Today the Chicago Cubs evened their Spring record by taking down the loathsome White Sox, 5-1. Homers were the order of the day, with the Cubs going deep thrice (Edgar Gonzalez, Marlon Byrd, Steve Clevenger).

The notable bits…

  • Travis Wood looked decent, but not great, today in his first Spring start. He fumbled a couple grounders, didn’t seem to hit his spots consistently (he was high all day – overthrowing), and gave up a few deep fly balls. His stuff looked OK, but he was helped by a few nice plays behind him. That said, his repertoire doesn’t seem quite as well suited to pitching in the warm, thin Arizona air as it will in Chicago.
  • Randy Wells came in and cleaned up a bases loaded mess, and then pitched a couple solid innings, giving up just one hit, and striking one out. Wells has been a Spring Training performer for several years now. I’ll say it again: the rotation decisions are not going to be easy.
  • Rodrigo Lopez was once again dominant in his two innings of work. He’s perfect on the Spring, which is the bar I set for him to actually make the rotation. And, even if he remains perfect, I don’t think he gets the job. He could end up pulling out the swing role in the bullpen, though.
  • The legends are true: Junior Lake absolutely grew *at least* two inches in the offseason. Kid looks huge. (Sorry, Mom, for calling you a liar when you said there was a chance I could still grow in my early 20s.) It’s very easy to see why folks say he’ll never stick at shortstop, although he did look fluid and comfortable on a couple plays out there.
  • Dae-Eun Rhee, unlike his rough first time out, looked nasty in an inning of work, striking out the side. He was down in the zone, and his ball had a nice, late break. It was but one Spring inning, but it was easy to see why the Cubs have long been high on Rhee despite the sometimes mediocre results.
  • As noted, Edgar Gonzalez went deep in support of his attempt to make the team as a reserve infielder.
  • Rule 5 pick Lendy Castillo looked decent in his one (perfect) inning of work. He struck out one, and obviously has a live arm.
  • I’m not at all saying I’m worried, but Bryan LaHair had a rough day. He was 0-3 with two strikeouts, and he was eaten alive by the high fastball (which has been suggested to be the “hole” in his swing).
  • Ryan

    I was thinking the same thing about LaHair. I’m not too worried yet, but he’s the one guy I’m really hoping has a good spring.

    • Cheryl

      He needs to get into the swing of it in the next week or people will start writing him off.

  • Spencer

    I was thoroughly unimpressed by Wood. He got hit HARD, and struggled with command all day.

    • Ryan

      Agreed on Wood. I know its really, really early…but I just get the sense that Wood has quite the uphill battle on a rotation spot. He did nothing to warrant a rotation spot today. But again…really, really early.

  • jim

    Female cub fans more fair by far! Hot fun in bleacher sun soon!

  • Gregb

    Good to get to watch some baseball again even if i had to listen to the hawk i swear does he even know how stupid he sounds(he gone,gas,stretch)he could be a great guy outside of announcing but in my opinion hes the worst announcer

    • bluekoolaidaholic

      Agreed, I get so sick of his phony crapola. I finally turned it off and put on the MLB announcers, even though I like Steve Stone and enjoyed hearing him again.
      Hawk really thinks that “He gone” bit is cute, but it just makes him sound stupid and affected.

  • al

    My favorite play of the game was Byrd running out a freaking home run.

    And poor Steve Stone. He is one of the best at what he does and has been paired with two of the worst baseball broadcasters ever.

    • Patrick

      Good point…Stoney was a cubs fixture for me growing up. However he had to deal with Harry too, so hes prolly used to the non-sense.

      • Billy

        How can you ever talk bad about Harry? Talking bad about Harry is the same as talking bad about America in my book

        • Mike Foster

          Can you imagine Harry announcing Kosuke Fukudome?

          • Stinky Pete

            I believe “What if Harry was still alive” was one of the first things I thought when I heard they signed him.

            • Smitty

              Stone is no longer a Cub. He burned bridges when he started bad mouthing the Cubs on his radio show and on the air. He is a great commentator. But he made his decisions and now often demeans the Cubs. As far as I am concerned, he is getting what he asked for.

              • AP

                While Stone is no longer the Cubs’ announcer, I disagree that he burned his bridges. I grew up with Stone and would welcome him back tomorrow. As far as I’m concerned, he didn’t say anything that wasn’t true. That team did roll over and die and one of my favorite things about Stone was that he didn’t pull his punches.

                • DocWimsey

                  Whether you or I would welcome back Stone is not relevant to the issue of whether he burned his bridges with the Cubs.

                  Moreover, Stoney was prone to diagnosing the symptoms rather than the disease. Was there a bad attitude on the ’04 Cubs? Yes. However, that probably was caused by losing, not the cause of losing. The ’04 Cubs lost because of very poor team OBP and Sept. ’03’s pitching load on their starters.

                  If I recall, then Stoney was another one left with major egg of his face concerning Mark Prior. Wasn’t Stone one of the ones insisting that it was all in Prior’s head and that Mark just needed to go out there and pitch? Turns out that it was all in Prior’s arm and shoulder…..

                • Smitty

                  From what I have heard, Stone takes every chance to put down the Cubs these days. Is he making things up? Not necessarily. But if he was still a Cub and wanted to be a Cub again, he would keep quite. Since he doesn’t, that sure seems like burning bridges. AP, I am going to have to respectfully disagree with you there.

                  • AP

                    I appreciate and respect the disagreement guys. Doc, I think you’re right about Prior, I think Stone was saying that at the time. But they still won 89 games and while their OBP has never been what it should be, they still had a chance to nail down the wild card. No one is saying they should have won it all, especially after Dusty rode those starters like rented mules, but I still think they should have won the wild card. Again thanks for the responses, I appreciate the respectfully divergent opinions.

                    • Swaz46

                      I think that Stony is still a really great color analyst, but I also think it’s quite apparent that he does whatever he can to talk badly about the Cubs. Listen to him on the Score sometime. He’ll take shots at the Cubs constantly. It’ll be interesting to see if that changes with the new FO. I think he’s still bitter about how things ended with the Cubs. He was probably in the right, but it was almost a decade ago. He needs to let it go.

        • Pat

          Post stroke Harry was one of the worst announcers ever, not much better than Ron even. He was entertaining, but he made a ton of mistakes and no longer added any baseball insight. Hawk, Johnny Red Kerr, I don’t know what it is with Chicago, but we seem to love some godawful announcers.

  • Drew

    My problem with the announcing today was they seemed to forget they were broadcasting a game, and thought they were just there to talk about the White Sox. There were more than a few occasions where they completely forgot to tell us who was at bat, or who had just made a play in the field, because they were too busy spewing about their team. I get that it was the Sox’ broadcast team, but don’t sacrifice play-by-play for commentary, that just doesn’t work.

  • Gregb

    Couldnt agree with you more i understand everyone has their own catchphrases but damn almost every play its one dude get some new material or how bout this just try and commentate the game this game is ova! Lol

  • Patrick

    Sox broadcast….you that surprised?

  • Cliffy

    It sure was nice just to see a Cubs Game on TV again. They hitters did well when they took a patient approach at the plate. Sveum Is changing their hearts and minds slowly .

  • Serio

    Can someone shoot Hawk Harrelson

    • Patrick

      I am your huckleberry…

  • JulioZuleta

    There has never been, and never will be, a worse broadcasting team.

  • King Jeff

    I’d be all for Lendy Castillo sticking with the Cubs this year.

  • Brian Schmidt

    Was at the game, saw Sarah Spain there as well. Really nice complex, kind of a prelude to what the Cubs will have a few years from now.

  • cubs4life

    so whats the story on this Edgar Gonzalez, i normally keep up with most everyone on the team, but i dont recall hearing his name mentioned, where did he come from? he looked ok on the couple chances he had at third.

    • ty

      adrians brother–not a prospect-doubt that he is even a filler at triple a

  • die hard

    If LaHair flops will there be interest in Soriano for Dunn?

    • ty

      Interesting–How does the money flip work?

    • bluekoolaidaholic

      OMG, I hope not!

  • Nomar’s Left Glove

    Only from you, die hard, only from you

  • rcleven

    So far Wood has not impressed. As of right now looks like he will be starting at Iowa.

  • TeddyBallGame

    I personally think Chip and Joe Carter are 2nd worst announcing team behind Hawk and Darren Jackson. Steve Stone is bitter towards the Cubs (it’s obvious), but he still knows what he’s talking about. Please, don’t anyone defend Chip Caray. The ONLY good thing about him was that his grandpa was Harry. He was a jinx and sounded like a fan of the opposing team half the time. Hawk is the all time worst, hands down. I still laugh about the time Hawk protested on behalf of the White Sox during a Cubs-Sox game while the game was still being played. The game was maybe 5-6 years ago and it looked like the White Sox had a triple play, but it ended up being decided tha the Cubs players go back a base because of a dead ball. Hawk is a piece of garbage, take it to the bank!!

    • daveyrosello

      Don’t forget either of the Brennamans, they’re both loathsome pukes. And of course, the king of keeping a grudge, Milo Hamilton.

  • Shawn

    If Rhee doesn’t stick as a starter, I think he would do well in the bullpen. He has a funky delivery that helps his stuff.

    I haven’t seen a whole lot of Junior Lake, but I can see why some people are high on him. If he figures things out, then look out. Third base is certainly an option as he fills out his frame a little bit. But at 2B, he and castro could form a very athletic middle of the infield.

  • Andrewmoore4isu

    Anyone think wells is getting ready for a spot in the rotation? Coming in with bases loaded??

  • JustSwain

    Lahair can’t hit a high fastball? Well its a good thing that major league pitchers can’t consistently throw that pitch….oh wait. I know he’s just a stop gap, but those people who are hoping he does something in the majors are fooling themselves. I knew from his career stats he had a hole in his swing, but I hadn’t seen enough of him to know where it was so thanks Brett. Can’t hit the high fastball, can’t lay off it? Thats worse than Outside sliders (Soriano) or inside breaking pitches (Colvin)! Lets just dump this AAA star and go with Rizzo. He’s hitting better, he’s got upside potential, and he could use the experience.

    • David

      He could better use the time in AAA. And we could better use the extra year of service time.

      • JustSwain

        He’s going to get a call up late this year anyway, doesn’t that mean service time isn’t an issue?

    • Luke

      I’m not too worried about LaHair.  He has looked exposed against the high fastball in spring training, but based on his 2011 PitchFX data, I don’t think that is likely to be a huge problem during the season.

  • JustSwain

    Don’t be so sure that he’s out of the woods because of these stats. When players emerge from the Minors with problems with a high fastball, it is often times because the increased break on the offspeed pitch is leaving them looking fastball. The increased # of pitches that pitchers can throw (most minor leaguers throw 2) means he can’t guess as well. The increased velocity of the ML fastballs he is now facing are possibly changing his eye angle and messing with his timing. The increased movement on fastballs might mean he is waiting to pounce on one thats lazer straight (most High fastballs are straight) He might work his way out of it….but I doubt it. Guys don’t spend that long in the minors for no reason. I’ll try to keep an open mind about him, but I’m worried. Colvin’s gap against inside breaking pitches didn’t develop until he got to see a ML slider that can be located. In the minors, he’d just lay off it because he knew it had about a 25% chance of being a strike. In the Majors he had to swing at it, and its hard to adjust to a pitch you have problems seeing. Have they been getting Lahair by walking the ladder? (I don’t renew my MLB account until the season starts so I haven’t seen the games) Susceptability to a high fastball is one of the worst holes a hitter can have (Remember Corey Patterson?) If he’s showing that hole already in spring training you can bet that pitchers will have his number by the time the season starts.

  • JustSwain

    Speaking of closing gaps, did anyone notice last year that Soriano seemed less susceptable to outside breaking pitches? Maybe Rudy is teaching him how to lay off them, or maybe It was just in the at-bats that I saw.