A's Rough Up Cubs Cuban Connection at Papago Park

Rob Whitenack (rehabbing from June 2011 TJS) threw two innings (27 pitches) of shutout ball with three strikeouts, but Cuban southpaws Gerardo Concepcion and Frank del Valle allowed a combined seven runs on 10 hits, five walks, a HBP, and two wild pitches over the next six innings, as the Athletics defeated the Cubs 7-4 in Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #2 (AKA “Connie Mack Field”) at the Papago Sports Complex in Phoenix, AZ.

After throwing three innings of shutout ball and looking like a major league veteran in his EXST debut last Monday versus the Brewers (when he threw 75% strikes and kept the opposing hitters off-balance by effectively mixing-up his pitches), Concepcion showed today what happens when he pitches from behind in the count and has to throw a fastball over the plate.

He had an excellent first inning of work, striking out the side (including the first two hitters on six pitches), but then began to pitch from behind starting with his second inning, eventually allowing six hits (including three wall-banger doubles), and even walking the bases loaded at one point.

Concepcion's strength is throwing strikes (especially "strike one") and then working the hitter, so when he struggles with his command (as he did in his later innings today) he can get nailed, and it isn't pretty.

Here is the abridged box score from the game (Cubs players only):

CUBS LINEUP:
1. Shawon Dunston, Jr, CF: 1-4 (1B, 4-6 FC, F-9, L-4, SB)
2. Anthony Giansanti, DH #1: 0-4 (K, K, F-8, P-3)
3. Dan Vogelbach, 1B: 1-3 (BB, K, 2B, 4-3)
4. Jeimer Candelario, 3B-DH: 1-3 (1-3, 2B, 5-3, R)
5. Xavier Batista RF-DH: 1-3 (F-8, 1B, L-3, RBI)
6. Wilson Contreras, DH-C: 1-3 (3-U, 5-4-3 DP, 2B, R)
7. Danny Lockhart, 2B: 2-3 (1B, K, 2B, R)
8. Wilfredo Petit, C-DH: 0-2 (F-7, 6-3, BB)
9. Carlos Penalver, SS: 0-3 (K, 4-3, 5-4 FC, R)
10. Garrett Schlecht, LF: 2-3 (1B, K, 1B, RBI)
11a. SLOT WAS SKIPPED FIRST TIME THRU BATTING ORDER
11b. Delbis Arcila, RF: 1-2 (K, 1B, RBI)
12a. SLOT WAS SKIPPED FIRST TIME THRU BATTING ORDER
12b. Mark Malave, 3B: 0-2 (6-3, 3-1)

CUBS PITCHERS:
1. Rob Whitenack: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 27 pitches (20 strikes), 2/1 GO/FO
2. Gerardo Concepcion: 3.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R (5 ER), 3 BB, 5 K, 1 WP, 1 BALK, 69 pitches (41 strikes), 1/4 GO/FO
3. Frank del Valle: 2.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HBP, 1 WP, 77 pitches (36 strikes), 2/2 GO/FO
4. Roderik Pichardo: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 WP, 17 pitches (10 strikes), 0/3 GO/FO

CUBS ERRORS: 2
1. SS Carlos Penalver - E-6 (overthrow to 1st base on infield single allowed batter-runner to advance to 2nd base)
2. C Wilson Contreras - E-2 (errant pick-off attempt at 1st base allowed base-runner to advance to 2nd base)

CUBS CATCHERS DEFENSE:
1. Wilfredo Petit: 0-1 CS
2. Wilson Contreras 0-1 CS, 1 E (see above)

ATTENDANCE: 12

WEATHER: Partly cloudy and VERY breezy with temperatures in the 60’s

Comments

Baez out. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm.

TIM: I believe today was a pre-scheduled "Camp Day" at Fitch Park for most of the guys who played yesterday (including Javier Baez).

Phil, two questions: (1) any chance you have seen or will get a chance to look out the manual the Cubs are giving each minor league player? (2) I personally don't mind a player like Baez showing what HS/College players around here call 'swag'. Do you think any of these 'incidents' would prevent Baez from moving up to Peoria, or will they just wait until June and send him to Boise?

Sat, 04/14/2012 - 5:47pm — George Altman

Phil, two questions: (1) any chance you have seen or will get a chance to look out the manual the Cubs are giving each minor league player? (2) I personally don't mind a player like Baez showing what HS/College players around here call 'swag'. Do you think any of these 'incidents' would prevent Baez from moving up to Peoria, or will they just wait until June and send him to Boise?

==========================================

GEORGE A: The Cubs are guarding The Cubs' Way like it's a state secret, so I am not expecting to ever see a copy of it (at least until it's made into a feature film).

As for Javier Baez, I think the Cubs have planned all along to have him spend April and May at Extended Spring Training and then go to Boise. If that's the case, I don't know if the plan can be changed, or if it's written in stone, and I don't know how his on-field demeanor might affect the Cubs decision if the plan is subject to change.

The fact that he wasn't removed from the game after yesterday's verbal outburst could be a sign that they intend to let him be Javier Baez, but at the same time I'm sure they don't want him to develop into the next Carlos Zambrano or Milton Bradley, either.

Thanks, Phil. I'm sensing this administration has less urgency to aggressively advance high profile prospects which I'm OK with that.

I wonder if it's simply unique to this year. I don't recall theo or jed as xconservative in their previous stops. This, though, is such a clear rebuilding year.

I'm very intrigued as to what the draft will bring in.

The draft has always been a gold mine for Epstein, because he always ended up with the equivalent of 4 or 5 first round choices, because of the ability to pay large prices to lower round choices, as the Cubs did last year.

But the new labor agreement makes that extremely difficult to do, and Epstein is likely to end up with a draft that is more in line that of the rest of baseball.

That said, the number 8 choice should bring in a really good pitching prospect, and the two extra draft choices should also help a lot.

We draft sixth, but yeah. A large part of Theo's success is that he tends to figure out which hitters will be able to hit off-speed stuff before draft day. The Cubs usually wouldn't find out until their third year in the bigs.

well, b.wilson (SF) throwing 90mph lately makes more sense...torn elbow...fun.

Az Phil:

At the Cubs convention in January they had a "family" session with the Brenlys, the Dunstons and the Lockharts. Although Danny Lockhart seemed pretty quiet and mostly is a 2B prospect, I'm wondering what your thoughts are as to his "prospect" status after seeing him a few times now.

Thanks.

Sun, 04/15/2012 - 6:08am — Cubster

Az Phil:

At the Cubs convention in January they had a "family" session with the Brenlys, the Dunstons and the Lockharts. Although Danny Lockhart seemed pretty quiet and mostly is a 2B prospect, I'm wondering what your thoughts are as to his "prospect" status after seeing him a few times now.

Thanks.

=====================================

CUBSTER: Danny Lockhart is a good defensive infielder with the versatility to play SS-2B-3B, a decent hitter but without much power, runs OK (though not particularly fast) and is a very good baserunner, and he's well-schooled in baseball fundamentals (bunting, situational hitting, turning the DP, etc).

I think he certainly will move up the pipeline, but his ceiling may be as a AAA or MLB utility infielder.

http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/cubs/...

Byrd to Boston rumors pick up due to Ellsbury subluxing his shoulder (early estimate, out 6-8 weeks)

Wittenmeyer also says Sveum is considering using the LaRussa pitcher bats 8th gimmick. Seems doubtful as the Cubs don't even have one real leadoff man let alone two.

and the Cubs are looking for veteran relievers...

‘‘We worked to acquire starting pitching depth over the course of the winter, but we traded out of the bullpen,’’ Hoyer said, ‘‘so replenishing that depth is something we’re going to be looking to do throughout the summer.’’

Maybe they'll have to shop some starters to do so. Or shop your bats, then trade from the rotation when you realize you don't have bats. /fun

The RedSox designated Michael Bowden for assignment. I wonder if Theo & Co. would have an interest in bringing him over.

-michael boden + nate spears....wtf?

no cubs stuff in Cafardo's sunday baseball notes...but he went on a food tangent:

http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/...

8. If you can afford a few calories, try the “Moby Dick’’ offered by the Lake County Captains of the Single A Midwest League for 20 bucks. It’s about 4,000 calories of five quarter-pound fish filets, eight slices of cheese, 6 ounces of clam strips, a third of a pound of french fries, and a cup of cole slaw topped with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and, of course, tartar sauce on a 15-inch hoagie roll. At least it’s healthy fish.

From the Bill Chuck files: “The Washington Nationals are offering the ‘StrasBurger’ - an all-beef burger (combination of ground brisket, chuck, and short ribs) served on a large bun with secret sauce, American cheese, shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, sliced red onions, pickle chips, and weighing 8 pounds total.’’

------------
if the Cubs go into that kind of promotion, I'd expect to see the Soto Brownies (instead of the hot chocolate and cookie vendors).

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  • AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.

    Hagsag 2 hours 22 min ago view
  • Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!

    Hagsag 2 hours 23 min ago view
  • Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.

    Eric S 12 hours 4 min ago view
  • With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.

    johann 15 hours 2 min ago view
  • it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.

    crunch 15 hours 15 min ago view
  • It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.

    Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.

    The E-Man 15 hours 23 min ago view
  • That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.

    I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.

    Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...

    These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.

    No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.

    The E-Man 15 hours 29 min ago view
  • a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...

    it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...

    crunch 15 hours 47 min ago view
  • Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.

    johann 16 hours 23 min ago view
  • Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.

    johann 16 hours 41 min ago view
  • Soler BB acumen and plate awareness is excellent. Not unusual for even the best players to react as if they were about to hit them, "even though they weren't that close" from your vantage point sitting on your deck, or wherever.

    The E-Man 16 hours 43 min ago view
  • soler vs inside breaking balls is scary.

    he's had 2 inside curve balls today where he reacted as if they were about to hit him even though they weren't that close...one he bailed out of the box on, it was a called strike.

    crunch 17 hours 1 min ago view
  • j.urias optioned back to AAA...guess we wont be seeing him in the LAD series.

    crunch 17 hours 8 min ago view
  • so is him actually getting 2 hits in a game (2 doubles!)...first time he's even been on base 2 times in a game since 9 games ago on his 3/4, 1bb day.

    im ready for him to at least look like a 2-slot hitter since he's gonna be slotted there no matter what he does.

    crunch 18 hours 4 min ago view
  • That Heyward move to avoid Bryant's ball hit at him was a thing of beauty too.

    johann 18 hours 21 min ago view
  • 9 pitches in and this game already rules.

    HR, double...bryant's turn (who came out to a Kris Kross song for some horrible, horrible reason).

    ...2 run inning...zoobrest hitting streak at 14.

    crunch 18 hours 26 min ago view