Promotion of the Roster Snatchers
Slowly, the infiltration has begun.
Marlon Byrd’s banishment from the nest cleared the way for Tony Campana’s
temporary custody of the roster spot reserved for Brett Jackson. If Soriano’s
reinvention as a singles hitter who doesn’t even manage many of those goes on,
how long might it be until LaHair takes his team-leading [no, it’s not saying
much] slugging totals to the outfield and defers to Raker Rizzo, the scourge of
PCL pitchers, at first base? We shall see.
In the meantime, today at Principal Park the Cubs-in waiting
wrapped up a four-game set with their Cardinal counterparts from Memphis, dropping a 4-0 yawner in front of a sun splashed crowd that couldn't have cared less. On
the mound for the Redbirds was their prized pitching prospect, Shelby Miller.
Miller’s stumbled a bit out of the PCL gate so far but remains highly touted [#8 prospect in baseball per BA last time I looked] and eagerly awaited in St. Lou as shadows lengthen on the careers of Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright.
Oneri Fleita's been in town for this series. I passed him on the concourse just before the anthem and asked if he were here for any particular reason just so he could feel recognized outside of the team offices. He smiled and said it's a routine trip.
Travis Wood took the mound opposite Miller and acquitted hinself nicely. He was saddled with the loss despite yielding only one earned run in six innings while walking two and fanning eight.
After four innings the linescores were identical at 0-4-0. The I-Cubs had a crack at Miller in the bottom of the first when they loaded the bases on two walks and a bloop single by Rizzo that came on Miller's 22nd pitch of the frame. It was the first one put in play and one of only two out of the 33 he threw in laying that first goose egg.
Miller needed just 58 more to hang four more zeroes before leaving after five scoreless innings and giving way to a violent bastard named Maikel Cleto who throws in the upper 90's and reminds of Bob Gibson, maybe 20 pounds heavy. It's not hard to imagine Miller facing a few of these I-Cubs many more times in the years to come. Today he got the best of them. Besides Rizzo's blooper, Wellington Castillo grounded a single to left and Josh [Junior Varsity] Vitters also dinked one safely and softly into the outfield, his fifth hit in his last almost 40 AB's. Brett Jackson drew a walk and fanned twice. He also stole a base and drew another free pass later from one of Miller's successors. He took himself into a couple of 0-2 counts and never stroked a ball fair until his fifth plate appearance when he grounded out in the 9th. He remains tied for the team lead in extra base hits with 10.
Rizzo made a careless error, his fourth, in the middle of a sequence in the top of the 5th that saw Memphis load the bases without nudging the ball beyond the infield grass. His miscue was sandwiched by a walk and Miller getting hit by a pitch while trying to sacrifice. All it took was a glancing single over a drawn-in infield to put the Redbirds in front 2-0 and send the I-Cubs to their seventh loss in eight tries.
Rizzo's splits are as wide as the aisle in Congress. He's now 4/23 against southpaws and hitting righties at damn near a .500 clip!
As for JV, jeez, when's the last time a touted prospect hit eighth in the lineup? It may be early yet in the season but his development is getting on now. Maybe Oneri can take him aside before he leaves town.
In all seriousness the Cubs have the fewest amount of games played in the NL which means they're gonna be facing quite the grind later on including 24 games in a row at the end of June and beginning of July so I hope he does get a few days off.
Meh. He only got one hit today. Maybe give him a rest?
Good thing the Cubs have five left-handed batters in the lineup. Velasquez is just tearing thru the righties [edit - doesn't seem to faze Bryant!]
ben zobrist gets to ride up front tonight cause he's a good guy at sports.
cubs with a 5 run lead and a lackey shutout through 3ip \m/
HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC.
ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels.
M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores) the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating.
E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.
Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).
PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.
AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.
Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!
Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.
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.
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.
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.
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.