March 2010

Jered Weaver threw five innings of one-hit shutout ball while striking out nine (no walks), and Cubs pitchers were battered to the tune of 16 hits (including one triple, two doubles, and three home runs), as the Los Angeles Angels pounded a Cubs split squad 11-0 in Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in sunny Mesa, Arizona, this afternoon.

Here are the Cubs minor league rosters at Fitch Park as they were this morning (3/31).


Time once again for TCR's prediction contest, 21 questions plus two tiebreakers. One person put in an entry when I posted the preliminary questions in the comments, you need to resubmit your answers.

Ted Lilly tossed three scoreless innings and then Thomas Diamond followed with five more shutout frames, as the Iowa Cubs blanked the Fresno Grizzlies (Giants AAA squad) 3-0 at Fitch Park Field #3 this afternoon in Mesa.


Here is Ted Lilly’s inning-by-inning recap:


Hello, everyone! I'm Lizzy: Native Virginian, devoted Cubs fan, and author of a blog called The Fair Base Ballist. I was supposed to make a guest post here when Rob G. was on vacation, but technical difficulties prevented my doing so. I spent a good chunk of time hammering out individual player projections for 2010, and Rob has been kind enough to let me go ahead and post them. I hope you'll enjoy, and please contribute your own ideas to mine (especially for the mystery bench player who is likely to be announced 5 minutes after I publish this. I have omitted the 4 candidates for brevity's sake.)

Without further fanfare, your 2010 Chicago Cubs previews. They are all 100% serious.

If you're a connoisseur of the work of Neifi Perez as I am–and as I know many longtime readers of The Cub Reporter are–you'll delight in this piece written by King Kaufman and posted at Salon.com.

The story, an excerpt from "Top of the Order: 25 Writers Pick Their Favorite Baseball Player of All Time," is simply too delicious for me to recap here. I will just share this passage, in which Kaufman, a Giants fan, explains how he became a Neifiphile.

It was in early June 2003, [Neifi's] first and only full season with the club, when I noticed he was a sort of secret weapon. The Giants were a good but not great 26-22 on the days when Perez made it onto the field. But when he stayed in the dugout, they were 13-1...

So I invented the Neifi Index, a measure of the contribution a player makes to his team by not playing. The Giants had a .542 winning percentage when Perez played, .929 when he did not. So his Neifi Index was .387 (.929 minus .542). I concocted the Neifi Award, given to the bench player in each league with the highest Neifi Index, and unique among baseball awards in that you or I, if we could only find our way onto a major-league team, would be a shoo-in to win it.

Postscript: in linking to Neifi's page at Baseball-Reference.com, I just saw that King Kaufman is a paid sponsor of the page, which also carries this tribute from the writer: "In his own way, he was the greatest I ever saw."

Indeed.


Ryan Theriot had three hits, and Marlon Byrd, Mike Fontenot, and Jeff Baker mashed home runs, leading the Cubs to an 8-1 victory over Dusty Baker's Cincinnati Reds at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park under mostly cloudy skies in warm Mesa, AZ.


 

Tyler Colvin went 4-5 with two singles, an RBI triple, and a solo home run, but it wasn't enough, as the Cubs and the San Diego Padres played to a 2-2 tie in front of a Cactus League record crowd of 13,462 at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park this afternoon in sunny Mesa, AZ.


 

From Bruce Miles latest blog:

The Cubs also outrighted the contract of Rule 5 pitcher Mike Parisi to Class AAA Iowa. Because Parisi had been outrighted once before, he was able to become a minor-league free agent and not go back to St. Louis. He chose to stay in the Cubs organization.

This should be the final piece to to tilt the axis of NL Central power to the Cubs. I hear plans for a parade down Clark Street are already under way.

Travis Buck homered to key a three-run 9th, as an Oakland A's split squad defeated the Chicago Cubs 5-2 in Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in sunny & breezy Mesa, Arizona, this afternoon.


 

I just wanted to thank Sweet Lou and Aisle 424 once again for their guest posts last week. Be sure to visit their blogs on a regular basis as well. I had one more guest column lined up, but the server issues last week preempted it. The plan is for it to be up next week.

Speaking of the server issue, everything seems to be working smoothly once again. Or at least it has since Monday when I got back. Anyone still having issues connecting? We did have to upgrade to a higher server package at three times the cost, so I'm now forced to take on advertising on my body parts for $5 a pop.

- The Cubs made some roster moves today, Marcus Mateo, John Gaub, Jeff Gray adnd James Adduci were optioned to Triple A. Darwin Barney, Bobby Scales, Robinson Chirinos were assigned to minor league camp leaving 33 in camp. It appears James Russell will be added to the 40-man roster and make the team (a 0 ERA in spring will do that for you) and Tom Gorzelanny and Carlos Silva will be the starters, leaving the bench as the final puzzle to be solved.

Aramis Ramirez crushed a towering home run over the left-centerfield fence onto 8th Street and Randy Wells threw six innings (85 pitches) of shutout ball, as the AAA Iowa Cubs defeated the Sacramento River Cats (Oakland A's AAA squad) 2-1 in ten innings at cool & breezy Fitch Park Field #3 this afternoon in Mesa.

Derrek Lee crushed a two-run double, Aramis Ramirez and Tyler Colvin had two hits a piece (and Colvin also stole a base and scored two runs), and Ryan Dempster threw five innings of shutout ball before tiring in the 6th, as the Cubs and Royals played to a 5-5 tie in Cactus League action at Surprise Stadium this afternoon.


 

Please note the question mark in the headline, but that is what Paul Sullivan seems to insinuate in his latest article.

Carlos Silva and Tom Gorzelanny appear to have locked up starting spots, meaning Jeff Samardzija and Sean Marshall will be in the bullpen.

That seemed to be the most likely scenario before spring training started, made all the more likely when Angel Guzman went down and the bullpen being filled with inexperienced players like Caridad and Berg. Marshall had some moderate success out of the pen last year and if Samardzija doesn't get optioned, he did at least have one really good month in the pen in 2008. Silva just isn't suited for pen work in my opinion. He's a sinkerballer that's gonna let guys put the ball in play and sinkerballers seem to need a few innings to get into the groove, tire the arm out a little and get a little heavier drop on the ball. Gorzelanny didn't do anything to embarrass himself so far this spring, striking out 10 in 8.1 IP, although he did walk 8 as well. He probably won't make more than 3-4 starts anyway once Ted Lilly returns.

Fausto Carmona threw six innings of two-hit shutout ball and Austin Kearns reached base three times and scored two runs, leading the Cleveland Indians to 9-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs in Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park this afternoon in warm & sunny Mesa.


The 15-team league with mostly TCR readers that I'm in had their draft yesterday. It's a 25-man roster, point based league with 9 position spots (C, 1b, 2b, 3b, SS, LF, CF, RF, Util) and 9 pitching spots (4 SP, 3 RP, 2 Util P) and a 1500 IP limit. There's also a 2nd league of TCR'ites using a similar point system that started last year, so feel free to discuss your drafts as well in the comments. For those who get annoyed or bored when talking about fantasy baseball or just hate the concept in its entirety...um, sorry. I'll get something more Cub-centric up later.

Carlos Zambrano threw five innings of three-hit shutout ball and Ryan Theriot drove in three runs with a bases-clearing double, leading a Cubs "split squad" to a 4-0 whitewashing of the Kansas City Royals in front of 11,842 fans at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in sunny & warm Mesa, AZ this afternoon.


 

GM Jim Hendry, Player Personnel & Player Development Director Oneri Fleita, all of the Cubs minor league hitting & outfield coaches, and any Cubs scout anywhere near Mesa, Arizona, were at Fitch Park today, personally scouting & evaluating OF Wagner Mateo, who stopped by for some pre-game BP, and then stuck around and played RF for AA Tennessee in a Minor League Spring Training game played on Field #2.


Some of you may remember Mateo as the 16-year old Dominican left-handed hitting (and throwing) right-fielder who got a $3.1M bonus from the St. Louis Cardinals during the International Signing Period in 2009, only to have the contract voided a couple of months later when Cardinals team doctors discovered what they believed was a career-limiting vision problem during a routine physical.


Well, based upon what I saw today, Mateo can see just fine. He hit ropes all over the place in BP, and then went 1-5 in the game, including a line-drive single to left and two hard-hit line-drive outs to LF, one requiring a spectactular diving catch by the Angels LF. The one big negative was a throw from RF that missed the cut-off man by a mile, but otherwise he looked pretty good for a 16-year old. I got the impression the Cubs are VERY interested in signing Mateo, although other clubs probably are as well (like maybe the Angels for instance, who got a good look at him today, too).


Today was an off day for most of the Cubs, but not for Carlos Zambrano and Jeff Samardzija, as Big “Z” and the Shark traveled a half-mile south down Center Street to Fitch Park to get in some additional work.


It seems appropriate that Rob G. would ask me to guest post for him in his absence about improvements to the ballpark.  If you have read anything of mine at Tales from Aisle 424, you know I am a season ticket holder there since the 1998 season, so I tend to mention the ballpark, its facilities, and the Cubs' staff more than most Cubs blogs. 

This year, there is quite a bit of change happening in the old ballpark.

Five Cubs pitchers combined to throw a three-hitter, Jeff Baker smashed a solo home run, and Xavier Nady doubled twice and knocked-in two runs, leading the Cubs to a 4-1 victory over the Texas Rangers in Cactus League action before a capacity crowd of 13,157 at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in sunny & warm Mesa this afternoon.


 

Spring training is all about hope.  It’s a new season and every team is tied for first place.  Anything can happen.  Maybe this is the year that the Cubs (or your favorite team) can win it all.


At least that’s how things are in theory.  In practice, not so much.  The truth is that when MLB opens their 2010 season, about one-third of the teams will have no realistic chance of competing for a spot in the post-season.  These teams have become little more than fodder to fill out baseball’s regular season schedule.


The Cubs cut nine players this morning, optioning RHP Mitch Atkins to AAA Iowa and RHP David Patton to AA Tennessee, while sending pitchers Jeff Kennard and Vince Perkins, catchers Steve Clevenger and Blake Lalli, IF-OF Matt Camp, 3B Josh Vitters, and OF Brett Jackson to the Minor League Camp at Fitch Park.


So the Cubs Spring Training roster now stands at 51, including 14 Non-Roster Invitees (NRI). But there are also 150 players at Minor League Camp.


As a result of today's transactions, several players now assigned to Iowa and Tennessee will get moved to a minor league roster at a lower classification. Some might get released. (Usually about a dozen minor leaguers are released by the Cubs during the course of Minor League Camp). And as the Cubs option or send additional players to minor league camp, more minor league players will be released or will be moved downward.


Here are the Cubs minor league rosters at Fitch Park as they were this morning. All players listed were physically present. However, there will be downward movement with the arrival of the nine players cut by the Cubs this morning. For example, I did see pitchers Jeffry Antigua, Robert Hernandez, Josh Lansford, and Mike Perconte leave Field #3 (Tennessee squad) in the middle of PFP, so they probably got moved downward when Atkins, Patton, Kennard, and Perkins arrived. I don’t know who (if anyone) was cut from Iowa or Daytona, and I’m not even sure that Antigua, Hernandez, Lansford, and Perconte necessarily were demoted.


Here are the Cubs Minor League Camp rosters.

Starlin Castro smacked an RBI double into the left-center gap to drive-in the tying run, and then scored the go-ahead tally on a Micah Hoffpauir double, as the Cubs rallied from a 6-2 deficit to edge the Los Angeles Angels 8-7 at Tempe Diablo Stadium this afternoon.


Bryan Lahair cranked a three-run homer to tie the game and then later doubled and scored, leading the Cubs to an 11-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in Cactus League action at sunnny and warm Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa this afternoon, in what was the first-ever appearance by the Reds at HoHoKam Park. (The Reds relocated their Spring Training camp from Sarasota, FL to Goodyear, AZ this year).


 

Al at BCB scores an interview with Crane Kenney and Tom Ricketts.

BCB: Are you open to expanding the payroll a little if there’s an acquisition, let’s say, the middle of this season that might help get the Cubs over the top into the playoffs? Jim Hendry comes and says I’d like to get this guy it’ll cost $8 million, are you...

TR: I’m not sure .. probably not an $8 million mid -season addition, but what we’re always talking about and what Jim likes to do … we’re going to play out the first half of the season we’ll see what we need I think it’s good I think he has a philosophy to bring in a fresh guy or two at the trade deadline to help push the team forward the last couple months. We’ll be open minded to that stuff.

There's plenty of interesting information in there, along with a healthy dose of Trib bashing by Crane Kenney.

Pablo Sandoval cranked a grand slam HR into the visitor's (upper) bullpen beyond the RF fence to cap a five-run third, and Jonathan Sanchez threw three shutout innings, as the San Francisco Giants defeated the Chicago Cubs 5-1 in Cactus League action under partly cloudy skies at cool & breezy Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa this afternoon.


- Xavier Nady won't be ready to play regularly until...June!

The exclamation point is for a little joke going around the TCR comments, but Piniella said they'll be cautious with Nady through the cold weather.  Considering he was suppose to be a 4th outfielder/pinch-hitter/short side platoon for Fukudome, it probably won't matter as much as I'm sure the Internet is about to make it out to be, but it could affect the roster construction. Sam Fuld who can play all three outfield positions moreso than Tyler Colvin could get a little edge if spring training numbers are close. Or the Cubs could finally go through with an 11-man pitching staff, considering two of them will be the losers of the 4th/5th starting rotation race.

Joe Inglett clubbed a two-run homer with two outs in the top of the 9th, as the Milwaukee Brewers overcame an early 3-0 deficit and defeated the Cubs 5-3 in Cactus League action at cold and rainy Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park this afternoon in Mesa.


The start of the game was delayed almost an hour as a noon-time downpour flooded HoHoKam Park. But the rain did stop, and the dark clouds gradually broke apart, even allowing the sun to shine through by mid-game.


For the fourth year running I go through the various prospect lists. I'm trying to stick the more established ones and there are even more lists available at Wiklifield. Scout.com didn't seem to put out a Cubs list this year or has yet to and I'm not waiting any longer. Click on the image for the link to the original article.

I'll leave it up to the media to tell us what's going on with Angel Guzman's shoulder problems.

On second thought, I'd better not.

Once again the media doesn't get it. From Howard Schlossberg's piece in the Daily Herald:

While surgery is a possibility, the Cubs are aware that most major rotator-cuff surgeries, while successful in and of themselves, don't always enable the player to make a comeback.

Thank God it wasn't Bruce Miles writing this (I love Miles work). It does show, once again, a lack of understanding regarding what gets reported.

To quote Dan Aykroyd, "Just the facts, ma'am":

1. The Cubs.com article reports, Angel Guzman's MRI showed a "significant tear in a ligament in his right shoulder" which medically speaking translates into a torn inferior glenohumeral ligament (see diagram, item C). If the glenoid or socket's labrum is also torn, this means the entire front of his shoulder is very loose and may be detached. This is an injury that leads to instability, as in shoulder dislocations or subluxations (partial dislocations). This is what Aramis Ramirez had last season in his glove side shoulder (not his throwing shoulder).

Carlos Quentin slugged a two-run homer in the top of the 1st and a three run home run in the top of the 2nd, giving the White Sox a lead they would never relinquish, as the Sox demolished the Cubs 15-3 in front of 12,712 fans and a national TV audience on WGN this afternoon at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in sunny Mesa.


Minor League Camp opened this week, as pitchers & catchers reported to Fitch Park after the Cubs moved up Center Streert to HoHoKam Park. Other minor league players will report on Tuesday.


Here are the projected Cubs Minor League Camp rosters (142 players), the DSL Cubs Reserve Lists (two teams combined - 66 players), plus some other stuff.


Brad Snyder crushed a game-winning two-run double off the CF Batter's Eye in the bottom of the 9th, scoring Bobby Scales from second base with the tying run and Sam Fuld from first with the winning run, as the Cubs edged the Arizona Diamondbacks 8-7 in Cactus League action in front of 11,775 fans under sunny skies (65 degrees) at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa this afternoon.


A chance to comment on some happenings from the past week....

- The Cubs signed Cuban defector Juan Yasser Serrano and while he may not be able to hit a curveball, he probably can throw one. At a $250K bonus (about 4th/5th round money), I don't think the expectations are going to be to high. An "insider" of Caribbean Baseball didn't give a flattering report back in April of last year:

Tyler Colvin went 3-3 with two doubles and a solo HR, Derrek Lee and Marlon Byrd singled and homered, Sam Fuld blasted a two-run home run, Brad Snyder ripped a 450+ foot solo HR, Kosuke Fukudome doubled and singled, Starlin Castro tripled, and five Cubs pitchers combined to throw a three-hitter, as the Cubs drubbed the Oakland A's 9-3 in front of 7,496 fans at the 2010 Cubs Cactus League Opener at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in sunny & breezy Mesa this afternoon.


box score


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