The consummate “it’s only Spring Training” game. The Mariners blew the Cubs out today, mostly on the strength of scoring four in the fifth inning … and then continuing to score every inning thereafter. The Cubs’ offense didn’t do much today, but, in their defense, they were facing *the* Kevin Millwood.

The high points…

  • Everyone is going to talk about Carlos Marmol’s Carlos-Marmolian performance (4 ER, 4 hits, 1 HBP, and 2 Ks in 0.2 innings), but, like, it’s Spring Training. His best pitch (his slider) isn’t going to do much right now, and he’s been working on a new delivery, as well as working on his fastball. Shrug. I’m not saying Marmol is certain for a bounce-back season, I’m just saying that this outing doesn’t really lead me to believe much of anything.
  • Chris Volstad matched Jeff Samardzija’s impressive start yesterday – literally, if you’re going by the line (3 IP, 3 Ks, 1 hit). Volstad, another competitor in the rotation competition, stayed down in the zone, and essentially did everything he could today to keep in step with anyone else who wants a rotation spot.
  • Veteran lefty Trever Miller – whom Dale Sveum has kinda-sorta-obliquely hinted is the favorite to win the “other” lefty in the bullpen job – threw a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.
  • Welington Castillo didn’t do much with his start, leaving five men on base amidst an 0-3 day.
  • Alfonso Soriano hit another homer – which is swell, but, like, Alf: save some for the season.
  • Warrior

    Maybe this just a preview to the great season The Fonz is gonna have this year! I can be optimistic, can’t I??!!

  • Ty

    Another under-whelming but for all the pressure Chris V. could have felt, he sure did not show it. A giant step for him!

  • cubfanincardinalland

    You know what is amazing is that I think the Cubs starting pitching is going to be a positive this year. After last season’s disaster, who would think it. Like how we are being aggresive.
    The new skipper was known as a competitor, battled you and played over his natural talent. Look for that to rub off on his teams. And they are going to pitch inside, and you don’t like it, too freaking bad. I see some rhubarbs with other teams on the horizon. Will be nice to see a team fight for it a little bit after the last two seasons.
    I have zero confidence in Marmol, and beginning to think he just isn’t that good. Got the big contract and down drain he goes.

    • JustSwain

      Anyone who thinks that Carlos Marmol isn’t very good doesn’t remember what he is like when he is on. I had the same gut reaction to watching this game of thinking “here we go again”. I, like most Cubs fans, have struggled with Marmol, he makes me a bit queasy and uneasy, I start to sweat when he comes in, and my hands shake. Its a bit what I expect a heart attack to be like. You saying that Marmol isn’t very good made me snap back to reality. We’ve all seen him when he is on. Lets remember that unhittable slider that stays in the zone just long enough to get a strike call. Its a hard pitch to throw, and his akward mechanics have something to do with his inconsistency, but Marmol has the potential to be a dominating talent. Inconsistent, perhaps even flawed, but not that good? He’s good. Very good. There is nothing flash in the pan about him, and he’s working with his third pitching coach in three years (and this is a kid who needs coaching) which could contribute to his inconsistency. Just two seasons ago he set a major league record with 15.99 k/9, and was a dominating closer for most of the year. Lets hope he clicks with Bosio, and matures as a player reigning in some of that wildness, otherwise, I imagine the worst case scenario is we have another Mitch Williams on our hands…and was that really that bad?

  • die hard

    Starting staff beginning to crystalize and could surprise if Dempster does his part. Would anyone be surprised if he and not Garza was traded before season starts?

    • Luke

      Before the season starts, yes.  Before July 31, not in the slightest.

      • CubFan Paul

        Luke would you pull the trigger on a spring Garza trade (getting the right prospects back of course) to make room for samardzija if he, volstad, & wood look like capable starters who earn rotation spots?

        • Luke

          I’d pull the trigger on trading Garza anytime if he hasn’t signed an extension and the offer was good enough.  I don’t think I’d start shopping Garza just to create room in the rotation for Wood, Volstead, or Samardzija though.  If those three were all pitching well enough to deserve a starting job in the spring, I’d probably shop Wood.

          • JustSwain

            Are you thinking shop Wood over Volstad because he’ll net more in return or because you think Volstad has better upside potential?

  • JB

    I am cautiously optimistic that this team is going to be competitive. I think they are the surprise team for the first half of the season and then start to fade to finish 3rd/4th place. My hope is that they Cubs have cooled off completely by the trading deadline so we can stick with the plan that is in place and aren’t forced to do something stupid to make a run at it…

    • JustSwain

      Theo is not known for selling out the future in order to put together a playoff run. No matter what happens, the trade deadline move will not be a trade of promising prospects for a veteran with low team control. If we really are in contention, we might take a big, short term, contract off someones hands in order to marginally improve the team, but my understanding of the orginzational philosophy is that the young guys are only going to be traded for other young guys.

  • ty

    Hell no J.B. I have a C note at 12-1 sitting at The Bellagio.

  • mark

    A propos of, oh, whatever, here’s a nice story–and informative: 4 Reasons Andrew Cashner Will Be a Stud at Petco Park.

    • MichiganGoat

      Ah BleacherReport the MTV of sports journalism, we just had thread discussion the confusion between that site (and their spotty journalism) being confused with this site. I’m sure Cashner can have success at Petco but so can most good pitchers, it is the best pitching ballpark in baseball.

  • mark

    I’m sure Cashner can have success at Petco but so can most good pitchers

    But by definition, most good pitchers should be successful anywhere. If not, they wouldn’t be “good.” I wonder how successful Marmol would be at Petco? And Cashner at Wrigley? I guess we’ll never know.

    • MichiganGoat

      Correct maybe I should say Petco can make an average pitcher look good a good pitcher great and so on. The larger point is that BleacherReport is all about the flair, they are notoriously bad for writing unsubstantiated rumors and their infamous “Top blah blah blah” slide shows. I just don’t take anything they say serious and unfortunately their poor journalistic concept when people confuse confuse BN with BR it gives this site a bad name.

      • Turn Two

        Totally agree- their rumors do not even make sense and often times just seem to be completely fabricated off the top of someone’s head. Became hooked on this site ever since the 24 hour trade deadline marathon.

        • Richard Nose

          That site makes me want to break things. An article becomes a slideshoe…turns 45 seconds in to 4 minutes of my life.

  • rocky8263

    There was a short time when opposing teams dreaded facing Marmol. I believe they can’t wait to see him erupt. Aside from getting hit it must be fun watching him self destruct from the other side. Guaranteed money just ruins some guys.

  • Turn Two

    Really hoping Travis Wood secures the 4th or 5th spot, I thought he was a lock and now it appears Volstad and Samadjiza are the big names. I would love to see a Cubs rotation with a little lefty righty balance with Wood and Maholm from the left, plus he always seemed to understand how to pitch when he was with the Reds, not just simply throw like so many others. May lead to more durability and I always love good baseball instincts.

    • MichiganGoat

      Ah Wood has options left and maybe he can focus on his pitching more effectively at AAA where the expectations are lower and he can work on a specific need. He will be called up sometime due to a DL stint and I expect a trade in July that opens up a spot for him. What I really love about this new FO is that they don’t see the need in rushing and pushing anyone just to be competitive they have a multi-year plan and will not push anyone into a game until they are ready.

      • Turn Two

        I am just very high on Travis Wood and I think he is ready. I would love to see Dempster Garza Maholm Samardjiza Wood. I would also like to see what Chris Volstad looks like as a closer.

        • JasonB

          Hes more valuable as a starter – lets try him there first. And there’s still the pending bugaboos against lefties. Don’t want a closer with a bad platoon split.

          There’s still plenty of time for Wood if he starts as AAA. It’s very likely that one of our top 3 starters won’t be with us on August 1st.

  • daveyrosello

    Any chance we can send Marmol to Boston as the PTBNL for Theo? Or to San Diego for Jed? Please?

    • JustSwain

      God I hope you are joking.


      I think that should be the Cubs pre-season motto this year. One bad ST outing (following a good one) and you think that Marmol needs to go? We could actually trade him and get a return of prospects if you want to get rid of him so much. He’s one of the few people on this team who has potential to post a significant WAR. Yes he’s inconsistent, but he’s also occasionally brilliant, and we have no other closer options. I have a vision in my head somewhere of a slider that breaks two feet for a strike at the bottom of the zone. If you swing at it you miss, if you don’t its called a strike. Marmol has the nastiest stuff of any closer I can think of (its just too bad often times he can’t control it). Lets remember who we are talking about throwing on the trash bin here.

      • daveyrosello

        If a reliever can’t find the strike zone, he’s useless, no matter the strikeout rate. Marmol sucks because he walks so many hitters, his BAA might as well as be 350 instead of its actual 200. And making matters worse, the book is out on Marmol at this point. No hitter in his right mind will go after that slider at this point. You just wait on Marmol to throw fastballs, which he simply CANNOT throw for strikes, and you get 1B without moving your bat. Easy.

        • Brady

          Actually if I remember the game correctly, Marmol had no problem finding the strikezone, just that every time he did it seemed the ball got clobbered. Maybe he took something off of his pitch to try and be more accurate but now doesn’t have enough to fool hitters. Just speculating.

          • King Jeff

            Spring Training is supposed to be about getting ready for the season. So if he was out there trying to locate pitches and correct some mistakes, his bad outing matters very little in the big picture. I think the only spring performances that are going to give us any indication of what type of year is coming will happen the last week or two of Spring Training. Of course, we’ll probably be running the full gamut of over reactions for the rest of the spring here at BN, so I guess there’s no use trying to quell it.

      • King Jeff

        I have visions of 10 blown saves in less than 40 chances last season, and visions of a guy throwing 12 straight balls to walk the bases loaded. He has been struggling for a lot longer than just this outing. The problems are, there is no obvious replacement for him, and his value is at an all time low, so he might not draw much interest if placed on the market.

  • Cheryl

    Wells hasn’t been mentioned lately. So where does that put him, on the trading block?

  • JasonB

    Starting to look like he’s about 7th on the list for starters if Sharks performance is legit. But we still need bullpen arms and he could also find a spot as a long reliever. He can still have a role on the team – just likely not in the rotation.

  • ferrets_bueller

    As far as talent and potential goes, the best rotation includes, by far, Samardizja and Volstad.  So ideally, thats the best case scenario.

    • King Jeff

      I’m starting to get the feeling that no matter how good Samardzija starts this spring, he might be needed in the bullpen. I would like to see him get a chance to start, but the starters he is in competition with are better options at this point to be on the staff than the guys who are competing to fill out the pen. In all honesty, if Marmol continues to struggle, Samardzija might be the best in house closer candidate.

  • JustSwain

    If Mr. Alphabet starts to preform the way it is looking like he might, and has a breakout year as a starter, I’d like to officially put in my request that his nickname becomes Smard-zilla (pronounced like Godzilla). What do you guys think? Intimidating enough?

  • rbreeze

    Dempster and Wells were our best starters in spring training last year.   Wells got hurt in his first start and Dempster was terrible especially early on.