Cubs Pitchers Now Know How Custer Felt
Nick Swisher singled twice, homered, and drove-in four runs, Lonnie Chisenhall singled, doubled, and homered, and collected three RBI, Drew Stubbs singled and tripled and drove-in three runs, and Mark Reynolds homered and doubled and knocked-in two runs, leading a 20-hit attack as the Cleveland Indians scalped the Cubs 13-5 in Cactus League action this afternoon at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Meaa, AZ.
RHP Alberto Cabrera got the start for the Cubs and was battered to the tune of five runs (all earned) on seven hits (three singles, two doubles, and two home runs) and a walk in 2.2 IP (52 pitches - 29 strikes).
Because he has a three-pitch arsenal (mid-90's fastball, hard slider, and change), the Cubs would like to move Cabrera back to the starting rotation in 2013 (he was converted to a reliever after the 2011 season), but he has struggled to throw strikes in both the Dominican Winter League post-2012 and at Spring Training 2013. And today when he did throw the ball over the plate, he was consistently and relentlessly hammered by Tribe hitters. Cabrera is a lot like Carlos Marmol, in that he has electric stuff but has a tendency to always be pitching from behind in the count. Today he seemed intent on not walking the world (as he has in the recent past), so when he got behind, he tried to pitch to contact, and it just didn't work. Cabrera is a strikeout pitcher, and to try and be something else is probably not a good strategy.
LHP Brooks Raley followed Cabrera to the mound and he fared poorly, too. Once again Raley had a long inning (a 28-pitch 4th inning), and he also surrendered five runs (four earned) on six hits (a triple, a double, and four singles) and a walk in 2.1 IP. Raley has labored in every outing so far this Spring (one intrasquad game and two Cactus League outings), and has been unable to get through an appearance without at least one high-pitch inning.
RHP Ty'Relle Harris was called up from Minor League Camp for the second time in a week, and he had a lugubrious 34-pitch (only 13 strikes) 6th inning where he allowed three runs on three hits and three walks. Harris was one of the players acquired from Atlanta in the Derrek Lee trade in 2010, and he suffered near-career ending injuries when struck by a hit & run driver outside a Knoxville nightclub in 2011. It's been a long road back and it's a miracle that he's even pitching again, but Harris will have to do a lot better in Minor League Camp than he did today at HoHoKam Park to avoid getting released.
Casey Coleman threw two scoreless innings, and RHP Marcus Hatley (brought up for the day from Minor League Camp) worked a scoreless 9th, although he did allow a hit and a walk.
A converted JC outfielder who was one of the last "Draft & Follow" signings by the Cubs before DNF was eliminated per the 2006 CBA, Hatley was ranked by Baseball America as the Cubs #29 prospect going into the 2013 season, and while he does have some upside as a hard-throwing reliever, he has yet to establish himself at the AAA level, and he will be a Rule 55 minor league free-agent (Six-Year Minor League free-agent) post-2013 if he is not added to the Cubs 40-man roster by the 5th day following the conclusion of the 2013 World Series. So the Cubs will have to watch him carefully this season so that they can make an informed decision by the deadline.
Today's Cub offensive output might have been enough to win most days, but not when the opposition scores 13 runs.
Alfonso Soriano led-off the bottom of the 2nd with a HR over the LF fence off Cleveland starter Carlos Carrasco, and after Steve Clevenger drew a walk, Brad Nelson drove him home from 1st base with an RBI double. Soriano (who doubled in his second AB) appears to be in great shape, and I would not be surprised if he matches or even exceeds his 2012 numbers this season.
Down 13-2, the Cubs scored two runs off Indians #1 pitching prospect Trevor Bauer (acquired from Arizona during the off-season) in the bottom of the 7th. Jorge Soler drew a one-out walk and scored on a Logan Watkins double, and then after advancing to 3rd base on an error, Watkins scored on a Javier Baez 5-3 GO RBI (Baez's fourth RBI in two days).
Johermyn Chavez slugged a solo HR off Bauer in the bottom of the 8th for the Cubs fifth and final run of the game.
It was another small crowd at HoHoKam Park today (5,465),
Arizona Phil 27 sec ago (view)
DJL: I don't think Ildemaro Vargas being out of minor league options is much of a concern to the Cubs because as things stand right now he projects as the team's primary utility infielder in 2021. He can play all four INF positions (1B, 2B, 3B, and SS, plus corner OF, too), and he is switch hitter with some pop, especially from the right side (remember the 9th inning HR he hit off Josh Hader in September?).
Dolorous Jon Lester 43 min 32 sec ago (view)
I'm a little surprised Ildemaro Vargas was tendered, given that he's out of options. He has value and isn't expensive as he is pre-arb this year, but still a bit surprised. Have to think he's got an inside track to an Opening Day spot at this point
waveland 9 hours 29 min ago (view)
really appreciate the years and years of your updates
Arizona Phil 11 hours 23 min ago (view)
BRADSBEARD: Strumpf was wearing a cast on his hand in Minor League Camp before everything got shut-down in March so his not being at South Bend might have had something to do with that. I don't know why Rivas wasn't at the ATS.
bradsbeard 12 hours 7 min ago (view)
Do you have any idea why Rivas and Strumpf weren't at the alternate site in South Bend? I thought Rivas especially showed enough in ST games to be viewed as a legitimate depth option, especially with the DH.
Arizona Phil 12 hours 42 min ago (view)
Alfonso Rivas reminds me a bit of Rafael Palmeiro when Palmeiro first came up to the big leagues and was a "doubles machine" (before he started hitting home runs).
Rivas played D-1 baseball at the University of Arizona, so (just like Nico Hoerner, who also played in the PAC-12) I don't think he needs a lot of additional time at AAA before he's ready for MLB. He's a very advanced hitter, as long as you are OK with lots of doubles & lots of walks but not many HR.
Dolorous Jon Lester 13 hours 44 min ago (view)
I hadn't thought of that but I really like that option
bradsbeard 13 hours 49 min ago (view)
I really hope Rivas has a chance at the LF job. Would ease some of the sting of Schwarber being cut loose.
Arizona Phil 13 hours 50 min ago (view)
CRUNCH: I got the impression that Ross had seen enough of Schwarber in LF, so implementing the universal DH may be necessary before Schwarber returns to the Cubs in 2021. I think the Cubs would be fine with Schwarber as their main DH going forward.
BTW, I strongly suspect that the universal DH will be included in the next CBA, but whether there will be a DH in the National League in 2021 is still TBA (which is really stupid, since clubs need to know right now for sure one way or the other whether or not there will be a DH in the N. L. in 2021).
Arizona Phil 14 hours 1 min ago (view)
Besides the guys on the 40, Cubs 2021 NRI relievers with a legit chance to win a bullpen slot in Spring Training include LHRPs Josh Osich and Rex Brothers, and RHRPs Jake Jewell, Trevor Megill, Dakota Mekkes, Michael Rucker, and Joe Wieland (presuming they are not taken in the Rule 5 Draft).
Brothers and Wieland are out of minor league options, however, so if added to the 40 they could not ride the "Chicago - Des Moines Shuttle" like the others could.
crunch 14 hours 7 min ago (view)
i am rooting for the cubs to retain schwarber.
even though he's average on the best of days in LF (except his above average arm), i would like to see him and his work ethic remain in the cubs system...the homers from the left side of the plate are nice, too.
Arizona Phil 14 hours 29 min ago (view)
At least as things stand right now, Kris Bryant is your Cubs de facto 2021 Opening Day LF! (Of course we know he will be traded before then...).
Otherwise, minor league NRI outfielders Ian Miller, Michael Hermosillo, and Rafael Ortega will be competing for Opening Day OF slots, with a legit shot to win a job.
Even Alfonso Rivas (who was hitting rockets from foul line to foul line at AZ Instructs) and/or Eddy Julio Martinez (who has had a very good winter in the Mexican Pacific League) might have a shot.
Arizona Phil 14 hours 32 min ago (view)
I would think that both Colin Rea and Kyle Ryan must have signed contracts with minor league split salaries, otherwise I doubt very much that they would have been tendered.
Arizona Phil 14 hours 43 min ago (view)
With Tepera non-tendered and Winkler, Ryan, and Rea signed, the Cubs 2021 Opening Day bullpen (right now) would appear to be Kimbrel (clearly not tradeable), Wick (virtual lock), Winkler (can't be optioned without his consent), Underwood (out of minor league options), and Maples (out of minor league options), and then three from amongst Adam, Norwood, Rea, Ryan, Stock, and Wieck (each of whom can be optioned back & forth to AAA as needed).
Arizona Phil 15 hours 3 min ago (view)
The Cubs have signed RHSP Colin Rea, LHRP Kyle Ryan, and RHRP Dan Winkler to 2021 MLB contracts (terms TBD) and tendered 2021 MLB contracts to all other unsigned players on their MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) except OF Albert Almora, OF-1B Jose Martinez, OF Kyle Schwarber, and RHRP Ryan Tepera.
So Almora, J. Martinez, Schwarber, and Tepera are now unrestricted free-agents, free to sign an MLB or minor league contract with any club (including the Cubs) without any salary restrictions.
The Cubs MLB Reserve List now stands at 34 (six slots are open).
Arizona Phil 15 hours 25 min ago (view)
Keep in mind that as things stand right now the Cubs projected 2021 MLB payroll is almost $50M under the 2021 CBT threshold (which will be $210M), so they don't have to worry about contract AAV if they can sign a player to a multi-year deal with a low 2021 base salary and then substantially higher salaries post-2021 (when they should be able to generate their normal attendance-based revenues --.presuming CoViD-19 is no longer a problem by that time).