It’s a winning streak. Today the Chicago Cubs took down the Kansas City Royals in Surprise, Arizona, to even their Spring record at a still-not-very-meaningful 2-2. The Cubs had 15 hits on the day (all singles, save one Darwin Barney double), made Royals pitchers work, stole four bases, and had solid pitching (until Jeff Beliveau in the 9th).

Speaking of solid pitching…

  • So, Jeff Samardzija had a nice day. A very nice day. He pitched three innings (more than the typical two at this stage of the Spring), striking out three, and giving up no more than a bloop single. His fastball sat in the mid-90s (touching the upper 90s), he was economical in his pitches, and his performance was overall described as very, very good.
  • What does it actually mean? All Spring caveats apply (weak lineups, pitchers ahead of hitters, Scott McClain, etc.), there are still a half dozen starting pitchers probably ahead of him in the rotation competition, and this is but one, very small data point. But it’s a very small data point that points strongly in one direction. Nothing that happened today should change anyone’s minds. But if it were to happen again and again this month? Then it starts to make you think. Given all the buzz about Samardzija coming from both Dale Sveum and the front office, this is very much worth watching, no matter how steep the hill upon which Samardzija currently climbs.
  • Bench hopefuls Joe Mather and Matt Tolbert each got the start today, with a hit apiece in three at bats. We’ll continue to keep an eye on them, but they are facing a numbers game that is not working in their favor. Mather would have to beat out two of Reed Johnson, Dave Sappelt, and Tony Campana to make the team (assuming no trades), and Tolbert would probably have to beat at least four of Adrian Cardenas, Blake DeWitt, Edgar Gonzalez, Bobby Scales and Alfredo Amezega.
  • Sappelt had the chance to leadoff today, but came up empty in three at bats.
  • Steve Clevenger had a hit in his three at bats. He struck out in the other two.
  • Jeff Beliveau, an early favorite to win the “other” left-handed spot in the bullpen had another rough outing. A few hits, a wild pitch, and a general inability to fool anyone, combined to make for an ugly appearance – and that was all before he recorded an out.
  • Jay Jackson and Rafael Dolis each threw two innings without giving up an earned run. Dolis has been an organizational favorite for a number of years, and is pushing for a bullpen spot. Jackson is mostly pushing for a spot in the Iowa rotation right now.
  • Serio
    • Brett

      No, you’re not crazy – the writer is. You have to trace those things back to the source, and the source there is a relatively innocuous tweet by Peter Gammons (which I retweeted earlier today). All Gammons said was: “one international scouting director sees Cuban power bat Jorge Soler getting $27M from the Cubs.”

      That’s it. That’s the entire story. But this guy writes that that guy wrote what that guy said … and suddenly, it’s “OMG THE CUBS ARE ABOUT TO SIGN JORGE SOLER!!!!!lol!!!1!!!!”

      • King Jeff

        Didn’t that 27 million number come out a month ago when the Cubs were rumored to have signed him the first time?

        • MichiganGoat

          That’s what I’m seeing on twitter that this is a repeat of earlier news that got reborn because the always sane Gammons sent it out and the idiots ran with it. See folks this is why writing a piece before you have time to double check and research the source is a bad idea. It’s one of the reasons BleacherNation is so much better than many other sites.

  • Stan

    Ohhhh “Surprise” is the name of the city!

  • Bric

    Question: How did Belieau become the early favorite for the other lefty job (if there is one) in the bullpen? He’d have to beat out Guab, Sonnenstine, and Maine. The days of Hendry and Pinella’s pet projects like Pie and Caridad are long gone. Let’s hope the new management has a clearer idea of just putting the top, most experienced performers on the roster instead of trying to pat thenselves on the back for finding diamonds in the rough.

    • Brady

      yea that outing was a cringe to watch. When you are going into the bot of the 9th up 6-1 and you see it very quickly become 6-4 you start to worry a bit. I get that wins in ST dont matter but they are still nice.

    • King Jeff

      Beliveau looked pretty great in the minors last year at times, and Maine, Gaub, and Sonnanstine did not. I am not nearly as worried about Svuem making a bad call on the final roster as I was with Quade last year. Not sure that’s worth much, but I get a better feeling from listening to management talk this year.

    • Luke

      Maine and Beliveau are the best of the bunch, but Maine has had trouble with his location in the past.  Coming off their seasons last year, Beliveau has to be considered near the front of the pack at the very least.

  • Andrewmoore4isu

    Brett, a little saddened that you didn’t talk about campana’s sac bunt and his outfield assist as he is the best player on the cubs roster.

    • Brett

      I probably should have given him a note. I’ll talk him up next time he starts.

      • King Jeff

        Watching the Cubs 30 on 30 right now. Just saw Cubs outfielders doing a throwing drill from behind second base. All other fielders are hitting the target, or slightly above it. Campana comes up and short hops the throw. Definitely the best on the roster.

  • Brady

    I really am a fan of all the contact hitting. 13+ hits in each game so far. I am not expecting that to continue through the season but its nice to see people reaching base instead of just smashing a hr or striking out. Brett Jackson also had a pretty solid rbi single in his only at bat. Not like 1 at bat really deserves him of mention in the bullets but he keeps producing so I figured I’d mention it instead since I am a nobody and can.

  • spencer

    Another bad outing for beliveau….

  • Josh

    I’m pulling for Bobby Scales to earn a bench spot. This guys has done his rounds in the minors and deserves to spend a season in the majors no matter how small the role. Obviously I want him to be productive though and not earn the spot just because he’s spent a lot of time in the minors.

    • King Jeff

      With Baker and DeWitt locked in as the backups, it will be difficult for Scales to make the team. I think that they have to keep Cardenas on the roster in order to keep him, so it might be impossible for Scales.

  • oswego chris

    I do think it is OK to get exited about Samardzija…I read something months ago about this being a break out year for him….probably has best pure stuff after Garza of potential starters….

    • Brett

      He’s been working extremely hard all Winter, so there are reasons to believe it could be happening for him. I remain cautious.

      • baseballet

        I find it hard to believe that the Cubs wouldn’t have space in their starting five for the most improved pitcher of 2011, who has continued to improve in the offseason, and who happens to be a power pitcher, which baseball geeks are always insisting are necessary for post season success. This is not the Yankees starting five he has to crack. I think the Cubs should pencil him in and give him an extended look as a starter.
        I know it’s irrational to be so optimistic, but with the instant spring gratification we’ve gotten from Shark and Jackson, it’s really fun to feel hopeful about players who will actually play this year, as opposed to just feeling optimistic about Luke’s kids frolicking in the AA playpen.

  • die hard

    I am starting to be a believer….thats why I am a die hard….going to hate myself in the morning for thinking this team could win as much as 70 games….Sveum seems to know what he wants and how hes going to get there…Quade knew what he wanted but didnt know how to get there…Sveum also has respect from players as he was one for long time and had some success….Quade didnt which is tough as he was and is a decent and talented guy…Also think the veterans bailed on him even though he favored them…was like spoiling a child who just acts worse each time he gets his way…lack of discipline did him in…Sveum wont have that problem…Go Cubs!!!!

    • rcleven

      IF they continue with hitting and can continue to score 6 runs a game I think you will be very pleasantly surprised with Cubs winning somewhere in the 75 to 79 wins this year.

  • Dan

    My darkhorse came through. Couple more solid starts for him and then he’s a lock.. 😛

  • JasonB

    Another 2B for Barney is nice to see.  I know it’s AZ and it’s a small sample size but if he can develop gap power, then he could be pretty productive plus the additional power should make it more difficult for pitchers to challenge him, which should lead to more walks.  I know it’s early, but this is encouraging.

  • Sircub

    Just a side note. A single data point cannot “point” in any direction. It requires two points to define a line, and thus derive directionality. HTH

    • Brett

      Perhaps it would have been more accurate to say that, when set against almost all prior data, this new point suggests a shift in direction (insofar as a mere one new piece of data (datum?) can suggest anything at all).

      This isn’t the only datum we have. It’s just the newest. I suppose I thought that was implicit, for you data-heads. :)

      • Sircub

        Fair enough!