Randy Wells

George Kotarras drove-in five runs with bases-loaded doubles in consecutive innings, as the Milwaukee Brewers hammered the Cubs 10-2 in Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in warm & sunny Mesa, AZ, this afternoon.

In a recent Paul Sullivan Tribune article, Cubs new GM Jed Hoyer was asked what are the greatest needs short term to fix the roster. Hoyer said, "It's no secret we need to get some depth in the rotation. Depth in pitching hurt the team last year." To complete the quote: "We have to find a way to improve the defense, and we probably need to find a little more athleticism on the bases." Improving the defense, of course, will help the pitching (which might be as simple as including more pfp/pitcher fielding practice for Matt Garza).

We all recall the 2011 season started with significant pitching injuries to the starting staff. After one week the Cubs lost their number 4 and 5 starters.

Where is this leading? Baseball Prospectus' Corey Dawkins just ranked the NL Central using their metric for team/player injuries called T.A.W.L (Total Adjusted WARP Lost). More after the jump...

Ryan Cuneo homered and doubled (and just missed another HR when a long fly hooked foul at the last second), Pin Chieh Chen had three hits (a single, a double, and a triple), and Randy Wells saw his first game action since April 4th, but the EXST Angels got hits when they counted and induced three rally-killing double-plays, edging a split squad of EXST Cubs 5-4 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 all of the Angels and Cubs pitchers due to throw today to get their scheduled work.


Though it sounds like Jim Hendry truly couldn't care less, it's the first day of the Ari Kaplan Era at Wrigley Field. As for the game on the field, mlb.com reports that Randy Wells is looking at today's start against the A's as hitting the reset button on his thus far rocky season.

The irony, of course, is that Wells's employers might not be able to overlook the past quite as easily: since the beginning of May, the righty is 0-5, 6.47. His first-inning troubles have been especially ugly. In 13 Wells starts this year, opponents are hitting .357 against him in the opening inning and Wells's first-inning ERA is a Grabow-esque 11.25. (Stats from Baseball-Reference.com.)

A collective cheer can be heard in that state of mind known as Wrigleyville...

UPDATE: (tweet from Gordon Wittenmeyer) Grabow to DL, Cashner called up.


I wrote this piece before the update. Sometimes things just make sense.

Randy Wells, aka Buzz Lightyear "To Infinity and Beyond" (5 runs and no outs is an ERA of ∞) gets a DO-OVER. After Randy Wells failed on just about all of the 16 pitches (and 5 runs) he threw in the first inning 'bullpen' tryout on friday vs the Cardinals. He gets to show management that he actually can once again go deep into a game with a quick return to the first inning on the holiday-day game against the Pirates. His competition for that bullpen spot, Tom Gorzellany won the battle to the bullpen. Gorz matched Wells with five quick runs vs the Dodgers on Wednesday's game which was so disappointing that Com-Ed pulled the plug on the Wrigley light grid.

Wells also is returning to the scene of the crime from May 6th, his other ugly outing. As we recall, he also gave up 5 first inning runs in the first on two walks, two singles and two doubles. Lou didn't have quite the quick hook that day as Wells stayed in to give up two more runs in the 2nd inning in what was to be an 11-1 blowout to the Buccos.

Oh, oh Domino. Tom Gorzellany will be in the pen, ready to pitch mop up in the first few innings if history should repeat itself. Gorz, the newest long reliever supplants big Z in the bullpen. Zambrano is supposed to start Wednesday in Pittsburgh, although Z never did get stretched out in a game even as the opportunity presented itself in Wells "oopsie" friday.

With all the roster shuffling soon to occur, the questions are who goes away when Andrew Cashner arrives this week and why isn't Cashner coming today? Is it management indecision or can't they get the radiologist who read John Grabow's MRI  to review it again to see that there IS something wrong, very wrong.

From today's Sun-Times:

Grabow already has undergone an MRI on his left knee after experiencing discomfort, but no injury was found.

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.


 

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.

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.


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.


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


I think they're on the verge of announcing the N.L. Rookie of the Year and Randy Wells was in the running for most of the season. Ultimately I don't think he'll get more than a few third place votes from the Chicago writers and I don't have much time to put together a full analysis, so I'm just going to lazily look at WAR values over at Fangraphs.

Randy Wells - 3.0

Garrett Jones - 2.6

J.A. Happ - 1.8

Chris Coghlan - 2.3

Andrew McCutchen - 3.4

Tommy Hanson - 2.6

Casey McGehee - 2.2

Colby Rasmus - 2.3

My guess is that it ends up Hanson, McCutchen, Happ by the voters and I would certainly encourage a more robust analysis than just WAR values, but there you have it. The Internet Baseball Awards voted Hanson the winner with Wells finishing 8th, for what it's worth.

On the AL side,  Elvis Andrus and Rick Porcello seem to be getting the most press with Andrew Bailey also in the mix.  Fangraphs has Andrus at 3.0 WAR, Porcello at 1.8 and Bailey at 2.4. Pitchers Jeff Niemann(3.2 WAR) and Brett Anderson(3.8 WAR) both surpass Porcello by WAR values but don't seem to be getting much hype. My guess is the voters give it to Porcello as most of Andrus's value came from his glove. Porcello got the nod at the Internet Baseball Awards.


Andrew Bailey wins the A.L. award with Andrus and Porcello finishing second and third. Chris Coghlan took the N.L. award. He was followed by Happ, Hanson, McCutchen, McGehee and then Wells finishing 6th.

 

Randy Wells continued his dominance of the Houston Astros last night. He's started three times against them this season, won two of them and has yet to give up an earned in 20.2 IP, with just one unearned run last night in the 7th. The win last night was his 10th on the season, the first Cub rookie to accomplish that since Kerry Wood in 1998. I took a look at some of the more advanced metrics too see how fluky Wells' season may have been and you know, it's not to bad. While a low 3 ERA is probably a bit much to ask for next year, his .285 BABIP isn't ridiculously out of whack, like let's say his ROY competition J.A. Happ and his .249 BABIP. Wells' FIP (Fielding Independant ERA) is 3.85 and his xFIP (a fancier version of FIP that tries to 'normalize' for expected home runs per flyball) is higher at 4.30, which is still pretty respectable for a guy that will barely make over the league minimum next season.

I think if they did vote today, J.A. Happ would likely win the Rookie of the Year vote with a better ERA in a tougher park, nicer win-loss record(thanks Cubs bullpen) and the strength of a better team. A quick look at some of the other competition.

J.A. Happ: 2.63 ERA, 10-3, 143.2 IP, 97 K, 51 BB

Tommy Hanson: 3.15 ERA, 9-3, 88.2 IP, 73 K, 32 BB

Randy Wells: 2.90 ERA, 10-7, 133.1 IP, 82 K, 35 BB

Chris Coghlan: 9 HR, 301/377/446/823 OPS in 422 PA's

Colby Rasmus:  14 HR, 259/315/427/742 OPSin 418 PA's

Andrew McCutchen: 11 HR, 288/362/495/857 in 354 PA's and 15/18 in SB's

Garrett Jones:  17 HR, 295/365/614/979 OPS in 233 PA's

(I missed McCutchen and Jones on the first pass)

Today's must-win lineup is Fukudome, Blanco (wtf?), Lee, Bradley, Fox, Fontenot, Baker, Hill and Lilly.

Be forewarned—the entire downtown area is overrun with Nordic boys wearing Kirby Puckett jerseys. I know; I have seen it for myself!

This afternoon's Twins starter, Kevin Slowey (8-2, 4.21), is prone to the gopher ball. (That's "gopher" as in home run, not Golden Gopher.) Cubs starter Randy Wells is prone to getting screwed by the non-performance of his offense and/or his bullpen.

Go Cubs!

Arizona's Dan Haren was lifted from Sunday's start at San Diego after the seventh. He held the Padres scoreless for 6 2/3 innings before allowing a solo blast to Kevin Kouzmanoff. In all, Haren was charged with 1 run on 4 hits. He fanned 5, walked 1, and at one point, retired 13 Padre hitters consecutively.

He was deprived of his fifth win of the season, however, when the Arizona bullpen failed to protect a 6-1 lead going into the bottom of the ninth. (The Diamondbacks eventually won, 9-6, in 18 innings.)

I didn't get to see all of Saturday night's loss, but the portion that I did catch was more than enough for me to get the gist:

The Cubs' woeful offense—over the last two nights, for example, the team is 0-for-17 with RISP—offers no cover for defensive mistakes and boneheaded baserunning.

If the starting pitching weren't so good, the Cubs wouldn't even be competitive.

Before the game, I wondered what problems Lou Piniella was creating by stationing a defensively challenged rookie in rightfield. Turned out that having a second baseman butchering the third baseman's job was problem enough on this night.

Randy Wells, who has been mostly brilliant but mostly without support from his bullpen or his team's bats, pitches Sunday against Bronson Arroyo as the Cubs try to escape Cincinnati with a series win.

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