I just got back from my sojourn to Salt River Fields to see the Reds take on the Rockies, and never have I been more excited about the prospect of a new Spring facility for the Cubs in 2014. Hohokam (and Fitch) is a nice place to take in a game, but Salt River Fields is state of the art, and beautiful.

The Cubs played at Goodyear Park today, and beat the Indians 6-2 on the strength of excellent pitching and adequate offense. The notable bits…

  • Rodrigo Lopez was, perhaps, the only weak link in that “excellent pitching” thing today. He wasn’t bad, mind you – he gave up just a couple earned runs in 4.1 innings, and all of the damage came early, but he gave up four hits and three walks. If the Cubs are bound and determined to keep all of their possible starters (as opposed to trading them), my vote goes to Randy Wells in the bullpen, rather than Lopez. As for Lopez, shrug. AAA depth?
  • James Russell gave up a hit in his scoreless 1.2 innings of work, and Frankie De La Cruz gave up a walk in his scoreless inning. That was it from the bullpen. No one gave up nothin’. Alberto Cabrera and Blake Parker also threw scoreless innings of work. De La Cruz probably has an outside chance of making the roster, given the late date on which the Cubs claimed him off of waivers.
  • Alfonso Soriano had *another* homer, his sixth. What else is new?
  • Joe Mather had *another* big offensive game (2-2 with 2 doubles). What else is new? I’ll tell you what else. He also made this awesome catch in center field (h/t to BN’er Cliffy for the clip).
  • Alfredo Amezaga had a hit in a couple at bats while playing shortstop. He’s up to .379/.438/.448 on the Spring (32 PA), and I do think the Cubs would love to have someone on the bench capable of playing shortstop (Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney can play short, but they’re both starters). But Amezaga is extraordinarily unlikely to wrest a job from Blake DeWitt or Joe Mather at this point. Of course, DeWitt had an ugly game, and has seen his Spring line drop from the¬†stratosphere to a more modest .270/.372/.405.
  • Steve Clevenger came into the game late … at first base. Thoughts? Perhaps Dale Sveum is further exploring the extra value that Clevenger brings to the bench over Welington Castillo? (But how frequently do you see the back-up catcher come into the game at another position?) Another possibility is simply that Sveum wanted all three of Geovany Soto, Clevenger, and Castillo to get at bats today, and, to do that, someone’s gotta play somewhere other than catcher.
  • Bryan LaHair was 2-3 with a double, and his Spring line now stands at .283/.292/.370. Far from good, but a far cry from where it was just a week ago.
  • Eric

    Sonnastine is gone. He refused the AAA assignment. So we need some depth there in case someone goes down (knock on wood).

    • npnovak

      I like the knock on wood part of your comment. If someone goes down in the rotation, Travis *Wood* would probably have been called up before Sonnanstine anyway

  • CubFan Paul

    without over thinking it, Clevenger has made the team. Solid LH bat, perfect compliment to Soto, for now

    & hopefully its Coleman in the bullpen over Lopez & Wells as the soft tossing RH/long relief/6th, 7th inning guy

    • Jay Anderson Jr

      I’m starring to think you don’t like Randy Wells. Get over it, he’s our 5th best pitcher at worse.

      • CubFan Paul

        Wells is overpaid (for his role). Coleman can do what he does as a 5th starter or bullpen guy for $2plusMillion less

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Nothing in their pasts to this point suggests Coleman can do what Wells can do. That’s simply not supported by the data.

          • CubFan Paul

            Dont tell me that. Inform Sveum who mentioned Coleman as a strong bullpen candidate and not Wells.

            Coleman is a coachable kid. I’d like him to stay stretched out in Iowa or make the pen as the long man (without Wells or Lopez ..3 soft tossing righties is a waste)

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              I’d still like to see what Coleman could do as a one-inning-style reliever.

  • mark

    “The Cubs [won] on the strength of excellent pitching and adequate offense.”

    That’s probably how they’ll have to do it all year.

    Re middle infield:

    Mather is playing a great outfield, but he’s shown that he can handle the infield corners, too. That cuts down on the value of Baker and DeWitt–who now may not be needed for outfield and 3rd base–and makes a guy like Amezaga more interesting as a possible last bench player. At this point, with this roster, the Cubs have to be looking for maximum flexibility from their personnel and one or the other of Baker/Dewitt may not fit. Count on it that Sveum will be thinking hard about these issues for the remainder of the Spring.

    • PoopyPants McGee

      Amezaga is HORRIBLE. I would much rather keep Baker and Dewitt and have them hold down 2nd base to give Barney or Castro a day off (via Barney sliding over to SS). Besides, how many days off is Castro going to need/get? Amezaga doesn’t provide much speed and provides no offensive support. I cannot see Theo and Hoyer getting rid of one great platoon player in Baker and Dewitt who is at least somewhat serviceable.

  • mark

    I’d be loathe to give up on Randy Wells.

  • cubmig

    Rodrigo Lopez has done all and more than what the expectations for him may have been during this Spring Training. At least that’s the judgment I come to based on the skepticism expressed here of his worth to this pitching staff. I am not a numbers guy so I don’t buy that he can’t be of value to this club, given what he’s shown. And IF Spring Training doesn’t mean anything then why is it seen as a determinant for making decisions about who goes north? What is the merit competition takes on during ST? Does it mean anything? I mean, the performance that really counts is that which occurs after April 5th anyway.

    This ST, Rodrigo Lopez’ practice has matched his theology. I think he deserves to be on the club, as a starter or as part of the bullpen.

    • Steve

      I have to agree. I like Lopez. I think you put him in the pen for long relief and youll be surprised.

  • cubsin

    i don’t understand the extreme dislike some posters here have shown for Wells and Barney. Even the Yankees have role players on their team. Wells came back too early from his injury last year, but still pitched better than everyone who filled in for him and Cashner other than Rodrigo Lopez. Barney wore down as the season progressed, but appears to have learned that lesson.

  • Dan

    All I’m going to say is…, “Joe mother-f**kin’ Mather”, this guy looked awesome Sunday. I want this guy to start on opening day even though there’s about a 10% chance of that happening.

    • Brady

      I wouldn’t say opening day but if he starts to out perform a regular starter like 3B or RF, you never know.. he may just step into a starting job. (Rough guess would be 3B because if they call up Jackson he can take over for RF if DaJesus isnt performing all that well, still hoping he does just stating for possibilities sake).