Too Many Pitches, Too Many Long Balls

Spring Training Game Four – Cubs 2 White Sox 13
WP – Jon Garland (1-0) LP – Rich Hill (0-1)

2007sorianocrowdpub.jpg The Cubs Cactus League record did not improve on Sunday afternoon against the White Sox as they dropped to 0-3-1. While winning spring training games is not the top priority, playing sound baseball should be and Lou Piniella’s reaction to the poor play is more than justified. The “revamped” Cubs resembled the team that took the field last year on the North Side of Chicago. The pitching staff had high pitch counts and two of the three batters they walked came around to score….all sounds familiar, right?

The pitching staff is not throwing strikes and granted the players not performing to this point will not be on the 25-man roster when the team breaks camp in three weeks. But names such as Juan Mateo and Carlos Marmol are on the 40-man roster and with Michael Wuertz, Roberto Novoa and Sean Marshall being hurt, those two pitchers could be counted on sooner than anyone may think. Thrown in the fact no one knows what the Cubs will get out of Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Wade Miller and Ryan Dempster, no one on the staff should be given a free pass and Lou Piniella and Larry Rothschild have to right their staff.

2007dleepub.jpg Alfonso Soriano had a big day and broke his 0-5 spring with a 3-3 performance that included 2 doubles and an RBI….he also made a nice catch in center, that was not pretty but effective. The other Cub run came courtesy of Derrek Lee’s solo home run in the 4th. Having Derrek Lee for an entire season will have a huge impact on the offense. Matt Murton did not record a hit but did walk twice while hitting behind Soriano in the lineup. While the Cubs as a team have not played well in the first 4 games, a few of the players have and one of them is Matt Murton. The way Piniella uses Murton when Cliff Floyd is available will be very interesting to watch….too say the least.

2007hillpub.jpg Rich Hill gave up one run on one hit (Paul Konerko’s home run) in 2 innings of work and struck out 3. Hill threw fine, but in his 2 innings of work he threw 32 pitches (20 strikes and 12 balls). Hill has to cut down the amount of pitches he throws per inning in order to keep Piniella from going to the pen to early….of the 7 batters he faced, he had a 3-ball count on three of them. Hill’s overall performance was right in line with Wade Miller and Jason Marquis and it would have been interesting to see how Hill would have fared throwing a couple of more innings.

Juan Mateo pitched after Hill and in his inning and a third he gave up 4 runs on 2 hits, walked 2 and struck out 1. Both hits he allowed were home runs and both walks scored on Jermaine Dye’s home run to left in the 4th….in fact all of the damage the White Sox did against Mateo was in the 4th inning when he could only retire one batter. Mateo did throw the ball well in the 3rd but could not complete the two innings he was scheduled to pitch.

2007eyrepub.jpg Scott Eyre made his first appearance of the spring and other than a walk, he threw the ball like he did in 2006. Will Ohman and Bobby Howry were roughed up in their outings on Sunday, their second of the spring. Ohman gave up 3 runs on 2 hits and Howry allowed 2 runs on 3 hits.

Angel Pagan (RF), Chris Walker (CF), Ryan Theriot (2B), Ronny Cedeno (SS), Mike Kinkade (3B), Micah Hoffpauir (1B), Koyie Hill (C), Jason Anderson (P), John Webb (P), Clay Rapada (P), Jake Fox (PH) and Buck Coats (LF) all saw playing time on Sunday.

The Cubs lack of fundamentals and wins have gotten to Piniella according to a report on Cubs.com. Piniella is not happy with the way the Cubs have been outscored 36-15 in the first four games and have stranded 28 base runners. Some of the poor play has been by players that will not make the final cuts once they are handed down at the end of the month and prompted these remarks from Piniella (from Cubs.com):

“We’re getting lopsided here. I can’t do anything about it now. I have to keep running these people out because we need numbers. When I can do something about it is cut time, and then we’ll do something about it, and hopefully quick.”

The game between the Cubs and the White Sox set a new single game attendance record for HoHoKam Park….12,903. It was a beautiful day, but not to be a Cubs fan. To have to listen to the White Sox fans celebrate the first victory of the season, was unbearable to say the least.

Box Score from MLB.com

The Cubs start a new week on Monday and Lou Piniella’s goal has to be to put the poor play behind them and move on. Mark Prior, Kerry Wood and Ted Lilly are scheduled to pitch on Monday in Peoria against the Mariners. While it is “just spring training”, the Cubs have to correct the fundamental problems while the games are still listed under the exhibition column.

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Jacque Jones at the plate

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Rich Hill

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Rich Hill

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Rich Hill throwing his curve

Click here for the CCO Photo Gallery of more photos from the fourth game of Cubs Spring Training 2007.

A recap from the weekend at the CCO….

A Beautiful Day for a Ballgame (03/01/07)
The Big Z and Murton Show (03/02/07)
The Fight For Tickets (03/03/07)
An Inside the Park Tie Game (03/03/07)
This Week In Cubs History – 03/04/07

Quote of the Day

"It is not fair to ask of others what you are unwilling to do yourself." - Eleanor Roosevelt
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