Cubs Pitchers Now Know How Custer Felt
Nick Swisher singled twice, homered, and drove-in four runs, Lonnie Chisenhall singled, doubled, and homered, and collected three RBI, Drew Stubbs singled and tripled and drove-in three runs, and Mark Reynolds homered and doubled and knocked-in two runs, leading a 20-hit attack as the Cleveland Indians scalped the Cubs 13-5 in Cactus League action this afternoon at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Meaa, AZ.
RHP Alberto Cabrera got the start for the Cubs and was battered to the tune of five runs (all earned) on seven hits (three singles, two doubles, and two home runs) and a walk in 2.2 IP (52 pitches - 29 strikes).
Because he has a three-pitch arsenal (mid-90's fastball, hard slider, and change), the Cubs would like to move Cabrera back to the starting rotation in 2013 (he was converted to a reliever after the 2011 season), but he has struggled to throw strikes in both the Dominican Winter League post-2012 and at Spring Training 2013. And today when he did throw the ball over the plate, he was consistently and relentlessly hammered by Tribe hitters. Cabrera is a lot like Carlos Marmol, in that he has electric stuff but has a tendency to always be pitching from behind in the count. Today he seemed intent on not walking the world (as he has in the recent past), so when he got behind, he tried to pitch to contact, and it just didn't work. Cabrera is a strikeout pitcher, and to try and be something else is probably not a good strategy.
LHP Brooks Raley followed Cabrera to the mound and he fared poorly, too. Once again Raley had a long inning (a 28-pitch 4th inning), and he also surrendered five runs (four earned) on six hits (a triple, a double, and four singles) and a walk in 2.1 IP. Raley has labored in every outing so far this Spring (one intrasquad game and two Cactus League outings), and has been unable to get through an appearance without at least one high-pitch inning.
RHP Ty'Relle Harris was called up from Minor League Camp for the second time in a week, and he had a lugubrious 34-pitch (only 13 strikes) 6th inning where he allowed three runs on three hits and three walks. Harris was one of the players acquired from Atlanta in the Derrek Lee trade in 2010, and he suffered near-career ending injuries when struck by a hit & run driver outside a Knoxville nightclub in 2011. It's been a long road back and it's a miracle that he's even pitching again, but Harris will have to do a lot better in Minor League Camp than he did today at HoHoKam Park to avoid getting released.
Casey Coleman threw two scoreless innings, and RHP Marcus Hatley (brought up for the day from Minor League Camp) worked a scoreless 9th, although he did allow a hit and a walk.
A converted JC outfielder who was one of the last "Draft & Follow" signings by the Cubs before DNF was eliminated per the 2006 CBA, Hatley was ranked by Baseball America as the Cubs #29 prospect going into the 2013 season, and while he does have some upside as a hard-throwing reliever, he has yet to establish himself at the AAA level, and he will be a Rule 55 minor league free-agent (Six-Year Minor League free-agent) post-2013 if he is not added to the Cubs 40-man roster by the 5th day following the conclusion of the 2013 World Series. So the Cubs will have to watch him carefully this season so that they can make an informed decision by the deadline.
Today's Cub offensive output might have been enough to win most days, but not when the opposition scores 13 runs.
Alfonso Soriano led-off the bottom of the 2nd with a HR over the LF fence off Cleveland starter Carlos Carrasco, and after Steve Clevenger drew a walk, Brad Nelson drove him home from 1st base with an RBI double. Soriano (who doubled in his second AB) appears to be in great shape, and I would not be surprised if he matches or even exceeds his 2012 numbers this season.
Down 13-2, the Cubs scored two runs off Indians #1 pitching prospect Trevor Bauer (acquired from Arizona during the off-season) in the bottom of the 7th. Jorge Soler drew a one-out walk and scored on a Logan Watkins double, and then after advancing to 3rd base on an error, Watkins scored on a Javier Baez 5-3 GO RBI (Baez's fourth RBI in two days).
Johermyn Chavez slugged a solo HR off Bauer in the bottom of the 8th for the Cubs fifth and final run of the game.
It was another small crowd at HoHoKam Park today (5,465),
I know he's struggles against lefties but Schwarber seems zoned in - hope he starts tonight.
Awesome stuff, Phil.
listening on ESPN 1000, caller says Bill Welke will be the home plate ump today. Supposedly his reputation is for having an even bigger strike zone than last night's Phil Cuzzi. Some of the issues with bad umpiring come from an inconsistent strike zone. Hoping at least for consistency. Last night's called strike on David Ross was outright embarrassing for Cuzzi.
That might work out in favor of Kyle Hendricks, who benefits much from a large strike zone.
it's kind of mesmerizing to watch
should Theo add some Ted Abernathy videos for minor league pitching coordinator's use?
sadly, Ted passed away in 2004 from complications of Alzheimers. I always loved the Cub bullpen trio of Phil Regan, Ted Abernathy and Hank Aguirre. As a kid, I even worked on both Phil Regan (very quirky delivery) and Ted Abernathy (extreme submarine) imitations when throwing a rubber ball against a wall. It wasn't a good imitation unless I could scrape my knuckles off the ground. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for submariners.
HAGSAG: Chris Pieters was sent to instructs to develop his hitting, bunting, and outfield play (he is already a decent first-baseman).
Pieters is tall and rangy , a "long-strider" in the same mold as Trey Martin and Rashad Crawford. He is a very patient hitter (unusual for a hitter with his lack of experience) and has an outstanding (almost uncanny) eye at the plate, and he is a fast runner with unusually good baserunning instincts, and he is a good basestealer, too.
I doubt we will see Pedro in any more "high leverage" situations this series. With Hendricks and the pen today, we need Bryant-Rizzo-Castro to get going ASAP.
One funny thing to see before the game was the two submariner pitchers (David Berg and Corbin Hoffner) playing catch with each other. Both pitchers throw "submarine" even when they play catch, and it's kind of mesmerizing to watch, even for the other players.
CUBSTER: One of the points of emphasis at "basic" Instructs this year was teaching the position players the art of baserunning and base-stealing, like getting a good primary and seconday lead, reading the pitcher, cutting bases sharply, and different ways to slide to maximize the baserunner's chance to arrive safely.
Brooksbaseball.net has some interesting stats/graphs on pitch and strike zones and you can dial up individual games/pitchers. I'd love to see some comments from readers who can interpret this better than I can. I thought the Ump was really inconsistent with a very wide zone. Does this info seem to match up with my eyeball perception? Also, looking at the graphs, Lackey was not throwing as many pitches below the K-zone (certainly more above) while Lester was clearly getting his pitches down and not many above.
As I was fearing in my post yesterday, Maddon keeps trotting Strop out against the Redbirds and he constantly fails. I understand the psychology behind this, but in a series where there is a finite lock on who moves on, why does he keep riding the wrong horse?
AZ Phil: Agree, this must have been a really fun game to watch. There was a lot of base stealing going on. Are the pitchers not holding runners or is the catching still a work in progress?
Cuzzi has long been known as having the biggest strike zone among all umpires.
AZ Phil, give me a scouting report on Chris Pieters since he has become a 1B/OF.
I think it's probably hard to adjust to an ump's zone mid-game, as least for hitters. Pitchers can locate to an ump's zone, but hitters have minimal time to react.
But, whatever. Umps are going to miss calls. Let's beat up on the non-Lackey starters.
Watched a little of Mets-Dodgers.
Jason deGrom -- oh, my.
Cubs 3-4-5 hitters are 0-21 so far in the post-season.
Let's change that in a big effin' way tomorrow, boys.