to spend other places; and if you get another guy or two back who also project to help in 2013 and beyond, then it's probably a good deal.

Batting average be damned.

If you trade Soto because you get a great offer, that makes sense.

If you trade Soto because you think he will not be around long enough to be on a winning Cubs team, that may be a toss up.

If you trade Soto because you think Castillo will have a better career, I don't think that makes a lot of sense.

I agree with that.

I would only add that, due to aging, I suspect their values will likely be equal by 2014, maybe 2015 at the latest. Yes, the Cubs will compete by 2014. What about before? I don't know.

i honestly expect soto to be gone by july...clevenger deserves to be a backup, but that's pretty much his ceiling. at best he profiles as light hitting catcher. welly at least has starter qualities.

even if welly hits .250/.330 avg/ob% he should be able to smack a good number of doubles with 15+ homers bringing up the end of the lineup...and that's a rather average expectation out of him. with his arm and pop he should be more than passable as a starter even if it's not all-star caliber.

well, first off, for me, a leads to b. That is, I don't think he's going to be a part of the next core, and as such, i think trading him earlier (again, I haven't suggested trading him now, i said midseason in another post above), when we could get more in return, makes more sense.

So let's start with a. I've said elsewhere, but I think, realistically, 2014 is the earliest that we can hope that our next window (that is, period of years where we are competitive for playoff spots) could open. There's no harm in wishful thinking on 2013, but with a young group of guys likely to be manning key positions (hopefully), it just seems unrealistic, even if we go on a free agent splurge.

So, in 2014, Soto will be at the end of his prime years while our new window is opening up. If I'm, not mistaken, 2014 will also be at the end of his team-controlled years. so

a) It would seem debatable as to whether or not that this current regime would give him that long term deal. Varitek was kept around as much for his leadership as his ability. I'm not sure Soto is viewed in that manner.

b) The chances, and note, I did say chance, are high that Soto will likely see some decline in his 30's. So, even if he is around in his mid-30's there is a good chance that Soto will be more of a secondary asset than a part of the core.

It's possible Soto bucks the norm and is some sort of non-performance enhancing player that excels in his mid-30's. I'd bet against it. So, for me, I'm thinking like this -

a) We keep a guy who, at best, will have a year or two in our window where he is in the tail end of his prime years.

b) We trade him (not haphazardly, but only if a good trade comes along) for assets that will have a greater chance of being a key part of our next core.

And for me, I lean to the latter.


As for Clevenger, I've long noted elsewhere that I have a level of irrational interest in him. I like him quite a bit, and I've never been as high on Castillo (when Tampa came calling for a catcher, I preferred keeping Chirinos around, but he's another guy who is on the same level as these two). Having seen both play, I tend to think both (and Chirinos) are borderline starter-types if things go well, but quite possibly, stopgap starters who eventually get replaced. I'm not sold yet that Clevenger will hit for a significantly high enough average against big league pitching to compensate for his deficiencies power wise and defensively (he's a steady eddie behind the plate, but ... well ... Ryan Theriot was a steady eddie ... obviously different positions/different dynamics, but the point is, Clevenger will be steady defensively, but to expect more is probably questionable). Castillo has the arm, and he has the athletic ability to be better behind the plate (and he's improved from 2 years ago).

I'm in the same camp as you. If Theo can find a deal that benefits the Cubs beyond 2012 by trading Soto, I make the deal now, at the trade deadline, after the World Series.......whenever. Given what Soto is likely to produce in 2012 and 2013 and the cost ($4M+ per season), and a Clevenger/Castillo platoon, this move is a no-brainer to me.

Feel sorry for those who don't play up to their contracts-

This hilarious exchange between Boston dudes on is intelligent, is very complimentary of Hoyer ... And I seriously laughed my ass off several times. Don't skim - read it, you'll thank me:

Not 3/44 on this I hope?

I would be OK with more journalism like this.


If Samardzija has a decent season, he maybe my new favorite Cub

j.mather playing 3rd again...seems they're taking b.dewitt out of the 3rd-backup situation and not considering j.baker, either.

What else does Mather have to please you, man!?!?!?!
Sell peanuts?!?!?

He's awesome, and not in the Scott McClain/Jake Fox way.


You know, I don't think Theo has to worry about payroll dollars. However, if Mather could produce essentially what DeWitt and/or Baker will playing for the minimum (or close to it), I wouldn't hesitate to make that move as well. Have over half the roster playing for auto-renewal, and spend your major money to keep key home-grown talent (Castro, etc.) and fill in FA's.

That's always been my take on it. If you can fill out half the positions on the field with pretty decent/solid players at pre-FA rates that's a huge win. Lock up Castro and other significant up and comers with Tampa Bay type deals buying out the ARB years and 2-3 FA years and then repeat. I have lots of confidence in Theo to get this to happen. That's when you can go out and spend big on a FA or two to fill in the holes. 2ip 2h 0r 1bb 2k

And Welington Castillo hits a solo HR in the 9th to give the Cubs a 4-3 lead

And then Sappelt with a 3 run blast, LaHair doubles (3-5 day) after that...



LaHair's gotten hot during the last few days. It's the right time in spring training to get hot if you're guaranteed a roster spot.

Recent comments

Subscribe to Recent comments
The first 600 characters of the last 16 comments, click "View" to see rest of comment.
  • Very bizarre game -- as you say, both Cubs pitchers were dominant until the one fatal pitch. It was like watching the Bears defense shut down a team, and then lose on 2 punt returns. Some better hitting with RISP would be a good idea, too.

    billybucks 44 min 59 sec ago view
  • Trouble Boys, the Replacements bio, is a great option. I'm sure Chad loved it.

    Tito 2 hours 17 sec ago view
  • Amen Brick. What's the point of following early-season games if you can't over-react to them? What, we should be reading books now?

    billybucks 2 hours 6 min ago view
  • "Weren't the National considered a near lock last year?"

    No, I think you're thinking of Radiohead, The 1975, or Bowie's last album.

    Although The National's Greatful Dead tribute is pretty cool.

    The E-Man 2 hours 16 min ago view
  • I don't think they're any kind of lock, though I do expect they'll make the playoffs.

    It's not like I'm glad they've gone 4-8. I just don't think it's time to be all that worried -- just like I didn't think they were going to keep playing .730 ball.

    Tito 2 hours 30 min ago view
  • vegas isn't a fan of the game because of how erratic and unpredictable it is.

    SF has recently won 3 world series many thought they weren't supposed to win...BOS won a world series recently that they weren't even supposed to be in the playoffs for...favored teams with huge wins have seen 1st round times.

    crunch 2 hours 38 min ago view
  • I think they'll be ok too. But having watched this team since the mid-60s, I never think it's time to conclude, well, thank god the drought is over. I've seen/heard way too many people who follow the Cubs say glad we're finally going to win the Series this year. Please. Weren't the National considered a near lock last year?

    BobbyD 2 hours 50 min ago view
  • Best record in baseball and largest division lead.

    I'm jumping right now!

    Tito 3 hours 6 min ago view
  • Can we please stop pointing out how ridiculous it is to panic and start panicking in earnest?

    Brick 4 hours 30 min ago view
  • ,571 winning percentage in May.

    I think they're gonna be OK.

    Tito 5 hours 53 min ago view
  • RAISIN: All I know is that Oscar de la Cruz is still shut down, and I don't know what his prognosis is, or what the plan is going forward.   

    Arizona Phil 8 hours 12 min ago view
  • Remember just two weeks ago, when "all" they had to do was play .500 ball the rest of the season and coast into the playoffs?

    BobbyD 8 hours 14 min ago view
  • Well I guess if pitchers can keep working the edges of the plate to perfection it will be a long season. But that doesn't seem likely. Rizzo finally, fully, snapping out of it would help.

    Old and Blue 10 hours 20 min ago view
  • If I didn't believe in coincidences (or science), I would apologize to Gordon Downie--one of my favorites. Sad news about a great talent.

    CTSteve 10 hours 27 min ago view
  • Hi Arizona Phil,

    Has there been any news on Oscar de la Cruz' health?

    Raisin101 16 hours 59 min ago view
  • bruh...

    crunch 18 hours 13 min ago view