In coachspeak: “Look, winning Spring Training games isn’t everything. But eventually, you’d like to start winning some. And moreover, you’d like to stop getting shit-stomped.” Matt Garza didn’t have it today, though most of the damage was done while he was relying solely on his fastball. Marlon Byrd continues to rake, though, so at least there’s that. On to the battles:

  • Darwin Barney got in a half-game at short, and went 1-2 with an RBI. He’s steady, if not impressive, and for that reason – and because he offers upside that Augie Ojeda does not – he’s my preferred option to win the last infield bench spot. I suspect Ojeda is in the lead, though.
  • Reed Johnson also got in a half-game, and also went 1-2 with a double and an RBI. The Johnson-Fernando Perez battle continues to run about even, as neither is really standing out, but each bring something uniquely valuable to the table (Johnson = veteran leadership and established success; Perez = unparalleled speed and a tremendous attitude).
  • Max Ramirez – who does not have a realistic shot at unseating Koyie Hill as Geo Soto’s backup – raised his Spring average to .375. Just saying.
  • Justin Berg, about whom we’ve heard little this Spring, gave up a couple of earned runs in an inning of work. His Spring ERA stands at a Silva-esque 60.75.
  • Esmailin Caridad still just doesn’t have it back. He gave up another three runs in his inning.
  • Jeff Stevens had a scoreless frame, but he’s a longshot at this point to make the bullpen after a couple of shots the last two regular seasons to make a name for himself.
  • VanSlaw

    Perez = unparalleled speed and a tremendous attitude


    • Ace

      Does your winky suggest I might be something less than objective…?

  • jh

    Let me say this… I am a big fan of Reed Johnson. I like seeing him as a Cub, it reminds me of much more optimistic days just a few years ago. That being said, his “veteran leadership” means nothing on this team. First & foremost Byrd is a much better veteran leader for any young guys (such as Colvin) than Johnson could possibly be. He works hard & hustles (as does Byrd) but this team needs speed. Reed Johnson off the bench in a situation where we need a stolen base (let’s face it, this is really the most the Johnson/ Perez battle has to offer) is no match for Perez. If we are terribly concerned with hitting, we obviously would’t have Hill on the roster so this competition has to have other benefits. Second, there is really is no true upside for Johnson. He is already 34. Perez could (could!) hit as well as Johnson (who is clearly on the decline) and at least validate the Garza trade slightly for those who didn’t particularly like it (myself included).

    I know young guys are unproven but for me, I would much rather get mediocre to average results from a young guy (Barney, Perez, M. Ramirez, etc.) than an aging, declining veteran with “leadership”. A team only needs so many leaders and even fewer Koyie Hills.

    • Ace

      I am inclined to agree, with the caveat that it’s possible Johnson could out-hit Perez so significantly as to outweigh the value of Perez’s speed. Johnson had a .790 OPS against lefties just last year.

  • PFK

    Is it just me or is this Spring getting more depressing as it goes along? Three weeks ago I was getting pumped up (what Cub fan doesn’t just before ST?), now I see Hill still on .000 and making a million, Perez still unable to crack the Mendoza line, Blake DeWitt’s porous glove and weak bat, Jeff Baker as the alternative to DeWitt (ouch), Garza getting pelted like Silva, ridiculously bad defense, a team as slow as molasses, few shining young stars in the minors, a suspect GM and…I’ve got to stop. That said, Soriano, Soto, Byrd, Castro, Ramirez, Z, Marmol and some others are having a good ST. It just doesn’t seem like it will be enough to be a .500 ballclub and it could be a truly horrible ballclub.
    Somebody please cheer me up!!

    • Ace

      GO, CUBS GO!

    • BT

      How about with one or two exceptions, the guys you are worried about having a bad spring are backup players like the 2nd catcher, 5th outfielder and one half of the 2b platoon (Garza being the exception, but my guess is that he manages to sneak in a few breaking balls when he pitches during the regular season), whereas the guys having good springs are the guys we will be counting on the most.

      Does that make you feel better?

      • PFK

        Thanks guys. I can come down off the ledge now.