Monday, March 29, 2010

Quick Hits a Week Prior to the Opener

  • Today, Lou Piniella told young outfielder Tyler Colvin that he has made the Chicago Cubs' Opening Day roster. Colvin will play 2-3 times a week.
  • There is now one spot remaining on Lou's 25-man club to start the season. The final cuts are expected to be made on Tuesday. Kevin Millar, Chad Tracy, Micah Hoffpauir, and Sam Fuld are all still in the mix, but most likely the final roster spot will belong to either Millar or Tracy.
  • Ted Lilly tossed 45 pitches in a minor league start at Fitch Park today. He is on track to join the Cubs in about 3 weeks. He could be ready to return on April 19 in New York.
  • Cubs closer Carlos Marmol has sat in the same folding chair for every game since 2007.
  • According to the Tribune, Carlos Silva is the number 4 starter and Tom Gorzelanny is the number five guy. One of them will be sent to the pen will Ted returns.
  • The Cubs pitchers were masterful today in an 8-1 win over the Reds.
  • Bruce Miles reports that Piniella and the Cubs have a pretty idea who will be the 25th man on the roster, but they want to wait until tomorrow to make it official.
  • Today was the last chance for Tracy and Millar to open some eyes. Neither did. Tracy was 0-3 and Millar 0-1. Micah Hoffpauir did pick up a single and a walk.
  • Derrek Lee has missed the last two games with a foot injury, but he is expected to return tomorrow.
  • Be sure to check out today's Down on the Farm Report that I posted over at Chicago Cubs Online.

That's it for now, but I'll keep you posted on Everything Cubs as always.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Getting to Know the Cubs: James Russell

Today we continue our series of posts that spotlight certain members of the 2010 Chicago Cubs. Last week we featured Justin Berg, so today let's stay in the bullpen with James Russell.
Before this Spring Training, many Cubs fans had not even heard of this guy, so it's important that we dig a little deeper for some info before the start of the season!
Full Name: James Clayton Russell
Bats/Throws: Left/Left
Position: Pitcher
Drafted: By the Cubs in the 14th round of the 2007 June Draft
College: University of Texas
Family: James' father Jeff played in the big leagues for six different clubs from 1983-1996. Jeff was a two time All Star and had a career ERA of 3.75.
2009 Stats: 3-3 with a 3.43 ERA in 26 games at AAA Iowa, 5.11 ERA in 11 AA games.
2009 Arizona Fall League: 1.26 ERA in 11 games with the Mesa Solar Sox
Spring Training Stats: 10 IP, 1 R, 0 ER, 0.00 ERA
Role: Russell will be a part of the young Cub pen to start the season. He'll have to pitch well to avoid being bumped when Ted Lilly comes off the DL. James will be used mostly in middle relief.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Saturday Pregame Quick Hits & Radio Recaps

Update 2:55 CT: According to Judd Sirott of WGN Radio & Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times the Cubs have traded Andres Blanco to the Texas Rangers for a PTBNL or Cash.

To start, let's take a look at the Cubs' starting lineup for today's game against the Padres in Mesa:

Colvin, RF
Baker, 2B
Lee, 1B
Ramirez, 3B
Byrd, CF
Millar, LF
Soto, C
Blanco, SS
Silva, P

This will be Silva's first start since leaving the game against the Reds on March 21 with a tight quad. The game starts at 3:05 CT and in on WGN-TV & WGN Radio.

Now for some other notes:
  • The Cubs are expected to make the final roster decisions on Tuesday according to Carrie Muskat.
  • Bruce Levine reports that the Cubs still have interest in Blue Jays reliever Jason Frasor. The Jays asked for Andrew Cashner, but the Cubs will not part with the young hurler.
  • Levine also says that Andres Blanco is on the trading block. The Texas Rangers have some interest.
  • Xavier Nady will start in the outfield tomorrow and then play first base in a minor league game on Monday.
  • The Cubs will have all the regulars in the lineup for the second and final night game of the spring when they take on the D'backs at Chase Field.
  • Carlos Marmol is looking forward to the end of Spring Training. He blames his bad outing yesterday on the fact that he cannot throw his slider in Arizona.
  • Bruce Miles says that Ted Lilly had no problems in the 2 minor league innings he tossed yesterday.
  • Jeff Samardzija is a little disappointed that he will not be in the starting rotation.
  • "Sports Central", which I use often for Cubs' info and radio recaps, will be removed from the WGN Radio lineup on April 12. Host David Kaplan will now focus on covering the Cubs for WGN 720. Kap will host an expanded Cubs postgame show called "The 10th inning". He will also host a new weekend show called "Cubs Insider" and some pregame features.

Bruce Levine and Jonathan Hood were joined by Jim Hendry this morning on Talkin' Baseball on ESPN 1000. Here's the recap:

  • The Cubs pitching staff has done well in Spring Training.
  • They are happy that a lot of their pitchers have come up through the system.
  • The really good news is that Ted Lilly is on target to pitch in the big leagues no later than the third week of April.
  • Hendry is not concerned about the lack of experience in the bullpen. They have John Grabow who has lots of experience and Sean Marshall who has been around awhile. They also think that Samardzija is ready to take the next step up.
  • The Cubs also have 3-4 pitchers waiting in Iowa if somebody falters.
  • Chris Robinson will not be making the club and he knows that. That leaves 29 guys for 25 spots.
  • Koyie Hill, Jeff Baker, and Xavier Nady will all be on the bench to start the season. Nady will start the year playing a few days a week in the field.
  • Tyler Colvin has been outstanding in camp. Kevin Millar brings other things to the table, but he hits from the right side and is limited in the amount of positions he can play.
  • The Cubs feel like they'll have a really good five man bench to start the year.
  • Lou and Jim have a great relationship, but at the end of the day it's the GM jobs to put the final roster together and the manager's job to manage the club he is given.
  • Yesterday Lou, Jim, and Randy discussed the bench for about 30 minutes.
  • The NL Central has been a very good division the last 3-4 years. The Cardinals didn't get in Lou's first two years, but they won the division last year.
  • The Brewers and Cards will both be very good, the Reds will be much better, and the Cubs will be much better according to Hendry. The Astros could be factors and the Pirates are making progress.
  • "Lou and I have a really good relationship, and we've never even really worried about next year."

That's it for now, but I'll keep you posted!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Breaking News: The Pitching Staff is Set, Roster Cuts

Today, the Chicago Cubs announced the 12 man pitching staff and 5 man starting rotation that they will use to start the season.

Gordon Wittenmyer tweets that lefty James Russell will take the final spot in the bullpen unless the Cubs make a trade next week.

Gordon also tells us that Carlos Silva and Tom Gorzelanny have won the final two spots in the starting rotation. They will round out a starting five that already includes Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, and Randy Wells. Despite pitching great this spring, Sean Marshall will head to the bullpen where he will add depth. Jeff Samardzija, who lost out on the rotation because of some poor outings during Spring Training, will be used in middle to late relief to start the year. Russell, Marshall, and Samardzija are joined in the bullpen by Carlos Marmol, Esmalin Caridad, Justin Berg, and John Grabow.

The Cubs also made 7 roster cuts today. Pitchers Jeff Gray, Marcos Mateo, and John Gaub were optioned to AAA-Iowa, as was outfielder Jim Adduci. Jim made it tough on the Cubs with a three hit game yesterday to cap off a great spring, but it turns out there is no room for him on the roster. Gray was aquired from Oakland this offseason and was expected to be a big part of the bullpen. However, Jeff suffered a groin injury in an early February workout at Fitch Park which caused him to miss most of Spring Training. He could be a part of the pen at some point this year.

Darwin Barney, Bobby Scales, and Robinson Chirinos were also assigned to minor league camp. There are no major surprises among this group. Barney could help the Cubs as a utility infielder at some point this season.

Russell will have to be added to the 40-man roster since he came to camp as a Non-Roster Invite. Rule 5 Pick Mike Parisi is the "odd man out" and it appears that he will be offered back to the Cardinals.

With the seven cuts today, there are still 33 players left in camp, but that list includes two guys (Lilly and Guzman) who will start the season on the DL. That means the Cubs have five position players that will be cut. Kevin Millar, Andres Blanco, Micah Hoffpauir, and Chad Tracy are battling for a spot on the bench while Tyler Colvin and Sam Fuld are hoping to earn the fifth outfield job. The fifth cut will be catcher Chris Robinson, who will stay with the big league club until the end so that Koyie Hill and Geovany Soto are not overworked in the final week and a half behind the plate. It should be an interesting conclusion to Spring Training!

Be sure to check out yesterday's Cubs Roundup for more.

That's it for now, but I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cubs Roundup: The Pitching Staff, Minor Leauge Updates, Radio Recaps, & More

Rotation Decision
Lou Piniella has said that the starting rotation will be set by Friday (tomorrow). Tom Gorzelanny made his final bid for the rotation going six innings against Arizona today. Here is the stats of the four pitchers looking for spots in the starting five:

Tom Gorzelanny: 1-1, 3.07 ERA in 14.2 IP
Sean Marshall: 1-0, 1.64 ERA, 11 IP
Jeff Samardzija: 0-2, 6.75 ERA, 8 IP
Carlos Silva: 2-1, 5.73 ERA, 11 IP

Gorzo and Sean have the far better ERAs, so they're in, right? Wrong. The Cubs want to have one lefty and one right hander of this bunch stay in the rotation, and one of each go to the pen. So then Silva is in the rotation and Marshall is a no brainier, right? Wrong again. Sean Marshall's great pitching may have even hurt his chances at the rotation because he is so valuable to the Cubs as a swing man in the bullpen. With the bullpen really lacking depth, chances are he'll go out there. The two veterans, Silva and Gorzelanny, are the favorites to win rotation jobs. We'll found out tomorrow!

Roster Cuts on the Way
The Cubs are expected to cut the roster from 40 down to 29-30 tomorrow. Carrie Muskat reports that the Cubs will keep 12-13 pitchers and 16-17 position players. If Carrie's total number of pitchers is accurate, the Cubs will either have their pen set or just one cut left to make. Right now, James Russell, John Gaub, Marcos Mateo, and Mike Parisi are fighting for the last relief job. Here are the stats for those four this spring:

Parisi: 1-1, 7.45 ERA, 9.2 IP
Russell: 0.00 ERA, 9 IP
Gaub: 1-0, 7.04 ERA, 7.2 IP
Mateo: 8.22 ERA, 7.2 IP

My guess is that Mateo and Gaub will be among the cuts tomorrow. James Russell clearly should have this spot won, but I think the Cubs will keep Parisi in camp until the final weekend because of his Rule 5 status. If they try to send him to the minors, they will have to offer him back to the Cardinals. Personally, I think the Cubs should just give Mike back rather than go through the struggle to keep him on the roster like they did with Patton last year. Jeff Gray is also still in camp, but it appears he will start the year on the DL.

As far as the position players are concerned, there will be 5-6 cuts tomorrow. Two will be catchers Chris Robinson and Robinson Chirinos, who are ticketed for the minor leagues with Hill and Soto at the big league level. Bobby Scales and Darwin Barney will most likely be two more of the cuts. Micah Hoffpauir could also be sent to AAA, or James Adduci could be sent out. The Cubs will likely let the fight for the final bench spots (Fuld v Colvin, Millar v Tracy) go down to the wire. Andres Blanco is still in the mix as well. Lou has said that Colvin will be on the team if there is enough playing time for him, but they will not let him rot on the bench.

Lou & Lee Stay "Back"
Both the Cubs skipper and his first baseman are having some back pain, which caused them to skip the trip to Tuscon today. This was the final trip the Cubs will ever make to Tuscan as both teams that play (the Rockies & D'backs) are leaving next year. Piniella woke up with a sore back, so he didn't feel like taking the long bus ride. Instead, Alan Trammell managed the Cubs team today. Derrek Lee's injury is even weirder. He fell out of a chair while eating in Surprise yesterday. Surprise! D-Lee should be back in the Cub lineup when they host the A's tomorrow.

The Cubs that did make the trip topped Arizona 7-2. James Adduci and Tyler Colvin both had big days as they vie for the final spot in the Cubs' outfield. James had three hits while Colvin smacked two.

Notes from Fitch Park
  • Arizona Phil from TCR posted a nice report from minor league camp on Wednesday.
  • Randy Wells pitched for the Iowa Cubs in Wednesday's game to stay on schedule. He looked sharp going 6 shutout innings.
  • Aramis Ramirez served as the DH to get some at bats in for the I-Cubs. He went 1-6 with a long home run, which helped Iowa to a 2-1 ten inning win over the Oakland A's farm club.
  • Xavier Nady played right field in the AA game on Wednesday. He went 1-3 with a double before leaving in the 4th after being hit by a pitch. His left hand got nailed, but was OK.
  • Starlin Castro is now playing for the AA squad. He made two errors for the Smokies.
  • Brain LaHair went 2-3 for the AAA team.
  • Scott Maine, who came over from Arizona in the Aaron Heilman trade, pitched a scoreless inning for Iowa.

Be sure to check out my Down on the Farm Report posted on Chicago Cubs Online today. This is Part 2 of my three part series on the Cubs' minor league coaches.

Bruce Levine's Report on Waddle & Silvy Today

  • Even though Marshall has pitched well, it looks like he'll go to the bullpen.
  • The Cubs like to use Sean's versatility.
  • Bruce thinks that Gorzelanny and Silva are the 4 and 5 starters.
  • It looks like Jeff Samardzija is heading to the bullpen as well.
  • Jeff Gray is slotted to join the bullpen at some point.
  • Levine reports that upper management wants Tyler Colvin to continue his progress at the minor league level, but Lou would like to have him on the bench. If the Cubs end up needing him, they can always call him up.
  • Bruce thinks that money sometime dictates who plays, and that is the case with the Cubs' outfield.

Former Cub Todd Hollandsworth on the Danny Mac Show:

  • The team's success will depend a great deal on Soriano's performance.
  • There are 6-7 questions that surround this team going into the season.
  • Todd thinks if you can answer 4-5 of those questions with a positive answer, this team has a chance.
  • Soriano has to produce. This team isn't the deepest team, and they will depend on Alfonso.
  • The Cubs are playing "team baseball" down in Arizona.
  • Holly thinks that Soriano needs to get the "meaningful hits" against tough pitching.
  • Geovany Soto is another big question. Geo has lost some weight and has a new hitting coach, but these questions will not be answered until the season starts.
  • Todd calls Jeff Samardzija "a kid with all the potential in the world." The Shark needs a consistent role somewhere so that he can find himself some success.
  • If Samardzija gets some relief innings under his belt, then his confidence will go up.
  • The decision to sign Kevin Millar was affected by the situation with the clubhouse last year. Millar has a great track record, but there's no point in putting him on your roster if the at bats aren't going to be there for him.
  • This team needs all the hitters they can get right now, so Chad Tracy might be the right decision.
  • Hollandsworth loves Carlos Zambrano's passion and loves what he brings to the table. However, there is no defined number 1 in the Cubs rotation. Big Z needs to step up and be that guy.
  • Z has to cut down on the melt downs.
  • Todd is tired of overlooking the same mental problems with Zambrano. He wants to win, but he has to stop losing his focus at times.

New Poll

A big thanks to everyone who voted on our last poll on the right sidebar! Here are the results:

Q: Who would you most like to see on the Cubs bench?

1. Kevin Millar- 13 votes

2. Chad Tracy- 7 Votes

3. Micah Hoffpauir- 2 Votes

Now there is a new poll up on the right sidebar of the blog mainpage!

Q: What is the biggest area of concern for the 2010 Chicago Cubs?

A) Starting Pitching

B) Bullpen Depth

C) Defense

D) Power Bats

E) Speed

F) Scoring Runs

Please vote! Also, feel free to comment with your thoughts or email be at

That's it for now, but I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

30 Clubs in 30 Days Recaps: Houston Astros

Today we continue our series previewing the 2010 season for the Cubs' NL Central foes. We have been recapping MLB Network's "30 Clubs in 30 Days", and today we will focus on the Astros' addition of 30 in 30.

Kissimmee, Florida is the Spring Training home of the Houston Astros.

Host Matt Vasgersian was joined by John Hart and Mitch Williams for this episode.

The Astros finished 2009 in fifth place with a 74-88 record. They were 17 games back of the first place Cardinals.

  • Pedro Feliz, 3B
  • Brett Myers, SP
  • Matt Lindstrom, RP
  • Brandon Lyon, RP


  • Chris Coste, C
  • Miguel Tejada, SS
  • Aaron Boone, IF
  • Darin Erstad, UT
  • Mike Hampton, SP
  • Jose Valverde, RP
  • LaTroy Hawkins, RP
  • Doug Brocail, RP

John Hart thinks that the Feliz signing was a good one because of the issues they've had at third base. Mitch thinks that Lindstrom needs to slow his delivery down.

The biggest change is that Brad Mills will take over as the Astros manager. The 52 year old Mills will be making his big league managerial debut, but he has managed at the minor league level including some time with the Cubs organization. Mills also spent 6 years as the Red Sox bench coach. Hazel Mae talked with Brad Mills:

  • Brad thinks the Astros are on their way to becoming a winning environment.
  • Consistancy is a key.
  • Any time you have some solid veterans, the young talented guys are able to see how professionals act.
  • Sitting next to Terry Francona and watching him manage for six years was "all the mentoring he could ever ask for."

Hart is not concerned about Lance Berkman's health because he thinks Lance can bounce back quickly. Mitch says that this knee cleanup will not take Berkman that long to come back from. Williams had a cleanup and was pitching 2 days later during his career.

2009 Team Pitching Stats:

  • Starter ERA: 4.79 (14th in NL)
  • Bullpen ERA: 4.13 (12th)
  • Opp. Average: .275 (14th)
  • Strikeouts: 1,144 (10th)
  • Blown Saves: 26 (15th, tied with the Dodgers for NL's most)

Roy Oswalt joined the guys:

  • He feels great. It's the first time in awhile that he has felt as healthy as he does now.
  • The ball is coming out of Roy's hand really well.
  • Oswalt likes to have a pitching coach who will correct one thing instead of throwing 4-5 things at you at one time. He doesn't like guys who harp on mechanics.
  • It's tough to have a bullpen that blows a lot of games because your team never really gets on a roll.
  • Some of the younger Astros' pitchers ask Roy questions. Oswalt thinks that Bud Norris will be a front line starter in the big leagues at some point. He says Bud has great stuff.
  • Norris' biggest thing is location.

Projected Rotation:

  • Roy Oswalt, RHP
  • Wandy Rodriguez, LHP
  • Brett Myers, RHP
  • Bud Norris, RHP
  • Brian Moeler, RHP

A lot of teams don't have a staff ace, but the Astros are one of the few NL clubs that do. If Oswalt is healthy, Mitch thinks he'll win 15-20 ballgames. Hart calls Rodriguez "filthy on left handers" and says he has one of the best curveballs in the National League. If Norris commands the ball, John thinks he'll take off. Brett Myers has great stuff when he's healthy and when his head is right.

Hazel chatted with Myers:

  • Myers doesn't think that the change from the Phillies to the Astros was that big of a deal. "It's baseball," he said.
  • It was an adjustment for Brett to come back from the bullpen to the rotation last year. Now that he has made that adjustment, he is looking forward for pitching with the guys in the Astros' rotation.

Projected Bullpen:

  • Bradon Lyon, RHP
  • Tim Byrdak, LHP
  • Jeff Fulchino, RHP
  • Chris Sampson, RHP
  • Alberto Arias, RHP
  • Closer: Matt Lindstrom, RHP

Lyon is waiting in the wings in case Lindstrom has any trouble. Williams said that Lyon is a pitch to contact guy. He does not strike out too many, but he doesn't walk guys and had a low ERA last year. Mitch prefers a power closer, so he gives Lindstrom the nod. Hart thinks the Astros setup core has yet to be settled. There are still some "lead-in" roles up for grabs.

2009 Team Hitting Stats:

  • Runs: 643 (14th in NL)
  • Average: .250 (8th in NL)
  • Home Runs: 142 (12th in NL)
  • Slugging %: .400 (11th)
  • OBP: .319 (13th)
  • Stolen Bases: 113 (4th)

Hazel Mae interviewed Lance Berkman:

  • Berkman's health may decide the fate of the team this year.
  • At the start of camp, Lance played through the knee discomfort, but the swelling continued so he went to see the team doctor.
  • He decided to go under the knife now because he didn't want it to linger all year. It was better to get the situation taken care of now.
  • Lance feels pretty good and is already walking on it. He plans to start swinging the bat in a week and a half or two weeks.
  • He thinks Opening Day is a realistic goal, but he won't jeopardize an entire season over one game.

Projected Lineup:

  • M. Bourn, CF
  • K. Matsui, 2B
  • C. Lee, LF
  • L. Berkman, 1B
  • H. Pence, RF
  • P. Feliz, 3B
  • T. Mounzello, SS
  • H. Quintero, C

Mitch admits that two years ago he said that Bourn would never be an everyday player at the big league level because he could not hit left handed pitching. Now, he has worked his behind off and has Mitch eating his words. Matsui is a veteran guy who understands the game. He is a perfect 2 hole hitter. John says that Carlos Lee is not just a power guy, he's an all-around good hitter. Berkman is a run producer with a lot of good years left in him. Hunter Pence is a very unorthodox player but he has a bat, can run, and plays good defense. Pedro Feliz plays great defense at third base. He's one of the best guys at the hot corner in the league. Hart thinks they have a very good defensive club.

Top 10 Prospects:

  • Jay Austin, OF
  • Jason Castro, C
  • Collin Delome, OF
  • Jonathan Gaston, OF
  • Chris Johnson, 3B
  • Chia-Jen Lo, RHP
  • Jordon Lyles, RHP
  • Tommy Manzella, SS
  • Jiovanni Mier, SS
  • Ross Seaton, RHP

Hart's thinks that Mier has a lot of upside. Lyle was drafted in 2008 out of high school and has a lot of upside as well. John thinks that Jason Castro has all the things you want to see from a catcher. Castro could be at the big league level as soon as this year, and John thinks he'll be the catcher in Houston for a long time.

Hazel talked with Hunter Pence:

  • Pence works hard and tries to win ball games.
  • Being an All-Star is something you can't really put into words. Last year he felt like a young kid again playing in the All-Star game.
  • The only way to get through soreness and get into game shape is to play 100% in Spring Training.

Mae also talked with radio voice Milo Hamilton:

  • Milo called Hank Aaron's famous home run. Hamilton says that the homer barely made it out.
  • This camp is fun because there are lots of battles for the roster.
  • The coaching staff and new manager are working hard.

Baseball Prospectus predicts that Houston will finish with a 77-85 record, in 4th place in the NL Central. John Hart has the Stros at fifth, and Mitch Williams thinks they'll fall to last place. Williams points out that they lack that depth to hold up if there are any injuries.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tuesday Quick Hits & Radio Recaps

  • Today Aramis Ramirez returned the lineup as the DH in a game against the Royals. Ryan Dempster's outing was solid, but Carlos Marmol came in an allowed a 2 run homer. The Cubs bullpen couldn't hold on to several leads, and the game ended in a 5-5 tie.
  • Ted Lilly will start in a minor league game on Saturday. If there are no setbacks, Lilly could be into the Cubs' rotation by mid-April. He is expected to start the year rehabbing with a farm club.
  • Xavier Nady will not start the season on the DL. He should be playing some outfield in the next 10 days.
  • The Chicago Tribune reports that Jeff Samardzija will likely start the season in the bullpen. It appears that Carlos Silva and Tom Gorzelanny will get spots in the rotation. Lou will announce his final rotation decision on Friday after he gets one more look at Marshall and Gorzelanny.
  • Lou Piniella met with his staff on Sunday night to discuss the roster. He likes the way things are shaping up.
  • Right now the Cubs have 40 guys in camp, but that number will be cut down to the 30 by the end of the week.
  • Greg Maddux has been contributing to the team in a variety of ways this spring.

This past weekend Len Kasper joined the Danny Mac show to talk Cubs:

  • The Cubs offense needs to pick it up in 2010. They have hit the ball very well this spring.
  • The hitters seem to be responding to adjustments made by Rudy Jaramillo.
  • The area of concern has switched to the pitching staff with the injuries to Guzman and Lilly.
  • Len likes to wait to get enthusiastic about a young kid until he is in a big league uniform, but Starlin Castro stands out and looks like a major league ready player.
  • Kasper thinks that Marshall and Samardzija can help the club best as relievers, and you'd like to be able to get as much value out of Carlos Silva as you can.
  • The most likely scenario is Silva and Gorzelanny in the rotation.
  • He is not sure how much of an effect a hitting coach can have on veteran players, but some hitters mesh with certain hitting coaches and clash with others.
  • Len would like to think that Jaramillo will have positive effect on this team. Rudy spending 15 years on one coaching staff shows you how good he is. Larry Rothschild is in his 9th year on the Cubs' staff.
  • Lou Piniella thinks the game 24 hours a day. Nothing gets past him even though he sometimes acts as if he doesn't see things.

Mike Fontenot joined Waddle and Silvy this morning:

  • Fontenot had fun watching the Saints win the Super Bowl this offseason.
  • The guys are having a good time, but they are looking forward to the start of the season. Other than some rain, it's been a good spring.
  • Last year did not turn out the way Mike wanted it for him at the plate, but he is going to try to learn from it and not put any extra pressure on himself.
  • In 2009 he didn't adjust very well to pitchers and things like that. "It just kind of snowballed," he said.
  • Rudy is always very aware of what is going on. He's made a few adjustments to Mike's swing.
  • The Cubs have some great guys in the clubhouse this year. Everyone is having a lot of fun in camp.
  • Derrek Lee, Alfonso Soriano, and Tyler Colvin are guys who have looked especially good to Fontenot this spring.
  • Starlin Castro is going to be a good player.

Bruce Levine was also on Waddle & Silvy on ESPN 1000 today:

  • If Alfonso Soriano plays 135 games, you should pencil him in for 30 home runs and 90 RBIs.
  • Soriano is going to have less pressure on him and more people on base to drive in hitting sixth.
  • Levine thinks that they'll be men on base on front of Sori and that will work to his advantage.
  • We'll find out the rotation situation on Friday. There is still a question as to whether Samardzija will go to bullpen or AAA-Iowa if he does not make the starting five.
  • The battle between Micah Hoffpauir, Chad Tracy, and Kevin Millar will likely go all the way to the end of camp.
  • Jim Hendry said that the Cubs will not let Tyler Colvin rot on the bench. Colvin will likely start the year getting every day playing time at the minor league level.
  • The Cubs are counting Mike Fontenot and Kosuke Fukudome to hit well from the left side.

That's it for now, but I'll keep you posted!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Getting to Know the Cubs: Justin Berg

The next time you see this guy, a "C" will replace the "I" on his cap. Lou Piniella has said that he will be a member of the Cubs' bullpen. Many of you may not even know who this is, so let's learn a little bit about him!

Full Name: Justin Christopher Berg

Born: July 7, 1984

Position: Pitcher

B/T: Right

College: Indian Hills Community College-Centerville

Drafted: By the Yankees in the 43rd round of the 2003 June Draft

Age: 25

MLB Debut: Auguest 13, 2009

2009 Cub Stats: 0.75 ERA in 11 games

Traded: To the Cubs on August 27, 2005 in the deal that sent Matt Lawton to New York.

Cubs Career: Peoria ('05), Daytona ('06), Tennessee ('07-'08), Iowa ('08-'09), and Chicago ('09)

Winter Ball: Pitched for the Mesa Solar Sox in the 2007 Arizona Fall League

We'll continue to get to know the 2010 Cubs throughout the season!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday Evening Quick Hits: Castro Cut, The Roster, and More

  • Yesterday the Cubs made two more cuts from big league Spring Training. Top Prospect Starlin Castro and outfielder Brad Snyder were sent to minor league camp. I'm a little surprised that Castro didn't stay with the team a little longer, but in the end it's probably the right decision to send him down for a little more seasoning.
  • The Cubs now have 40 guys left in camp, which means there's 15 more cuts to make. The first few will be to move some guys to the DL and to send down guys like Chris Robinson and Robinson Chirinos, but then there will be about eight or nine hard decisions on guys.
  • Mike Fontenot got the start at short stop today in the spring game against the Reds. Kevin Millar was given a chance to play left field. Both these guys will be much more valuable if they can play multiple positions.
  • Andres Blanco played short in minor league camp today.
  • Most of the Cubs' regulars stayed back at HoHoKam Park to work with Rudy Jaramillo instead of going to today's away spring game. Fontenot was the only regular in the lineup.
  • There is still no timetable set on Aramis Ramirez.
  • Carlos Silva left after two innings today with a tight quad, but he appears to be OK.

Now let's take a look at where the Cubs' 25-man roster stands!


1. Carlos Zambrano

2. Ryan Dempster

3. Randy Wells

4. Tom Gorzelanny

5. Jeff Samardzija

6. Carlos Silva

7. Sean Marshall

8. Carlos Marmol

9. John Grabow

10. Justin Berg

11. Esmalin Caridad

12. Open (Mike Parisi, Marcos Mateo, John Gaub, and James Russell in the mix)

Position Players (Numbering cont.)

13. Derrek Lee

14. Mike Fontenot

15. Ryan Theriot

16. Aramis Ramirez

17. Geovany Soto

18. Marlon Byrd

19. Alfonso Soriano

20. Kosuke Fukudome

21. Xavier Nady

22. Koyie Hill (Robinson Chirinos and Chris Robinson are still in camp, but Hill has the backup catcher's job won)

23. Jeff Baker

24. Open (Tyler Colvin, Jim Adduci, and Sam Fuld still in camp for last outfield spot)

25. Open (Bobby Scales, Darwin Barney, Andres Blanco, Micah Hoffpauir, Kevin Millar, and Chad Tracy still in camp for last infielders spot)


Saturday, March 20, 2010

30 Clubs in 30 Days Recap: St. Louis Cardinals

Today we continue our NL Central season preview by recapping the St. Louis Cardinals edition of MLB Network's "30 Clubs in 30 Days". Earlier in the week we started this series of recaps with the Pirates.

John Hart and Mitch Williams joined host Greg Amsinger on the program.

Opening Notes:
  • The Cardinals had a disappointing finish in 2009.
  • John Hart likes what they did this offseason. He cites the front end of the rotation and the middle of the order as two reasons that this is a loaded ballclub.
  • Williams pointed out that there is probably not an analyst with the Network that is not picking St. Louis to win the Central. "They are just that good," he said.
  • 2009 record: 91-71, first in NL Central


  • Rich Hill, SP
  • Brad Penny, SP
  • Felipe Lopez, IF


  • Joel Pineiro, SP
  • John Smoltz, SP
  • Todd Wellemyer, SP
  • Troy Glaus, IF
  • Khalil Greene, IF
  • Rick Ankiel, OF
  • Mark DeRosa, UT

John thinks that bringing Tony LaRussa and Dave Duncan back was the biggest offseason move. Duncan has done a great job with special projects, and LaRussa is an old school guy who is very prepared and has great passion for the game. Mitch think resigning Matt Holliday was the biggest move of the winter.

Hazel Mae joined the broadcast from Jupiter, Florida to conduct some interviews. Her first guest was Matt Holliday:

  • When he came over to St. Louis, Matt made some adjustments to his hitting.
  • He enjoyed playing in front of big crowds in a pennant race for St. Louis.
  • Getting a chance to be a part of the races gave him a boost.
  • Holliday thinks Mark McGwire will do a great job as the Card's hitting coach.
  • Albert Pujols is fun to watch from the on deck circle.
  • No team really came close to signing him apart from St. Louis. He called the Cards contract offer "to good to pass up."

Cardinals 2009 team pitching stats:

  • Starter ERA: 3.66 (4th in NL)
  • Bullpen ERA: 3.67 (4th)
  • Blown Saves: 14 (2nd fewest)
  • HR Allowed: 123 (2nd)
  • BB Allowed: 460 (1st)

Adam Wainwright joined the guys:

  • Dave Duncan is a master game planner. He breaks hitters down and backs it up with stats.
  • Wainwright has always been a starter apart from the one season as the closer. Moving back to the rotation was an easy transition.
  • Adam thinks that the rotation is very good on paper. He mentioned they have to stay healthy, but said that "1-5 we'll be hard to beat."

Williams thinks that Adam could be a 20 game winner. Kyle Lohse will be a key and a very solid number 3 if he's healthy. Hart likes the Brad Penney signing. There are 3 guys vying for the 5 spot including former Cub Rich Hill. Mitch thinks that Hill could be another Dave Duncan project.

Chris Carpenter talked with Hazel:

  • It's been great for Chris to finally have rehab-free Spring Training.
  • Last year Carpenter was able to be consistent and take the ball every fifth day.
  • The Cardinals staff enjoys competing against one another and following each other's starts.
  • Dave Duncan is super prepared and makes it easy to just go out and pitch.

Projected Bullpen:

  • Jason Motte, RHP
  • Kyle McClellan, RHP
  • Blake Hawksworth, RHP
  • Mitchell Boggs, RHP
  • Trever Miller, LHP
  • Dennys Reyes, LHP
  • Ryan Franklin, RHP- closer (4-3, 1.92 ERA, 38 saves in 2009).

There's no question that Franklin will start the season as the closer, but Mitch is worried because he is not a strike out closer. Jason Motte is the most likely backup plan as the closer. John says that Ryan Franklin has good makeup and has a starter's mix. Tony LaRussa and Dave Duncan will look at all the guys in camp for potential middle inning roles.

2009 Offensive Team Stats:

  • Runs: 730 (7th)
  • Average: .263 (4th)
  • Home Runs: 160 (6th)
  • Slugging %: .415 (6th)
  • Stolen Bases: 75 (11th)

Hazel briefly talked with Tony LaRussa:

  • Albert Pujols has an oustanding work ethic and is never satisfied. This helps him to improve every year.
  • The team's offense looks very deep.

Projected Starting Lineup:

  • S. Schumaker, 2B
  • C. Rasmus, CF
  • A. Pujols, 1B
  • M. Holliday, LF
  • R. Ludwick, RF
  • Y. Molina, C
  • D. Freese/J.Mather, 3B
  • B. Ryan, SS

Mitch Williams thinks that Skip Schumaker and Colby Rasmus have to find a way to get on base. If the top of the order guys aren't getting on, then Pujols and Holliday will not get pitches to hit. Hart thinks the 1-4 in the order is pretty solid. Ryan Ludwick is a bit of a streaky player, but he has big time power. Molina has really come on, but his weakness is speed. John thinks David Freese will win the third base job. He's a solid defender with a plus arm, but the question is the bat. Felipe Lopez is a good move as a backup option.

Top Prospects:

  • Bryan Anderson, C
  • Allen Craig, 1B
  • Daniel Descalso, 2B
  • David Freese, 3B
  • Jaime Garcia, LHP
  • Daryl Jones, OF
  • Pete Kozma, SS
  • Lance Lynn, RHP
  • Shelby Miller, RHP
  • Robert Stock, C

Jaime Garcia stands out to John Hart because he is close and has a chance to impact the big league club this year. Shelby Miller is "as good an arm as they have drafted in along time." He has been throwing the ball well in camp.

Colby Rasmus joined Hazel Mae:

  • Rasmus learned the ropes last year. He also found out how to handle himself.
  • Late in 2009, he struggled a little bit, which could have been because he was wearing down.
  • Rasmus feels much more comfortable knowing that he has earned a job going into the season. He feels like he has proved that he can make it through a full season.
  • Holliday has been there to answer any questions from Colby.

Mark McGwire chatted with Hazel:

  • The Cardinals are hungry and want to get better.
  • The experience this spring has exceeded his expectation.
  • All of the guys have impressed him. The big question is, "How good can you be."
  • Albert Pujols and Matt Holiday could still get into slumps, so he will try to help them work through those.
  • Mark thinks that Tony is easy to work for.

Mitch thinks McGwire will excel at teaching because he cannot get enough baseball. John points out that Mark knows that the big guys don't need too much instruction.

Baseball Prospectus projected record: 92-70, first in NL Central

Mitch and John both also have the Cardinals winning the division.

Weekend Roundup: Berg on the team, Decisions on the Way, & More

Sorting Out the Bullpen
Carrie Muskat reports that Justin Berg has earned a spot in the Cubs' bullpen. He had an 0.75 ERA in an 11 game September callup last season. Prior to that, he went 6-2 with a 2.47 ERA for the Iowa Cubs. Berg will join Esmalin Caridad, John Grabow, Carlos Marmol, and the two guys that lose out of the fifth starter's competition (Silva, Gorzelanny, Marshall, or Samardzija) on the relief core. This leaves one spot left on the Opening Day pitching staff, assumming the Cubs use 12 hurlers to start the year. Rule 5 pick Mike Parisi, NRI James Russell, lefty John Gaub, and Marcos Mateo are the four guys in the mix for this last spot on the staff.

Rotation Decision Nearing
Within the next week we should find out how the starting rotation will pan out. Sean Marshall, Carlos Silva, Jeff Samardzija, and Tom Gorzelanny are all vying for starting jobs. Lou Piniella has an idea of which way he's leaning, but at this point has revealed nothing. The coaching staff will meet to discuss the roster after Monday's game. It should be interesting to see how it turns out!

Sorting Out the Bench
The Cubs have confirmed that they would like to keep an outfielder who can play all three spots because of the fact that backup outfielder Xavier Nady will be limited defensively for the first half of the season. Tyler Colvin and Sam Fuld are the leading candidates for this bench position, with Brad Snyder and James Adduci also in the mix. Jeff Baker (or Mike Fontenot), Koyie Hill, and Nady are all already members of what figures to be an experienced bench. Another veteran bat will be added primarily for pinch hitting purposes. Kevin Millar and Chad Tracy are still battling for this spot. It would appear that Micah Hoffpauir has AAA in his near future.

Injury Updates
Aramis Ramirez will get some at bats in as a DH in today's minor league game at Fitch Park. Ted Lilly will toss a side session today and then his second live BP on Monday. Andres Blanco still can't run at full speed, but he has been able to do some hitting and fielding.

Cubs Idol Winners
Justin Berg got more good news today when he found out that he was the co-winner of the "Cubs Idol" competition. He and infielder Darwin Barney were chosen out of the 8 finalists as co-winners. NFL QB Steve Young was a guest judge today along with the usual panel of Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramiez, Ryan Dempster, and Kevin Millar. Other finalists included Jim Aducci, Starlin Castro, Tyler Colvin, James Russell, and Brad Snyder. Berg and Barney each got $10,000 to a charity of their choice.

Today's Games
This afternoon it's a split squad Cubs team out in the valley of the sun. Half the team will host the Kansas City Royals for the first matchup of the spring between the two clubs. The other split squad takes on the Oakland A's in Phoenix. Carlos Zambrano will pitch at HoHoKam while Tom Gorzelanny tries to make his case for a spot in the rotation against Oakland.

The game against KC will be on WGN Radio. Here's the starting nine:

Theriot, SS
Barney, 2B
Lee, 1B
Byrd, CF
Baker, 3B
Soriano, LF
Soto, C
Snyder, RF
Zambrano, P

The game against the A's is on's gameday audio if you have the package. Here's the lineup behind Gorzelanny:

Adduci, LF
Kosuke, RF
Colvin, CF
Nady, DH
Hoffpauir, 1B
Fontenot, SS
Tracy, 3B
Hill, C
Scales, 2B

A good chance to see a lot of Cubs play today! That's it for now, but I'll keep you posted!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Pregame News & Notes

Roster Cuts
The Cubs have reduced their Spring Training roster to 42. Eight more cuts were made today. Blake Parker, Jeff Stevens, and Welington Castillo were optioned to AAA. Five non-roster invites have been sent back to minor league camp: Andrew Cashner, Casey Coleman, Thomas Diamond, J.R. Mathes, and Bryan LaHair. With these cuts, the Cubs really cleared some pitchers out of camp (6). The biggest surprise among the cuts was Diamond, who I felt had a real chance of making the ballclub. Lefty James Russell is the only non roster pitcher remaining with the team. I also thought Cashner and Mathes would stick around a little longer.

Guzman to have Surgery
Cubs reliever Angel Guzman met with Dr. James Andrews on Thursday and it was decided that Angel will undergo surgery to try to repair the tear in his right shoulder. The operation will take place on Tuesday and there is no timetable for his return.

Ramirez Still Out
Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez was expected to get back into Cactus League action in yesterday's game against the Dodgers. However, Rami is still unable to throw because of his sore right tricep. He is expected to get some at bats in over at Fitch Park in a minor league game on Saturday.

Lilly Throws to Hitters
Ted Lilly threw to hitters for the first time this year yesterday. He is rehabbing from an offseason shoulder surgery. Lilly's moving along faster than expected and could be back in the rotation by mid-April. Ted could get into one Cactus League game before the rest of the team breaks camp.

Other Pitching Updates
The Cactus League rotation was thrown off slightly by Wednesday's off day. Jeff Samardzija worked 3 innings in a minor league intersquad game walking 3 in the second on Wednesday. Sean Marshall did his work yesterday with a 5 inning simulated game at HoHoKam Park while the rest of the team was in Glendale. Jeff Gray, acquired from Oakland this winter, is running out of time to try to make the Opening Day roster. He has been out with a groin injury all spring. Gray tossed three innings of batting practice yesterday, and Carrie Muskat reports that the next step will be a simulated game. We've known that Esmalin Caridad is in the mix for late inning work, but now Bruce Levine adds that Justin Berg is a leader for a setup role.

Today's Game
Randy Wells will take the mound against the White Sox today in Glendale. The game starts at 3:05 CT and will be on CSN Chicago and WGN Radio. Dave van Dyck reports that Aramis Ramirez is still missing from the lineup. Jeff Baker will start at the hot corner in place of Ramirez, and Xavier Nady is scheduled to be the DH.

That's it for now, but I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

30 Clubs in 30 Days Recaps: Pittsburgh Pirates

Today we start our series of previewing all of the teams in the NL Central. We will take a look at all the teams by recapping their episodes of MLB Network's "30 Clubs in 30 Days". Let's hop in to the 2010 Pirates.
  • The Pirates are training for the season down in Bradenton, Florida.
  • They have had 17 losing seasons in a row.
  • Dan Plesac and John Hart agree that Pirates have a plan to try to become a winning ballclub at some point.
  • Last year's record: 62-99

Offseason Additions

  • D.J. Carrasco, RP
  • R. Church, OF
  • N. Cotts, RP
  • B. Donnelly, RP
  • O. Dotel, RP
  • J. Lopez, RP
  • B. Crosby, IF
  • A. Iwamura, IF


  • M. Capps, RP
  • J. Chavez, RP

Hazel Mae talks with Andrew McCutchen:

  • It was a cool feeling to come in to camp knowing that he's on the big league roster.
  • The Pirates come together as a team and just have a lot of fun. They don't separate into veterans and young guy groups.
  • Last year let Andrew know that he can do this and he can handle this. He's looking to stay with that same flow.

John Hart says that the Bucs knew when they drafted McCutchen that he would be their guy. Garrett Jones was a different story because he was a guy nobody really thought about. Plesac added that if you're a minor leaguer in the Pirates system there's some hope that you can advance to the big leagues quickly.

GM Neal Huntington joined the guys to talk about the club that he has assembled:

  • The Pirates had a good early camp even with the bad weather experienced in Florida.
  • The energy in Spring Training is very positive. They have a group of guys ready to take that next step forward.
  • Neal has tried to compile as many solid prospects as possible.
  • He makes it clear that the single focus is putting a winning team on the field.

Starting Rotation:

  • Maholm, LHP
  • Ohlendorf, RHP
  • Duke, LHP
  • Morton, RHP
  • Kevin Hart or Daneil McCutchen

Dan thinks this rotation is a "pitch to contact" rotation that has control type pitchers. Paul Maholm and Zack Duke are 2 left handers that give the clubs something to work with. Charlie Morton hasn't put it all together be he "might have the best stuff" on the staff.

Hazel Mae chatted with Maholm:

  • Paul was dealing with a sore knee last year, but he had no issues in the offseason.
  • He ran more this winter than he had in the past.
  • Maholm is going to go out there every fifth day and expect to do well.

Projected Pirates Bullpen:

  • Brendon Donnelly, RHP
  • Joel Hanrahan, RHOP
  • Neal Cotts, LHP
  • Javier Lopez, LHP
  • Evan Meek, RHP
  • D.J. Carrasco, RHP
  • Closer- Octavio Dotel, RHP

John thinks that the bullpen is very well rounded because they have some veterans and younger guys. Meek was drafted in the Rule 5 Draft from Tampa Bay, and Pittsburgh expects big things from him down the road.

2009 Pirate team stats

  • Runs: 636 (16th in NL)
  • Average: .252 (14th)
  • Home Runs: 125 (14th)
  • OBP: .318 (14th)
  • Stolen Bases: 90 (8th)

Hazel Mae with Lastings Milledge:

  • He is aware of the fact that he is already kind of "on the bubble" because of off the field issues he has had in the past. This is his 3rd big league club.
  • It could be his last chance of lasting with a major league team.
  • Milledge is thrilled with the amount of 1 on 1 time and instruction that he's gotten from the Pittsburgh staff.

Projected Lineup:

  • McCutchen, CF
  • Iwamura, 2B
  • Jones, RF
  • Doumit, C
  • Clement, 1B
  • Milledge, LF
  • LaRoche, 1B
  • Cedeno, SS

Clement struggled in Seattle as a catcher, but now the Pirates are working to convert him to a first baseman. If that experiment works, he could become a nice middle of the order power presence. The Pittsburgh defense looks good on paper. Former Cub Ronny Cedeno is a guy that "can do everything" according to Plesac. Ronny seems to go through some mental lapses.

Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski joined Hazel for a chat:

  • The key to becoming a winning club is building from the bottom.
  • Mazeroski thinks that the Pirates will be a winning ballclub sometime soon.

Top Prospects:

  • Tim Alderson, RHP
  • Pedro Alvarez, 3B
  • Chase D'Arnaub, SS
  • Gorkys Hernandez, OF
  • Brad Lincoln, RHP

Alvarez with Mae:

  • Being in the spotlight is fun. Pedro thinks it's good to be viewed as a player that can help an organization.
  • He is hoping to live up to the expectation.

Baseball Prospectus Projection: 72-90, 6th place, 17 GB

John Projection: They will be an improved ballclub but will not make a run to contend.

Dan's Projection: The Pirates are just a little short of contending.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Position Battle Updates

Happy St. Patrick's Day Cubs fans! Today is the one Cub off day of Spring Training, so we'll use it to get you caught up on this spring's position battles!

Starting Rotation
The top three men in the starting five have been penciled in. Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, and Randy Wells have all already earned the right to start games this season. However, with Ted Lilly set to start the year on the DL and Rich Harden leaving via free agency, there are two spots open to start the year. This leaves Carlos Silva, Tom Gorzelanny, Jeff Samardzija, and Sean Marshall battling for rotation spots.

Carlos Silva: 2-1, 6.00 ERA, 9 IP
*Jeff Samardzija: 0-1, 9.00 ERA, 4 IP
Tom Gorzelanny: 5.40 ERA, 5 IP
Sean Marshall: 2.57 ERA, 7 IP

*Samardzija worked 3 innings during an intersquad minor league game at Fitch Park today. He did not allow a hit to the AA guys but alarmingly walked 3.

There's no doubt that Marshall's pitched the best of the four, but he is held back by his value to the bullpen. At this point, I would say the best bet is to use Marshall in the rotation. If Silva continues to pitch like he has in the last few starts, he very well could take the starts that Lilly misses.

Starting Second Baseman
Lou has hinted that Mike Fontenot has an edge over Jeff Baker at this point. Fontenot was terrific coming off the bench for the Cubs in 2008, which very well could have lead to the team dealing Mark DeRosa. Last year, when Mike was given a chance to take over the every day job, his production declined. Hopefully he can bounce back. Baker, who came over midseason last year from the Rockies, is also going to be a key even if he is only used as a backup infielder. Let's take a look at their stats:

Mike Fontenot: .409 AVG, .440 OBP, 22 ABs
Jeff Baker: .158 AVG, .238 OBP, 19 ABs

Sorting Out the Bullpen
Who knows who will be in the Cub bullpen come Opening Day. Esmalin Caridad, a young talented right handed pitcher, has been tossed into a setup role. Veteran lefty John Grabow will be the other setup guy, with Carlos Marmol handling the ninth inning duties. After that, there are four openings. Let's assume that the first two vacant spots will go to those that lose out on the rotation battle. After that, there's 2 more long relief roles up for grabs. Here are the spring stats of some young pitchers that are in camp vying for jobs.

Mike Parisi: 1-1, 4.05 ERA, 6.2 IP
Casey Coleman: 5.68 ERA, 6.1 IP
James Russell: 0.00 ERA, 5.2 IP
Andrew Cashner: 1-0, 1.80 ERA, 5 IP
J.R. Mathes: 10.80 ERA, 5 IP
John Gaub: 1-0, 3.86 ERA, 4.2 IP
Thomas Diamond: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 4.1 IP
Justin Berg: 1-0, 2.25 ERA, 4 IP
Jeff Stevens: 0-0, 9.00 ERA, 4 IP
Blake Parker: 0-1, 10.60 ERA, 2.2 IP

Diamond is a very underrated guy who could see the diamond at Wrigley as at some point this season. I would say Diamond, Berg, Russell, and Gaub are the favorites for winning spots.

The Fifth Outfielder
Piniella always does a lot of hinting regarding the roster during Spring Training, especially during his pregame WGN Radio interviews with Ron Santo. Lou and Ron sometimes seem to forget that they are on the air because Lou sees Ronny as a friend and not as the media. Based on what we've heard, the Cubs will be keeping five outfielders: Byrd, Kosuke, Soriano, and Nady for sure plus a younger guy who can be used as a defensive sub. Here are the 4 guys competing for that open spot on the bench:

Tyler Colvin: .533 AVG, 6 RBIs, 30 ABs
Brad Snyder: .417 AVG, .533 OBP, 12 ABs
Sam Fuld: .150 AVG, .227 OBP, 20 ABs
Jim Aducci: .348 AVG, .400 OBP, 23 ABs

Jim is a good looking prospect, but he's a long shot to make the team this year. Without question Colvin has the edge, but I wouldn't be totally surprised if the Cubs went with Fuld based on past performance at the big league level. Either way I hope whoever wins this spot gets some playing time and a chance to be a young spark plug.

The Pinch Hitting Utility Man
The Cubs need some leadership off the bench. A guy who has pop, can come up to the plate late in the game and do damage, and who will also provide some leadership. Kevin Millar could fit the bill. Let's check out the stats of Millar and his competitors for the final spot on the bench:

Chad Tracy: 18 ABs, .222 AVG, .300 OBP
Kevin Millar: 15 ABs, .333 AVG, .545 OBP
Micah Hoffpauir: 25 ABs, .120 AVG, .185 OBP

However, when you've had full careers to see these guys play in the case of Tracy and Millar, it does not make sense to base the decision on just a few Cactus League at bats. I still believe Kevin will take this spot because the Cubs like his leadership and his bat. He also brings a better glove than Hoffpauir. Andres Blanco and Brian LaHair are also still in the mix.

My Debut at CCO
I'd like to encourage everyone to check out my first minor league Cubs post over at Chicago Cubs Online. I will be covering the farm system with posts on this site every Monday and Thursday throughout the season! Thanks to Neil for giving me this opportunity! As always, I'll still be posting here on Everything Cubs daily!

That's it for now, but I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mid Week Roundup: Lilly, a Bus Stop, the Lineup, & More

Today the Cubs beat the Rangers by a score of 4-1. We are now about half way through Spring Training! Let's get you caught up on Everything Cubs, starting with the highlights of today's game.

Silva Shows Improvement
Today Carlos Silva got the start in Mesa. After a disastrous first start of the Cactus Leauge, Carlos got back on track. He pitched 4 shutout innings today allowing just 2 hits. Prior to today's game, Carlos learned that his mother has obtained a 10-year Visa. She will now be able to come to Chicago to watch him pitch. With the struggles of Samardzija, Carlos actually has a decent shot of making the starting rotation. Look for a full position battles update post on the off day tomorrow.

The Rest of the Staff
Cubs pitching was good all day long. Esmalin Caridad worked 2 shutout innings and struck out three. Caridad will be given a chance to be a primary set-up man in the Cubs' bullpen. Marcos Mateo allowed the only Ranger run of the day by surrendering a solo homer. Mateo still looked sharp, as the long ball was the only hit he allowed in 1.1 innings. Jeff Stevens put a zero on the board in the eighth, and then lefty James Russell retired the side in order in the 9th to record the save.

Cub Hitters Today
Tracy, Fontenot, Hoffpauir, and Soto all went hitless today, but there were still some good performances at the plate. Ryan Theriot went 2-3 to boost his average .565. Tyler Colvin continued his red hot spring with a base hit in his only at bat. Xavier Nady was the star of the show with a pair of doubles driving in a total of 3 runs.

Theriot to Lead Off
Short stop Ryan Theriot has earned his spot atop the Cubs' lineup with his high batting average this spring. Lou Piniella has announced that his Opening Day start lineup will most likely look like this:
Theriot, SS
Kosuke, RF
Lee, 1B
Ramirez, 3B
Byrd, CF
Soriano, LF
Fontenot, 2B
Soto, C
Zambrano, P

There is still a chance that Baker could swipe the starting second base job from Mike Fontenot, but Piniella is leaning towards 'lil Mike. Soto will start the year batting 8th, but if he shows that he is the same guy he was in 2008 he could climb in the order quickly.

Cubs Idol
In the Cubs clubhouse, the team's version of American Idol has been taking place. Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Kevin Millar, and Ryan Dempster are the panel of judges. John Gaub and Mike Parasi beat out Sam Fuld and Micah Hoffpauir in the Semi-final round of the singing today. Gaub and Parisi- both minor leauge pitchers- will battle for the title of "Cub Idol".

Middle of the Order to Return
Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez, the Cubs' number 3 and 4 hitter respectively, are expected to return to the lineup on Thursday. Both have been out for a few days with some minor injuries. The team has a day off tomorrow, and then they take on the Dodgers on Thursday at 3:00 pm CT. Expect to see Kevin Millar and Jeff Baker spending some time in the outfield later this week (the Cubs may be deciding whether or not they need Hoffpauir).

Samardzija to Throw at Fitch
Jeff Samardzija will stay on his schedule by pitching on the off day tomorrow in a minor league intersquad game at Fitch Park. Jeff is slated to work about 4 innings.

Bus Breaks Down
The Cubs trip to Tuscan for a Cactus Leauge game against the Rockies went from long to LONG when the bus broke down about 45 minutes outside of Mesa on Monday. Lou Piniella and pitching coach Larry Rothschild were driving separately. The rest of the guys were forced to sit in the desert with no air conditioning for about an hour. Perhaps this lead to their loss that day.

Ted Lilly Updates
Lilly is hoping to get into some Cactus League action soon. Everything has gone according to plan so far, so Lou is hopeful that Ted will only miss 2 regular season starts. He will spend those two starts on minor league rehab. In other Lilly related news, Ted and his wife Natasha had their first child on Sunday. Their son's name? Theodore Roosevelt Lilly IV!

That's it for now, but I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Weekend Quick Hits: Piniella's Future, Roster Cuts, Injury Updates, and More

  • Today the Cubs made the first roster cuts of the spring, trimming 9 off the roster. David Patton (sent to AA) and Mitch Atkins, who was sent to AAA, are among the most notable guys cut from camp. Brett Jackson, Josh Vitters, Steve Clevenger, Blake Lalli, Matt Camp, Jeff Kennard, and Vince Perkins were sent to minor league camp.
  • Aramis Ramirez was scratched from yesterday's lineup and sat out again today against the Angels. Rami has a sore right tricep, but he is expected to resume throwing in the next few days.
  • Derrek Lee is also still day-to-day after fouling a ball off his foot last Thursday. Lee should be back in the lineup on Tuesday.
  • Xavier Nady is expected to start playing outfield the last 10 days of Spring Training. He may not be able to throw at 100% until mid-season.
  • It sounds like there are 2 spots left on the Cubs bench. Kevin Millar and Chad Tracy are competing for one of the spots, while Sam Fuld, Brad Snyder, Tyler Colvin, and Jim Adduci are in the mix for the other. Micah Hoffpauir's future is a mystery at this point.
  • Kosuke Fukudome's hitting coach is now in Arizona. He is expected to work closely with Rudy Jaramillo in coaching Kosuke this season.
  • Ted Lilly threw off the mound again today, and the Chicago Tribune reports that he is ahead of schedule.
  • The Cubs fifth starters competition is "still open". Sean Marshall has pitched the best of the four candidates so far, but the lefty is was valuable to the Cubs' bullpen last season.
  • Piniella expects the rotation to be decided by March 22 according to Carrie Muskat.
  • Angel Guzman will meet with Dr. Andrews tomorrow to get a second opinion on his shoulder tear.
  • Tyler Colvin is leading the majors with his .565 Spring Training batting average.
  • The Cubs have been committing a lot of errors so far this spring. Many of the miscues were by guys who won't be on the big league roster, but you still don't want to see sloppy defense.
  • Crane Kenney has talked openly about the future of Lou Piniella with the Cubs. Kenney hinted that if Lou wants to keep managing, then he'll stick around. However, as Bruce Miles points out, Jim Hendry is in charge of baseball operations not Crane.

That's it for now, but I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

4 Games in 2 Days for the Cubbies

It's a busy weekend for the Chicago Cubs with a total of 5 games, one each day that is on TV. Yesterday the Cubs took on the Brewers in Maryvale while the other half of the team played in Las Vegas against the White Sox. Today, the Cubs have two more game, which we'll preview later in the post.

Brewers 12, Cubs 3
Yesterday it was almost like a day-night double-header since the first game, which started at 2:00 CT, was available for listening on and the second game, starting at 9, was on TV. It was a great day of baseball to see a lot of guys in the organization. In game 1, Jeff Samardzija took the hill against Milwaukee in Maryvale. He struggled through 2 innings, giving up 2 longs balls and a total of 4 ER on 5 hits and a walk. One of the homers the Shark allowed was to former Cub Jim Edmonds, who's with the Brewers on a NRI.

Marcos Mateo's wildness cost the Cubs in the 5th when he gave up 5 ER, 5 BB, and 2 H. Mateo, who's the brother of former Cub Juan Mateo, still has an outside chance of making the team as a reliever, but he'll have to bear down the rest of the way. Rafael Dolis got his first appearance of the spring and surrendered 2 ER in 1.1 IP.

Most of the Cubs also had bad days at the plate. Starlin Castro went 0-3, Alfonso Soriano 0-1, Bobby Scales 0-2, and Koyie Hill 1-2. The most concerning story of the day was that Derrek Lee was scratched from Lou Piniella's lineup just before the start of the game. Lee has a bruise on his foot after fouling a ball off it Thursday. He could be back in the lineup today. Brian LaHair, who took Lee's place, went 0-4.

There were some positives in the Cubs' blowout loss at the hands of their division rivals. Tyler Colvin went 2-3, which actually lowered his beastly average to .556. Colvin had a triple against Doug Davis. Aramis Ramirez ripped an RBI double. James Aducci also had a 2-bagger, one of two hits for the young outfielder on the day. John Grabow allowed 2 hits in his inning and an error lead to an unearned run. Grabow didn't look bad and was able to get out of it with minimal damage. James Russell, who's hoping to catch the eye of Lou and his staff, still has an ERA of 0.00 after working around 2 hits and a walk today in 1.2 innings.

Because of the Split Squads, there were a number of guys from the minor league camp that got the chance to dress for the major league games. Jeremy Papelbon faced 2 men, one singled but the other was retired. Second baseman Logan Watkins singled in his only AB. Blake Lalli, Junior Lake, Nelson Perez, Smaily Borgues (who?), and Brandon Guyer all also got into the game. All of them recorded outs in their only ABs.

Cubs 6, White Sox 5
Last night the rest of the Cubs team took the field against the White Sox in Las Vegas at Cashman Field, which is the home of the Pacific Coast League's LV 51s. Tom Gorzelanny, another guy competing for a spot in the rotation, took the mound. Despite one bad inning, Gorzo out-pitched Samardzija by far yesterday. He pitched 3 innings and did not allow a hit, but 3 second inning walks and a wild pitch accounted for a White Sox run against him. Allan Trammell (acting manager) and Lester Strode (acting pitching coach) couldn't have been happy watching 3 straight walks and a wild one, but overall Tom pitched well. Ryan Theriot reached base 3 times out of the leadoff spot with a single and pair of walks. Kosuke was 0-2 but walked twice. Kevin Millar, who was the cleanup hitter, also went 0-2 with 2 walks. He was gunned downed trying to score on a tag play to end the first inning. The Cubs did score 2 runs in the frame before it was ended on the play at the plate.

Geovany Soto and Mike Fontenot also had big games. Fontenot went 3-4 with 2 RBIs, while Geo was 2-3 with a walk. Thomas Diamond allowed only 1 baserunner in his two scoreless innings of work to keep his ERA at 0.00. Sam Fuld has not hit well in Spring Training yet. He dropped a couple of almost-nice plays in foul territory to go along with his 0-5 day at the plate. Fuld's average dipped to .143. Jeff Baker got his first hit of the Cactus League, going 1-4 with an RBI. Xavier Nady (0-3) struck out twice.

After Diamond, the ball was turned over to some minor league hurlers. The Cubs had a 4-0 lead after 5, but that evaporate quickly when Jay Jackson gave up 3 ER in 0.2 IP. Mitch Atkins would come in to get out of that inning, but not before he allowed a base hit that brought in 2 of the runs that were charged to Jackson. The Cubs' bats went back to work in the top of the 7th, scoring 3 more runs. Hung-Wen Chen put a zero on the board in inning number 7. Brian Schlitter, a righty whom the Cubs acquired in the Scott Eyre deal several years back, allowed a run in the 8th to make it 6-5. Blake Parker walked 2 in the 9th to make it interesting, but he was able to get out of it to notch the save.

The only extra base hit for the Cubs was a triple by Josh Vitters, part of the 7th inning rally, that plated 2. DJ LeMahieu, the second round pick from '09, singled in his only trip to the plate.

Today's Games
Today, the Cubs have another split squad. In Las Vegas, they will look for the 2 game sweep of the White Sox at 3:05 CT. Ryan Dempster will pitch against Lucas Harrell. Sean Marshall will make his first start of the spring when the Cubs face the Reds, who are the newest members of the Cactus League, in Mesa. Marshall has pitched better than any of the other 3 rotation options at this point, so we'll see if he can keep it up. Today's game in Mesa is at 2:05 CT, but after the time change here tonight all the rest of the Spring Training games will start at 3:05 central. The game in Vegas will be on CSN with White Sox announcers, while the game against the Reds is available on's Gameday Audio package.

That's it for now, but I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Cubs Pull One Out

It wasn't pretty, but the Cubs got the job done today holding on for an 8-7 win against the San Diego Padres.

Most of the Cubs regulars stayed back in Mesa to work with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo instead of making the trip to Peoria. While the every day guys were getting their work in, we got the chance to see some guys who are fighting for roster spots compete.

Carlos Silva got his second Cactus League start. Coming off an awful first outing, Silva was able to bounce back with 3 scoreless innings. He really needed this strong outing today to stay in the race for the rotation. He did allow 4 hits and a walk, but managed to work around them.

The Cubs jumped right on Jon Garland early, sending him to the showers after just 1.2 innings. They chased him by scoring 2 in the first and twice more in the second. In the middle innings, the Cubs continued to add on and they felt comfortable with an 8-0 lead at the 7th inning stretch.

Then the defense fell apart. The Cubs made 4 errors on the day, and the sloppiness caused them to surrender 7 unearned runs in the final 3 innings. Jeff Stevens allowed 3 of those runs in just 0.2 innings. Stevens has a shot at making the roster, but so far has not pitched well this spring. Esmalin Caridad got rocked in the 9th for 3 runs on 4 hits. Caridad is going to be the Cubs primary right handed set-up man this season unless Hendry is able to add a piece to the bullpen.

Carlos Marmol's stuff looked sharp today as he worked a perfect 4th. David Patton and Vince Perkins both finally got into game action making their spring debuts. Patton, who made the club because of his microscopic ERA last spring, has continued his Cactus League success, while Perkins allowed 1 run. Lefty J.R. Mathes put a zero on the board in the 6th.

Chad Tracy, Josh Vitters, Bobby Scales, and Mike Fontenot all commited fielding errors today, leading to the 7 unearned runs. Fontenot did have a walk, a hit, and an RBI at the plate to help makeup for his miscue. Starlin Castro continued to live up to the hype today by going 2-3 with a solo homer, 3 runs scored, 2 RBIs, and a base on balls. Castro is hitting .571 so far in Cactus League action.

Brian LaHair and Tyler Colvin both started the game in the outfield. They had two hits a piece. Sam Fuld did not have a good day going 1-4 with 3 Ks. Catcher Robinson Chirinos hit a two run homer in the 6th inning. Josh Vitters reached base both times he came to the plate with a single and walk.

Micah Hoffpaur is another guy who has not helped his cause. He is fighting for one of the final bench spots, and is hitting just .083. He was 0-2 today.

Earlier this week, Lou used the following lineup and hinted that it very well could be the one we see on Opening Day:

Theriot, SS
Kosuke, RF
Lee, 1B
Ramirez, 3B
Byrd, CF
Soriano, LF
Fontenot, 2B
Soto, C

Piniella did mention that Jeff Baker could still earn a starting job, but Jeff is hitting .000 in Cactus League play.

Time For Vegas
Lou Piniella and part of the team will stay behind to play two games in Arizona, but Alan Trammell will lead half of the squad to Las Vegas to play the White Sox twice this weekend. Tomorrow the Arizona split squad Cubs take on the Brewers at 2:05 CT. That game is not on Chicago TV or radio, but you can hear it if you have's gameday audio package. The Vegas part of the team will take center stage in the nightcap, which starts at 9:00 CT on CSN Chicago. Jeff Samardzija will pitch against the Brewers tomorrow afternoon while Tom Gorzelanny faces the White Sox tomorrow night. The Cubs also have a split team on Saturday. Ryan Dempster will start in Vegas and Sean Marshall will get the nod against the Reds in Arizona. The Cubs will need 5 starting pitchers in the month of April, so the outings for Gorzo, Marshall, and Shark this weekend are very important as they battle for rotation spots.

That's it for now, but I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Giants 5, Cubs 1 (Game Recap & More)

We'll get to the Milton Bradley stuff later in the post, but let's start off with a recap of today's Cactus League game. The Cubs hosted the Giants at HoHoKam Park for the first of two Cactus League meetings between the two clubs.

Big Z
Carlos Zambrano worked quickly through the first two innings, but then allowed 5 runs in the 3rd including a Pablo Sandoval grand slam. Big Z would go on to take the loss in the game.

The Cubs got one run back on Aramis Ramirez's second hit of the day in the fourth inning, an RBI single. After that, pitching dominated the game and the silent bats of the Cubs led to a 5-1 loss.

The Short Stops
There were a few bright spots on the offensive side, however. Ryan Theriot went 3-3 as his average climbed to .692! When Starlin Castro took over for Theriot as the Cub lead-off man and short stop, he too hit well. Castro went 2-2 with a pair of singles.

X Man
Xavier Nady made his Cactus League debut a day earlier than expected. Zambrano was willing to sacrifice his ABs to allowed Nady to DH today. Xavier looked good, going 1-2 with a walk. He most likely will travel with the half of the team that is going to Las Vegas to get some more at bats in.

The 0 fors
The Spring Training struggles of Jeff Baker continued today. He was in the lineup for the whole game- starting at second base and then shifting over to third when Ramirez departed. Baker was hitless in 4 trips to the plate, but he did draw a walk. Jeff, who's batting .000, will need to step it up in order to beat Mike Fontenot out for the majority of the second base playing time. Koyie Hill (0-3), Alfonso Soriano (0-3), James Adduci (0-4), Micah Hoffpauir (0-2), and Sam Fuld (0-2) all had bad days at the dish as well.

Lights Out Relievers
After Zambrano's rocky start, the Cubs pitching staff was terrific. John Grabow, Mike Parisi, Andrew Cashner, Thomas Diamond, John Gaub, and Justin Berg all worked scoreless innings. Grabow will be a key to the bullpen as one of the only veterans. The rest of the guys that pitched in this game are looking to win the final few open jobs in the pen. Berg and Diamond looked especially sharp, as they each retired the Giants in order. Thomas was picked up after he was let go by the Rangers last year, and is looking to bounce back from an injury. Justin came over as a minor leaguer in a trade with the Yankees a few years ago. Cashner was the Cubs first round draft choice in 2008, Parisi was drafted in the Rule 5 draft this winter, and Gaub came over in the Mark DeRosa trade in late 2008.

No Action For Dolis or Patton
As Chicago Cubs Online pointed out, the Cubs still have several players who have not gotten into any Cactus League games. Diamond pitched for the first time today, while David Patton, Vince Perkins, and Rafael Dolis have yet to take the mound. Patton is expected to start the year at AAA after he was hidden in the bullpen and on the DL in '09 so the organization could keep him. Dolis is a young prospect that the organization is very high on. Also, Steve Clevenger and Blake Lalli are position player who have not played in any Spring Training games yet. With Clevenger and Lalli, it is very surprising because there have been plenty of opportunities for Lou to get different guys in as defensive subs or pinch hitters. Perhaps there is an injury or some other situation that we do not know about.

Backup Outfield Update
Lou Piniella indicated yesterday that he will keep 5 outfielders on the roster to start the season. According to Carrie Muskat, Nady may not be able to throw at full strength until June. Piniella may not want to waste a roster spot on somebody that can pinch hit only, so the DL is a possibility. Right now, there's a good chance that one or possibility two of these young outfielder could break camp with the big club. Their Spring Training stats so far are included:
Jim Adduci: 6 games, .182 AVG
Tyler Colvin: 5 games, .545 AVG, 1 HR, 3 RBIs
Brad Snyder: 5 games, .545 AVG, 1 HR, 3 RBIs
Sam Fuld: 4 games, .200 AVG, 1 HR, 2 RBIs

Right now, Colvin and Snyder have identical spring numbers. The Cubs are going to need 12 pitchers, so using 5 outfielders would leave them with only 6 infielders plus the 2 catchers. Ramirez, Lee, Fontenot, Baker, and Theriot are 5 infielders on the roster for sure. Therefore, the group of Hoffpauir, LaHair, Tracy, Blanco, and Millar may be competing for 1 spot, with the 4 outfielders listed competing for 1-2 spots depending on the health of Nady. Tyler Colvin and Sam Fuld are the front runners for winning roster spots, with Brad Snyder in the mix as a dark horse.

Can We Just Move On?
Milton Bradley is at it again. Click here for his interview with ESPN in which he describes Cub fans as racist and once again blames the city of Chicago for his failures while he was here. Jim Hendry said that Bradley needs to take a look in the mirror. Hendry and Lou both feel that it is 2010 now, and it's time to focus on 2010. Alfonso Soriano's message to Milton is to leave the negativity in the past. Sori says he thinks Milton is an OK guy. Ryan Dempster defended the city, and says that fans who pay good money to see the team play have every right to boo if they don't like what they see.

Cubs Idol
While Bradley is still discussing the Cubs, it's evident that the current team is much more relaxed. They are putting on their own version of American Idol behind closed doors. Younger players like Andrew Cashner, Jim Adduci, Brett Jackson, and Mike Parisi do the singing while veterans like Kevin Millar and Ryan Dempster put on the competition and serve as judges.

Injury Updates
Cubs LHP Ted Lilly through 30 pitches earlier this week and tossed 35 today. He is feeling good and is hoping to get into a few Spring Training game before the team leaves the valley. Still no word on whether or not Angel Guzman will have surgery or on a timetable for reliever Jeff Gray, who's been out since the start of camp with a groin injury. Andres Blanco is also still sidelined.

A Return of Kerry?
Several sources have mentioned that Kerry Wood could be an option for the Cubs bullpen. Phil Rogers puts him on a list that also includes Brad Ziegler, Jason Frasor, and Heath Bell, but Rogers thinks the Cubs would have to give up lots of talent in return for any of these guys.

Nomar to ESPN
Former Cubs short stop Nomar Garciapara has announced his retirement today. He will take a job as a TV analyst for ESPN. He hit .289 in his two years (2005-2006) in a Cub uniform, playing in just 105 total games.

Random Stat
Kosuke Fukudome hit just .132 with 2 outs and runners in scoring position last season, which was second worst in the league. He has to be better in the clutch in 2010.

Up Next
Tomorrow afternoon the Cubs take on the Padres at 2:05 PM CT in Peoria. The game will not be broadcast on Chicago TV or radio, but you can get it if you have's gameday audio package via the Padres Radio Network. Carlos Silva, who has made some mechanical adjustments since his last outing, will take the hill against Jon Garland. On Friday, the Cubs have a split squad game with Jeff Samardzija facing the Brewers in Arizona and Tom Gorzelanny going against the White Sox in Las Vegas.

That's it for now, but I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The State of the Bullpen

I covered the bullpen some in yesterday's post, but unfortunately technical difficulties prevented me from posting that story. So today, let's talk a little bit about the Cubs' relief core.

Carlos Marmol is the closer. He is of the utmost importance to this ballclub because they already lack bullpen depth. As of now, there would be nobody to take over for Carlos if he goes down or struggles.

But instead of thinking about "What ifs..." let's face the situation the pen is in right now. With the injury to Angel Guzman, the already thin bullpen lost a significant arm. Marmol will be the Cubs closer, John Grabow will be the primary left handed setup man, and beyond that there's a gray area. Lou Piniella has showed confidence in Esmalin Caridad, who pitched well late last year when he received a callup. Lou says that Caridad has made the club as a setup man. Whoever is left out of the rotation of the group of Samardzija, Marshall, and Gorzelanny will fill the 4th spot in the bullpen. That leaves three slots open.

Jeff Gray, who came to the Cubs in the deal that shipped Fox and Miles to Oakland this winter, is out with a groin injury and will probably not be ready to start the regular season.

So these final three spots could be filled with young pitchers that are in camp, or the Cubs could look to add a veteran presence to the bullpen by going outside the organization. Bruce Levine continues to report that Jason Frasor and Luke Gregerson are options for the Cubs. Frasor worked a scoreless inning in his only spring appearance so far for the Blue Jays. Gregerson has worked 2 innings so far for the Padres and has yielded just one base runner and no runs.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports connects the Cubs to John Smoltz and Pedro Martinez. Would it be worth the injury risk to try to bring in one of these post-prime legends?

Even if the Cubs fill 1 spot with a trade or free agent signing, there will still be at least 2 bullpen openings for younger guys. Bruce Levine says that Casey Coleman, John Gaub, Jeff Stevens, and James Russell are candidates. Carrie Muskat mentions Justin Berg, Mike Parisi, and Thomas Diamond. Muskat adds that David Patton will most likely start in the minor leagues now that the Cubs have kept him on the roster long enough to keep him since the Rule V Draft in December of 2008. Carlos Silva will also vie for a spot in the bullpen if he does not make the rotation. He could start the year hidden on the DL if he does not improve upon his Cactus League debut.

Let's take a look at how some of the Cubs competing for spots in the bullpen are doing in the Cactus League:
  • Andrew Cashner: 2 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 1 ER
  • Casey Coleman: 4.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER
  • J.R. Mathes: 2 IP, 2 ER
  • Mike Parisi: 2 IP, 1 ER
  • Carlos Silva: 2 IP, 7 H, 6 ER
  • Jeff Stevens: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 4 ER
  • John Gaub: 1.1 IP, 1 ER
  • Marcos Mateo: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER
  • Jeff Kennard: 0.2 IP, 4 H, 4 ER
  • Mitch Atkins: 0.1 IP, 0 ER

We'll see how it plays out!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Cubs 10, Oakland 3

Today, the Cubs beat the A's for the second time this spring to improve their Cactus League record to 3-1. Due to the split squad games being rained out yesterday, we got a chance to see a lot of big league pitchers work in this game. In addition, many of the Cub regular position players took the field took get some work in.

For these reasons, it's unfortunate that this game was not broadcast on TV or radio. Ryan Dempster made his first start of Spring Training today and looked sharp.


Computers... hate 'em but you can't live without them. An error occured on Blogger and somehow I lost an hour and half worth of blogging about today's game. Usually when I.E. freezese up, I can get back in and the post is saved. However, this time only the first couple sentances were there.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sunday Pregame Notes: Game Against the Sox Rained Out

Update 2:10 CT: The Cubs VS Dodgers game also rained out. Most of the Cactus League games today were cancelled. The Cubs play @Oakland tomorrow at 2:05 CT.

It's bad news for those of us hoping to see the Cubs and White Sox play on WGN-TV today. The game between the Cubs and Sox has been cancelled due to rain in Glendale. Today was supposed to be a split squad, and as of right now the game against the Dodgers in Mesa is still on. says that there is a rain shower in Mesa right now with a temp of 57.

The Cubs and Dodgers will start at 2:05 PM CT, but it will not be on Chicago TV or radio. However, you can get the game in Mesa on Gameday Audio on if you have the package. Click here for the link. Tom Gorzelanny is the Cubs starting pitcher. He is competing with Samardzija, Silva, and Marshall for a spot in the starting rotation. Silva was hammered yesterday in a 15-3 loss at the hands of the White Sox. Carlos allowed 6 runs in his two innings of work. So far Marshall has taken the lead in the fifth starters' competition with his two scoreless frames in the Cactus League opener on Thursday against Oakland. Samardzija was scheduled to start the game in Glendale today that has been rained out.

Here is the starting lineup for the game against the Dodgers behind Gorzo:

Castro, SS
Kosuke, RF
Lee, 1B
Ramirez, 3B
Colvin, CF
Soriano, LF
Soto, DH
Hill, C
Fontenot, 2B

Just for fun, here's what would have been the starting 9 for the rained out game in Glendale:
Theriot, SS
Baker, 2B
Tracy, 3B
Millar, 1B
Hoffpauir, DH
Byrd, CF
Snyder, LF
Castillo, C
Jackson, RF

Guys that will pitch against the Dodgers today:
Thomas Diamond, Mike Parisi, Esmalin Caridad, Jay Jackson, and Brian Schlitter.

Guys that were scheduled to pitch against the Sox:
Mathes, Gaub, Stevens, and Parker

Hopefully they get the game in Mesa in. The Cubs will already are a little behind with getting guys work in because of the rain out in Glendale.

Other Cubs Notes:

  • Short stop Andres Blanco suffered a sprain of his right knee during a play at second base in yesterday's game. Blanco says that it's nothing too serious, and he expects to be at 100% in about two weeks. He will sit out Spring games for the next 10-14 days.
  • Starlin Castro will still start the year at AAA Iowa according to the Chicago Tribune.
  • Angel Guzman is considering whether or not to have surgery on his shoulder.
  • Xavier Nady has been held back once again. The Cubs feel he has plenty of time to get ready for the season, so he will not be used as a DH until later in the week. They will be careful with Nady because he missed most of last year because of Tommy John surgery.

That's it for now, but I'll keep you posted on whether or not the game against the Dodgers will be played!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Saturday Pregame Notes

The Cubs received some very bad news today. Angel Guzman has a significant tear in a ligament in his right shoulder. Whether or not he will have surgery has yet to be determined. This injury could be career threatening. The Cubs bullpen already lacks depth, and now it would seem like Jim Hendy needs to add several solid arms to the mix before Opening Day if he wants the Cubs to have a chance. Relief pitching is always an important aspect of a ballclub. Now if Marmol were to struggle or go down, there is really no plan "B". John Grabow and Esmalin Caridad are expected to serve as primary set-up men, but beyond that it will be up to all young guys to try to win jobs, unless Hendy can make a move.

Today's game against te White Sox will be broadcast on WGN TV and Radio. Carlos Silva will be on the hill for his first outing in a Cub uniform. Here is there rest of the Cubs' lineup:

Theriot, SS
Kosuke, RF
Lee, 1B
Ramirez, 3B
Byrd, RF
Soriano, LF
Hoffpauir, DH
Soto, C
Scales, 2B

Alfonso Soriano will be making his spring debut. Xavier Nady was expected to be the DH today, but he has been pushed back a day to tomorrow's game against the Dodgers. Daniel Hudson will be the Sox starting pitcher.

Although it's only Spring Training, when it's a game against the White Sox bragging rights are always on the line. Marmol, Grabow, and Cashner are among the other pitchers that will get into today's game.

Mike Fontenot took ground balls today and could play in tomorrow's game.

"I don't care who wins, as long as it's the Cubs."