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).

Recent comments

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  • I think Javy is learning--but he's learning to make contact, not learning to lay off pitches out of the zone. A quick glance at his plate discipline numbers on Fangraphs shows that his contact rate is up, especially his contact rate out of the zone, but his swing rate is up too, especially his swing rate out of the zone.

    Charlie 30 min 45 sec ago view
  • I definitely saw ballpark radar guns go up to 102 on Kerry Wood back when he was still a starter, but who knows how accurate they were.

    Charlie 44 min 12 sec ago view
  • They've mentioned Henry Rodriguez (2013), Chris Carpenter, and Andrew Cashner as Cubs who have gone 100+. They said Rodriguez was tops at 100.8. Who knows before 2008?

    QuietMan 2 hours 8 min ago view
  • Regarding Heyward--

    He'll play regardless of what he does, just like Soriano played for seven years before they finally ditched him.

    What can they do? All I can think of is they can keep hiring and firing hitting coaches until they find one who can get him to stop hitting balls with the handle of the bat.

    (All those broken bats added to his paycheck is just a bit much.)

    VirginiaPhil 2 hours 8 min ago view
  • Lester will probably be all right.

    I think Arrieta might have added too much muscle preparing for that butt-naked ESPN photo shoot. Pitchers are supposed to be loose, not muscled up.

    Seriously.

    VirginiaPhil 2 hours 15 min ago view
  • I have basically written off Heyward for this year -- if you are working on major swing changes in late July, you are going to struggle. Hopefully, he can be more productive at the plate next year. It will be interesting to see what they do with him if the Cardinals keep winning and close the gap. Heyward is dead last in the NL in slugging and in the bottom 5 in OPS -- yet still has a positive WAR. Hunh.

    billybucks 2 hours 18 min ago view
  • Has anybody in a Cub uniform ever thrown a ball 103 before?

    VirginiaPhil 2 hours 22 min ago view
  • He certainly looks better, no doubt, and is a different player than what we saw when he first came up. Full credit to him for changing his approach and saving his career.

    But he has zero walks in 35AB since the break, and 10 in 251 AB all year. He does seem to be able to hit some pitches out of the zone, but, a guy with his pop should be drawing more walks. However, it's easy to forget he is still only 23, and probably trying to make an impact to prove he should be an everyday player.

    billybucks 2 hours 31 min ago view
  • The usual suspects, Molina and Wong. Gyorko drew a walk with two outs, none on. I recall us (particularly Szczur and Bryant) swinging at everything Familia threw.

    VirginiaPhil 2 hours 33 min ago view
  • Yup. Thanks Q

    The E-Man 2 hours 38 min ago view
  • QuietMan 2 hours 46 min ago view
  • I for one hope that Sosa comes back soon.

    Rob Richardson 3 hours 6 min ago view
  • O/B interesting you should mention that. Google ESPN Science Aroldis Chapman and you'll be treated to how his mechanics and delivery are possibly historic. It's the 120% of his body stretch plus the torque. They compare him to the Unit and NRyan.

    The E-Man 3 hours 44 min ago view
  • Amazing how much lower the production gets when Bryant runs into a mini-cold streak. He doesn't stay cold for long. If just one of Zobrist or, gulp, Heyward, gets hot, they oughta have one more really nice winning streak in them. Having a closer that you have absolute confidence in can't hurt.

    Old and Blue 4 hours 28 min ago view
  • I hope they hold onto Jimenez. Outfield depth is questionable, especially with McKinney, who struggled this year but still, gone.

    Old and Blue 4 hours 39 min ago view
  • You don't think he's improved? He looks completely different out there than he did when he first came up. The last I checked his K rate was in the low 20% range - 22-23 or so. When he came up it was 40%+.

    To me, what is scary about him if I'm the other guy is that he IS learning the strike zone. This guy could easily be the MVP someday.

    Old and Blue 4 hours 40 min ago view