Marte the Master of Destruction at Fitch Park

Miguel Marte and Jensi Peralta clubbed back-to-back home runs to highlight a six-run 9th, as the Athletics rallied to sting the Cubs 7-5 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa, AZ.

The 6'3 230 Marte belted two home runs in the game, a solo blast leading off the top of the 4th to give the A's a 1-0 lead, and then a grand slam in the 9th that turned a 5-2 deficit into a 6-5 lead.

Rob Whitenack (June 2011 TJS rehab) got the start for the Cubs and retired the first nine men he faced (the first seven on strikeouts, including Manny Ramirez). He did allow a solo HR, but otherwise was perfect through his four innings of work (49 pitches). In his seven EXST games, Whitenack has allowed just two runs (both earned), 12 hits, and two walks, with 17 strikeouts, in 17.0 IP (1.06 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, .200 Opp BA). A 6'5 23-year old right-hander, Whitenack was the Cubs 8th round draft pick out of SUNY - Old Westbury in 2009, and was probably the Cubs #2 starting pitcher prospect when he went down with the elbow injury last June. Hopefully he can eventually get back to where he was before the TJS.

RHP Arturo Maltos-Garcia (rehabbing from July 2011 TJS - was selected by the Cubs in the 30th round of the 2010 Rule 4 Draft out of Lamar CC) threw a hitless 5th inning, and then James Pugliese followed with three innings of one-hit shutout ball (retiring the first eight men he faced before allowing a single with two outs in the 8th), as the Cubs took a collective two-hitter (and 5-1 lead) into the 9th. (Pugliese now has a 0.95 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP with 6/16 BB/K in 18.2 IP at EXST).

But closer Roderik Pichardo, who had been "money" in his eight previous EXST appearances--0.00 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, .156 Opp BA, allowing no runs and just five hits and two walks with eight strikeouts in 11.1 IP--had an Outing from Hell in the top of the 9th, allowing six runs on four hits (including a double and two home runs) and three walks in just 1/3 of an inning (the inning was stopped--"ROLL IT!"--with only one out), as the A's took a 7-5 lead (the eventual final score).

After going 0-2 with two walks as a DH yesterday, Micah Gibbs continued his EXST rehab today, catching for five innings before moving to DH. He batted a total of six times in today's game, going 1-5 with a single and a walk. He also scored a run in the Cubs four-run 4th, and was the catcher for Whitenack's sterling four-inning performance.

The Defensive Play of the Game was a back-handed diving catch by SS Javier Baez in LF foul territory near the bullpen, one of the best catches I've ever eeen at Fitch Park. He had to run a mile just to get there, and then somehow was able to locate the ball and catch it.

In EXST Cubs roster news, C-IF-OF Anthony Giansanti has been moved up to Peoria. Giansanti was hitting 222/404/417 in 17 EXST games (47 PA), with one double and three triples. He also had displayed an eagle-eye at the plate (10/5 BB/K).

Giansanti has spent the 2012 season to date at Fitch Park (first at Minor League Camp, then at Extended Spring Training) learning to be a catcher. Signed by the Cubs as a Non-Drafted Free-Agent out of Siena College in 2010, Giansanti was already a versatile fellow (having played 3B-2B-1B-LF-CF-RF in the minors leagues 2010-11), but adding catcher to his resume should only increase his value as a "supersub."

The 23-year old Giansanti is a below-average hitter but with decent power (11 HR at Peoria in 2010) and one of the best outfield arms in the Cubs system (24 OF assists in 2011), and he has shown the arm off from behind the plate as well, nailing 36% of opposing base-stealers in EXST games. He played only catcher and DH in games until just recently, but got a start in RF on Thursday and at 3B on Friday, apparently in preparation for the move up to Peoria.

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


CUBS LINEUP:
X. Micah Gibbs, C-DH: 1-6 (F-8, 1B, F-8, 4-3, BB, 4-3, R)
NOTE: Gibbs batted six times, once in the 1st, 4th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th
1a. Shawon Dunston Jr, CF: 1-2 (HBP, 1B, 6-3, R, RBI, PO)
1b. Carlos Penalver, SS: 1-1 (1B)
2a. Javier Baez, SS: 1-3 (K, 2B, P-4, R, RBI)
2b. Kevin Encarnacion, CF: NO AB
2c. Wilfredo Petit, PH: 0-1 (F-8)
3. Xavier Batista, LF-RF: 0-3 (5-3, 4-3, 5-3, RBI)
4. Jeimer Candelario, 3B: 0-3 (K, 6-3, 4-U FC, R, RBI)
5a. Yasiel Balaguert, RF: 1-3 (K, P-5, 1B)
5b. Rock Shoulders, 1B: NO AB
6. Dan Vogelbach, 1B-DH: 0-3 (P-3, F-8, 3-6 FC)
7. Gioskar Amaya, 2B: 0-3 (F-8, 3-1, F-8)
8a. Trevor Gretzky, DH #1: 1-2 (K, 1B)
8b. Wilson Contreras, C: 1-1 (1B)
9. Dong-Yub Kim, DH-LF: 1-3 (2B, K, K, R)


CUBS PITCHERS:
1. Rob Whitenack: 4.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, (1 ER), 0 BB, 8 K, 1 HR, 49 pitches (35 strikes), 1/3 GO/FO
2. Arturo Maltos-Garcia: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K, 14 pitches (9 strikes), 3/0 GO/FO
3. James Pugliese: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 29 pitches (17 strikes), 5/3 GO/FO
4. Roderik Pichardo: 0.1 IP, 4 H, 6 R (6 ER), 3 BB, 0 K, 1 WP, 2 HR, 24 pitches (9 strikes), 1/0 GO/FO
NOTE: 9th inning was stopped with one out when Pichardo reached his pre-planned max pitch limit


CUBS ERRORS: NONE


ATTENDANCE: 22


WEATHER: Sunny with temperatures in the 90's

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Comments

From Rotoworld:
Braves signed OF Felix Pie to a minor league contract.
Pie was hitting .360 with three homers and 12 RBI in 13 games for the Camden Riversharks of the independent Atlantic League. He's been sent to Triple-A Gwinnett, where he'll provide outfield depth for the Braves.

that exile didn't last long. good for him.

I was stupid enough to click on that.

Gioskar Amaya to Iowa. That's a big bump.

Probably just a 1 or 2-day bump after Coleman was called up to Chicago.

castro 2.0...featuring worse D.

scrubbies tie in the 5th.

i.stewart hits a hanging changeup out...good extension on the bat, yet still pulled it. results...whatever.

He hit the ball so far that it would've taken more than one plane to reach it.

i'd rather that not be funny and him actually being able to unlock his shoulders for movement to hit a ball.

one day he'll hit above .200 for more than a few days...and then teach soto how to do it...or he'll hit .270 with 20+ homers in pretend baseball player theo-God land.

When it comes to Stewart, you're showing mild symptoms of trnitis.

stewart can show everyone else what's he's capable of. i'm just watching...he's doing the work.

He doesn't have to be good for your one plane comment to still be wrong. I've been watching him quite a bit with the CUbs now and he definitely hits on more than one plane. He doesn't hit very well on any of them but my criticism of your plane thing was never that he was a good player and more it's just a patently wrong assertion.

his bat movement is nearly non-existant. when he starts his swing, that's usually where it ends up. he can extend, but moving his bat up/down is a lost cause. his shoulders sink into his body and it's all a push/pull with the bat. he's a grounder/liner to the right side machine. he makes contact, but the quality is ass.

Samardzija with 73 pitches thru 4 innings - maybe will get thru 6 innings today - nice job of brewers of waiting him out. good thing cubs got such a rock solid bullpen (ducks for cover).

friday's loss really blows ... late 3 run and 2 run leads blown ... the quest for .500 that much harder.

BB just said what I've been thinking..."If Aramis had shown the hustle that he now has playing with the Brewers, he'd been signed by any number of clubs, including even the Cubs."

That kinda stuff makes me see red!

To be fair, he's probably giving a little bit more than he normally would, playing his former team and all... :)

i wonder when another pitcher will actually be allowed to throw more than 110 pitches...and if it's managerial style or front office push that's getting the starters to exit games early. there's been 2 games all year where a starter has gone 110+...both early in april.

...and ninja goes 91 pitches...for some reason.

but hey, the guy that pinch hit for him delivered a homer. whatever.

Seemed like a quit while you're ahead thing. Ninja was leaving pitches up (most dangerously his splitter) and somehow got through 5 basically unscathed. I can understand wanting to take him out and count yourself lucky before he got burned.

Younger(ish) pitcher making the transition from bullpen to being a starter in what is a lost season, no need to go all Dusty on his arm with his spot coming up in the batting order. Curious, is there a inning limit on Ninja this season?

there's been 2 games all year where a starter has gone 110+...both early in april. ninja has 1 of them (110, april 8).

it's not just a ninja thing. i dunno if it's manager or front office pushed...either way, there's been a lot of near-100 pitch games this year.

no reason to burn arms this year

no reason to sit through this pen and watch wins slip away, either.

there's been excusable early pulls and some odd ones. it seems like if you could possibly hit 110 pitches the next inning they're not gonna let the guy pitch the inning. there are a whole lot of sub-100 pitch outings.

it's an extremely light use of every starter regardless of what they're capable of so far.

I remember reading something from Theoyer about how the team that figures out how to keep pitchers healthy would have an advantage over the league. Maybe this is part of that. Maybe it's absolutely nothing. If only we knew

someone will write a book about it one day. the press around chicago couldn't help themselves selling an online book of slapped together articles celebrating theocorp's arrival. hopefully chicago's "theo book" won't include chicken and liquor.

I'm sure it'll end much uglier than that. See Cubs, Chicago.

reed johnson with a solo go-ahead homer...barely. woos.

dear soto...

you can start your season any game now.

sincerely,

f'n everyone

When Clevenger comes off the DL, they can just DFA Soto for my money. I hope they can find someone to take him and the $2.5 left on his contract. They're going to NT him after the season anyway. What's the point of dragging this out any further.

What's the point of dragging this out any further.

Trade value, potentially. I have an extremely hard time imagining Clevenger outproducing Soto in a full season. Not hearing very glowing reports on Castillo either (whom I like), at least not his D. The team's going nowhere. I've got plenty of patience to wait and see whether Soto might get hot (or lukewarm).

Seems few have noticed that he's gotten pretty good defensively. Certainly much better than the current alternatives IMO.

Wait.....Soto has gotten better defensively? All right, I've guess I'm going to have to start watching the games.

When you do start watching again - and to put it in TCR terms - Clevenger and Welington make Michael Barrett look good.

In TCR terms - sample size?

a point of reference

I've been impressed with Soto's defense over the last couple of years. Definite improvement. Now if only his bat would come back...

the guy is one 0-for game away from having sub-.300 slugging to go with his sub-.250 ob%. barf.

he's better than that...it's been one hell of a piss poor trip through the first 1.5 months of the season.

Who cares. His job is to catch the ball and throw out dbags trying to steal.

is there anyone on the team that is suppose to hit? Or does everyone have to play Gold Glove caliber defense while barely being able to hold a bat?

your comments of late would make a team with Jack Wilson at SS and Henry Blanco at catcher being a World Series contender.

I hear you and I should know better than to start shit on a dead horse that gets repeatedly kicked over and over. I think a minimum requirement would be to be able to field your position. The top stars on your team should also be able to handle a bat. If they hit well enough you cut them some slack on defense, I guess, but defensive liabilities add up quickly.

On the topic of shortstop I think that it's a bit of a false dichotomy (and I said this a week or two ago) to have to choose between one that can field and one that can hit. Plenty of teams have a SS that can do a little of both. Castro lately has been flashing the glove on some nice plays and flubbing some routine ones. Hopefully, that's just a sign of youthful inconsistency that will eventually straighten itself out. I'm not sure anyone knows for sure how the Castro story will play out.

As for catcher, it's true I simply don't care how well he hits. Some quick cherry-picking of stats, and I only mention this team because you specifically mentioned the world series, resulted in the 2010 Texas Rangers who featured Matt Treanor as their regular catcher who hit 211 for the season.

as far as picking on soto's batting...yeah, having a sub-.250 ob% and sub-.300 slugging counts for something. soto's a high-K power hitting catcher. his contact guides his game, both the amount of good contact and the power he gets from it.

if we're talking .300 ob% and .400+ slugging then we got room to talk about the quality of D. there's gotta be some line. even irod quality D won't keep you working with a .550 ops. that said, he can do better and probably will.

Okay, I'll concede that point.

bad D for the win!

cubs lead by 1 again.

what is it about putting on a cubs uniform that makes a player unable to bunt?

It's part of the Maddux Curse.

Assuming the Cubs hold on, today was a good win.

8-2...laying it on.

I-Cubs ahead of Sacramento 4-0 in the 8th

Rusin 7IP, no runs, 5 hits

Rizzo 3-4

Sveum asked Soriano to swing a lighter bat, and Soriano said he did go down one ounce from 33 1/2 ounces to 32 1/4.
"It's not the bat," Soriano said. "I know when I hit one, I'll forget about it."
Sveum said Soriano was "OK "with the change, but added: "He didn't quite go a far as I wanted with a lighter bat."
Does he know Sveum is his boss?
"I think it's one of those things where you can tell a guy to use a really small, light bat..." Sveum said. "Physics alone, it makes sense."

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball...

More on his bat size:
http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/cubs/post/_/i...

He's going to hold on to that life jacket as long as he can, because when he goes to a lighter bat and still can't hit then what?

Soriano... one of those people I'm glad I don't have to deal with on a daily basis.

AZ PHIL: Hello! Have you seen Clevenger anywhere rehabbing?

It would seem he is at the 3-week point on his DL stint.

We could use his bat - and his arm wasn't bad either.

Mon, 05/14/2012 - 8:19am — The E-Man

AZ PHIL: Hello! Have you seen Clevenger anywhere rehabbing?

It would seem he is at the 3-week point on his DL stint.

We could use his bat - and his arm wasn't bad either.

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

E-MAN: No, I haven't seen Clevenger.

There are a handful of rehab guys who report to Fitch Park daily but who don't go out onto the field because they aren't cleared for even Limited Baseball Activity (can't hit or throw).

Clevenger would be in that group.

I see.

Thanks, PHIL.

cole hamels (28) wants a 7 year deal.

ka-ching.

garza and a.sanchez are looking pretty good right now...if sanchez makes it to FA...which he should given how much MIA has spent already vs the underwhelming interest in the new location.

Any link?

Wow. Thanks.

Learning about HoyStein the "7 Year Deal" would be a definite longshot in Chicago.

Any pie-in-the-sky signings will not happen, imo, until the Cubs bullshit TV deal Tribune signed is over.

I'm afraid that we will be embracing stop-gaps and youngens for the next few years.

trey mcnutt goes tonight for the smokies (AA)...dylan bundy (low-A BAL) too in case anyone's keeping track of his "wtf?" debut in pro ball.

not to pick on Joe, affable enough of a fella, but:

Bullpen issues continue to be the weakest link in the Cubs' chain this season and those bullpen woes have cost them a number of wins, including a thriller on Friday against the Brewers. -- Joe Aiello: View from the Bleachers

from the team averaging 3.5 runs per game/4th worst in the NL.

http://espn.go.com/mlb/powerrankings

Now the bullpen hasn't been great, but baseball is pretty easy to break down. 50% offense, 50% run prevention. Now breaking down run prevention is a little trickery, starters, relievers and defense, but hard to believe it's more than 15% for the bullpen, I'd probably say more like 10%.

Bullpen is 5th worst in ERA, but do have the most losses in the NL (9). They've also only thrown 99.2 IP, which is only 7th highest in the NL, so I'm finding it hard to find the logic as the Cubs' bullpen being the root cause of the Cubs woes.

Especially with these OPS in the lineup on a regular basis: .542 (Soto), .547 (Soriano), Stewart (.621). Barney (.660).

The bullpen isn't the root cause of our issues, but 9 losses would put as at .500 and not bad for a rebuilding team, imo. We'd be looking at the team different anyway. Those #s you posted are awful and way below career averages for those players but I still maintain we have a good core to build on.

"Internet Fallacy #121"

a good bullpen will never lose a game.

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