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cactusThe result of today’s game, already of questionable import, was overshadowed by Starlin Castro’s hamstring injury. Fortunately, it sounds quite minor, so we can return our attention to the fake game the Cubs lost.

  • Edwin Jackson allowed many baserunners in his two innings of work, but really, that’s all this is for him right now: work. He’s just got to put in his time, get his arm strength ready to go, and maybe work on a pitch or two. The results are not something to be observed too closely until his final Spring start, and even then, meh.
  • Carlos Villanueva, like Jackson, got in two innings of work in a starter-like role. In theory, he’s still in the competition for the fifth starter’s spot, together with Chris Rusin and James McDonald (assuming Jake Arrieta is unable to start the season on time), even if Villanueva doesn’t seem to be discussed as much as the other two. He was knocked around for four hits and three earned runs in his two innings, but, like Jackson, he struck out three.
  • The final five innings went to Dallas Beeler (two), Neil Ramirez (one), Armando Rivero (one), and Yoanner Negrin (one). Beeler gave up one earned, but the other three pitched shutout innings. Ramirez and Negrin struck out one, and Rivero struck out two. You continue to hear very good things about Rivero from the folks who see him pitch.
  • Most of the starters today played seven or so innings, and most were regular guys whose stats don’t really mean much. Each of Brett Jackson, Jorge Soler, Christian Villanueva, and Logan Watkins got into the game late for a pop-in.
  • Javier Baez saw the bulk of shortstop action after Castro left, and logged two hits, including a ground rule double. In his other at bat, he struck out, but it came against stud Yordano Ventura, who apparently hit 100 mph twice during the at bat. That’s just stupid velocity for early March.

 

  • Blackhawks1963

    Well not surprising, the Cubs are validating on initial levels that we may be the single worst team in baseball in 2014. Spring training games are not a predictor of success, but already it’s hard to envision how Renteria is going to be able to put together a big league lineup card each game. We best start being concerned about the rotation too. Jackson, McDonald, and Hammel all in the rotation is frightening.

    Hope springs eternal and the future looks good. But my Lord this club could set a record for futility in 2014. Makes me wonder why they wasted time firing Sveum. Why not just wait until next offseason to have brought in a new manager instead of subjecting the new guy Renteria to the torches and pitchfork crowd in year 1? He’s going to be unfairly ripped to shreds.

    • DarthHater

      Absurd. When Sveum was fired, Epstein said it had nothing to do with W-L record, but was because they wanted to improve the environment for development of young players, particularly communication with players. If they found Sveum deficient in those areas, it would have been moronic to keep him in charge of a young team in the early stages of its development.

      • Kyle

        Well of course he said that. If he said it was because of the W-L, it might actually reflect onto him in some way.

        • Blackhawks1963

          Renteria is going to be ripped to shreds by an angry fan base. Which shall be ridiculous. Given how awful the 2014 Cubs are going to be I would have kept Sveum to be the whipping boy for one more year.

          • ssckelley

            Yeah, let’s keep Sveum around just to be a whipping boy for us fans. Never mind that the Cubs have some of the best prospects in the game coming up that could have their swings or approach to the plate screwed up because the coaches were not on the same page.

        • DarthHater

          No, if Epstein was trying to avoid accountability for the W-L record, then he would have blamed Sveum for it when he fired him. Instead, in his statement on the firing, Epstein took responsibility for the inadequate talent level on the ML team. Fault him if you want for creating that situation and for not doing much of anything to improve the talent level, but like it or not, he seems to be rolling the dice on developing the current batch of young players. Under those circumstances, if he felt that Sveum was deficient in player development, then it would have been idiotic to leave him in charge of this team. I see nothing in the actions of the FO that are inconsistent with their statements about why they fired Sveum.

          • Kyle

            If Epstein even once for a minute admits that the bad W-L record reflects badly on the organization, then he can’t dodge the blame anymore. He knows blaming it on Sveum won’t work. He has to keep the issue off the table entirely.

            • BT

              Oh for God’s sake. He’s keeping the issue off the table because it’s not an issue. He’s not admitting the bad W-L record reflects badly on the organization because it doesn’t. He’s not admitting to firing Sveum because of a bad W-L record because he didn’t. This isn’t even controversial.

              If Theo were remotely concerned with W-L record, he wouldn’t be dealing veterans for prospects. We’d be signing 32 year old pitchers. He’s not concerned with it.

              • Kyle

                That pretty much sums it up: The actual quality of the MLB team is not on Epstein’s list of concerns.

                • Kyle

                  But in reality, he spent almost $90m on short-term free agents the offseason before Sveum’s last season, and he didn’t flip the vast majority of them. I somehow think he had more than 66 wins in mind with that sort of commitment.

                  • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                    Agreed I don’t think he expected last year to look as bad as it did and when he realized the season was lost he did the same sell off he did the previous season, but the W/L is the product of a team Svuem did not improve (the talk of communication and player development) and not the ultimate measurement of last year. Svuem was let go because he did not accomplish what the FO expected but the W/L record was the ultimate measurement and hasn’t been for the last few years.

                  • BT

                    Who were the short time free agents that weren’t flipped? Jackson? Four years isn’t short term, and his 55 million I assume makes up over half your 90 million. Feldman? Flipped. DeJesus? Flipped. Fujikawa hurt. So who, Villanueva? I fully admit I could be missing people as I’m trying to do this off the top of my head, but what short term assets are you talking about, unless you are referring to guys like Valbuena, who don’t really count in this 90 million dollar signing frenzy you are talking about.

                    • brainiac

                      i respect that he tried to sign a pitcher — any pitcher — at that moment. but that was one bad signing. and then he passed on quite a few good signings for players that took deals. theo is on a losing streak in a lot of ways.

                    • Kyle

                      DeJesus wasn’t signed last offseason.

                      We didn’t flip Navarro, Schierholtz or Villanueva, along with the injured Baker and Fujikawa. The only ones we did flip from that spending spree was Hairston and Feldman.

                    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                      Are you suggesting that because we didn’t flip players that were either 1-injured 2-not getting worthy offers it was a mistake? I wish we’d have gotten something for Navarro but the other ones either were injured and thereby nobody wanted them and Shierholtz had value for this year and they wanted more than they were offered. Not seeing where they made a grave mistake.

                    • Kyle

                      I’m suggesting that signing those players implied that Epstein actually was trying to win games in 2013, and thus probably wasn’t happy with Sveum when they didn’t.

                    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                      Gotcha we are in agreement with that but I don’t think the W/L record was Sveum downfall. The issue (as has been stated by the FO but believing that is a whole other conversation) was that player development was not happening the way the FO wanted. Yes if players developed better (especially Castro & Rizzo) the record would be better but if players improved Sveum would still be here. The record and winning was not the primary goal, seeing positive progression form “core” players was the goal. That goal did not happen, Sveum too the blame. What happens this year with those core players (and the ones we see called up later) will be real measurement vs the W/L record.

                  • Jason P

                    If Rizzo, Castro and Samardzija had stayed on track with their development, the ’13 free agent class would have been enough to make the Cubs an above .500 team at last year’s deadline.

                    However, they did not. Hence, Sveum was fired.

                    • BlackJeep

                      We need to get over it. Sveum is gone, young Cubs regressed, FA’s were flipped, and we sucked. If you’re trying to win now, you can’t rebuild for the future as quickly. And a team can’t say its rebuilding but not trying to win so of course they’ll give lip service to winning, when its just not possible.

                      Just being competitive but not good is not enough to get you to the playoffs in the NL Central. And why would we want to lose the FA associated draft pick compensation just to say we’re a .500 team. Gotta stick to the plan man and not give into shortsighted, instant gratification addict fans that want their way. Theo and the gang have more experience and WS rings than any Debbie downer trolls on here.

                      I am a long suffering fan, but I am happy knowing its going to be fun watching this team grow from pups to beasts. It’ll suck losing but I fully expect the intrigue and competitiveness to climb quickly after this year and more each year after that. We have the #4 pick this year and likely another top 5 in next year’s draft too. Commence trolling…..

                • brainiac

                  yeah this whole engineering the team to lose is the source of almost all of my farcical posts. blaming the players and coaches for it is even lower. and then selling us that it’s actually a strategy for winning makes theo look like another tobacco businessman who thinks his consumers are suckers.

                  the bigger issue is that sports isn’t consumerism. or at least it wasn’t. i wish theo remembered his roots.

                  • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                    “farcical posts” aka I’m admitting I’m trolling this site.

                    • brainiac

                      goat you are the “trolls warts”. there are different ways to express opinion besides spamming other people’s posts with accusations.

                    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                      Not accusation when it is true and self admitted by the culprit. I’ve stated my case you’ve provided the evidence- now it’s back to having meaningful discussion instead of beating a troll off a bridge. Good night Troll.

        • Adventurecizin Justin

          We’ve never heard them NOT take the blame. In fact, they pretty much prepared us for the poor W’s & L’s. Do you even hope they make you eat crow? Or, are you hoping that you can say “nah nah nah boo boo, The Plan was a bunch of poo poo”?

          • Pat

            Pretty sure that once or twice I have heard them mention (and perhaps exaggerate slightly) the sad state of the franchise when they took over. Even if you believe them to be correct (I mostly do, but over time it seems to be more and more exaggerated), it’s hardly owning the record since then.

          • Kyle

            Trying to convince us that the losing is a good thing isn’t “taking the blame,” it’s another way of deflecting.

            Your question doesn’t deserve the dignity of an actual response.

            • Adventurecizin Justin

              Of course not…I think you just wanna be right

      • brainiac

        this is what i was talking about yesterday with the blame game being part of “the plan”. there’s no need to rub people through the dirt just because you don’t want them in the organization anymore.

    • Jason P

      You know what’s scary? A rotation where Scott Feldman is far and away your best pitcher. Even though they have improved somewhat this offseason, the Astros are still going to be much worse than the Cubs.

    • twinkletoez

      For the general knowledge, albeit always negative, that your normally show in your posts, your conclusion on the team based on 3 spring training games is borderline comical.

      If we take things this early seriously then St.Louis, Boston, Atlanta, Tampa, and Texas are in trouble they are a combined 4-12 but Miami, Houston, Minnesota, Milwaukee, and Seattle should be championship contenders they are a combined 13-6.

      I get it there are a lot of people on this site that for whatever reason have a negative view on everything cubs related. Player A is having a great off season and start to spring training “yea but so did so and so and he was a bust so don’t get your hopes up this guy will probably bust too” Player B is off to a slow start in spring training ” see I know this guy and this lineup was garbage we should have spent money on so and so, this FO sucks”

      I often wonder if these people, you all know who you are, actually really believe what they are saying or just like to start conversations always playing devils advocate and getting everyone riled up.

      • twinkletoez

        This was directed at Blackhawks original post, whoops.

      • Blackhawks1963

        Reading is fundamental. I can’t fix ignorance or inability to see facts either.

        • AB1980

          So reading = placement of comment in very drawn out discussion??

          “I can’t fix ignorance or inability to see facts either.”

          Exactly, because you’re a narcissist.

        • twinkletoez

          Blackhawks and facts two things that don’t go together.

          I have a few for you.
          Its 3 games into spring training
          not a single pitcher has gone more then 2 innings
          the lineups, for a full 9 innings, are not what we will be seeing coming opening day

  • brainiac

    these games are pretty meaningless at this point, but wouldn’t the lineup look a bit better if we could find a way to fit someone like kendry morales into the middle? he’s still a free agent and probably going for cheap due to recent injuries.

    • Blackhawks1963

      Kendry Morales is strictly a DH. He spent two years plus coming back from a broken leg and is puffy. No way could he be stuffed into the outfield. Hence why he is still unemployed.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      At this point, Morales would have real problems playing 1B on a regular basis. Playing the OF would be pretty much out of the question. That, coupled with his being tied to a draft pick, is why he’s still out there right now.

      (I would write that the fact that the Mariners are more interested in getting a draft pick than they are in re-signing him despite their desperate need for offense is meaningful; however, teams are placing a ridiculous value on draft picks these days.)

  • mrcub1958

    To start another spirited discussion…two consecutive Cactus attendance records. Interesting data. How are they drawing crowds outside of Wrigley? Building in the burbs would kill revenue as fans flock only to the Wrigley? Weird…

    • Pat

      And yet, playing a few miles down the road two days ago the crowd was only 4,000 or so. I’m guessing the records have to do with a brand new park and a lot of people looking for an excuse to escape the cold.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        I’m also guessing the relationship between large (14,000) Spring Training (meaningless games) crowds in the greater Phoenix area in February/March bare little to no relationship to the size of crowds (30,000? 40,000?) a suburban Chicago ballpark would draw for a crappy Cubs teams.

        • Pat

          True. I don’t think people realize what a traffic nightmare a suburban stadium would be (unless you went waaaaay west), and how much less of a “destination” it would be.

          As for today’s crowd, I forgot to also factor in people who had tickets for yesterday’s rainout trading them in for today’s game to get the exchange while they are still in town.

        • http://deepcenterfield.mlblogs.com/ Jason Powers

          Thought not making up for 81 games of meh baseball, the 16 games at the new facility likely provides an extra 4-6K of fans at the 15K maximum capacity stadium, the Cubs will generate some revenue. Not a lot…but every dollar helps – and goes back into the team, right?

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Spring training crowds are like the “hardcore” audiences for fantasy series: you know, the analogs of the Tolkien fans who thought that leaving Freddy Bolger out of the films diminished the story somehow.

      Spring training is like the opening-day or even the midnight ticket sales for one of those films: they draw heavily on the “hardcores.” The Cubs might well have the 3rd biggest “hardcore” following in baseball (after the Yanks and Sox); combine that with swank new facilities, and the big audiences are not surprising. However, just as the “hardcores” made up a tiny portion of film audiences, the hardcores are a small fraction of the people who go to see regular season games. So, it doesn’t necessarily portend huge regular season ticket sales.

      • Pat

        Bah, those people are crazy. However, omitting “The Scouring of the Shire” from ROTK was borderline criminal.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          And even that pales compared to the introduction of a random elf army (that was mathematically impossible, I might add), the ridiculous portrayal of Rohan, the character assassination on Faramir, the complete rewrite of Aragon, and that weird connection between Arwen’s health and the fate of Middle Earth that makes no kind of logical sense but was added because some two-bit writer felt the need to chuck in a fat lot of nonsense in the name of I don’t know what farcical mangling of thought.

          • Pat

            Forgot about the Faramir changes, that was probably my second biggest issue with the movies.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Except that the audiences were ready to head for the door several endings before they would even have started Scouring!

          Scouring actually was a very poorly done part of the book. It really didn’t fit in with the story (be it “death and immortality” as Tolkien defined it or “preserving and restoring natural order” as he actually wrote). It relied too much on a character (Lotho) who never appears AND was barely mentioned prior to that (one mention in the 3rd or 4th chapter), and then relied on devices (Lotho secretly buying up half the Shire) that we previously were told couldn’t be done on small scales ( Frodo couldn’t secretly leave the Shire because Hobbits gossip like mad hens).

          One little know aspect of Rings is that it recieved almost no professional editing: the publisher just wanted another hobbit book and didn’t take it seriously enough to really edit it. Tolkien actually took it to a different publisher at one point because it was taking so long: but that 2nd publisher did put an editor on it who wanted to cut out huge chunks of the book! I know that Bombadil was a recommended cut, but I don’t know if Scouring was : I think that Tolkien terminated things after the initial series of recommendations.

          • Pat

            I guess whether it fits in with the story is open to interpretation. The story often gets away from the writer’s intent (And whither then? I cannot say).

            To me it is a fitting chapter on how the Hobbits have changed and matured along the way, Frodo’s disconnect with the menial concerns of men and hobbits (which explains his departure to the Grey Havens much better then the movie even attempts to), and the ultimate destruction a Sauramon, which I think was handled much better than in the movie. As to whether it could be done base on previous points, I’m pretty sure Sauramon was a little more powerful than Frodo, even in defeat, and also, it isn’t that it was unknown to the rest of the Shire, but there were the men who beat or jailed those who spoke up.

            You’re right that it would have been difficult to handle in the movie, but it’s still an awful omission to me. But to be fair, I love that chapter in the book.

  • Eternal Pessimist

    …on a good note, Abreu is 0 – 5 so far for the White Sox, including losing his bat once that hit the wall some distance away. He will probably be pretty good, but I hope he isn’t great.

  • RoscoeVillageFan

    Cubs are the most popular draw for spring training and have been for years. Before the diamondbacks showed up, Cubs were by far the most popular team in AZ (I know, I used to live there in the 90s). This fact coupled with a new mini-big league stadium is why you see those attendance numbers. I don’t think this is a good argument for moving to the burbs. There are other arguments but I don’t think this is very relevant.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    I’m glad to see Baez get his licks in. Two for three is a good start. Barney seems to be off to a good start too. Obviously these games don’t count, but to dismiss them as meaningless is wrong. They are an indicator of things to come. I am concerned more about offensive production than I am about pitching. Getting these guys to put a crooked number on the scoreboard is going to be difficult.

  • waffle

    spring training. Not panicking. Low expectations anyway. Not surprises here.

  • Kyle

    I love Rivero so much. I (perhaps irrationally) expect him to be the best reliever on our team for many years.

  • Blackhawks1963

    It’s just real hard to see how a lineup card is going to come together this season. Also, I can’t be the only one who shudders about the rotation. The bullpen looks much improved but the rotation is frightening to contemplate.

    My focus will be on waiting for Vizcaino, Hendricks, Baez, Bryant, Alcantara to start washing up on shore. So my patience and faith in the Theo plan remains despite staring at the teeth of a probable 95 plus loss season.

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