Jeff Samardzija

The Scottsdale Scorpions stung the Mesa Solar Sox 11-1 today at HoHoKam Park in Mesa.

Cubs RHP Andrew Cashner (2008 1st round pick out of TCU) started the game for the Solar Sox and took the loss, but he actually looked very good, allowing just one run on three hits (no walks) with one K, 5/4 GO/FO, and 54 pitches (36 strikes), over 3.2 IP. He also showed an outstanding pickoff move to 1st base, nailing Diamondbacks 2B Pedro Ciriaco (38 SB at AA Mobile in 2009) cold in the top of the 2nd.

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It looks like I was on to something yesterday when I mentioned that Jeff Samardzija might get sent down. Chad Fox gets the call-up and has been added to the 40-man roster. As in years past, when Fox blows out his arm and has to go on the 60-day DL, the Cubs can call up anyone from their organization for the playoffs to take his spot (as long as he was with the organization by September 1st I believe).

Also, Derrek Lee sits again with the bulging disc issue and the lineup for tonight is Soriano, Riot, Bradley, Ramirez, Soto, Johnson, Hoffpauir, Miles and Harden against lefty Mike Hampton

As had been rumored, the Cubs have gone and designated Luis Vizcaino for assignment and promoted Jeff Samardzija. Vizcaino has 72 hours to clear waivers and then the Cubs have 7 days to trade or release him. Vizcaino is owed $3.5M for 2009, some of which has already been paid by the Cubs, plus he had a $4M option for 2010 with a $500K buyout, which I believe the Cubs are still responsible for.

Muskat's article suggests that Jim Hendry was trying to deal Vizcaino - possibly to the Washington Nationals - but he was unable to finalize anything, so they decided to DFA him instead. Which makes me ask, what's the fucking rush? A Trib article that Cubnut linked to in the previous post  that I can't seem to get to work now, suggested Vizcaino got in Lou's doghouse by showing up late on Opening Day, but that's hardly enough to burn $4M. As far as I know, Jeff Samardzija bobblehead day wasn't scheduled yet, so I don't know why he needed to be called up by April 23rd at the expense of Vizcaino. And you know, Vizcaino hasn't sucked so far, say like one Neal Cotts. A matter of fact, you could say he's been good with 3.2 IP, 3 K's, 0 BB's and 0 ER. And let's not even get into the Cubs burning over $5M between Vizcaino and Gaudin (if they don't find someone to take Vizcaino's contract) and then crying poor all offseason on why they didn't want to resign Kerry Wood and had to move Mark DeRosa and Jason Marquis.

But, the Cubs and Hendry have 10 days still to do something with Vizcaino so I'll save flying off the handle until the final end game is clear, but at the moment this series of moves sure looks like some of the most serious roster blundering since the day they resigned Neifi Perez.

 


The other bit of news is that Milton Bradley will sit until he's 100% and when he comes back he'll be batting 6th in the lineup. Anyone who watched the game last night could see that Bradley was still favoring his groin, so probably the right move, although the Cubs probably should have just DL'd him from the beginning to start saving themselves from that third year option that is contingent on days on the disabled list. With Bradley struggling and Micah Hoffpauir hitting, probably not a big deal in the short term. I'll be curious how this will affect the lineup though.

 

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

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You just can't put too much stock into any of the games the Cubs play this week, even if they're against potential playoff opponents playing for everything as the Cubs play for nothing. But if you consider them the practice tests before the Cubs have to take the ACT's next week, I think a few members of the Cubs need to do a cram session this weekend.

- Ronny Cedeno continued to impress with his baseball instincts yesterday. He attempted a sac bunt and failed miserably and then was slow to get to first on a sacrifice bunt attempt to first by Jose Reyes. In isolation these events wouldn't mean much, but the pattern has been there for as long as he's been with the Cubbies. I can't wait until the game is on the line in the playoffs and it's up to Cedeno to come through. Sadly, the Cubs have little choice but to put him on the playoff roster. He's the only backup shortstop on the team (no Mark DeRosa does not count) and the Cubs can't risk Ryan Theriot getting hurt early in the series and not having a viable defensive option to play there. And even if you thought DeRosa counted, he's now nursing a left calf strain that you probably don't want him testing at an unfamiliar defensive position as demanding as shortstop.

- The bottom of the 8th inning sure was a weird one last night. I can excuse Samardzija for giving up hits to Carlos Delgada and Carlos Beltran, they're good hitters and well that's just gonna happen from time to time. All pitchers get themselves into trouble, it's their ability to get out of it that sets them apart from the pack.  And Samardzija executed wonderfully on Ryan Church for the strikeout and then got the clog-footed Ramon Castro to ground out. And this is where things got weird.

Lou decided to intentionally walk Endy Chavez for some reason. Now I understand wanting to face the right-handed hitter, but it's Endy Chavez. A career .270 hitter that's hitting .280 against righties this year. On top of that, Samardzija has actually done better versus lefties this year - .170 BA vs .268 BA for right-handed hitters in nearly the same amount of plate appearances. And the true crime of the intentional walk was that it completely cut-off Samardzija's escape route. He was now forced to throw strikes to Ramon Martinez, something that he's been struggling with over the last month.

I'd like to believe that Lou was just testing Samardzija to see if he can throw strikes and get an out when absolutely needed. In which case, Samardzija failed worse than I did on my high school trigonometry exams. But it's more likely that Lou thought he was playing the percentages when he really wasn't. Samardzija still should be able to get that out there, but it certainly wasn't putting your players in the best position to win.

- On the flip side, the Mets are terrible. The Cubs tried to give them a gift and even tore off half the wrapping paper and the Mets still couldn't guess what was inside. Three times the Mets got a runner on third with NOBODY out and could only score run out of it. And that one run was thanks to the previously mentioned poor managing/poor execution by the Cubs.

It looks like I'm four months late on this, but it appears that Rookie of the Month honors in the MLB is voted by the fans. The Cubs have two nominees, Geovany Soto and Jeff Samardzija and they'll go up against Cardinals reliever Chris Perez and Rockies third basemen Ian Stewart. Soto is looking for his second win of the year and voting runs through Monday.

 Samardzija provided a bullpen boost for the first-place Cubs. In 14 1/3 innings, he was 1-0 and didn't allow a run. Samardzija had 13 strikeouts during the month. Soto won rookie honors in April and has continued to be a firm offensive and defensive presence for a Chicago team that has taken charge of the NL Central. Soto hit .355 in August with five doubles, three homers and 21 RBIs. Soto drew 13 walks and scored 17 runs while handling himself well behind the plate and providing a level of comfort for the Chicago pitching staff.

 

A look at Geovany Soto's year compared to other Cubs catchers of years past after the jump...

UPDATE: Looks like Lou made up his mind after the first game and it will be Sean Marshall getting the start on Sunday versus the Marlins.


Just a little scheduling note, that Lou has tabbed either Jeff Samardzija or Sean Marshall for Sunday's start against the Marlins due to today's doubleheader. That is if Marquis cannot go on short rest.

"I can't bring Harden back on short rest, but I can bring Marquis back possibly," Piniella said Wednesday. "By him pitching the day game, it gives him a little longer time. If not, we'll either pitch Samardzija or pitch [Sean] Marshall."

Other than possibly using Marquis on short rest, there was another reason Harden will pitch tonight's nightcap.

"I know he's told us his preference would be to pitch at night and in cooler weather," Piniella said  

As always, blame Canada.

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