Lou unofficially officially gave the 5th starter job to Wade Miller and put Angel Guzman into the long relief/swingman role. Lou gives us his take which is one I believe more managers should do with hot-shot pitching prospects:
"Quite frankly, that's the way you should bring up a young pitcher. Put him in long relief and let him get some experience there. … He can be protected, but at the same time he'll get his work and watch other major-league pitchers the way they go about their pitches."
Paul Sullivan speculates the pen will be Dempster, Howry, Guzman, Eyre, Ohman, Cotts and one of Wuertz, Cherry or Wood, but I think it's Cotts who gets sent to Iowa in favor of Guzman and two of Wuertz, Cherry, Wood and the longshot of longshots, Roberto Novoa. It seems Rothschild and company also worked a bit on Guzman's delivery:
"We moved him over to the right side of the rubber," Piniella said after watching a Sunday morning throwing session. "It creates a different angle to the hitter. He felt comfortable with it. I feel that it will help him, especially to right-handed hitters."
Something to keep our eyes on and Muskat goes into greater detail in her article.
Mr. Scoop Ken Rosenthal breaks out another Cubs rumor, saying the Cubs and Rangers are exploring the possibility of a trade for Rockies infielder Clint Barmes. Barmes will be losing his starting job to uber-prospect Troy Tulowitzki this season, but Rosenthal speculates that they'll just hold onto Barmes in hopes that he'll compete for the starting second base job next year. Barmes (27 years old) doesn't look like anything special, really only enjoying one half of a good season in 2005 before an unfortunate accident involving Todd Helton's deer meat (say what?). Rosenthal doesn't speculate on who the Cubs might send their way, although I imagine Angel Pagan might be of some interest along with someone like Carlos Marmol.
Lou says...
"I've never really bunted early. I'm going to run, hit-and-run, steal, double steal, but I don't like the idea of bunting early in a game. Late in the game with a 3-2 lead, 4-2 lead, you get the first couple of runners on, you're looking to tack on, I like the bunt then."
and for $800
"I've already told my team I don't want to run into an out just to get a run in on a base hit to the outfield. I want to get my big boys up there five times a game if I can."
The article also says Alfonso Soriano will be the only player on the team with a green light to steal and it looks like the #2 spot in the lineup will be a mix between Matt Murton, Mark Derosa, Ryan Theriot and Jacque Jones. The OBP and P/PA for those four: Murton: Career .404 vs lefties and 3.64 P/PA (righties and lefties) Derosa: Career .316 vs righties, .367 vs lefties and 3.57 P/PA (3.92 and 3.70 thought the last 2 years) Theriot: Career .395 and 3.69 P/PA Jones: Career .343 vs. righties and 3.55 P/PA (3.65 last year)
Z takes the mound versus the "Mighty Angels of Anaheim located near the metropolis known as Los Angeles" who put John Lackey on the mound. The game happens to be on television out here in L.A., so I'll mention anything worth mentioning after the game that I didn't miss while trying to keep an eye on the NCAA tournament.
Jose Cruz, Jr and Kevin Kouzmanoff each hit two-run home runs, as the San Diego Padres defeated the Cubs 7-3 before a capacity St. Patrick's Day crowd of 12,764 and an international WGN-TV audience at extremely hot (record-setting mid-90's) and sunny Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa today. box score
St. Patrick's Day (Drink) and the Cubs and Padres break out the green caps (Drink). Rich Hill is on the mound for the Cubs (Drink) and has given up three early runs through the first inning and two-thirds (Drink). Maddux was supposed to start for the Padres (Drink) but was held back in favor of a minor league start and Tim Stauffer started (Drink) for the Padres and gave up an early three-run dinger to Derrek in the first (Drink).
This time I'm SURE the game was on WGN-TV (because that's how I watched it), so I'm not going to go into a complete review of the game, but the White Sox defeated the Cubs 7-6 yesterday at VERY hot (upper 90's) Tucson Electric Park. box score
In honor of Wade Miller (the Frontrunner), Angel Guzman (the Contender, at least until earlier today), and Mark Prior (the Bystander), here is a list of recent Cubs' #5 starters, defined as the pitcher with the fifth most starts in a given season. Note: portions may be unsuitable for more sensitive viewers. 1997: Frank Castillo, 19 starts, 98 IP, 6-9, 5.42 1998: Geremi Gonzalez, 20 starts, 110 IP, 7-7, 5.32 1999: Terry Mulholland, 16 starts, 110 IP, 6-6, 5.15 2000: Ruben Quevedo, 15 starts, 88 IP, 3-10, 7.47 2001: Julian Taverez, 28 starts, 161.3 IP, 10-9, 4.52 2002: Carlos Zambrano, 16 starts, 108.3 IP, 4-8, 3.66 2003: Shawn Estes, 28 starts, 152.3 IP, 8-11, 5.73 2004: Mark Prior, 21 starts, 118.7 IP, 6-4, 4.02 2005: Jerome Williams, 17 starts, 106 IP, 6-8, 3.91 2006: Carlos Marmol, 77 IP, 5-7, 6.08 On average, this group managed 19 starts, 113 IP, a won-loss record of 6-8 and an ERA of 5.22. I don't know how those numbers stack up to other teams during these last 10 years, but I would think Williams in '05, Prior in '04, certainly Zambrano in '02, and maybe even Tavarez in '01 would have compared quite well.
Angel Guzman takes the mound in another round of "5th Starter Idol", will he do enough against the homer happy White Sox (leading all teams in homers this spring and tied for third in total runs) to keep from getting voted off? The White Sox send Javier Vazquez to the mound for us to tee off on (hopefully). Michael Wuertz is set to make his first appearance in Cactus League action as well.
Mr. Scoop Ken Rosenthal breaks out the rumor mill:
Alex Sanchez seems likely to win the Marlins' center-field job, but the team has kicked around the idea of pursuing the Cubs' Angel Pagan, a switch-hitter who might not make the team's Opening Day roster. The Cubs are looking for a middle infielder who can play shortstop, and the Marlins' Robert Andino could fill that role.
It appears he's just throwing Andino's name out there, but he was a hot prospect for the Marlins about two seasons ago before they acquired themselves Hanley Ramirez and before Andino decided to never evolve with his bat. He still received "best defensive infielder" and "best infield arm" honors in the latest Baseball America Top Prospect rundown of the Marlins organization and in 2005 he was ranked as high as #6 on their list. He'll turn twenty-three this year but his minor league numbers suggest he's just Ronny Cedeno which sort of makes this trade rather pointless other than getting something for nothing because I believe Angel Pagan would have to go through waivers if he doesn't make the 25-man roster.  CORRECTION: Angel has two option years left making a trade less necessary, but if they want him off the 40-man roster he would need to go through the waiver process. Thanks to AZ Phil as always...
Kerry "I Should Really Start Knockin On" Wood suffered a "minor" setback in his last appearance and will not throw for a couple of days. It's being deemed as soreness in his tricep, just above the elbow and Hendry tries to tell us that the cause was "striding too far on the mound at Ho Ho Kam Park, trying to avoid a hole in the pitching surface, and that put the additional strain on the arm". Taking Hendry at his word which is pretty foolish as is, it's our freaking home park, stop the game next time and fill the hole or just walk off the field. What the hell? It should be noted that the injury seems to be nowhere near the shoulder injury that he went under the knife for last time.
Cliff Floyd hit a three-run homer and doubled, Aramis Ramirez hit a two-run home run, Alfonso Soriano went 3-3 with two singles, a triple, a stolen base, and a run scored, and Jacque Jones (a single and a double and two runs scored) and Matt Murton (a single and a walk) reached base twice, as the Cubs defeated the S. S. Mariner (that's "S. S.," as in "Split Squad") before a capacity crowd of 12,771 at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa today. box score
Oh, sorry...I mean Mariners @ Cubs. Theodore Roosevelt takes the hill for the Cubbies, the Mariners are in split-squad action and put Cha Seung Baek (Who?) on the mound.
This former Northsider is now feeling as fit as a sub-replacement level fiddle. But that wasn't the case last season:
“(He) fought through a sports hernia all of last season with the Cubs... He underwent surgery for that. Even bigger… he finally underwent an operation to clean out loose bodies in his throwing elbow.”
Any guesses?
Almost every year, one or two Non-Roster Invitees (NRI) contend for a spot on the Cubs Opening Day 25-man roster. This year, it appears that veteran utility INF Tomas Perez has the best shot among the NRI to make the Opening Day 25, since Manager Lou Piniella says he believes the Cubs will need two utility middle-infielders. Ryan Theriot is definitely one, and unless the Cubs go outside the organization and make a trade for somebody like Marlins supersub (SS-2B-CF) Alfredo Amezaga, Perez would seem to be the logical front-runner to become the Cubs second utility infielder. But who are the other candidates, and if Perez does get the job, who gets dropped from the Cubs 40-man roster?


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