Spring Training

Do Spring Training Wins and Losses Matter?

You hear it every year. If a team is doing poorly in spring training, its general manager, manager, and players are likely to say: “Spring training games don’t count, we aren’t concerned with our record, guys are working on things, we are giving young players some looks” etc. They will also state clearly that spring training performance will have no bearing on the regular season, usually with some “throwing out/away” and “starting over” metaphor.

In contrast, if a team is doing well in spring training, you are likely to hear that they “like to win no matter what, everything is clicking and the team is playing well,” and of course that the “momentum will carry us into the regular season.”

The Cubs started 0-6-1 this spring training and still sit at just 6-9-1. During these early days Anthony Rizzo stated definitively: “It is Spring Training, yes. Does it matter if we lost? No.” Manager Joe Maddon walked a bit on the line, downplaying the record and emphasizing the type of play he was seeing (the good and the bad), but also hinting that winning mattered: “Of course it does,” Maddon said, “You always want to win.”

So does winning in spring training matter? I surveyed the field to see what we know, if anything, about the relationship between spring training and regular season performance.

Warm Thoughts from Snowmageddon Central

Happy Groundhog day (again and again). From the heart of Snowmageddon this surgeon gets his first "Snow Day" since the big snow of 1967. So here comes an impromptu odds & ends post.

The first order of business is to remind those digging out from the Thunder-Blizzard (and to warm them up) that the CUBS PITCHERS and CATCHERS report to Mesa in 11 DAYS, officially on February 13th (per Carrie Muskat at mlb.com). Position Players report on Feb 18th and the FIRST SPRING TRAINING GAME is in 25 DAYS as the Cubs play Oakland on Feb 27th at Mesa.

Snow Angels and more, after the jump...

Dodgers Can't Escape the Wrath of Hoff-POWER!

Micah Hoffpauir crushed a grand slam in the bottom of the 5th, turning a two-run Cubs deficit into a two-run Cub lead, as the Cubs defeated the Dodgers 5-3 in the Cactus League opener for both clubs at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in sunny and warm Mesa, Arizona 

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Spring Training Narratives: The Mad-Libs Edition.

I was meaning to write a nice update of spring training storylines like Rob has done in the post below, but I'm too busy reading rejection letters from Universities being chased by spurned Valentines to scour the globe for the informative content that you, the reader deserve.

Then I remembered that it's spring training, and the stories write themselves.

So here are your Mad Libs that need filling in.  The story itself is below the fold.  (No peeking until you've entered your words!)

 

1. A Cubs Player

2. A number

3. A celebrity

4. A food

5.  A gerund (a verb + ing) 

6.  A noun

7. A Cubs Player

8.  A body part

9.  A medical procedure

10.  A number

11.  A roster position

12. A Cubs Player

13. An adjective

14.  A Cubs Player

15.  An Adjective

16.  A player from another baseball team

17.  A sports reporter

18.  A retired player

19.  An adjective

20.  A roster position

21.  A feature of Wrigley Field

22. +  23.  Two corporations

24.  An occupation

25 + 26.  Two Celebrities

27.  A tragedy

28.  A Cubs Player

29.  A noun.

Cubs Invite 21 to Camp; Sign Michael Wuertz

The Cubs signed Michael Wuertz for $1.1M today, thus avoiding any ghastly arbitration cases with any of their players. Not including auto-renewals - which Arizona Phil on the right sidebar estimates at around $3.5M total -  the Cubs payroll for 2009 is at $134.1M, so they still have a few million in wiggle room.

They also released their NRI list for spring training.

Rich Hill Sharp in Final Spring Training Outing

While the rest of his teammates spent the weekend in Las Vegas before heading back to Chicago for Opening Day, Rich Hill remained in Arizona and made his final Spring Training tune-up start versus the Angels' Salt Lake AAA club at the Diablo Park minor league complex in Tempe this morning.

Hill struggled with his control a bit in the 1st and 3rd innings (he walked a batter to load the bases in the bottom of the 3rd and then hit a batter to force-in a run), but he also retired the side in order in the 2nd, 4th, and 5th innings, including the last eight men he faced.

With a mandate from Larry Rothschild to throw between 80 and 90 pitches, Hill ended up throwing exactly 80 pitches (22-14-23-10-11 in innings 1-2-3-4-5, including 50 strikes and 30 balls).

In his five innings of work, the left-hander allowed one run (earned) on three hits, with two walks, four strikeouts, and a HBP, with a 6/5 GB/FB. 

Hoff-POWER Twice Just Good Enough for Tie

Micah Hoffpauir slugged two home runs to help rally the Cubs from an 8-4 deficit, but then grounded out with the winning run on third with two outs in the bottom of the 10th, leaving the Cubs and Brewers tied at 10 in what was the final Spring Training game for the Cubs in Arizona.

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Cherry Pie at HoHoKam

Felix Pie went 3-3 with a bunt single, a double, a triple, and a sac bunt, leading the Cubs to a 7-6 victory over the Texas Rangers before a capacity crowd at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park this afternoon in sunny Mesa.

The Cubs and Rangers were tied 6-6 entering the bottom of the 9th. Facing Rangers reliever Robinson Tejada, Mark DeRosa struck out swinging and Henry Blanco lined out to short to start the inning, but then Pie smoked a triple into the right-centerfield alley, setting up a chance for Eric Patterson to be the hero. And that he was, as E-Pat lined a game-winning single into center, scoring a hand-clapping Pie from 3rd with the winning run.

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