In case the title is unclear (I’m not saying it’s intentionally obtuse because it tickles me, but I’m not not saying it), the Cubs swept their split squad games today against the Diamondbacks and Dodgers. Carlos Zambrano had another solid outing, Starlin Castro continues to destroy the ball, and Koyie Hill went back to his hitless ways. All is right with the world…

  • Braden Looper was just so-so in his latest start. He managed just 3.2 innings, giving up five hits and striking out two. He allowed just one earned run, though.
  • As for the bullpen competition, Scott Maine had his first really rough outing, allowing four baserunners and three runs (two earned) in one inning of work. I’d say he still has the inside track on a bullpen spot, but he’ll need to bounce back.
  • Jeffs Samardzija and Stevens split two innings of work, with the latter going 1.1 and bailing out the former. That’s right – Jeff Samardzija struggled again today, walking two (and striking out two) and failing to finish out his inning of work.
  • Theoretical-but-probably-not-actual bullpen competitors like Jay Jackson, Kyle Smit, Scott Rice, and Chris Carpenter also saw work today, but none was sufficiently terrible or great to merit discussion.
  • Fernando Perez and Reed Johnson once again both got starts, though Johnson played just a half game. Perez walked twice in five plate appearances, and Johnson went 0-2. You’ve got to believe Perez has an ever-so-slight lead in their battle to win the 5th outfielder job, if not for his performance, then for his speed.
  • The other positional battle – middle infield backup – was once again a non-battle, as Darwin Barney started and played a near full game (1-4) while Augie Ojeda did not make an appearance. Were I like, you know, a real journalist, my first question for Mike Quade today would be, “what’s up with Augie? Is he hurt?”
  • As for second base: Blake DeWitt went 1-3, and Jeff Baker went 2-2 with a game-winning single. Moreover, and I hate using non-substantive indicators like this, DeWitt simply doesn’t look very good at the plate right now. If he’s going to get the bulk of the starts against righties to start the season, he better be batting 8th.
  • Hey, hey: football signee Matt Szczur made an appearance today! But, er, he went 0-1.
  • Art

    according to some media, 2 back up’s are fighting for the Middle infield spot and 2 other back up’s are fighting to platoon at 2B.

    2 back up’s have proven they are back up’s at best, and 2 kids. one still trying to play 2B and Barney who despite being about the same age as DeWitt, is the new kid who hasn’t been given the chance the other 3 have had. why don’t they give the job to Barney and let the other 3 fight for the 2 back up jobs?

    you have a DH at 3B, 2 back up’s at 2B, a 196 hitter at 1B, another DH in LF, a 4th OF’er in CF, a minor leaguer at C, and an unwanted RF’er in RF. is that what Ricky calls playing the kids?

    now I know some of these kids may not be ready, but Barney’s D alone improves the team/pitching and this team needs lot’s of help. so find out what he can do hitting. don’t judge him on his minor league average, judge him on his winning wherever he’s been. give him a shot.

  • Derrick

    What bothers me is that some of youngsters with potential J. Jackson, Carpenter Etc. dnt have a legitimate shot to make the club and they should. Silva is not apart of our future and the Cubs should eat the 8 million and give someone with potential that roster spot.

    Why does Marquez Smith have a Casey McGahee feel to me all over again

    The rotation comp. is over Quade needs to step up and state that and let focus on improving. Demp,Z.Garza.R.Wells, Cashner.

    • Ace

      At least Smith won’t be released. Plus, not sure where he’d play even if he did make the team.

      • jeff

        Scott Moore is doing a lot better than Smith is so far. I think Moore, if anyone, has pushed himself into the extra infielder conversation. I see nothing listed or talked about as far as Augie Ojeda is concerned. Has he impressed Quade that much with his gritty hustleness that he has earned a job already and doesn’t need to play the rest of the spring, thus saving his scrapiness for October?

    • Bric

      I’m probably the lone voice in the wilderness but I still think Cashner is more valuable in the pen. He’s young and throws two good pitches. Let him develop out there without the stress of starting every fifth day. I’m sure somebody will pick up Silva by the end of ST. The last spot in the rotation can either go to Looper temporarily, to another journeymen, or to J.Jackson (also temporarily). Thoughts?

      • Dave

        Realistically the Cubs aren’t going to contend this year, so they can afford to see what he can do as a starter. A pitcher who can throw 160 solid innings is more valuable than one who throws 60.

      • Ace

        Cashner would be more valuable as a reliever if he can put up a 2.00 ERA over 60 innings instead of a 4.00 ERA over 180 innings as a starter. I’m not sure which is more realistic (probably neither this year).

        • Dave

          Thats assuming those are the numbers he’d put up. If it were a choice between a 3.00 era in 180 innings or a 3.00 era in 60, I think its more beneficial to use him as a starter. If the Cubs were one good/potentially great reliever away from being serious pennant contenders, I’d be all for putting him in the pen.

          • Ace

            Yeah, I made those numbers up. I’m just saying, a reliever who goes 60 innings and has a 2.00 ERA is the approximate value of a starter who goes X innings (some number higher than 60) with an X.XX ERA (some number higher than 2.00). Has anyone ever done the math on this? Seems like there could be a graph.

            • Dave

              I get what you’re saying, I just think starters have a greater impact on wins and losses than relief pitchers who may appear in twice as many games. I’ll put it like this: All other thongs being equal (i.e. salary) would you rather have Jonathan Papelbon or Matt Cain?

              • Kenny L.

                I think you and Ace agree. You’re both saying good starters are more valuable than good relievers.

                • Dave

                  Yeah, I was going back more to the original post about Cashner being more valuable out of ythe pen. If I get a chance I’ll do some amateur tinkering with WAR as it relates to starters vs relievers, like Ace said, that could get interesting.

  • Derrick

    And by the way the fact that Koyie Hill is almost guaranteed a spot is joke and QUADE AND JIM hENDRY SHOULD BE ASHAMED. The guy is barley a AA caliber bat and no matter how well he calls a game or whatever should not be on this team.!!!!!!!