Sonnanstine Don't Shine under Overcast Arizona Skies

Jordan Danks smacked a solo HR over the RF fence to break a 5-5 tie in the top of the 10th, and the White Sox scored another unearned run later in the inning, en route to a 7-5 extra inning victory over a Cubs split-squad in Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in cold, blustery, and rainy Mesa, AZ, this afternoon.

It rained most of the night and again for about a half-hour just after noon (including a short burst of hail around 12:45), resulting in a 30-minute delay to the start of the game.

Once underway, Casey Coleman threw probably his best outing of the spring. The 24-year old third-generation MLB hurler tossed three shutout innings at the ChiSox (40 pitches – 28 strikes, 2/4 GO/FO), allowing two hits and no walks, while striking out three. (After he left the game, Coleman threw another 15 pitches in the bullpen).

RHP Gavin Floyd was the scheduled White Sox starter but was scratched just prior to game-time, probably because the Sox wanted Floyd to throw a certain number of pitches (perhaps 60), without having to worry about getting interrupted by a rain delay (which was a distinct possibility).

As a result, RHP Zach Stewart (who was probably going to “piggy-back " with Floyd anyway) took the ball and pitched the first three innings, allowing the Cubs two runs on six hits.

The Cubs opened their scoring in the bottom of the 2nd, as Jeff Baker and Josh Vitters lined singles to right. Alfredo Amezaga sliced an opposite-field double into the LF corner to score Baker and Vitters, and then Tony Campana followed with a line single to left to move Amezaga to 3rd (Campana’s first hit of the Spring). But David DeJesus popped out and (after Campana stole 2nd) Marlon Byrd grounded out, as the Cubs left runners stranded at 2nd & 3rd. The Cubs scored another run in 4th off ex-Cub LHRP Will Ohman, as Josh Vitters led-off with a ringing double into the left-center alley, and moved up to 3rd on a fly out. Tony Campana then executed a safety squeeze bunt single to score Vitters.

Kerry Wood worked an 11-pitch 4th for the Cubs, allowing back-to-back one-out singles that put Sox runners on 1st & 3rd. But Woody was able to get Alexei Ramirez to roll into a 6-4-3 DP to end the inning. Wood has not looked particularly sharp so far (he reminds me a bit of Bob Howry at the end of his career), although he has managed to dodge a few scoring threats by getting a DP grounder here or a pop up there when he really needed one (like today). I just don’t know how much KW has left in the tank.

Carlos Marmol worked a 13-pitch 5th, walking one, but allowing no hits or runs. Marmol didn’t seem to fool anybody, but at least this time he was able to retire the side without incident.

Up 3-0 after five, the Cubs saw their lead evaporate in the top of the 6th, as RHP Andy Sonnanstine got hammered. To say the ex-Tampa Bay RHP was worse than the box score might indicate would certainly be true today.

Sonnanstine allowed five runs in the 6th inning, including a two-run HR by Dan Johnson, a Tyler Flowers RBI double, and a two-run single by Gordon Beckham, and he wasn’t really much more effective in the top of the 7th, either, as the Sox loaded the bases with no outs on a single and two walks. But Cubs rookie 1B Anthony Rizzo made a leaping catch of a Jordan Danks screaming line-drive that was headed for the RF corner (where it would have almost certainly cleared the bases), then doubled-up the runner at 1st, and giving Sonnanstine an opportunity to get out of the inning unscathed with an inning-ending ground out.

Sonnanstine has had a horrible Spring, and I don’t know how many more chances he will get before the Cubs either outright him to the minors or release him.

The Cubs came back to tie the score in the bottom of the 8th, loading the bases with no outs on an E-3, a walk, and an infield single. Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters both walked with the bases loaded to tie the score, but Matt Szczur popped out, Alfredo Amezaga struck out, and Tony Campana grounded out to end the threat and leave the bases loaded.

Marcos Mateo (out of minor league options and battling for a job in the Cub bullpen) walked two in the top of the 9th, but induced Jim Gallagher to bounce into an inning-ending 4-6-3 DP to get out of the jam. And then after the Cubs went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 9th, Mateo surrendered what proved to be the game-winning HR to Jordan Danks (6’4 “little” brother of White Sox LHP John Danks) leading off the 10th.

Mateo also allowed a couple of singles later in the inning (one bounding off his left shin) that led to the Sox scoring an unearned “insurance run” on a Logan Watkins two-out throwing error. All-in-all, Mateo was not impressive, with command issues in both innings. He just could not throw strikes consistently, and when he did throw strikes, too often Sox hitters (mostly minor leaguers, BTW) were sitting on his fastball.

The Cubs defensive plays of the day certainly would have to include the Rizzo runs-saving leaping catch in the 7th, but there was also a sliding catch of a line-drive by LF Jeff Baker in the left-center alley that would have made Reed Johnson proud.

While one squad of Cubs was losing to the White Sox in Mesa, the other squad defeated the Texas Rangers 3-2 in Las Vegas, thanks to a Joe Mather 9th inning solo HR. I was not at that game, but it appears that Chris Volstad had another fine outing, allowing one run on four hits and no walks in four innings of work, with three strikeouts, and a 6/3 GO/FO.

The Cubs travel to Peoria tomorrow, where they will face the Seattle Mariners.

Comments

The more these guys like Mateo et al. struggle, the more likely it looks that Lendy Castillo really WILL get the chance to stick with the team. I guess that's OK, but I sure don't want a repeat of that whole David Patton nightmare, that was just plain......dumb.

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In reply to by tim815

eh, I know the general sentiment is to bag on Marcos Mateo, but he a) is one of the few power arms in the pen. b) Has a legitimate swing and miss out pitch ... i mean, how many guys in the pen legitimately have that go to pitch right now that we can depend on. c) has posted very respectable xFIP's the last two years d) showed that the home run blip of 2 years ago was just that ... a statistical ... blip considering his minor league record e) Has maintained a fairly consistent walk rate that is fine for the pen. In saying all that, he's a middle reliever, and it wouldn't bother me that much if the Cubs let him go (although I still have my doubts that, component wise, Rafael Dolis in 2012 would outperform what Mateo has done over the last two years). But I think it's a bit harsh to say that he "isn't representing a big leaguer. He rarely has." A reliever needs innings to be able to prove themselves against statistical blips, and he hasn't been afforded the time, but he has shown flashes of ability in his limited time (and has justified the Buck Coats trade).

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In reply to by tim815

http://www.thecubreporter.com/2008/10/30/brewers-claim-casey-mcgehee-wa… It's not exactly clear why the Cubs felt the need to place McGehee (or Petrick) on Outright Waivers at this time, because the Cubs already had one opening on their 40-man roster (LHP Carmen Pignatiello was outrighted to the minors earlier ths month), and six additional slots on the 40 will open up once the eight players eligible to be free-agents under Article XX of the CBA file for FA during the Free-Agency Filing Period that commences today (two of the players eligible to be MLB Article XX free-agents are still on the 60-day DL, so they will not create openings on the 40 when they file, but the other six will). Because McGehee was brought up to the big leagues after August 15th, the Cubs had until four days after the conclusion of the World Series to make the outright assignment, or else they would have had to wait until 25 days prior to the start of the 2009 regular season to do it. But the Cubs really didn't have to outright McGehee in order to remove him from the 40 and keep him in the organization for 2009. They could have waited until December 12th to drop McGehee from the 40-man roster, simply by non-tendering him and then re-signing him to a 2009 minor league contract (with an NRI to Spring Training) for the MLB split contract minor league minimum ($65,000), the same salary he would have received if he was on optional assignment to the minors. Of course McGehee could have refused the offer, but it was probably the best way to try and keep him in the organization for 2009 if they felt they needed his slot on the 40 for somebody else. There were also plenty of other outright options at the time if you read through the comments of that article. Hendry and Co. whiffed badly on the player evaluation and roster management on that one.

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In reply to by Rob G.

If he puts up 10 all-star years going forward, or sucks and becomes a bench player or is out of baseball in a couple, then yeah, I think that will have bearing on how people will look back on this issue. Maybe not how you want to technically evaluate it, but that will frame the issue for most people. And he put up good numbers in 2009-2010 because he was given playing time, etc. Of course no guarantee at all he would have performed well in a limited role, and been useful to the Cubs.

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In reply to by The E-Man

I remember that when they lost McGehee, I figured, eh, he was a guy who couldn't do much with the bat in an extreme hitters league (the PCL), had no speed, was so-so defensively at best, and they were trying to teach him to catch, which often seems to be the last-ditch effort to salvage a fringe player's value. But, I was missing the point. The point wasn't his value; it was that they didn't need to lose him and that they could have been better at managing the 40-man. That's still the complaint. It's not really about who they lost. Hopefully, the JedStein regime will handle the 40-man with more finesse and planning. Seems like when we're talking about a ball club that spends well over $100 million every year just on player payroll, it might make sense to employ one guy who is just good at 40-man stuff and whose job is to keep track of that, if it's something that the rest of the front office doesn't have time to do really well.

Volstad looked pretty good, I thought. I don't know much about him, but the Rangers announcers (I have no idea who they are - wasn't paying attention enough) seemed to really actually like the guy, saying he actually has pretty good stuff and that, being only 25, all his experience, even though his stats are not very impressive, should help him. It's kind of like that whole learning how NOT to pitch thing, which, after going over his stats just now, he seems to have mastered pretty well. One of them even claimed he thought he had good enough stuff to be a top of the line starter rather than an innings eater, that he just needs to put it all together. I assume that guy was the mandatory ex player/color guy. Naturally, the Cubs cynic in me just assumes he was using a bit of hyperbole because he was getting people out, although it did seem like he was keeping guys off balance pretty well. I'd be happy with an innings eater that doesn't give up 11 runs in the first inning, so I'm rooting for him over Wells. Anything plus that is just gravy to me.

4 scoreless innings after T. Wood (1 BB, 1 K, 4 H), J. Russell with a scoreless inning as well

wow...cj wilson keeps being a jerk...gave out m.napoli's cell phone number over twitter to a few hundred K people as a "joke" after napoli said he couldn't wait to take wilson deep recently this offseason. cute. napoli wasn't pleased.

From Oct. 30, 2008: Virgina Phil: "McGehee has crappy numbers." Rob G.: "Neither [McGehee nor Jake Fox] will do anything in the majors." The Real Neal: "I couldn't even summon up the gumption to argue the relative merit of McGehee..." People questioned McGehee's situation vis a vis Hendry's roster management, but no one ever suggested that it was anything worse than a perplexing move. Four years ago, anyone could have had Jose Bautista for a plane ticket. You never know what some players might do.

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