Paul Maholm pitched a couple of fine innings today in his Spring debut as the Cubs beat the Reds 8-6. Most of the damage came early off of Fabio Arroyo – which nickname I use completely lovingly.

Among the notable bits:

  • Jeff Samardzija pitched three innings, giving up two earned runs and striking out three. A bad call cost him the chance to give up just one run, and it wasn’t a bad outing. The fact that he got another three innings today does nothing but strengthen a growing belief that he’s becoming a favorite to take one of the two open rotation spots.
  • Alfonso Soriano had two more hits, including a looooong bomb of a home run. I’ll be discussing his Spring very soon.
  • Yeah, yeah, Carlos Marmol wild, grumble, hits, rabble, blown save, rubble (Marmol gave up three earned runs in his inning of work on the strength of two hits, two walks and a HBP – eesh). No one wants to be pitching like this in Spring Training, but I’ll be worried when he’s doing this stuff in April. (Which, you know, he almost certainly will.)
  • So, Joe Mather really wants to make this team. I’ve said all along that the reserve outfield candidate has an uphill climb – he’d have to pass at least two of Reed Johnson, Tony Campana, and Dave Sappelt. But, that said, he’s doing nothing but hitting, stealing bases, and playing adequate defense. Three-run homer today gave the Cubs the lead back after Marmol’s Marmoliness.
  • Rule 5 pick Lendy Castillo – whom you’ve got to suspect Theo and Jed would very, very much like to keep – pitched another scoreless inning, striking out two. His situation (if the Cubs can keep him on the 25-man roster all year (well, technically, on the 25-man for 90 days, and then on the disabled list for the rest of the year), they get to keep him) gives him a leg up in his effort to make the pen. His performance isn’t really doing anything to disuade Dale Sveum from agreeing with Theo and Jed.
  • Marcos Mateo threw a scoreless frame, striking out one.
  • Tobias

    I would really like to see Mather make the team.

  • cubsin

    The Cubs are certainly in a position where they should hold on to Castillo. Ideally, they could send the Phillies a player for his rights, then send him to A or AA where he belongs; that would speed his development. But since keeping him wouldn’t hurt the Cubs chances to be a contender, they should keep him for the requisite 90 days, then DL him and send him to EST.

  • MichiganGoat

    I’m really interested in the competetion for the 5th outfielder spot (i believe Reed has the 4th spot minus injury). Campana is the fan favorite and maybe the front runner since he was already on the team last year, but lil Campy is doing little to impress this spring. Now Mather is really playing his way onto the team. Regardless of who wins, this will be the move that will spur some heated debate as spring keeps going (funny how the 24, 25 man always becomes and interesting debate).

    • King Jeff

      With the emphasis on baserunning meaning that everyone will be trying to steal, Campana might lose a little bit of his value. He hasn’t swung the bat very well in any of the ab’s that I’ve seen, and Mather is tearing it up. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mather was the choice over Campana, but Sappelt is playing pretty well too. He reminds me of a smaller Marlon Byrd, which would make him perfect for a backup outfielder job.

      • DocWimsey

        I really doubt that Theo & Hoyer will let Sveum go too bonkers with the stealing. The Sox didn’t run much, even with their faster runners, simply because one caught stealing is worth multiple steals. (The general rule of thumb is 1 CS = 2SB; however, on a high OBP, high slugging team like the Sox, it really is closer to 1CS = 3SB, and a 3:1 success rate is pretty rare.)

        However, spring training doesn’t count, so much like working on a new pitch, having guys run a lot should give Sveum et al. a better idea about who can (and cannot) be used for this once the regular season starts.

      • drew

        Emphasis on baserunning fundamentals doesnt necessarily mean everyone will be running. I think it has been more along the lines of good secondary leads, picking up the pitch in the dirt, etc.

    • Tim

      On the post game show today Len and Keith were taking questions and one was if the Cubs would take a 5th outfielder. They said the Cubs may or may not, but Mather can play in the infield and the outfield, so that might give him a leg up because he is so versitile.

      • DocWimsey

        “They said the Cubs may or may not…” Well, there’s always a probability of 1.0 for that statement!

  • Chief

    I’m just glad that Lendy Castillo will never earn my ire the way David Patton did, if only because they’re pitching on completely different incarnations of the Cubs…

    • Brett

      Ha. “Grand Slam” Patton.

  • daveyrosello

    Campana is a one-tool player, though it’s a helluva one tool. He literally changed/won several games for the Cubs last year with his late inning baserunning. How often does a 25th man have that kind of impact on a team?

    Because of that unique skill, I’d rather Reed be the guy on the hot seat, not Campana.

    • MichiganGoat

      He has to get on base to use that tool, and giving the 25th spot to a pinch runner on a average team is just not smart baseball.

  • wilbur

    Was at the game today and came away with three observations 1) damn lake is tall 2) marmol looked bad looking like marmol 3) lahair is smoother around first then I would have imagined.

    • Brett

      Very glad to hear that last one.

      • King Jeff

        Me too, because he hasn’t looked very smooth at the plate so far. I know it’s only spring, but I like to worry.

        • hogie

          If they had every intention of making him the starter at first, then they should have let him take some time off this winter. The guy is probably getting a little gassed. I would give him a few days off and give Rizzo some consecutive starts to find a rhythm.

  • mark

    I luv Campana, but let’s be real. Mather is waaaaaay past Campana and Sappelt at this point. Tony can’t steal if he can’t get on. Mather is doing it all, including steals. They can always dump him if he tanks after the season starts, and bring Tony back up. I think Mather can play 1B, too. Could come in handy.

  • Brian Schmidt

    Sucks for the one guy who would have won $500 bucks if there was one more guy on base for the homerun in the 7th. Oh well still won $100.

  • Kyle

    Mather should be thankful to make the Iowa Cubs, if he does. We don’t have to fall in love with every no-talent minor league hack who gets hot for a week in Arizona in March.

    • Brett

      Not sure anyone is falling in love with him; I’m also not sure it’s accurate to say he has no talent.

    • MichiganGoat

      I think it more about who is earning the spot by performing in spring training. As of right now Campana is not earning his spot but Mather is earning his spot. The same thing happened with Barney last year and he beat out Dewitt for 2B. We’re not talking about Mather getting a spot over a player with a history of MLB success we’re talking about the 24/25 spot between Campana, Sapplet, and Mather. This job should be earned and right now Mather is winning.

      • DocWimsey

        Well, hopefully Sveum will not base his decisions over much on spring training. Not only are the sample sizes tiny, but the opposing players are playing differently than they will come opening day. Now, you are dead on that it’s not like Campana has a ton of MLB success: but people have gotten pretty good about projecting how minor league numbers will scale up to MLB level play. That’s what should “earn” the job.

    • King Jeff

      You are correct Kyle, Alfonso Soriano is definitely going to win the MVP this year. I will be taking him in the first round of the fantasy draft tomorrow, my super sleeper pick.

  • johnny kelroy

    Agreed Brett, like what I have seen from Mather so far. Seems to be a well rounded player where you can use in many spots, which is more than one can say for Campana or Sappelt.

  • Brian Schmidt

    You know I am pretty sure that ball Sori hit still hasn’t landed. That was a BOMB.

  • Turn Two

    Gotta go with Campana in this argument, he brings an asset to the team that we desperately need. Is it fair that a player who is more well rounded gets sent to the minors? No. But this business is about winning and Campana’s speed off the bench is more of an asset than a guy who can play multiple positions and do everything pretty well. Late innings, down a run or tied, knowing I can call on a guy who will get in scoring position pinch running and potentially all the way to third without a ball in play is too valuable on a team that will need to win close games to win any games at all.

    Again, all baseball instinct says take the well rounded guys, but we need to find a way to win close games and Campana, in my opinion, gives us a better chance at that.

    • johnny kelroy

      Well rounded players will win you, and keep you in more games over a 162 game season than a 1 or 2 game sample. Keep in mind, this team is being constructed by a front office that believes in WAR numbers, and guys like Mather are going to produce a higher WAR than a guy like Campana. Did you know that in 1984 when Rickey Henderson stole 130 bases that year, his steals contributed to less than 1 win over the entire season? It actually wasn’t that productive of a year.

      I am a high school baseball coach, believe in small ball, playing good defense, behind good pitching, getting on base, being aggressive and moving runners over. Mather is a guy that will contribute more day in and day out, than a guy who you can use as a pinch runner once every two weeks in the games that are within one run.

      • Turn Two

        You are considerably overvaluing Mather- there is a reason he is fighting for the last spot. He is not a solid everyday player, he is a guy who has no specific skill that has his strongest asset in the fact that he can play several positions. We have several of those on the bench already. Campana changes games and over the course of 162 will get on base more than Mather as well.

        • johnny kelroy

          I don’t see how I’m over-valueing Mather, he is at best this year barely going to make one of the weaker teams in the league. I’m just saying he has more value for this type of a team than Campana does. I like Campana, its fun to watch someone make a routine groundball close at first, but Mather has more value to the 2012 Cubs

        • MichiganGoat

          With that same reasoning, I think your highly over valuing Campana. He only has value as a pinch runner, and has done little to earn a spot. A love afair with his speed is not enough reason to give him a spot unless he can show he can get on base. I don’t have high expectations for either but would rather give the spot to a player that is showing something more than speed.

      • Kyle

        God bless high school baseball coaches.

        It probably doesn’t apply to you, but I had to cover some small-town high school baseball games where the pitchers were so wild that if the coaches didn’t keep giving away outs to try and advance runners, the game would still be going on.

        • DocWimsey

          heh, Earl Weaver is smiling somewhere…..

      • David

        The win numbers for Rickey Henderson don’t account, though, for the increased number of fastballs that Dwayne Murphy, or whoever else batted 2nd on that team saw. Murphy had an .888 OPS when he batted 2nd that year. And there’s a difference between just lobbing the ball over to 1st to let a runner know you haven’t forgotten about him, and making a serious pick-off attempt. The number of times pitchers threw in earnest to 1st when RH was on was often insane. It’s basically like increasing the pitch count.

        I think when you’ve got a runner who is that disruptive, there’s more to it than just the extra base vs. potential out to consider.

        • DocWimsey

          Rickey Henderson himself said that all of those steals probably decreased his productivity. He wore down towards the end of most seasons, and he attributed that to all of the stolen bases. Rickey’s view, however, was that people were paying money to watch him steal bases, so he’d better put on a show. He might not have been wrong. Stolen bases might not contribute much to run scoring: Henderson’s 119 runs was in keeping with his 0.400 OBP despite his 130 SB. However, they certainly are exciting to watch!

    • Richard Nose

      Hope all you need is a pinch runner and not a pinch hitter. Cubbies would be up the shitter if they needed a bat and saw lil guy sittin there on the pine.

  • daveyrosello

    I repeat my prediction from last week: Marmol doesn’t make it to June 1 as the Cubs closer. He just can’t find the plate anymore, horrible command. I wonder if he has an option left?

  • art

    his farms.

  • ferrets_bueller



    Its not really even close.

  • Eric

    Give me Sappelt or Mather over Campana. The ONLY value Campana will ever supply is as a pinch runner. Whereas someone like Sappelt or Mather could give the regulars a day or two or three off and actually put together respectable at bats and not completely destroy you at the plate.

  • Steve

    It just dawned on me. I am in complete denial. Yeah, I am aware that the Bad News Bears and the Cleveland Indians in Major League were bad on paper, yet “exceeded expectaions.”
    I will still take opening day off from work and drink beer that I covered with ice in my sink that morning. I will still stay up way past my bed time when we play the Fryars and Dodgers, as I am on EST. My BP will still skyrocket when Marmol walks the bases loaded in the 9th and we’re up 2. I will still look at my office wall with admiration as Ryno stares down on me daily.
    Those things being said, it is painfully obvious that this team is woefully outmatched.
    My wife asked me last night why I continue to follow this team the way I do. Without hesitation, I said ” I’m a Cub fan, that’s what I do.”

    • bluekoolaidaholic

      Wow, my twin!
      All well put, thanks.

  • Ryan G

    Maholm and Samardzija both continued throwing in the pen after being taken out of the game. Samardzija for the most part sounded like he was pitching just as well as his first outing with a little bad luck. He definitely had his snap, velocity, and command still. I’m really believing him and Volstad will win the spots with Wood going to AAA.

    • CubFan Paul

      I’d definitely be happy with a Garza, Dempster, Maholm, Samardzija, & Volstad rotation to start the season.

      Travis Wood could use a little extra seasoning before locking down his rotation spot that he’ll hold for a few years, plus Dempster (& Maholm if healthy) will almost assuredly be dealt to a contender at the deadline for younger cost controlled prospects.

      • Brett

        No mention of Randy Wells, eh? :)

        • CubFan Paul

          Ha! If Randy doesn’t get traded to a team needing a 5th starter this spring, he could have a shot at starting in august if he’s still with the team, but still, I’d like those innings to go to Chris Rusin, who should be ready to be the 5th starter.