April 2011

With Cubs GM Jim Hendry and Pitching Coach Mark Riggins in attendance, LHP Doug Davis (2010 elbow surgery rehab) threw five innings of two-hit shutout ball (63 pitches – 40 strikes) with no walks and eight strikeouts (four swinging), and a 5/1 GO/FO, but the EXST Angels rallied to score five runs over the last three innings to defeat the EXST Cubs 6-3 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning in Mesa.


The game was extended an extra couple of innings to allow Cubs and Angels pitchers to get their scheduled work.


The EXST Rockies defeated the EXST Cubs 7-4 this morning in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at Red Mountain Field at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Scottsdale.


Yaniel Cabezas singled twice, doubled, scored two runs, and threw out two opposing base-stealers, and four Cubs pitchers combined to throw a four-hitter, as a split squad of EXST Cubs edged the EXST Angels 2-1 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at Fitch Park Field #2 in Mesa this morning.


The game was extended an extra inning to allow Cubs and Angels pitchers to get their scheduled work.


Charles Jones, Joseph Staley, and Gabriel Cornier cracked home runs to power the EXST Giants to a doubleheader sweep over the EXST Cubs in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at Indian School Park in Scottsdale this morning, winning 5-3 on Field #1, and 8-1 on Field #2.


The games were played simultaneously on adjacent fields.


Both games were pre-scheduled as seven-inning affairs, but the game on Field #2 was extended an extra inning to allow Cubs and Giants pitchers to get their scheduled work.


Michael Bolaski slugged a 450-ft+ two-run HR over the CF Batter’s Eye (“Green Monster”) and five EXST Angels pitchers combined to throw a seven-hit shutout, as the EXST Cubs were blanked 3-0 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this morning.


The game was extended an extra inning to allow Cubs and Angels pitchers to get their scheduled work.


Continuing his injury rehab assignment, RHP Todd Wellemeyer got the start for the Cubs today and threw three innings (42 pitches). He allowed one run on four hits (three singles and a double) and a HBP, issuing no walks, while striking out three. The only run allowed by Wellemeyer scored in the top of the 2nd inning (lead-off double, ground out, and a sacrifice fly).


Reggie Golden and Marco Hernandez ripped home runs and the EXST Cubs stole five bases en route to a 7-4 victory over the EXST Brewers in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at Paul Molitor Field at the Maryvale Baseball Complex in Phoenix this morning.


Doug Davis (2010 elbow surgery rehab) got the start for the Cubs and threw four innings (62 pitches – 44 strikes), allowing one run on four hits (a triple, two doubles, and a single) and a walk, with five strikeouts (four swinging) and one WP (and a nifty pick-off, too). Davis mixed a slow fastball with a slower curve and a really slow change-up to generally keep the young Brewers hitters off-stride, although when they hit the ball, it was hit with authority. Besides the four hits (three XBH) allowed by Davis, the veteran soft-tossing lefty’s day also featured three “loud” hard-hit line drive outs (one of which required an inning-ending run-saving spectacular diving catch by LF Jose Valdez).


Angel Guzman threw an 11-pitch 1-2-3 5th inning (6-3, P-5, 2-3) in relief of Davis, as the right-hander continues his rehab from 2010 shoulder surgery.


 

This was truly an enjoyable afternoon of Cubs vs Dodgers action at Wrigley Field, although some of the stuff I saw didn't make sense in the real world.

Like when the Easter Bunny hopped up in the chair next to me.

Making his second injury rehab appearance in four days, Todd Wellemeyer threw two perfect innings (31 pitches – 17 strikes) with three strikeouts (all swinging), but the EXST Athletics scored at least one run off each of the other four EXST Cubs pitchers who followed en route to a 7-2 victory in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at Connie Mack Field at the Papago Park Baseball Complex in Phoenix this morning.

The game was extended an extra inning to allow Cubs and A's pitchers to get their scheduled work.

Down 3-0 going into the 6th, the EXST Diamondbacks scored seven unanswered runs over the last four innings and defeated the EXST Cubs 7-3 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this morning.


Yaniel Cabezas drove-in four runs and five pitchers combined to throw a three-hitter, as a split squad of EXST Cubs thumped the EXST Angels 13-5 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at Diablo Park in Tempe this morning.


Meanwhile, the other squad of EXST Cubs was defeated by the EXST Rockies 13-8 at Fitch Park Field #3, despite a three-run HR by Blair Springfield.

banana splitThe Cubs and Padres split. The Cardinals and Nationals split. The I-Cubs and Isotopes split. Look, up in the standings - it's a Dairy Queen! It's a gymnastics meet! It's a doubleheader...


The best thing to be said about the April weather in the upper Midwest is that it's good for pitchers. All four starters in yesterday's twinbill in Des Moines recorded quality starts. This in a league where the I-Cubs' 6.57 staff ERA in the first two weeks isn't even the PCL's worst and five entire teams have batting averages north of .300. Albuquerque's John Ely came within one out of throwing that franchise's first no-hitter in game two [note: PCL doubleheaders consist of a pair of seven-inning games].


Tonight's turnstile promo for the I-Cubs is more practical than most. They're passing out stocking caps to the first 1,500 fans. I suspect there will be plenty of leftovers.


Some of these playing conditions are like showing up at an arena for basketball to discover that they left the rink out from last night's hockey game - and then proceeding as scheduled! The only thing worse than crappy weather is indoor baseball.


Come on ivy!


Otherwise, could Project .500 be any more on pace? There is a definite pattern emerging here. But who knew that a share of first place would be part of the deal?! Actually calling the Central a division right now is a misnomer; there's precious little division at all...

Doug Davis threw three innings of one-hit shutout ball, Todd Wellemeyer threw a 1-2-3 13-pitch inning, and Matt Loosen struck out eight in just 2.2 IP, as five EXST Cubs pitchers struck out 19 EXST Rockies batters en route to a 3-2 victory in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this morning.


Although the Cubs were ahead 3-0 after the end of the Rockies 9th, the game was extended to 11 innings so that additional Cubs and Rockies pitchers could get their pre-scheduled work.

Los Angeles Angels LHP Scott Kazmir (lower back strain) threw 3.2 IP of shutout ball (three hits, no walks and four strikeouts, 2/5 GO/FO) on a 45-pitch rehab assignment, and the EXST Angels cruised to a 5-1 victory over the EXST Cubs in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at Diablo Park in Tempe this morning.


It absolutely freaks me out how talented the artisans are who individually hand-craft bobblehead dolls.
The patience and skill involved...I think at Northwestern and Stanford you can get a degree in bobblehead.
If they made a tv show about it, the opening would borrow from "Kung Fu", and the student would have to walk across rice paper and snatch the pebble from that old blind dude's hand. 
And that's before they can even think about picking up a paintbrush or sitting at a potter's wheel or blowing glass or whatever.

Luis Flores drilled two doubles and scored two runs, leading one squad of EXST Cubs to a 3-0 shutout of the other squad of EXST Cubs in a six-inning Extended Spring Training intrasquad game played at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning.  


It’s not supposed to be like this.

First your Opening Day/Night gets rained out. Then the following day/night is cold and windy, but dry, so you go through the ceremonial motions with no one there to watch and clap. Player introductions with some guys just staying in the dugout and others shivering and huddling together along the baselines like penguins. A video tribute to Bob Feller on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the only Opening Day no-no in big league history to go along with the Bob Feller bandanas handed out at the turnstiles that folks are using as windbreaks on their cheeks, looking like stagecoach robbers. The silly hat-head contest atop the home dugout that’s supposed to be decided by the applause-o-meter except it’s out-of-order; no power. Saturday night there were probably more people in the skyboxes than the stands. Then the game had barely started when Tony Campana, who looks about as batboyish as his predecessor, Sam Fuld, used to before he donned a cape and became ManRam’s replacement, lofted a blooper to left-center leading off the bottom of the first. Memphis’ left and center fielders, Andrew Brown and Shane Robinson, respectively, collided in pursuit of it - no skid marks; full-tilt. Poor bastards; 15-20 minutes later they were both scraped off the turf and ambulanced to the hospital with concussions [Robinson also sustained some facial fractures] and the players and fans re-thawed and resumed. Eventually the I-Cubs prevailed, long after I’d taken my media guides and gone home.

I have no delusions that any of you care about my fantasy baseball teams, but the amount of time I put on this site allows me these occasional self-indulgent posts.

Yao-Lin Wang threw three innings of one-hit shutout ball with five strikeouts and Dong-Yub Kim capped a three-run third inning with a bases loaded two-out two-run single, but the A’s rallied to tie the game thanks to some shaky Cub defense, as the EXST Cubs and EXST A’s played to a 3-3 tie in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this afternoon

It is a cold, miserable day in Des Moines. The steady rain may change to snow by the time the Iowa Cubs are scheduled to open their home season at 7:05 tonight versus the Memphis Redbirds, the team that caught them at the tape last Labor Day and squeezed past into the PCL playoffs. Ironically, that change in the form of precipitation might increase the chances of the game being played. Just in case the game tonight gets called I had a couple of hot dogs for lunch.


The I-Cubs beat the Isotopes on getaway day yesterday in Albuquerque, 10-6, behind five RBI from holdover Bobby Scales to split their season-opening road swing through Texas and New Mexico at 4-4. At the plate Tony Campana, Lou Montanez and Scales are off to hot starts. Fernando Perez has drawn eight walks and swiped three bases and Bryan LaHair has already knocked in nine runs. There hasn't yet been much pitching to which any of those responsible would sign their names. Chris Carpenter has fanned eight and walked but two so far in five innings spread over three appearances.


Here's alink to a new feature at the I-Cub website this year that's a nice one-stop daily clearinghouse for media reports: http://iowa.cubs.milb.com/news/page.jsp?ymd=20110317&content_id=16994120&vkey=news_t451&fext=.jsp&sid=t451


No doubt there are better days ahead weather-wise and this club deserves some breaks in that department. Last year the team was 4th out of 16 in the PCL in attendance despite that Des Moines is 14th in the league in population.


Weather relenting, J.R. Mathes starts for Iowa tonight. It feels like he's been here as long as Wakefield's been in Boston, maybe longer if you asked him.

Brice Cutspec (2010 NDFA - Azusa Pacific) clouted a three-run HR in the top of the 1st to spoil the Cub debut of newly-signed veteran LHP Doug Davis, as one squad of EXST Giants thumped one squad of EXST Cubs 9-6 on Field #2, while Jesus Morelli ripped a two-run double down the LF line in the bottom of the 6th to get the Cubs within one run and then scored the tying run on a Yaniel Cabezas RBI single, as the other squad of EXST Cubs and the other squad of EXST Giants played to a 4-4 tie on Field #3, in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at Fitch Park in Mesa this afternoon


Both games were seven-inning affairs, and the games were played simultaneously on adjacent fields.


Box Score | Highlights

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R H E
Cubs 0 0
0
0
0 0
1
0 1
  2
11 3
Astros 3
2
0
2
0
0 0 4
x   11
16
1

The Gist: The odds were pretty low heading into the game that the Cubs could win it with the Astros best pitcher going and the Cubs going with a guy on a 45-50 pitch count limit. At least they didn't waste our time making it suspenseful. It started with the first batter for the Astros with Michael Bourne taking advantage of the lefty making his first major league start. Knowing that he's going to be falling off to the third base side of the mound and probably just worried about throwing strikes with that pitch count limit, Bourne executed a perfect bunt to the first basemen that Russell had no chance to get to the base in time. And then they did the exact same thing with the next batter. Give 'em some props for the smart baseball.

Marco Hernandez hit a solo HR, drove-in another run with a sacrifice fly, singled, stole a base, and scored three runs, to lead a 13-hit attack as one squad of EXST Cubs coasted to a 10-3 victory over one squad of EXST Giants on Field #1, while over on Field #2 the other squad of EXST Giants scored six runs in the first two innings en route to a 9-3 victory over the other squad of EXST Cubs, in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at Indian School Park in Scottsdale this afternoon.


Both games were seven-inning affairs, and they were played simultaneously on adjacent fields.


Box Score | HighlightsFangraphs WP chart

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R H E
Cubs 2 2
0
1
0 0
0
0 0
  5
8 1
Astros 0
0
0
0
1
0 3 0
0   4
10
0

The Gist: The first three times through the order, the Cubs one through three hitters went 7/8 with a walk and the Cubs first stolen base on the season(overall 7/13 with 2 BB's). The 4-9 hitters went 1/21 with 4 BB's for the night. The lesson learned? Try to bunch your hot/good hitters together if possible. It's insightful anaylsis like this that keeps you folks coming back for more. Castro, Barney (with a sweet hit'n run triple) and Byrd did the most damage with an assist by Soriano on a clutch 2-out double in the first (that being the 1 of the 1/21 from above). In all seriousness though, managers do tend to worry about protection and putting guys in front of other hitters to see good pitches. It does seem - and I'm sure there have been studies on this - that just putting your 3-4 best hitters next to each other is the better plan.

The EXST Cubs managed just four hits, as the EXST Rockies blanked the Cubs 7-0 in Opening Day Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at Fitch Park Field #3 this afternoon in Mesa.


Box Score | Highlights

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R H E
Cubs 2 1
1
0
0 0
1
0 0
  5
11 0
Brewers 2
0
2
0
0
0 0 2
0   6
11
0

The Gist: I didn't watch anything of the game, so not much to add. It's disappointing the Cubs couldn't get the win after getting to Yovani Gallardo, but disappointment and the Cubs go together like fire and gasoline. The bullpen blew it's second lead of the season, this time Kerry Wood being the culprit, leaving a fastball over the plate with Soto set up low and inside. Aramis and Byrd had the big days with the bat. Fukudome left after a few innings with a mild hamstring strain and is listed day to day. The Mendoza Line has been activated for Carlos Pena.  I think I've found my new nickname for him.

Box Score | Highlights

The Gist: Chris Narveson pitched a gem, Matt Garza did not. Not much else to say. I believe the first two times through the Brewers lineup, the top 4 hitters had all reached base safely, somethingl ike 6/6 with a BB and a sac bunt and the bottom 5 were 0/10. Space that out and the Cubs are probaly not down 4-0, but such is the game. The big hits came from Prince Fielder of course who knocked in 4 of the 5 runs off Garza all on a bunch of lousy pitches and lousy location.

Box Score | Highlights

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R H E
Cubs 0 0 0 5 0 1 0 0 1   7 12 0
Brewers 0 2 0 1 1 0 0 0 0   4 8 2

The Gist: They took away streaming video or music from my day job which means these recaps are gonna be a lot shorter and lot less interesting. I think I got home just in time to see Kerry finish his inning and the Cubs finishing it off in the 9th. The big day obviously went to Jeff Baker who clubbed a two out, 3-run home run off Randy Wolf in the 4th off a cookie that Wolf left up in the zone. Unearned runs at that, as Rickie Weeks muffed a pop-up to start the inning. Baker then later tagged Wolf again in the 6th for the Cubs sixth run and scored the seventh run in the 9th when Byrd doubled. He ended up with 4 hits on the day, all off lefties. There's something reassuring when a platoon split works out like that.

We'll see how this works. I created an account at First Inning and it allows you to track certain minor leaguers. I thought I'd try to keep up with my top 16 prospects on a nearly daily basis. You may be interested in others, but it's my list, so go get your own. They haven't made Hayden Simpson available yet, so I will add him once they do to replace Darwin Barney, who of course is with the major league club.

I had most of it written Wednesday, but didn't have time to finish it up until tonight. Might as well put it out into the world.

Box Score | Highlights

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R H E
DBacks 0
0 2
0
3 0 0
1 1
  6
12
0
Cubs 0 0
0
2
0 0 1
1
0   4
6
3

The Good: Ramirez and Soriano hit home runs, Marlon Byrd had two more hits today and Fukudome got on-base three times out of the leadoff spot and could have been a fourth if not for Chris Young's first amazing catch of the day. I think that about covers that section.

The Bad: ...started in the third inning. Willie Bloomquist continued to annoy himself to Cubs fans by singling and then easily stealing a base. Chris Young hit a liner just to the left of center that Marlon Byrd decided he needed to try and emulate Young's glove witchcraft and completely whiffed on. Bloomquist was gonna score anyway on the play if Byrd lets it drop, but now the ball is careening towards center with Soriano rushing over and the speedy Young easily going to make it to third. Soriano though fumbles the ball and then skips the relay throw and as the Diamondback announcer called it, "a little league home run".  During the play, I thought Byrd missed it by a mile, but the replay looked like he just missed it by a whisker. And it did happen with 2 outs, which is when you should try and take those chances in my opinion.

logoThe season hasn’t even started and the door is already revolving.


The weather today in Des Moines is passable but the Iowa Cubs are opening the 2011 season on the road at Round Rock, TX. Thomas Diamond is supposed to oppose Express southpaw Michael Kirkman, the #6 prospect in the Ranger system who takes the mound tonight with these creds: 2010 PCL Pitcher of the Year [13-3 with a 3.09 ERA and 130 strikeouts in 131 innings for Oklahoma City]. He also won two PCL Pitcher of the Week awards and led the PCL with an .813 winning percentage. Kirkman made his Major League debut on Aug. 24, 2010, against the Baltimore Orioles, striking out the first three hitters he faced and was named the 2010 Nolan Ryan Minor League Pitcher of the Year.


Patrick Mooney of CSN is reporting on his twitter account that Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner are both going to the disabled list.

Wells goes down with a forearm strain that no one knew anything about, Cashner's injury is his rotator cuff. I'm sure more details will be forthcoming. Mooney reports neither will throw for 2 weeks with the Cubs being cautious in April and Casey Coleman is sure to be one of the pitchers to join the rotation.

Some updates after the jump...

Box Score | HighlightsFangraphs WP chart

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R H E
DBacks 0
0 1
0
0 0 3
0 1
  5
7
1
Cubs 0 2
2
0
0 0 2
0
x   6
10
0

The Gist: It seems the weekday recaps are gonna be a little harder to get to for me. Andrew Cashner got his first major league start and threw quite well except for a 3rd inning home run to Ryan Roberts. He made it into the 6th on just 72 pitches (43 for strikes) and 10 groundballs to 5 flyballs.  Then the bad news...he felt something in his shoulder and left the game with a 4-1 lead and went for an MRI, which we should hear the results tomorrow.

 

For you and me, "geo tagging" means putting geographical information on things like a video or a photo, so when people see it online they know where it was taken.
But for Geovany Soto, "Geo Tagging" has nothing to do with a camera or a computer, and it doesn't happen in the digital world.
Because when Geo tags something, it'll feel some pain even if it's a baseball.

Box Score | HighlightsFangraphs WP chart

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R H E
DBacks 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0   1 8 0
Cubs 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 2 x   4 8 1

The Gist: Wells didn't quite pitch as well as he did all spring and was uncharacterstically wild, but held the DBacks to just 6 hits, and only one of the extra base variety, that being a leadoff home run to Willie Bloomquist of all people. Geovany Soto showed off his healthy shoulder gunning down Justin Upton on a steal attempt and Miguel Montero on a wild pitch that didn't bounce very far away. The bullpen locked down the last 3 innings, even with Q-Ball and Kirk Gibson battling for over-Manager of the Year honors. First, the Cubs bring in Sean Marshall who is perfectly awesome versus lefties and righties to face Geraldo Parra. After getting him out, Gibson went to the righty Xavier Nady and Q-Ball countered for no good reason with Marcus Mateo and Gibson countered with lefty Juan Miranda who did single. Mateo retired the next batter and Q-Ball went to the pen again and John Grabow to get Kelly Johnson.

Max Ramirez crushed a two-run HR onto the roof of a house on the north side of 8th Street, and Xavier Batista slammed a three-run HR onto the street, leading Boise/Mesa (EXST CUBS) to a 6-5 victory over the Iowa Cubs in a six-inning intra-organization game played at Fitch Park #3 this morning, in what was the official end of Minor League Camp and the beginning of Extended Spring Training for the players remaining in Mesa.


Meanwhile, the Iowa Cubs will be heading to Round Rock, TX, for PCL Opening Day on Thursday.


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