Cubs Spring Training

There has been a lot of talk out here this Spring about if and when the Cubs will leave Mesa.

-- Tigers, Diamondbacks, Nationals, Astros; that's your complete list of the teams which ranked lower than the Cubs in Kevin Goldstein's organizational rankings at Baseball Prospectus (subscription required).

Goldstein's comments about the Cubs, who stood 16th in his '08 rankings:

"Josh Vitters is one of the best pure hitters in the minors; 2008 top pick Andrew Cashner's post-draft struggles were a fluke and his stuff will play; Jeff Samardzija finally began figuring things out."

"Other than Vitters, there is
really not a single hitter in this system that excites anyone; the
weakness in terms of the organization's depth is the key reason that
the long-rumored Jake Peavy deal never went down."

"Samardzija is the only player who is likely to lose his prospect status; there's no reason to see (the Cubs) moving up considerably (in the rankings)."

--We all know that spring training numbers mean next to nothing, but since Opening Day is, what, another 11 weeks away?, they're the only numbers we have, so let's enjoy them, dammit!

Nick Noonan capped a five-run 9th with a two-out grand slam, as the Giants rallied to defeat the Cubs (and leave a lot of Cubs fans speechless) before a record crowd of 13,024 under sunny skies at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa this afternoon.   

box score

Also, the Cubs sent have sent non-roster RHPs Esmailin Cardidad and Ken Kadokura to minor league camp. This brings the Cubs Spring Training roster down to 43 (including Ted Lily and Kosuke Fukudome, who are still playing in the WBC) 

The 35-year old Karokura was making his U. S. debut after spending 13 years playing in Japan, and I suspect he will be released (or will request his release) prior to Opening Day and will return to Japan. He probably isn't at the point in his career where he would want to spend a year playing AAA ball. He didn't really have a bad Spring with the Cubs, but he had a tendency to get ahead of hitters 0-1 or 1-2 and then nibble, nibble, nibble. I don't think Manager Lou Piniella likes that approach too much.  

Caridad is a different matter, however, I have him rated as one of the Cubs Top Ten prospects, and he pitched very well so far this Spring and could surface sometime this season in Chicago. Now 25, Caridad was (like Alfonso Soriano and Timo Perez) originally signed by the Hiroshima Carp and was assigned to their Dominican Academy, before pitching in Japan in 2007. But Caridad became a free-agent on a technicality after that season, and Cubs Player Personnel Director Oneri Fleita personally signed the right-hander while on a trip to the Dominican Republic in December 2007  Caridad pitched at Daytona and Tennessee in 2008 (going a combined 13-7, 3.73 ERA, 1.11 WHIP), and then pitched in the AFL with the Mesa Solar Sox in October-November '08. He can start or relieve.

As for today's game...      

Muskat says nine have been cut and they are (drumroll please)....

Pitchers Mitch Atkins, Justin Berg and Jeff Stevens have been optioned to Triple A, with Marcos Mateo headed to Double A(for now).  NRI's C Welington Castillo, INF Luis Rivas and Darwin Barney and OF Doug Deeds and Jason Dubois have been assigned to minor league camp.

The Cubs travel to Glendale to play the Dodgers, Carlos Zambrano gets his fourth start of the spring.  Randy Wolf goes for the Dodgers.

The batting order from Muskat:

LF Alfonso Soriano, 2B Miles, CF Reed Johnson,
1B Derrek Lee, RF So Taguchi, 3B Koskie, C Koyie Hill, SS Andres
Blanco, P Carlos Zambrano.

Matt Brown crushed a bases-loaded double to turn a 4-2 deficit into a 5-4 lead, as the Angels rallied to defeat the Cubs 6-4 at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park this afternoon, in a game many of you probably watched on WGN-TV.

box score

Sam Fuld and Andres Blanco slammed home runs and Sean Marshall took a shutout into the 5th inning, as a Cubs "split squad" drubbed a Seattle Mariners "split squad" 8-1 in front of 10,910 happy fans at sunny Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park this afternoon in Mesa

box score

Prepping for the first game of 2nd Round WBC play in San Diego on Sunday, Team Japan edged the Chicago Cubs 3-2 at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park on a cool & breezy Thursday afternoon in Mesa, AZ. 

box score

I don't put much stock in what Lou says about the lineup order a month before the season, but he seemed to indicate that Kosuke Fukudome is in line to bat second after the outfielder dropped by camp today with Team Japan.

"He looks wonderful," Piniella said of Fukudome. "He's in really good
shape. I told him we're holding a spot for him, and we'll put him out
in center field and we'll try him in the No. 2 hole in the lineup. 

 

and

"We're going to try it initially with Soriano and Fukudome, one-two,
against right-handed pitching and see how that works," he said. "I
think that'll work quite well."

You have to assume that means Soriano, Fukudome, Lee, Bradley, Ramirez, Fontenot, Soto, Theriot, Pitcher, with the possibility of Soto and Fontenot getting flipped. You also have to assume that Lou will change his mind a dozen more times during the course of the season.

Rich Harden gets his first start of Cactus League play with Aaron Heilman set to pitch as well. Lineup is Miles 2b, Theriot SS, Hoffpauir 1B, Fox DH, Fontenot 3B, Johnson CF, Deeds RF,  Hill C, Taguchi LF

Ronny Cedeno will start at 2B  and Cub-for-a-minute Garrett Olson will start for the Mariners.

Alfonso Soriano belted a two-run home run, Mike Fontenot drove in two runs with a homer and a double, So Taguchi drove in three runs with a bases-loaded triple, Joey Gathright scored three runs and drove in one, and Derrek Lee had an RBI double, as the Cubs drubbed the Kansas City Royals 9-1 in afternoon Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa this afternoon, before 8,987 fans under overcast skies and in mid-60's temperatures

box score

Sean Marshall threw four shutout innings as the Cubs jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, but the bullpen could not keep the Rangers down, as Texas rallied to defeat the Cubs 7-2 at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa today, before a crowd of 11,082 under cloudy skies with temperatures in the mid-60's.

box score

The Rangers travel to Mesa and Sean Marshall has another audition for the 5th starter spot.  Milton Bradley is playing right field as well and batting fourth. Matt Harrison goes for the Rangers.

Please take a moment today or tomorrow to vote on the best Cubs Season Ever.

Doug Mientkiewicz homered, drove in two runs, and made a spectacular sliding catch, and a 9th inning Cubs rally fell one run short for the second day in a row, as the Dodgers edged the Cubs 5-4 in Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, Arizona, in a game played before a capacity crowd under partly cloudy skies and in mid-60’s temperatures

box score

Muskat says club-jester Ed Campusano, porn star Rocky Roquet and bonus baby Andrew Cashner have been re-assigned to the currently non-existent minor league camp. Mitch Atkins and his 15.75 ERA remains. Jeff Stevens didn't do himself any favors today either.


I've been doing links for most of the week so no TCR Friday Notes, but I thought this excerpt about Milton Bradley and the media crush was worth mentioning from one of my favorite new Cubs blogs - Tales from Aisle 424.

...That will be preferable to having a daily Bradley Tantrum Watch that will only serve to antagonize the man:

"Hey
Milton, you pissed yet? How about now? A little angry? Even a little?
Seriously? Everything is good and happy? You think you'll get pissed?
When do you think? Now? How about now? No? OK..... BOOOO!! How about
now? 'Cause if you don't get off to a good start, you'll be hearing
some of that from the bleachers. Ask Jacque Jones. Does that piss you
off? Hypothetically? Still all good? OK - see you tomorrow. Unless, you
know, you want to get something off your chest now. No? OK, then. You
should talk to Jacque though, he'll tell you. Maybe Corey Patterson.
They'll both tell you how it is. Want Todd Hundley's number too? I have
to tell you, you seem like you are a bit agitated. Is it because you're
hurt? You know, because you're always hurt? I know I'd be frustrated.
You know what helps with that? Talking it out. Just vent it all out.
No? Alright then. Hey! Oh, sorry... you just wanted to shake my hand. I
thought you were going to take a swing at me. You don't want to do
that, right? Yeah - my bad. Sorry. OK, this time I really have to go.
Here I go. Now. Nothing? Damn...."

 

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