Final Tune-Up for Garza Sucks Gas

A. J. Pollack reached base five times on four singles and a walk, Kelly Johnson had four hits including a double and a three-run HR, ex-Cub Xavier Nady had four hits (including a grand slam HR) and scored three runs, and David Winfree had three hits including a solo HR and a three-run HR, leading the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 15-8 drubbing of the Cubs in what was the final Cactus League game for the Cubs (although they will be playing what's billed as an "intrasquad charity game" tomorrow morning at Dwight Patterson Field before flying to Chicago later in the day).  

box score

RHP Matt Garza got the start for the Cubs today, his final Spring Training tune-up. And he did not have a good day, allowing seven runs on 11 hits (including one double and one HR) and two walks in 3+ innings of work (92 pitches - 63 strikes). The one positive note was seven strikeouts in just 3.0 IP, and he did make some good pitches every now & then, but he was mostly pitching out of the stretch all day.  

Four of the first five D'back hitters singled in the 1st, but Arizona could only plate one run thanks to a diving stop by 2B Jeff Baker behind 2nd base that kept the bases loaded ("Keep it in the infield!" as the coaches say), allowing Garza to pitch out of the jam by striking out the side, although he did throwc 24 pitches (17 strikes) in the process.  

After throwing a scoreless 2nd inning (two two-out singles around an F-7, a K, and and an L-7), Garza had troubles again in the top of the 3rd, as Xavier Nady and Ryan Wheeler singled and David Winfree lined a three-run HR over the LF fence to give the Diamondbacks a 4-0 lead. 

The Cubs came back in the bottom of the 3rd against AZ starter LHP Joe Saunders, putting up a five-spot and taking the lead. With one out, Reed Johnson was hit on the foot by a pitch, and moved up to third when Starlin Castro ripped a double down the LF line (it hit the 3rd base bag). Jeff Baker grounded a single to left to score Johnson, and then Aramis Ramirez roped a line-drive single to score Castro. Geovany Soto grounded a single to left to load the bases, before Carlos Pena came through with a bases-clearing three-run double into the left-center alley to give the Cubs the lead.

But the D'backs came right back in the top of the 4th, loading the bases against Garza on a Kelly Johnson double and two walks (Garza was obviously tiring once he hit 80 pitches). LHP Scott Maine (up from Minor League Camp) relieved Garza and had a REALLY bad inning, giving up a towering grand slam HR to Nady, another long ball (solo shot) to David Winfree,  and finally, after Aramis Ramirez made a lazy throw to 1st base resulting in an E-5 that prolonged the inning, a three-run HR over the right-centerfield fence to Kelly Johnson (batting for the second time in the inning). In just 1.0 IP, Maine allowed five runs (although technically only two were earned) and four hits (including three HR). Maine also threw 31 pitches (20 strikes) to get through the one inning, an inning he will likely try very hard to forget.

Now down 12-5, the Cubs back again in the bottom of the 4th against Joe Saunders, as PH Nate Samson (up from Minor League Camp) reached base on an E-5, Starlin Castro drew a one-out walk, and Jeff Baker lined an RBI single to left. Aramis Ramirez walked to load the bases, Geovany Soto hit a sacrifice fly to CF to score Castro from 3rd, and after LHRP Joe Paterson hit Carlos Pena with a pitch to re-load the bases, all the runners moved up (and PR Darwin Barney scored) when Paterson committed a bases-loaded balk (something you don't see everyday).  

So the Cubs were back in the game, down just 12-8, going into the 5th.

RHP Jeff Samardzija (who had been pitching better lately) relieved Maine to start the 5th inning, and immediately got into trouble, allowing back-to-back lead off ground ball singles to Miguel Montero and Xavier Nady. Ryan Wheeler walked to load the bases, but Samardzija struck out David Winfree, who had already hit two HR in the game. However, The Shark's control just wasn't there when he needed it, and he walked Cody Ransom with the bases loaded to force-in a run, before surrendering a SF to plate a second run. Samardzija then walked the bases loaded again, before retiring Kelly Johnson on a line drive to CF.

Samardzija threw a whopping 42 pitches (only 23 strikes) in just one inning of work, and Geovany Soto caught 177 pitches through just the first five innings! (Give that man a Dr. Pepper, please).   

RHP Esmailin Caridad (up from Minor League Camp threw two decent innings (6th and 7th), allowing a run on two hits and an HBP with one strikeout (28 pitches - 21 strikes, 2/3 GO/FO), and both Sean Marshall and Kerry Wood threw 1-2-3 innings (both with one strikeout and a 1/1 GO/FO).

But the Cub offense went silent after scoring in the 4th, getting shut down on just one hit (a Matt Spencer line-drive single to right-center with two outs in the bottom of the 9th) over the final five innings. Even though they scored eight runs, the Cubs did so on only seven hits, although they did draw six walks along the way.  


Garza came out and spoke about pitching in AZ. Said it was like throwing in slime because it's so dry (kind of an oxymoron there). It was his first spring in AZ where breaking balls don't break a lot. Even with the Twins, Garza has always started off the year in the heavier FL air. I hope he finds the Windy City air more to his liking. Anyway, another Spring Training is over, another Cubs manager has brought a new attitude, another lineup has been posted, and another 162 games are coming. It's always good to have Cubs games on the day's dockett. Plus, I love following the minor league teams. Always fun to look forward to what might be. Go Cubs, I-Cubs, Smokies, D-Cubs, Chiefs, Hawks, AZL Cubs, and DSL Cubs. Hey AZ Phil, thanks for all the write-ups this month. I've been reading them for over two years now. Pretty cool stuff.

‘‘There’s a lot of positives to take out of [Arizona], and I’ve just got to keep going,’’ Garza said. ‘‘I’m healthy. It’s my first year in Arizona. And it sucks. ‘‘I don’t give a damn. I don’t care about the travel. It sucks here. It’s so dry, but whatever. Now it’s time to go to Chicago, where there’s a little more moisture in the air.’’ ...lulz

Wait until he gets to Chicago and Dusty tells him it's too cold to play.

Garza wasn't kidding,...only 12% humidity today, that's low ...even for Phoenix He still sucks so far though.

I am not too worried about Garza, he's got a long track record of mediocrity, but I guess Arizona just scratched him off their free agents to watch list.

Lidge is going to miss at least half the season rotator cuff

3/44?? The Cubs also have requested the 2014 All Star Game to coincide with the park’s 100th anniversary. ‘‘It would mean $150 million in revenue [for the city],’’ Ricketts said. ‘‘The commissioner [Bud Selig] is open-minded about it — if we can get some of the [ballpark] improvements done.’’ More Ricketts comments in there as well.

You had mentioned some upcoming roster cuts on the minor league level. Any news?

Project .500 seems like a bit of a pipe dream to me right now.

I am actually strangely optimistic, in particular about the offense. I think the chances are pretty good that 3 of the Soto/Pena/Ramirez/Fukudome/Soriano group will have solid years, which should make the offense decent, and the aceless rotation has got four who should keep the ERA below 4. If the Cubs can stay relatively healthy none of the other NL Central teams are going to run away from them. It would be nice if we had a backup catcher who hits better than our pitchers and a 6th starter, though. If Reed and Koyie combine for 500 PA's count on the offense finishing in the bottom of the pack again.

If Reed and Koyie combine for 500 PA's count on the offense finishing in the bottom of the pack again. haha Or, if Z, Dempster, and Garza pitch less than 150 innings each, count on the bullpen's middle relief to be in the bottom of MLB.

Chalk me up in the pessimistic column. Yes, I know baseball is weird and sometimes the sum of a team is greater or less than the whole, but I would call a 500 season a success at this point. The main reason is defense. On paper they might be a C+ defense team or whatever, but I think in reality they'll be one of the worst defensive teams in baseball. When the other team has four outs to score runs and you only have three, that puts you at a huge disadvantage.

The Cubs were terrible '97, playoffs in '98. Terrible in 2002, playoffs in '03 (and should've gone in '04). Terrible in '06, playoffs in '07/'08. I'm guessing that none of us had any expectations of the playoffs in most of those years. It's baseball, screwed-up things happen. Kind of silly, IMHO, to throw in the towel before the season starts.

There was alot of expectations for 2007 with all the cash spent.

Yeah, I guess that's true. I remember (for me, anyway) being skeptical how much it was going to help. But yeah, good point.

This info combined with my expectations for this season = playoffs 2012.

Lead by Tony Larussa and Albert Pujlos. And in 2013, we will still be waiting for our first playoff victory in 10 years. (sorry, I'm in a crabby mood today)

Chicago Cubs catcher Erick Castillo and pitcher Amalio Reyes were suspended for positive drug tests. They are both on the roster of the Cubs' team in the Dominican Summer League. Nice program you've got down there Rickasses. Whatafuckeduporganization.

Wow - if two of the 50 kids were suspended because of drug tests, that proves that the Cubs have a bad organization. The reason isn't exactly clear, but I assume that Navigator will enlighten us.

Yep. The former BA Top-5 org that, even after 4 3/4 star prospects are traded, still is middle of the BA pack is riddled with 'roiders and going down the toilet fast!

He just didn't have anything good to add to his vendetta list, so he went with that.

Yeah, it is eating away at him also that Tim Wilken ("Teflon Tim" to NAVIGATOR) is having some success with the Cubs by getting his kids up to the Bigs. That sucks ass, too. "Oh - the Horror".

If Max Ramirez was placed on Outright Waivers on Monday, he will clear waivers at 1 PM (EDT) today (in about an hour), and then we'll find out if he got claimed. If MaxRam somehow makes it through waivers without being claimed, he will be outrighted to Iowa and will be the #2 catcher there, and then either Chris Robinson and/or Blake Lalli (who are presently competing for the I-Cubs back-up catcher job) could end up as an inactive "player-coach," placed on the 7-day with some vague injury that can't be proven or disproven, and then activated whenever a position player goes on the minor league 7-day DL. The Cubs usually have at least one veteran minor league position player (preferably either a catcher or an IF-OF utility guy) at Iowa, Tennessee, Daytona, and Peoria functioning as an inactive player-coach so that they don't have to sign a minor league free-agent for a week every time a position player goes on the minor league 7-day DL. Position players at Extended Spring Training generally don't have enough experience to play at AA or AAA, even as temporary injury replacements. Also, MLB and the MLBPA have approved the special 7-day DL for MLB players suffering a concussion.

already released by Phillies


You'd rarely catch Hendry doing that. Although, I am shocked that they punted Silva. And, if "X-Man" rakes during the season like he did yesterday, the second guessers will have a field day with him asking why he didn't save $8MM and sign him for a year. “It’s more so based on the number of pitches and how hard he’s working each game vs. the number of innings,’’ pitching coach Mark Riggins said. “Also, it’s how a guy bounces back. Some guys can handle a heavy workload and recover in four days, and some guys don’t recover, as well. He recovers very well. . . . “But obviously we get to midseason, and we’ve got to see where his innings are. We’re constantly watching that.’’

Has the line up for opening day been announced?

Fuku Castro Byrd Aram Pena Hill Soriano Baker (unfortunately only one part is a joke)

I guess I should have just checked the Cubs' site. "Three spots are set -- Starlin Castro at No. 2, followed by Marlon Byrd and Aramis Ramirez. Still to be determined is who starts at second base."

I bet Quade starts Baker so not to pressure Barney on Opening Day. No proof, just guessing.

Opening day is only just one game after all. That said here is another article that seems to think that Barney will get the call. "These are guys are not shy to talk to us about the game," rookie infielder Darwin Barney, a surprise achiever who came to the forefront in playing time at second base. "They're not too good (to share their knowledge). Here's Pena talking to Koyie Hill about hitting, and I'm not afraid to walk up to them to listen in." Not sure those are the two hitters I would want Barney getting advice from.

woo....ryan theriot-lite. at least the lite version includes nice D at 2 positions...wonder how his 3rd is.

Actually, Theriot will be Darwin Barney lite.

"Here's Pena talking to Koyie Hill about hitting, and I'm not afraid to walk up to them to listen in." Well he's ruined now, might as well be listening to the Lohans about parenting.

Loved that. (Perhaps too much to drink tonight.)

well...2 of 45 people at ESPN predict the Cubs to win the Central. That's 2 more than I would have guessed.

Don't get too excited about that, one of the guys who picked the Cubs picked the Braves to win the NL East as well as the Wildcard, but the Phillies to win the pennant.


and m.ramirez passes through waivers. AAA logjam gets a little thicker at C.

Dr Frankenstien could probably turn them into one pretty good catcher.

Maybe they use him as a DH/1B and once a week Catcher? I don't know, at this point does a 25+ year old minor league player get measureably better at defensive catching skills?

I'm thrilled he made it through waivers. Hopefully Quade get sick of Koyie Hill and his sub mendoza hitting, and punts him overboard. Castillo can spend a full season in Iowa, and MaxRam can reclaim his rightful role with the team.

So I gather that everyone here thinks that Koyie Hill would sail through waivers . . . I'm not so sure. I guess we'll find out at some point.

I love the "He can't hit, so therefor every other aspect of his game must be wonderful" logic. I assume you have a job, and work with some other people. Ever worked somewhere where there was one worthless shit, who couldn't pull his own weight but the manager liked him, so he got to hang on past the time when it became sort of embarrassing? That's Koyie Hill.

up until last year he could at least hold runners and play good D. unless something's changed this spring he seems to have lost the holding runners part of his game. either way, he got $800K for some f'n reason i can't even imagine. sure they're "only" blowing 300-350K vs. someone biggie, really...but i can't believe he even got another year, much less $800K.

He got $800k because the Cubs recognize he's been more of the second starting catcher rather than just a backup backstop the last two years. Out of about 110 MLB catchers, Hill ranks around 35th in total plate appearances. And therein lies the problem.

Thanx Lou

That's obscene. I guess every manager has their Neifi.

"I love the 'He can't hit, so therefore every other aspect of his game must be wonderful' logic." A lot of major-league teams have backup catchers who don't hit as well as Ramirez. Ramirez cleared waivers. Isn't it fair to assume that those backup catchers play the position better than he does?

Cubbie-land delusion. It was a near certainty a couple days ago that there was no way Max Ramirez would clear waivers... that teams would be tripping over themselves to get a chance to put Max Ramirez behind the plate. Lo', and behold... here he is, and headed to Iowa.

teams don't generally employ back-up catchers unfamiliar with their teams pitching staffs, they may go with a vet that they feel can pick up things quickly and if it's a young guy, it's usually one that at least spent a spring training with the staff. I'm surprised people were worried about it.

via ye olde world de roto (hat tip to crunch) Cubs sent C Max Ramirez outright to Triple-A Iowa. Given his history on the waiver wire, it's at least a little bit surprising that he passed through successfully. The 26-year-old backstop would likely be the first catcher called up to the big leagues in the event of an injury to Geovany Soto or Koyie Hill. Mar 30, 1:59 PM According to Ken Rosenthal of, the Cubs have placed catcher Max Ramirez on waivers. The Cubs would like to send Ramirez to Triple-A Iowa, but because he is out of options, he must be exposed to waivers. Though the 26-year-old backstop hasn't enjoyed much success in limited opportunities at the major league level, he should draw some interest. Source: Ken Rosenthal on Twitter Mar 28, 10:29 PM

How many of them don't hit or throw better than Hill, who's just so-so at blocking pitches? I wasn't worried about Ramirez either way, really. He's probably better than Hill, but that can be said about probably 80 catchers in the MLB system and another 20 that play elsewhere in the world. Hill ranked 42 in MLB at CS% last year, 38th in fielding percentage and according to Fangraphs cost the Cubs 3 runs more than the average catcher defensively. If you sort fangraphs by WAR he comes out 44th of 44 catchers who had more than 200 PA's last year. His bat was only 42nd of 44, so yeah there's two worse hitters.

I'm all for a Koyie Hill upgrade, just wasn't too worried that another team was going to nab him. He already passed through waivers twice during the offseason, so I don't think teams were going to take a chance now that they went through spring training and had their own catchers get familiar with their own pitching staffs. He didn't have much of a shot with the Cubs because even if they decided to dump Koyie, they'd have a hard time justifying not giving it to Welington.

It makes you wonder, though, why the Cubs even bothered picking him up. It obviously wasn't in case Hill showed absolutely nothing in the spring, following his worst catcher in MLB run last year.

Max Ramirez didn't actually pass through waivers twice. He was claimed on waivers twice, by two different teams, the Red Sox and Cubs. It's not like there wasn't interest.

k... first time 9 Al teams passed him up, 2nd time the rest of the AL passed him up and 3 NL teams just not gonna get a lot of interest at the end of spring training on a backup catcher

Submitted by Rob G. on Thu, 03/31/2011 - 1:35pm. k... first time 9 Al teams passed him up, 2nd time the rest of the AL passed him up and 3 NL teams just not gonna get a lot of interest at the end of spring training on a backup catcher ====================================== ROB G: In the case of Outright Waivers, there is no distinction made between a claim by a team in the player's own league or the other league. Worst record always gets the claim (first 30 days of the regular season the previous season's standings apply, then after that the current standings as of the day the claim is awarded applies. I believe you are probably confusing Outright Waivers with Trade Waivers (needed to trade a player after the July 31st trade deadline). In the case of Trade aivers (and ONLY in the case of Trade Waivers), the player must be "waived out of his own league" (that is, no club from within the player's own league makes a claim) before a club from the other league can be awarded a Trade Waiver claim.

my bad... so at least 20 teams the first time...

Keep in mind that Max Ramirez can be a Rule 55 Minor League Free-Agent (6YFA) if he is not added back to the 40-man roster by the 4th day following the conclusion of the 2011 World Series.

Thanks for a great spring of reports, AZ Phil! The last two months of winter are always a lot better for many of us because of your work.

Yes, AZ Phil, thanks for all the great articles all winter/st.

You're the best, Phil!! Thanks for keeping our winters and early springs warm.



i second that emotion.

Well you can cross the Reds off for winning the division-

wow...that article was all over the place.

I thought it was brilliant analysis. He saw two games. The Reds were smart enough to play all their regulars and that's how they won them. If they do that this season they're cinches to win the Division.

Phil's really been hitting the absinthe hard lately. Or nitrous. Yeah, nitrous. Also: “The thing that got me (about Szczur) was his desire and ability to grind,’’ Adkins said. “Being a blue-collar kid, he is perfect for Chicago and the Cubbies, or at least I hope.’’ Pretty early to be laying that stuff on so thickly, no?

Not when you consider this was the draft in the wake of the Milton Bradley fiasco.

Recent comments

Subscribe to Recent comments
The first 600 characters of the last 16 comments, click "View" to see rest of comment.
  • crunch 10 hours 23 min ago (view)

    i can't believe this kind of stuff is what we're talking about 2 months into the 2020 season...i can't believe a lot of stuff about 2020 outside of the game, too.


  • crunch 14 hours 42 min ago (view)

    contract rights are retained by the team.

    in normal times this keeps labor relations between employer and player not too volitile with only a handful of player/owner issues.  in times like this you see a system that was not designed for an event like this.

    some owners are being responsible over the players who's contracts they control while other owners make us realize why the guillotine was occsasionally popular during revoltutions/revolts.


  • Jackstraw 15 hours 9 min ago (view)

    So they are all free agents?  Or still under contract and not getting paid?  I'm sure AZ Phil or someone else has covered this but I haven't been keeping up with all the fine points of baseball's problems recently.


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 17 hours 42 min ago (view)

    Manfred is such a dreadful commissioner. It's his job to walk a fine line and maintain peace in labor relations. Instead he lets the owners do whatever they want.

    Cannot wait for a long, bitter strike after 2021. And for the owners to ultimately turn plenty of fan sentiment against players.


  • crunch 1 day 10 hours ago (view)

    "The A's told their minor leaguers Tuesday that they will not continue to pay them their current salary of $400 per week beyond May 31."

    classy.  absolute class act stuff right there.


  • crunch 1 day 12 hours ago (view)

    Evan Drellich @EvanDrellich
    The MLBPA is very disappointed with MLB’s economic proposal today, source tells me and @Ken_Rosenthal, calling additional cuts proposed “massive." League offered to share more playoff revenue, but on balance, those dollars are small compared to what players give up, PA believes.


  • crunch 1 day 13 hours ago (view)

    A's are furloughing nearly all of their staff through the entire organization...including scouts, which make a shockingly low amount of money.

    the A's are owned by a multi-billionaire who inherited his loot from dad (founder of The Gap)...and him + family spent $10m trying to keep Obama from getting a 2nd term, which i assume is their idea of a good investment in their community...whereas paying loyal employees for years/decades for a few months is...well...*shrug*


  • Ryno 1 day 20 hours ago (view)

    Depends on who you are.


  • Ryno 1 day 20 hours ago (view)

    Sorry--Just needed to experience a little normalcy.


  • Ryno 1 day 20 hours ago (view)

    That was the dumbest lineup I've ever seen.


  • Hagsag 2 days 14 min ago (view)



  • Cubster 2 days 17 hours ago (view)

    speaking of Trump's trained rats...


  • Hagsag 3 days 24 min ago (view)

    Cubster, your comments about President Bone Spurs could not be more accurate. Thanks for posting!


  • BobbyD 3 days 11 hours ago (view)

    Cubster: I agree with your comments, save one. That the president is "leading" America. He couldn't lead a pack of rats to a NYC dumpster on an August afternoon. The "man" is a f'ing disgrace. 


  • crunch 3 days 13 hours ago (view)

    though the team cheaped out on this offseason (still an overall top-tier payroll), i was at least looking forward to seeing the beginning of the david ross era...and who was going to win the 2nd base job...

    nothing about 2020 baseball feels legit anymore.  just hearing the players talk about it, you'd think they were organizing a casual pickup game for charity at an inconvient time and place...doesn't seem like they're really stoked about it.


  • Cubster 3 days 14 hours ago (view)

    June 1st is a week from tomorrow. Given 5 weeks of spring training before starting (July 4th?), the season is on the brink of going bye-bye. It's bad enough in 2020 to be losing prime career years for Javy Baez and Kris Bryant, let alone Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, Kyle Hendricks, and Willson Contreras. If one of them gets coronavirus, loses lung capacity, and alters their career arc, Cub fans will for a long time have a bitter taste in their mouths. All for, at best,  a bizarre half-season without fans watching in the ballparks.