Angels Can't Even Contain Baez, Much Less Stop Him
Javier Baez drove-in six runs with a two-run HR and a grand slam, Yasiel Balaguert knocked-in four runs with a three-run home run and a sacrifice fly, Dong-Yub Kim drove-in two runs with an RBI single and a solo HR, and Wilson Contreras ripped a two-run double, leading the Cubs to a 14-4 demolition of the Angels in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa, AZ.
Both of Baez's home runs were hit 420+ feet over the right-centerfield fence, landing on Field #5 (the "half-field" infield located north of the clubhouse).
Baez now has eight home runs and 26 RBI in 24 EXST games, and he has saved his best work for games against the Angels. In six EXST games (24 AB) versus the Halos, Baez is hitting .468 with two doubles, a triple, five home runs and 16 RBI. Apparently he can do whatever he wants when he faces the Angels.
RHP Jose Arias got the start for the Cubs today and threw four innings (55 pitches), allowing two runs (only one earned) on four hits (all four singles) and a walk, with seven strikeouts. Arias now leads the EXST Cubs pitchers in strikeouts with 26 (in 21.0 IP)
While the Cubs were playing the Angels on Field #3, RHP Marcos Mateo (on the Cubs 60-day DL with a sore elbow), RHP Justin Berg (2011 TJS rehab), LHP Luis Villalba, RHP Loiger Padron, RHP Ramon Garcia (broken hand rehab), and RHP Ethan Elias threw a five-inning “sim” game on Field #2, facing Cubs players who were not in the lineup on Field #3. Mateo looks to be close to returning to full-scale game action, and a healthy Marcos Mateo could possibly help the beleaguered Chicago Cubs bullpen.
RHP Su-MIn Jung --who has been throwing in "sim" games for the past month while trying to resolve major control issues--got into a Cactus League EXST game for the first time since April 18th. Jung got only one out, and allowed two runs on a single, two walks, and two HBP (including one that hit an Angels hitter in the head, knocking him out of the game), before getting pulled out of the game after throwing 24 oitches (only nine strikes).
In EXST roster news, 1B Ryan Durrence has been released. Durrence was signed by the Cubs after the 2011 June draft as a Non-Drafted Free-Agent (NDFA) out of Bethune-Cookman, and he hit 247/314/406 with a team-leading three HR for the AZL Cubs in 2011. But he has struggled this year, hitting just .120 with no XBH in nine EXST games (26 PA). He was also blocked at 1B by Dan Vogelbach, Rock Shoulders, Ryan Cuneo, Paul Hoilman, Justin Bour, and Anthony Rizzo in the Cubs farm system, so he would have had to really light it up at Minor League Camp and Extended Spring Training to get any consideration for advancement.
Veteran LHRP Ryan Rowland-Smith (on the Iowa Cubs DL since April 19th with a sore back) has completed his EXST rehab and has returned to the I-Cubs. He threw in two EXST games (1.2 IP) last week and allowed no runs on one hit and a walk, with three strikeouts.
Also, Peoria Chiefs RF Reggie Golden (Cubs 2010 2nd round draft pick) has undergone season-ending surgery for a torn ACL. He injured his knee while running the bases in a MWL game last month. He will be out of action until Minor League Camp (Spring Training) 2013.
Cubs VP of Player Personnel Oneri Fleita was at the game today.
Here is the box score from today’s game (Cubs players only):
1. Shawon Dunston Jr, CF: 2-4 (K, 4-3, 1B, 1B)
2. Gioskar Amaya, 2B: 1-2 (1B, BB, 6-4 FC, BB, 2 R)
3. Javier Baez, SS: 2-4 (6-4-3 DP, HR, HR, 7-4 FC, 2 R, 6 RBI)
4. Xavier Batista, LF-DH: 0-4 (6-3, F-9, F-7, P-2 DP)
5. Jeimer Candelario, DH-3B: 0-3 (5-3, BB, F-8, F-7, R)
6. Dustin Geiger, 3B-DH: 2-4 (5-3, 1B, 1B, 4-3, 2 R)
7. Dan Vogelbach, 1B: 0-3 (K, HBP, FC, K, R)
8a. Wilson Contreras, C: 2-3 (1B, 2B, 2-3, 2 R, 2 RBI)
8b. Neftali Rosario, C: 0-0 (BB)
9. Yasiel Balaguert, RF: 2-3 (1B, HR, F-8 SF, K, 2 R, 4 RBI)
10a Dong-Yub Kim, DH #2: 2-3 (1B, HR, 5-3, 2 R, 2 RBI)
10b. Trevor Gretzky, LF: 0-1 (F-7)
11a. SLOT WAS SKIPPED FIRST TWO TIMES THRU BATTING ORDER
11b. Brian Inoa, DH #3: 0-1 (K)
1. Jose Arias: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 7 K, 1 GIDP, 55 pitches (36 strikes), 4/1 GO/FO
2. Su-Min Jung: 0.1 IP, 1 H, 2 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 0 K, 2 HBP, 24 pitches (9 strikes), 1/0 GO/FO
3. James Pugliese: 2.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 27 pitches (16 strikes), 4/4 GO/FO
4. Roderik Pichardo: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 6 pitches (5 strikes), 1/2 GO/FO
5. Pete Levitt: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 15 pitches (10 strikes), 2/1 GO/FO
CUBS ERRORS: 1
SS Javier Baez - E-6 (throwing error on run-down between 1st & 2nd allowed runner at 3rd base to score unearned run)
CUBS CATCHERS DEFENSE:
1. Wilson Contreras: 0-1 CS
2. Neftali Rosario: 0-1 CS
WEATHER: Sunny with temperatures 100+
KKVG: Isaac Paredes is the most-impressive of the 2015-16 IFA. He has legit game power and handles himself well at SS, although I think he will likely end-up at 2B or 3B (maybe not this year, but down-the-line). It is possible that Paredes will get assigned to Eugene (and skip AZL) next month, and I would say he's the only one of the 2015-16 IFA position players who could. To accommodate Paredes at SS, the Cubs have been moving Andruw Monasterio (who was the #1 SS at AZL Cubs in 2015 and the presumptive Eugene SS going into Minor League Camp) around the infield (SS-2B-3B) at EXST.
Having been a mediocre HS player, I would think at a professional level - and in their 20's - doesn't it sound actually FUN to have a chance to play different positions in a 162-Game, uber-long season?
It has to take some of the monotony out of the job and keep you on your toes.
In fact, the best manufacturing floor job satisfaction training theories include job rotation as a way to improve employee satisfaction.
I hope Maddon can keep it going.
(It's usually KK, because his DNA is more like ours.)
Not just Maddon, but the organization as a whole. If the rumors are to be believed, they did a good job of letting Baez learn that he needed to change his approach, and Baez has done a good job listening to their instructions an adapting. Hopefully the same is true of Alomar, who is ripping up AAA.
Previous management teams haven't been as good at this (e.g. Corey Patterson).
Man, this team makes you greedy. Going into Pittsburgh -- with Cole vs. Hammel Game 1 -- I was hoping for 2 out of 3. After winning the first 2 games 14-3, I now want a sweep. Same thing happened in STL. Very, very fun.
Repeating myself, but I give Maddon a lot of credit for Baez's success. Instead of talking about monster HRs and high K totals, he has talked up his defense, versatility and being a "special" player. The kid seems to have responded.
BOB: The attendance has taken a big hit since you left.
K-DUB: I think the Cubs might consider skipping Dylan Cease past South Bend and starting him at Myrtle Beach next season, especially if he gets some time at South Bend this season and pitches well there. As a southern kid with TJS history, pitching at Myrtle Beach in April is probably a lot more attractive than pitching in South Bend, but Cease can't go to Myrtle Beach if he isn't ready for Hi-A.
His story makes him someone I completely root for to succeed but it's interesting that he's not succeeding in the way anyone thought when he was just a prospect. Great defense and contact instead of power. I think failing so glaringly and getting sent back down might have been the best thing for him and his ego.
He still swings at too many balls out of the strike zone but he's making a lot more contact on them which I think is helped by the less violent swing. So we might not get all the HRs we were expecting but I'll gladly take what he's giving.
"KingKongVsGodzilla"? So - was there a winner?
Baez is looking like a pretty special player.
Love checking TCR for your writeups. Quick question - any of these 2015 positional IFAs stand out to you yet? I'm most specifically referring to Kwon, Sierra, Paredes, and Amaya, but I know there's a couple other guys from that class in EXST as well.
bored...looking at stats for the hell of it...
felix pena (26yo) moving to the pen in AAA is looking like an insanely good fit so far in a smallish sample size
13ip 4h 3bb 20K
remembering back to spring training he was regularly hitting mid-90s (though he didn't have a good spring stats-wise). as a starter in the minors he usually worked low-90s.
this could be an arm worth keeping an eye on even if he's only a 1-inning guy who was "demoted" to the pen to start the year.
Phil, historically this front office has been patient with their prep pitchers keeping their IP low and moving them one level at a time. I know I'm getting ahead of myself, and you may not be able to formulate an opinion on this, but you've seen a lot of pitchers over the years, so...
also, after tonight's loss, STL is 13-14.
also also, the wsox are 19-8.
Win tomorrow, and the Cubs would have a 6-game lead. On May 4.