cactusIn case you missed it amidst the Cubs-signing-$3.1-million-Cuban-prospecting, the Scott-Baker-elbow-teeth-gnashing, or the Cubs-moving-to-Rosemont-speculating, the Cubs played a Cactus League game today. And won!

  • Dave Sappelt really wants to make the Cubs. He hit his third homer of the Spring today, and he’s blistering hot of late after a cool start to the Spring. I’ve pegged Sappelt as the 5th outfielder since day one, thanks largely to his right-handed bat and outfield versatility (his spot on the 40-man roster doesn’t hurt), and I see no reason to waiver from that. It’s tough luck for someone like Brian Bogusevic, who’s done everything he can this Spring, but that’s the way roster battles in the Spring work.
  • Also really, really wanting to make the roster? Brent Lillibridge. He cannot be stopped. He had another couple hits today, including a triple. He’s nearly hitting .500 on the Spring (not that that’s why he’d make the team – in his case, it’s all about whether the Cubs like/need his versatility; and let’s not ignore the fact that he could be a very valuable trade chip if the 2011 version shows up in the first half).
  • Edwin Jackson had a very crisp outing today, going six innings (76 pitches), giving up one earned run on three hits and a walk. He struck out three. His velocity was solid, and he’s looking like he’s ready for the season.
  • Drew Carpenter followed Jackson with a scoreless frame, striking out two. I don’t think he’s going to be a major factor in the bullpen competition, but I don’t want to overlook him. He’s had a nice Spring, has a nice pedigree in recent years (especially in the bullpen), and could be a legitimately good middle reliever. If it weren’t for Dale Sveum’s he’s-our-sixth-starter comments, I’d probably be higher on him as a bullpen candidate.
  • Zach Putnam – a legit bullpen candidate – didn’t fare so well, which has become a regular thing in recent days. He isn’t getting blown out of his appearances, but he seems to be giving up a run or two each time out, after a dominant start to his Spring. Today, he gave up three hits and an earned run in his inning of work.
  • Hector Rondon, the Cubs’ Rule 5 pick, got the 9th, and it was another scoreless outing. He’s given the Cubs very little reason not to keep him this year, assuming they were already disposed to doing so (and, since they took him in the Rule 5, I reckon they were).
  • Jorge Soler and Javier Baez played today, but they had forgettable outings, so I’ll forget them. They head to minor league camp tomorrow.
  • Jackson Scofield

    Baez did have his 10th RBI today though, good for a share of 1st place on the team in that category.

  • MichiganGoat

    Hurmph Baez sucks no home runs equals no respect, Cubs should trade him before he goes three games without a home run.

    • Danny Ballgame

      For cereal

      • Featherstone

        super cereal.

  • another JP

    Our pitching is gradually coming around. Feldman & Villanueva concern me a bit, but otherwise the remaining staff has had some real success this ST. Adding an effective Rondon & Fujikawa would be a huge boost for our chances to be a .500 team. I’d also like the 2011 version of Lillibridge, but somehow I think he’ll wind up like Mather 2.0.

  • cubchymyst

    Hector Rondon, has he always been seen as a reliever or was he at one point viewed as a possible starter?

    • #1lahairfan

      He’s been a starter up until now.

  • Dustin S

    The utility roster spot that Lillibridge will probably fill is something that’s definitely changed about baseball since the 80’s and early 90’s. Back then most teams kept 10 pitchers, sometimes 11 but that was usually about max. They’d juggle maybe 12 in for a double-header or in a pinch in a rare case. So with a couple of extra position players the utility guy wasn’t nearly as necessary back then. Having the extra pitchers is a nice plus and I totally understand the team is better off overall with the current 12 pitcher strategy. But I always kind of give a “meh” to fill a roster slot with a player that has a relatively weak bat just because he can defensively fill just about any spot.

    Back when I was a kid *shakes cane*…

  • Old School

    What do you think will happen with Dolis since he is out of options?

    • Brett

      He’s not out of options. He has one left (because he got four option years).

      • Old School

        Dierkes reported Dolis was out. Serves me right for trusting a national.

        • Brett

          It’s a pretty obscure rule that gives Dolis a 4th – and it’s a hat tip to Arizona Phil over at TCR on that one. I wouldn’t have pieced it together myself.

  • db kyle

    I don’t think Baez got a fastball in the zone all day.

    • Brett

      Maybe not, though it’s worth noting that his recent binge didn’t come solely on fastballs.

      (Not that any of that matters.)

  • Vince

    I really like how the bullpen has been playing out and it is nice to see how they have so many players right on the cusp of making it. If Marmol comes out throwing more two seamers and looks like he did at the end of last year, what would be the point of trading him? Good closers aren’t easy to find and I know we have Fujikawa but Marmol can be one of the best in the game.

  • Coach K

    I went to the minor league games today at Fitch. The AA and AAA teams were on the road but I got a chance to watch the A teams.

    I watched the first 3 innings and the last 4 innings of the High-A game and caught a few innings of the Low-A game in the middle. I’m by no means a scout and will never claim to be but, here’s what I saw:

    Lendy Castillo started the game and went (at least) the first 3 innings. His stuff looked great. Good speed and good movement. However, he walked a couple and gave up one run. The run that scored was a lead off walk.

    Dan Vogelbach started at first. Didn’t have a great game but didn’t do anything that made me think that he can’t be a really good player. The run that the Angels scored against Lendy wouldn’t have scored if it were Rizzo on first. In Vogelbach’s defense, after watching him the last couple days in practice he appears to work really hard at improving his defense. Also, he by no means has an athletic body but, he is not as big as I expected. To those that compare him to Prince Fielder- Vog is not carrying near as much extra weight as Fielder. Prince is just freakishly athletic for his size.

    Pierce Johnson pitched 3 of the last 4 innings of the High-A game. Nobody hit him hard when they even hit him. Easy to see why the Cubs like him so much. He was always around the zone even when he missed. Great mechanics and smooth delivery. He’s one I can see moving up from High-A quickly.

    Hayden Simpson pitched the last inning. ***SPOILER ALERT*** Wasn’t pretty!
    He didn’t have near the zip on the ball that Lendy or PJ had. He got hit hard and got hit often. Also struggled a bit with command. Through 8 innings the Cubs gave up 1 run. In his inning he gave up 2. Doesn’t sound too bad, except… He didn’t get 3 outs. He was the last pitcher scheduled to go and had reached his pitch limit.

    In the Low-A game I got to watch Taylor Scott pitch. He showed outstanding stuff but didn’t have the best control. At times he was just throwing it passed the Angels hitters. Not too many people hit him hard but he put a few on for free. His defense didn’t help him out on a couple occasions and he ended up giving up a few runs.

    As far as the hitters in this game the only ones I saw that did anything in the couple innings I watched was Jeimer and Marco Henandez.

    A couple that looked stood out in the cage the last couple days were Trey Martin, Reggie Golden and Evan Crawford. The ball jumps off their bat when they swing. At one point today Crawford hit 3 in a row out. Yesterday Golden was regularly hitting shots off and over the fence. I wouldn’t give up on him just yet.

    That’s all I’m gonna say for now. Time to go grab some dinner. I’m most likely heading back to the minors camp in the morning but then will be gone for a couple days and will be back thursday (maybe).

    • Brett

      Great stuff, Coach. You don’t have to be a scout to pass on great info. Appreciate the eyes-on.

    • jt


    • Wildjimmy

      Coach k or Brett, is there a minor league schedule anywhere. I am heading there thurs morning and usually stay for 5 days but always have a hard time finding out which teams are home and where the away teams are. I searched online but no luck. Thanks guys

      • Coach K

        I haven’t found one. Today I just went to their morning workouts, left to grab some lunch and when I came back there was a charter bus there dropping off the Angels players so I hung around to watch. My understanding is that all 4 levels(low-a, high-a, aa, and aaa) have a game every day. Every day some players are given the day off. So, with every team playing every day, there’s a good chance that at least one of them will be playing at Fitch. Also, if you go to their morning workouts at Fitch you could just ask one of the coaches or players as they’re passing from field to field.

    • Die hard

      Golden has lots of upside … Maybe see him in Sept

  • db kyle

    I think the roster is pretty close to set.

    Sappelt should be the 5th starter, but Bogusevic or McDonald could conceivably steal it away.

    Lillibridge has a bench spot. Stewart probably starts on the DL and Clevenger temporarily takes his spot. I can’t see Maysonet taking a job away from someone already on the 40-man.

    Marmol, Fujikawa, Camp, Russell, Rondon, Bowden seem like locks in the pen (the last two because they can’t be sent down for various reasons). That just leaves one spot, and Rusin and Takahashi have advantages in both performance and handedness, so it would seem to be between them.

    • db kyle

      *fifth outfielder

  • arta

    maybe they make a trade.

  • DPRagen

    Soriano should break into the top fifty of home run hitters all time sometime in 2013. Something to watch.

  • Crazyhorse

    Choose “proven” over “potential” note front office this why the Cubs are bad. Also when the Cubs MIght become a better team by stockpiling high draft choices in the Future. The Future is not set in stone. too many broken hemate bones will prove that scenerio

    • Coach K

      Well, to be fair, the last regime attempted the “proven” route. That resulted in 2 early exits from the playoffs and a lot of bad contracts that handicapped any baseball moves. You choose “proven” when you have a good team that you want to make great. Not when you have a -in your words- bad team that you want to make okay.

      • db kyle

        The regime before that tried the “load up on prospects and emphasize development” route and only got one playoff appearance out of it.

        • Coach K

          Did they emphasize and invest as much in scouting and development as this regime? Honest question as I, although still a huge Cub fan, was young(obviously) and not near as invested in to the entire organizational process as I am now. I am not suggesting never going after proven players. I just don’t think it would have done any good the past 2 years to sign free agents that may improve the team by 10-15 wins.

          • Coach K

            Meant to say younger^. Although, young works just as well.

          • db kyle

            Eh, yes and no.

            They emphasized it pretty heavily and spent a ton to expand the team’s scouting network. The payoff was that by the early 2000s they had the No. 1 farm system in baseball.

            But I wouldn’t say they spent as much as this regime, just because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team spend this much. We are just throwing waves and waves of cash at amateur players.

            It failed for a variety of unrelated reasons, mostly. The development wasn’t as good as the scouting (had lots of talented prospects, but most didn’t pan out), the first GM of the regime was a raging idiot, they let Dusty Baker torch a few of the young arms that came out of it.

            • jt

              Wood and Prior did not turn out to be Palmer and McNally.
              Z could have done a few more sit-ups and a bit more running in the off season.
              Maybe JH just rode the wrong horses.

        • arta

          as i remember the system from top to bottom was different at each level so i didn’t see the emphases development or loading up on prospects you speak of. guys like Patterson and Pie would bat 3-4 in the minors and brought up to lead off in the majors, does that sound like the whole system was on the same page? JMO.

  • Die hard

    Galvis of Phillies would be nice addition if they want Soriano