cactusThat was something like a windy day at Wrigley Field, except many of the homers weren’t wind-aided, and they were pretty much all from the other team. The Diamondbacks homered six times today. (They had five doubles, too, and 20 hits in total. Oof.)

  • Jeff Samardzija went just three innings today with his 50 pitches, giving up one earned run on four hits and no walks. Samardzija struck out two, and he’ll head into the season as the Cubs’ number one. His performance out of the gate is, as you well know, very, very important. For many reasons.
  • Chris Rusin followed Samardzija, and he was not particularly sharp. Four of those six homers came off of Rusin, who was tagged for nine earned runs in 2.2 innings of work (10 H, 0 BB, 0 K). Rusin’s ability to work in the zone is generally a good thing, but today was a reminder that, when the conditions aren’t right, things can go very, very badly. I don’t know that today’s performance decided the fifth starter spot, because I’ve always given the edge to Carlos Villanueva. Today couldn’t have helped, though.
  • Bullpen hopefuls Alberto Cabrera and Justin Grimm each gave up a homer, too. Cabrera (2 ER, 2 H, 1 K) has a rough couple outings after looking so good for most of Spring Training, and Grimm (1 ER, 2 H, 1 K) has had a rough Spring all around. Their jobs will likely be decided based on what the coaches and front office have seen, and also Cabrera’s no-options-left situation. Hector Rondon has probably pretty much locked up a bullpen job at this point.
  • MIKE OLT! celebrated kinda-sorta-probably making the roster today with a fine performance at third, dropping a double in his four at bats, and driving in two.
  • Javier Baez took a walk today! Video soon.
  • Chris Coghlan – whom you’ve probably noticed I mention very little around here, despite him still being in big league camp – is trying to win that final bench job, and he went 2-4 today with a double and a homer. In the end, I suppose I could fathom the Cubs keep Coghlan up and sending Ryan Kalish to Iowa to get in some more come-back time before coming up, but I don’t see it as all that likely. I think that final spot is probably down to Ryan Roberts and Ryan Kalish.
  • Roberts, by the way, was o-3 while playing second, but he did have at least one nice defensive play.
  • Junior Lake was 0-4 today with a strikeout. Can’t hit a homer every day, I guess.
  • itzscott

    Well, looks like the Cubs are in mid-season form and are peaking at just the right time to open the season.

    Let the games begin.

  • BlameHendry

    Seems the pressure is getting to the youngsters a little bit lately. Bryant with 3Ks last night, Edwards getting the jitters, Baez having the holes in his swing exposed, Cabrera and Rusin meltdowns, and Shark proving he’s not worth the contract he’s seeking…

    Of course it’s to be expected. The deeper into ST we go, the more major-league caliber pitching these youngsters are exposed to, and any success they have at all shouldn’t be taken for granted. But we’re starting to see why players like Baez need that time at AAA to fine-tune their game. I wouldn’t even be opposed to having Olt spend the first month at Iowa either, although he’s definitely closer to being major-league ready and seeing him as our starting 3B in April would give me a reason to get excited about the games.

  • cubbcard

    i don,t understand the shark comment, one run in three innings and no walks sounds good to me . that will work 3 runs in nine . i will take that all year. kids will settle down fast once the roster is picked and they have an every day job in the bigs , go cubs

    • Brett

      I don’t understand your comment about the comment. I didn’t rip his outing. I did imply that using 50 pitches to go 3 innings isn’t great (and it’s not).

      • half_full_beer_mug

        I’m thinking he was referring to this line from BlameHendry “and Shark proving he’s not worth the contract he’s seeking” and just didn’t use the reply function correctly, but I could be wrong.

        I also didn’t quite get how the last outing in Spring with those results equated to the above either.

        • D-Rock

          Then he should have replied to blamehendry instead of creating a brand new thread. Blamehendry’s comments were a head scratcher. It was just one spring training game. Relax.

          • half_full_beer_mug

            What part of didn’t use the reply function correctly did you not understand?

            I’m pretty sure I’m quite relaxed enough as it is.

            • D-Rock

              Wow. I was saying “Relax” to Blamehendry, but because he didn’t use the reply button he couldn’t be part of this thread which is all about him and his ridiculous comments about last night’s game.

  • The Real Wrigley

    Shark: 50 pitches in 3 innings . I wasn’t there, but it seems like he’s back to his old efficient self…

    • mjhurdle

      Shark doesn’t always get the best results, but Im not sure i would call him ‘inefficient’.
      For comparison, last year he averaged the same pitches per AB as Kershaw and Liriano (3.77), slightly more than David Price (3.64) and better than Scherzer (4.05) and wonderkid Wacha (3.98).
      From the random pitchers i pulled up, he seems average to a bit better than average at keeping the pitches per AB down, and his 6.5 innings per start is fairly consistent with other pitchers as well. but I havent looked at a sizeable amount of pitchers, so the numbers could be off.

      • The Real Wrigley

        It just seems like every time I see his line, it’s 104 pitches, in 5.1 innings. Never fails.

        • Brocktoon

          He threw 5.1 innings or less in 4 of his 33 starts last season. He averaged more than 6.1 innings per start. He was 5th in the NL in innings pitched.

          • The Real Wrigley

            You’re missing my point. Every time I watched him pitch, the guy was at 80-90 pitches, by the 5th inning. That is ridiculous. He’s still not a complete pitcher yet. He still has many stretches where he’s a “thrower”.

            • MichiganGoat

              That should be something we can easily look up and compare to other pitchers, I’ve got to get the kids to school so if any OSU want to look it up we can know for certain. I’m not sure what the answer is but when we have stats that’s always better than the eye/memory test.

              • half_full_beer_mug

                According to this
                Shark was 29th in pitches pitched last year (Wood was 26th and Kershaw was 30th) and he was 5th in innings pitched (Wood was 16th and Kershaw was 2nd).

                I’m not saying that what one person saw (or thought they saw) wasn’t correct, but the raw numbers don’t seem to make the case that Jeff’s inefficient.

                • ssckelley

                  Good stuff, according to that chart Shark was 32nd in pitches per plate appearance but was 2nd in the league in plate appearances. TRW is correct Shark averaged 80 pitches by the 5th inning and was hitting the 100 pitch mark after the 6th inning (16.2 pitches per inning).

                  • Head and Heart

                    Shark’s BABIP against was .314 which was higher than the previous couple years. Compared to Wood who had a .248 BABIP against last season. Was Shark inefficient or unlucky?

                    • half_full_beer_mug

                      It appears that he got hit more in 13 than in 12

                      In 13 he gave up 2.87 balls in play per IP

                      in 12 that number was 2.08

                      according to the table linked above

                    • The Real Wrigley

                      I suppose your BABIP would be higher, if you’re leaving pitches over the plate, and not hitting your spots. In that case, you’re right. That would make him ineffective, not inefficient.

                  • The Real Wrigley

                    80 pitches by the 5th inning. Thanks for looking that up. For a second, I wasn’t sure if I really saw what I saw ( or thought I saw).

            • Edwin

              Instead of the “He’s a thrower not a pitcher label”, why not just say he struggles with control and command at times?

              • The Real Wrigley

                Because his struggles are not “occurances”, they are fairly common. Thus, he’s more of a thrower to me. Pitchers don’t have those struggles as often as Shark does. The guy is nearly 30. He is what he is : a thrower, who on rare occasionally teases his fan base with brief periods of brilliance.
                I guess I could ask you why you’re bothered by my labeling him a thrower? You’re right, I could have worded it as you did, but you knew what I meant…because it’s true.

  • Leo the Lip

    Rusin, Kalish, and Olt all start the season at AAA. Rusin stays stretched out, Olt and Kalish get to work on things. The more veteran players get limited playing time for the first month.
    Everyone still has to bust their butts because more decisions coming when Arrieta comes off the DL and then in May with Fujikawa and McDonald coming off the 60 day DL. And then there’s Vizcaino. With all of these tough decisions how can the we suck so bad?

    • Jr 25

      Kalish and Olt don’t start in AAA. You would rather have light hitting Valbuena or Roberts starting at 3rd? Olt has a good bat and his D if coming around and with Kalish a left handed bat with good speed! I like him making the roster before Sweeney or Roberts.

      • Leo the Lip

        Its colder in Chicago than Iowa. They both have had health issues. Neither played in AAA last year. I saw Olt a couple of times when he was still in the Rangers organization. All he did at bat was swat a pitches and if he got wood on the ball, it went to 2nd base. He needs some reps in AAA to maintain his confidence and come up in May swinging a hot bat. Same with Kalish. Don’t get me wrong, I love what these guys bring to the Cubs.

        • CubFanBob

          Olt played in over 100 games last year at triple a but who cares. Anyone watching him this spring knows he past the eye test. He looks the part. If he wasn’t going to be the opening day 3rd baseman he would have been reassigned already and Murphy retained.

          Kalish was sent by the baseball gods to the Cubs. He is our Roy Hobbs. Wikipedia or google it if you don’t get it.

          • Head and Heart

            BR has a quality of competition stat on it’s spring training stats. Huge grain of salt. But Olt is at 9.1 this spring. With 10 being the top number which would be major league pitchers every at bat. He’s faced pretty good competition. And he is slugging .617

            Now I know it’s spring training. And HUGE grain of salt. But that’s only .19 less than Miggy slugged last year and the next highest 3B was Beltre at .509 so….if anyone deserves to make this team it’s Olt. The fact he can pick it down there is the icing on the cale.

            Even if Olt slugs 100 points less than he is now he’d still be near the top of the leader board at third. 150 points less and he’d be ahead of guys like Zimmerman and Machado.

        • miggy80

          To say that it is colder in Iowa is one thing but to say it’s colder in Des Moines is a stretching it.


    • baldtaxguy

      “With all of these tough decisions how can the we suck so bad?”

      One has nothing to do with the other.

      • Leo the Lip

        You are right. I am thinking like a Cubs fan. The decisions are just tougher than they were when the team lost over 100 games.

  • The Real Wrigley

    Because the organization’s best players…are all in the minor leagues on opening day.

  • brains

    brett thank you for giving us a medium to vent our frustrations while keeping things going so that we don’t lose interest in the team. the cubs owe you lots, and lots, and lots of money.

    • Leo the Lip

      Brains, while I’m on a roll I want to address your comment about fans losing interest in the team. I’m 67 years old and my first favorite Cubs player was Hank Sauer. The Cubbies have not been in a World Series in my lifetime. One does not “lose” interest in the Cubs. In that same vein, the Ricketts family does not merely “own” the Cubs. They have a stewardship over the Cubs. That responsibility entails acquiring more lifetime Cubs fans. Its quite a responsibility.

      You are spot on about Brett and his efforts.

      • itzscott

        Hank Sauer??

        I’m 62 years old, not much younger than you and don’t remember him playing in my lifetime! When did he retire?

        btw, my first favorite, all time and still is ….. Ernie Banks.

        • ssckelley

          1949 to 1955 is when Sauer played for the Cubs so he would have been young but easily old enough to remember.

          Sauer probably would have been a HOF’er if not for WWII. He did not become a regular until he was 31 and put up impressive numbers until he was 40.

          • miggy80

            Ron Cey is the first Cub player I remember liking and he played from 83′-86′. I was 3-6 yrs old. Then was Sandberg, Dawson, Grace, Wood, Ramirez, Lee, Castro……

            • Rich H

              The Penguin was my favorite Cub growing up as well. I had a glove signed by him from his days in LA and he signed it again when I took it to a Cubs game. Ron Cey was the reason that I wanted to play 3rd base in little league. Loved the dude as a kid.

              Cey was probably the number 1 reason for me settling in as a Cubs fan as an adult.

              • cub4life

                Unfortunately he was before my BT (baseball time), I started when I was 12 (36 now) so that was write in the Sandberg and Dawson era but Sandberg was my first (and still altime) Favorite player. But going back to what he was saying about the fans leaving, those are the “fair weather fans” so not true Cubs fans, we stick thru no matter what. GO CUBBIES.

                • brains

                  seconded on sandberg. how about leon durham? awesome guy.

                  • jp3

                    Yeah I’m 33years old so my introduction to the cubbies was Dawson and Sandberg as well.. First time I remember crying was at Sandberg’s 1st retirement speech.

                    • ssckelley

                      The guy who made me cry as a kid was Steve Garvey.

                    • miggy80

                      Dawson, Dunston, Sandberg they were my favorites when I started to understand the game. Sandberg was my fav because I played 2B and batted 2nd, but when I see clips from those teams Dawson makes the hair on my neck stand up. Looking back I think I liked Dawson better.

            • ssckelley

              The Cubs were horrible when I was young so I did not turn into a big Cub fan until after I was 10 so my favorite Cub as a kid were guys like Leon Durham and Jody Davis since they were big home run guys.

              If it was not for my great aunt, who was a life long Cub fan and always had the game on when it was televised, I probably would have ended up being a Brewers fan. You see me bring up guys like Gormon Thomas a lot because that 1982 Brewers team was awesome as they hit a ton of home runs and had pitchers like Pete Vuckovich and Rollie Fingers. But since my dad took me to see my great aunt about every weekend, who was like a grandma to me, I became a Cubs fan as one of the local stations around here used to broadcast the WGN games on the weekends.

  • Bret Epic

    Mariners apparently looking for a starting pitcher. Let the Samardzija rumors commence!

    • D-Rock


  • Serious Cubs Fan

    Over-Under: Does Javier Baez have more homers then walks this year?

    • DarthHater


      • Bret Epic

        Guessing walks, but less than a half dozen more. If he ends up with 40 home runs, he’ll have about 42 walks.

    • ssckelley

      Good question, since I doubt his walk rate will decline as it has gone up as he has progressed through the minors I will say he ends up with more walks. But I hope he ends up with more home runs because that means he will have hit a bunch of them.

  • newsguy23

    Should I be concerned that one of the strengths of the team, the bullpen has been less than stellar

    • ssckelley

      Not during spring training.

      • Brett

        Particularly because, even if you’re just looking at the guys expected to make the pen, they aren’t being used how they’re going to be used in the regular season. They’re just getting work in.

        • terencemann

          Thankfully (mericfully?) the Cubs don’t play home games in Arizona, where breaking balls don’t break as well and fly balls travel a little farther, in the regular season, either.

          • terencemann

            The syntax of that statement is completely FUBAR but I think you all get it…

  • CubsFaninMS

    Rusin was “not particularly sharp”? Hmm. About as sharp as a WWII bayonet. Rusin seems to be either close to light’s out or … his light is not on… depending on the day. I’ve been on Team Rusin for awhile now as a long-term #5 starter for the Cubs, but Carlos Villanueva appears to have a more consistent and obviously established track record in the MLB. I say give Villanueva the #5 role and make Rusin the long relief/mop up guy.