Angels Take Down Cubs in Diablo Park

Alex Abbott drilled a triple and a single and scored twice and Jose Antonio Rodriguez reached base three times (two singles and an HBP) and scored a run, helping the Angels to a 7-4 victory over the Cubs in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Diablo Park Field #7 in Tempe. 

Eloy Jimenez belted a two-run triple, walked, and scored a run, Kevonte Mitchell singled twice, stole two bases, and scored a run, and Andrew Ely reached base three times (two singles and an HBP) for the Cubs in a losing cause.

Mitchell leads the EXST Cubs in stolen bases with eight (no CS) in 16 Cactus League EXST games, and E. Jimenez has been an "RBI machine," with 13 ribbies in just 15 Cactus League EXST games (leads team).

ELOY JIMENEZ in 15 Cactus League EXST games (55 PA):
265/309/511, with three doubles, three triples, and one HR, three walks, eight strikeouts, and one HBP, and two SB (no CS).  

NOTE: Through 23 Cactus League EXST games so far, the Cubs have hit only five home runs as a team... one each by Frandy de la Rosa, Eloy Jimenez, Ricardo Marcano, Yohan Matos, and Taylor Teagarden,  

19-year old lanky lefty Justin Steele (Cubs 2014 5th round draft pick - George County HS - Lucedale, MS) got the start for the Cubs and quickly and easily retired the first seven men he faced (6-3, 4-3, 3-U, 5-3, K, F-7, K) on just 20 pitches, before running into trouble with one out in the bottom of the third, when he allowed four consecutive batters to reach base (1B, 1B, BB, BB). The 2014 Mississippi High School Player of the Year, Steele was cruising along, working his two-seam fastball in the low 90's and getting a ton of ground balls with it, before he began to lose command in his third inning of work once he had to start pitching out of the stretch. 

JUSTIN STEELE in his four Cactus League EXST games : 
9.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R (3 ER), 4 BB, 9 K, 13/7 GO/FO, 63% strikes (4 games) 
2.79 ERA - 1.03 WHIP 

RHP Oscar de la Cruz "piggy-backed" with Steele, working 3.2 IP (65 pitches) and allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits (all singles), two walks, and an HBP. He struck out three (all swinging), with a 5/3 GO/FO. Along with RHRP Scott Frazier (whose fastball velocity has reached 99 MPH this spring) and Alexander Santana (mid-90's fastball that sits at 94 and touches 95), the 20-year old 6'6 de la Cruz is one of the hardest throwers among Cub pitchers at EXST, with a 94 MPH fastball that can touch 95. Like a lot of young pitchers, de la Cruz's fastball command and secondary stuff (breaking ball and change-up) need work, but he was the ace of the staff at DSL Cubs last season, and he is in the mix for one of the rotation starter jobs at Eugene this year. (Carson Sands, Justin Steele, and Austyn Willis are virtual locks to make the Eugene rotation, with de la Cruz, Santana, and Jose Paulino likely competing for the remaining two slots). 

Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs players only): 

1. Kevonte Mitchell, CF: 2-4 (E-3, 1B, F-8, 1B, R, 2 SB) 
2. Carlos Sepulveda, SS-3B: 1-3 (F-7, BB, 4-3, 1B, R)
3. Frandy de la Rosa, 2B: 1-4 (K, F-8, 1B, K, CS)
4. Eloy Jimenez, RF: 1-3 (L-7, 3B, F-8, BB, R, 2 RBI)
5. Alberto Mineo, 1B: 1-4 (1B, 4-3, K, F-8, R)
6. Andrew Ely, 3B-DH: 2-3 (1B, F-8, HBP, 1B)
7a. Tyler Alamo, C: 0-3 (6-4 FC, F-8, 6-4-3 DP)
7b. Jhonny Pereda, C: 1-1 (1B)  
8. Kevin Encarnacion, DH #1: 1-4 (K, 3B, K, P-4)
9. Ricardo Marcano, LF: 1-3 (L-7, 5-3, 1B, PO)
10. Andruw Monasterio, DH-SS: 0-3 (F-8, K, F-8) 

1. Justin Steele: 2.2 IP, 2 H, 3 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 2 K, 5/1 GO/FO, 38 pitches (23 strikes) 
2. Oscar de la Cruz: 3.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 3 K, 1 HBP, 5/3 GO/FO, 65 pitches (40 strikes) 
3. Sam Wilson: 0.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 1/1 GO/FO, 9 pitches (4 strikes) 
4. Yomar Morel: 1.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 1/0 GO/FO, 23 pitches (17 strikes) 

1. 2B Frandy de la Rosa: E-4 (throwing error while attempting to turn 5-4-3 DP allowed runner on 3rd to score unearned run)
2. 3B Carlos Sepulveda: E-5 (two-base throwing error allowed batter to reach 2nd base safely)

WEATHER: Mostly sunny & breezy with temperatures in the 90's 



Any chance Eloy goes to South Bend this year?

JOHN B: Eloy Jimenez almost made the South Bend Opening Day roster, so there is a pretty good chance that he will get some time at South Bend later this season. 


...and some dude named rizzo hit one after him.

Tony Four Sacks

Phil, what is happening with Pierce Johnson and Tommy La Stella down in Mesa. They have both been out for quite a while.

ROGERS: Pierce Johnson (lat strain) is with the Pitchers Rehab Group (includes Marcelo Carreno, Anthony Carter, Dylan Cease, Pierce Johnson, Trey Masek, Erling Moreno, and Austin Reed) and he has been participating in limited drills on the field (including playing catch) but he is not throwing off a mound yet. (As an MLB guy, Neil Ramirez is not part of the PRG and so he has his own rehab schedule).  

Tommy LaStella (strained rib cage) is rehabbing inside the Under Armour Performance Center with Mike Olt (fractured wrist), Jacob Turner (elbow), Will Remillard (2015 TJS), Jose Rosario (2015 TJS), and Trey McNutt (2014 shoulder surgery), but is not cleared for field activity yet. His rib cage will probably have to be close to 100% before he is allowed to participate in field activity, because both hitting and throwing are affected by his type of injury.  

Castro's last 10 games -- 1BB, 13Ks, BA down from .319 to .276. Time for a day off?

Bonds suing MLB for collusion against him after 2007 season. 

Easiest money he ever made.

rumors never die...

...the Cubs are not looking to move a three-time All-Star who’s 25 and potentially under club control through the 2020 season on a reasonable contract.


Castro made a spectacular diving catch to his left in the ninth inning to help preserve Monday night’s victory. His OPS has dropped to .652 but the Cubs are waiting for him to get hot and want to see how he responds in a pennant race.

Def not a sell high moment for the Cubs since, like the article says, Russell is off limits. Castro showed some signs of doing more than just pulling everything and GDIP in the Brewer series but he's still not hitting for much yet. And Baez won't bring enough right now. So nothing will happen for awhile. Besides, do the Mets really have an overabundance of pitching? I've never been aware of such a concept before. So it's tricky. They give up a front line starter for, say, Castro, lose another guy to arm problems, and suddenly they're the Mets again.

Did anyone see Lester complaining about the ump last night? I can't remember seeing anything like that. JD or Len, can't remember, was doing some lip reading when an exasperated Lester threw up his hands and appeared to say, "I don't know where to throw the ball". It was pretty fun stuff to watch. Frustrating, too, to watch that umpire. What's with the home plate umpiring this year? Is it as bad as it has seemed? My imagination? Not just Cubs. Both teams, usually. Cubs broadcasters also noted that Wally Backman, a player I always kinda liked, said Bryant's the best hitting prospect he's ever seen, as in ever.

i cant remember the last time a pitcher got that much rope to hang himself with. it's surprising he didn't get tossed an inning or 2 before he was done. the last thing we need right now is lester doing maddon's job of taking SP's out too early.

Yeah, but I can see the frustration. He was hitting his spots, not getting the calls. To his credit, he didn't say anything about the umpiring after the game, just that he stunk. I didn't think he stunk but I'm glad he does. Good to see him rounding into form out there a bit.

yeah, the ump sucked. even though lester was upset about some calls that actually were balls, he was getting squeezed and had some calls go against him that were missed.

A crappy ump is okay as long as he is consistently crappy, but that ump last night didn't seem happy with anything that wasn't over the heart of the plate. The Mets pitchers had a lot more wiggle room. He was not consistent.

Lester was a bit lucky, Mets had a bunch of hard hit balls last night. Twitter feed on left side on this site has Mark Simon of ESPN saying that usually players hit .700 on a hard hit ball, but Mets were only 2-7 (.285). It's middle of May, Lester needs to start getting better and lead this pitching staff which desperately needs help.

I thought he pitched just below great with a few too many walks. Wind was blowing out 20 mph and not all those hard hit balls were off him.  I counted 3 hard hit balls between Rosscup (line drive double play to Rizzo) and Rondon (line drive caught by Castro and the game-ending double play). It all evens out, believe he was giving up a higher than normal line drive percentage in his first few starts.

He had a 6.23 ERA in April off a .424 BABIP, he now has a 1.80 ERA in May off a .214 BABIP.

I can't consider 6ip, 3er (4.50 ERA) and 1.50 WHIP 'just below great', but his previous two starts were much better than April. Hopefully he keeps improving, can't get much worse than April.

He was hitting his spots last night for the most part.

i don't know, the TV pitch tracker had most of those pitches right on the edge and I wasn't paying close enough attention to see if that was a consistent call all night. Lester seemed like quite a bit of a cry baby about it because he gave up 2 home runs that inning already.

this brand of newschool wrigley bleacher douchebaggery was discussed last night in the chat...

Along with new bleachers, a couple new video boards, and upgraded amenities, the bleacher bums have also been upgraded to a more obnoxious version. Last night I thought it was a Mets hat, but in the video now it looks more like a Sox hat.

Was Sox hat If security doesn't kick people out they have no one to blame but themselves

I blame the AL and the DH.

I blame Michael Barrett.

MLB Umpires suck at calling strikes. I'd settle for consistent but that doesn't hit the 50% mark for the games I watch. If they can't call strikes...well strikes, then I'm in favor of a 'pitch trax' computer calling balls and strikes. The HP umpire can stand there and call foul tips, check swings (they get most of those wrong anyway), balks, and scoring plays at home. Maybe they can get more of those right.

Report just out that confirms the obvious that the Cubs have been in talks with the Mets to trade Castro. Confirmed by GM Jed Hoyer. No surprise there. I just think the Cubs are looking for more than a top pitching prospect (like Syndergaard). They want a more proven starting pitching commodity.

you talking about this?

it's got the same quotes from the CSN article I posted it earlier.

confirms Mets and Cubs were talking, not necessarily about Castro although I'm sure it makes sense. Cubs are either gonna want volume in young pitching or one very established starter if they move Castro.

Doubt it happens in middle of year unless Cubs are out of it and they can easily move Castro to 2B in offseason, he doesn't seem like one that would complain. All depends on what others are offering. Cubs still don't have a better SS/2B tandem than Castro/Russell at moment regardless of who plays which of those positions. Baez, Alcantara and LaStella aren't worth moving anyone over at the moment.

The comment you pulled out of the article you posted earlier said the Cubs were not looking to trade Castro. I think that it is obviously not accurate. I agree with you on what the Cubs are looking for in exchange for Castro. And I agree Castro/Russeell would be the best combo, but adding a top starting pitcher and taking out our weakest link would likely make up for any drop up the middle by trading Castro. All depends on who they get. It will be interesting as this story will not go away all year.

I'd hope that at this point in the season, that the Cubs are looking to be blown away by the Mets, in order to trade Castro. The list of FA pitchers this off-season is substantial, and with Russell's OBP at .282..Baez and Alcantara in AAA, and Lastella hurt...the middle infield looks a little thin. They need a couple of the youngsters to step it up.

Did you say David Price? :)

Did you say Cueto or Zimmerman? :)

I think that it is obviously not accurate.


If the Cubs were not looking to trade Castro, why would they be having conversations with the Mets about him.

I think you need to re-read that article, because everything Hoyer said was in generalities with Rogers trying to stir things up about Castro and then backtracking on half of it saying it's all just makes sense at some point down the line. They probably talked about Castro...they probably talked about a half dozen other players too.

Rogers also thinks Castro is hitting well right now so I'm wondering if he wrote that article two weeks ago and forgot to edit it.

"Rogers also thinks Castro is hitting well right now so I'm wondering if he wrote that article two weeks ago and forgot to edit it." Haha! That is a real good possibility.

Where in the article does Jed say the Cubs were talking about Castro?

This management team has a history of trading their starting shortstop mid-season while in pennant race, but as you say it will all come down to what is being offered. In the end I think they will add pitching, but I think it will be more of a #3 starter type.

was there more than the Nomar trade?

don't get me wrong, I think they'd trade anybody if they feel they have a legit shot this year and they think it would help the team.

I just think all the Castro trade talk is the Cubs and everyone in basbell knowing they have depth in the middle infield and the Cubs are doing due dilligence in case they do want to make that trade, whether it's Castro or Baez or whomever. My guess is Russell and Castro flip SS and 2B over the offseason myself.

I don't have a lot of faith in Baez, what he has in power on Castro he gives up in far less contact on a team that desperately needs some guys that make contact. Defensively...probably a little better ultimately, but he's had some issues too. I think a Baez, Vogelbach, McKinney package could get a good starter for them at the deadline without giving up their core. I have more faith in Alcantara over Baez at this point in being a major league regular. Castro seems to be pretty well-liked by his teammates, I would be surprised if they dealt him in a pennant race myself, but you never know.

We seem to be basically in agreement.

indeed...great minds and all.

I would be for flipping Castro and Russell in the offseason. For me it bides time to see if we can get another top flight FA starting pitcher this offseason and if so, we wouldn't need to trade any extra middle infielder.

I'd be fine flipping Castro, but not Russell. Russell is the kind of guy you want more of, not fewer.

When I say flipping, I mean flipping positions, not trading. I was agreeing with Rob in terms of moving Castro to 2B and Russell to SS.


indeed, I meant flipping positions between Castro and Russell.

Oh. Good idea.

@TommyBirch Tsuyoshi Wada bumped from tonight's start with the Iowa #Cubs. Iowa manager Marty Pevey gave no reason. Says Wada isn't hurt. #MiLB #PCL

Guessing Travis isn't getting that 1-2 more starts to figure it out. Does give Cubs an extra bench bat.

fwiw, Wada still in Iowa according to Tommy Birch, and throwing in the outfield

and now throwing in the bullpen, looks like he's just getting moved so his starts line up with Travis in case they want to make a switch

@TommyBirch Pevey on Wada: "Where he might pitch would be on Thursday. But, I don't know that for sure." #Cubs #PCL #MiLB

Wonder if we see the Cubs take Travis's recent horridness as an opportunity to push him through the outright process, as per AZ Phil's comment a post or two back. Would seem there's no room for him in the bullpen with established loogies Russell and Coke there and Maddon-favorite Rosscup as well. Or perhaps some mysterious oblique soreness or something. DL'd due to inflammation in ERA?

Fowler, Bryant, Rizzo, Montero, Soler, Castro, Coghlan, Arrieta, Russell vs. Syndegaard

Every Tuesday at noon Maddon joins 670 for interview, today's was funny and interesting. Today's take away, Joe re-watched game last night to see where his "batters were standing in the box" and the strikes called against them.

Jose Maddon... lol-that was a good interview.

Mayo has Cubs taking RHP Walker Buehler from Vanderbilt

that is one of the worst mock-drafts i've read so far this pre-draft... it's full of some rather odd picks. no. top 10 pick? no...

more on Wada, through a translator he said the plan is for him to pitch tomorrow, but not sure where yet. So maybe Hammel is nursing something?

lost in translation, Wada starting Thursday...somewhere.

Mets lineup

Granderson RF, Murphy 3B, Cuddyer LF, Duda 1B, Flores SS, Nieuwenhuis CF, Plawecki C, Syndergaard P, Tejada 2B

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Was reading the Fangraphs articles today about batted ball data (one was about Soler), and realized that Fangraphs I guess had the data on Coghlan I was looking for all along. It only takes a glance to see that the numbers confirm what game footage suggests--baseball has been pretty cruel to Coghlan this year. It's easy to look at his very low .232 BABIP and assume he's been unlucky, but when you look more closely at his batted ball rates it becomes clear that he should be enjoying a crazy hot streak right now rather than pulling up the rear of the Cubs offense. Coghlan's soft-hit % is an unreasonably low 8.2% (compare to Rizzo's 20.6%), and despite pulling the ball much more than he did last year, he's actually hitting fewer ground balls. Poor Chris should be having a career month-and-a-half if not for all the at'em balls. Makes me curious how frequently this much bad luck follows a hitter around for a 30-game stretch.