Dempster’s Tainted Tune-up – Cubs 4 Rockies 6

Spring Training Game Thirty-One – Cubs 4 Rockies (ss) 6
WP – Clay Mortensen (1-0) LP – Ryan Dempster (1-1) Save – None

The Cubs four-game spring winning streak came to an end with a lackadaisical effort Sunday afternoon. After showing a lot of improvement over the last week, Q’s crew looked indifferent against a Rockies’ split squad.

Ryan Dempster did not pitch as questionable as he final line indicates. Dempster allowed three runs on five hits with two walks and two strikeouts in four innings. All three runs scored on two doubles by Jose Morales … both of Morales’ doubles came on misplayed balls by Brett Jackson and Alfonso Soriano.

Dempster hit his spots and threw 73 pitches in his final spring tune-up, 47 for strikes.

James Russell retired the first six batters he faced and looked very sharp against left-handed hitters. Russell faced several right-handed hitters in his third inning of work and struggled … with a little help from the Cubs defense. Russell gave up two runs on four hits in the seventh, which sealed the exhibition win for the Colorado Rockies.

John Grabow gave up an unearned run in his inning of work … and was not as sharp as he’s been in previous outings.

Carlos Marmol made quick work of the Rockies’ minor leaguers in the ninth. Marmol struck out two of the three batters he faced.

The Cubs lone highlight of the afternoon came in the bottom of the eighth. Tyler Colvin put the Cubs on the board with his third homer of the year … a Grand Slam over the wall in right on a 3-2 pitch after being behind in the count 0-2. Prior to the eighth, the Cubs offense had managed just six hits.

Sunday’s loss guarantees the Cubs will finish their Cactus League schedule with a below .500 record.

The dog days of Spring Training appear to have set in for Q’s crew. At this point, the Cubs goal must be to leave Arizona as healthy as possible after Wednesday’s Intrasquad game …

Ryan Dempster made quick work of the Rockies in the first inning, retiring the first three hitter in order. Jason Giambi led off the second with a towering double to center. The ball hit off the corrugated wall and bounced away from Brett Jackson.

Seth Smith grounded out to second, Giambi advanced to third and held when Dempster appeared to work around Ian Stewart. Dempster issued his fourth free pass of the spring to Stewart, a four-pitch walk that put runners on first and third with one out.

Jose Morales then ripped a 1-2 offering into left center. Brett Jackson appeared to pause before taking a bad route to the ball. Giambi and Stewart scored on a ball that should have been caught by the Cubs’ top prospect.

Jackson got the ball into Starlin Castro quickly and the relay nailed Morales at third. Tug Hulett grounded out to short to end the inning.

The Cubs did nothing against Clay Mortensen in the home half of the second and third.

The Rockies made it 3-0 in the fourth thanks to another bad play by a Cubs outfielder.

Seth Smith reached on a one out single to center. Dempster retired Stewart on a fly out to center. Jose Morales then hit a sinking liner into left that tailed toward the line. Alfonso Soriano tried to make a diving catch instead of just pulling up and keeping the ball in front of him. Smith scored all the way from first as Soriano recovered from an awkward landing … and tracked down the ball after it rolled past him.

Dempster walked Tug Hulett before retiring Clay Mortensen on a ground out to short to end the inning … and his afternoon.

The two of the three runs Dempster allowed should not have scored.

James Russell took over in the fifth and was very sharp in two of his three innings of work … but the Cubs defense cost the young southpaw a couple of earned runs in the seventh.

Tug Hulett reached on a double down the left field line … a ball that a Major League left fielder should catch. Matt Pagnozzi then singled to left on a 1-0 pitch. Hulett held at third with one out.

Delta Cleary hit for Dexter Fowler and lifted Russell’s first pitch into center. Brett Jackson caught the ball and threw all the way home. Jackson’s throw was high and off the mark. Hulett scored and Pagnozzi advanced to second on a ball that was thrown too high to be cut off.

Jonathan Herrera singled to left, Soriano charged but bobbled the ball. Pagnozzi scored easily … 5-0 Rockies. Another right-handed hitter, Jason Botts singled to left. Soriano threw Herrera out at third to end the inning.

The Rockies sixth and final run of the game came in the top of the eighth … after another error. A throwing miscue by D.J. LeMahieu on a would-be 5-4-3 inning ending double play.

The Cubs have two more practice games and an Intrasquad game before the season begins Friday against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field.

Box Score from

Carlos Zambrano will make his final tune-up of the spring Monday afternoon against the Indians in Goodyear.

Quote of the Day

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." - Albert Einstein
  • Gary J

    I know the discussion was on the other thread, but things tend to die out once the new story is posted… nicely done as usual Neil :-)

    Look… I’m as down on Hill as you guys are. I’m not going to get into the whole “who’s better” discussion because we’re all on the same page here. He’s a waste of a roster spot. Let one of the youngsters be the back up and move on blah blah blah.

    My post is about the perception of management this offseason. Here’s the arguments….

    Second base backup:
    Why the heck would they bring in Ojeda? Barney showed in the minors last year that he at least deserves a shot at the backup role…. sure he’s not the future at the position, but why the heck have a vet that can’t hit in place of a young energetic guy? Come on!

    Result… Barney on squad… Ojeda gone.

    Second base starter:
    DeWitt stinks – can’t field but makes up for it by not hitting. He’s not the future but still… why hand him the job?

    Result: DeWitt still the starter currently… BUT there was talk about Barney maybe playing his way into the job. And honestly I wouldn’t be surprised to see Barney getting a lot of playing time if DeWitt doesn’t snap out of it. Quade seems willing to trot out the players best able to get him a win. If DeWitt continues to struggle at the plate and with the glove… we’ll see. Either way – neither guy if the future at the position. LeMahieu is. But D.J. showed today with the error why he’s still in need of seasoning.

    And a side note that’s neither here nor there right now but, DeWitt is in the final year of his contract. And I would doubt knowing that they’ve got hopes for BIG free agents this off season and DJ in the wings… Barney will be the starter next year if DJ isn’t ready or if they don’t pull in an all star at 2nd… you read it here first LOL

    Fourth and fifth starter:
    Why are they bringing in Looper and Wellemyer? And how is Silva still here? He’s a giant fat a$$ but he’s already got a spot sewn up due to his salary. you’ll see. He’ll be #4 and one of the retreads will get the spot. There’s no chance that anyone else gets a shot at either spot. You’ll see. This talk of wanting Cashner in the rotation is all talk. They never ever ever give a kid a break. It’ll be Silva and a retread, you’ll see.

    Result: Wells absolutely forced their hand with his spring pitching. He’s been stellar and I hope like heck he keeps it up. But as for the other spot, Looper is retired, Silva is released, and Welly contemplating retirement too. Cashner has the job.

    Fifth outfielder:
    As I’ve said many times previously – who the heck cares? :-) We have four starter quality OFs and our top prospect will be waiting in the minors. Reed has looked good and Perez didn’t… but either way the fifth OF for this club is utterly irrelevant. More so than many other teams. Would I rather see a banger of the bench as a pinch hitter? Yeah probably – but RJ seems like a quality vet with some game left. I’m OK with it.

    So… with all that said….

    Why don’t we just wait to hear officially about Hill. Do I think he’s liked and will probably be the choice…. .well… honestly yes.

    BUT my point so far is that the ownership, GM, and manager all off season has been making the moves that no one was giving them any chance of making.

    Let’s wait and see.

    Because the fact that those guys are still in camp and playing shows that the decision hasn’t been made quite yet. And Hill sitting there with the bat on his shoulder sure didn’t help him any today.

    Anyway… my two cents :-)

    • Henry

      I read ck chicago cubs online daily. this is my first comment. Gary well said. the past two weeks the sports talk shows were blasting the cubs because they would not cut Silva. What the Cubs ultimately do? they cut silva. Let’s see what happens! My guess is Hill is on the team for the 1st month or until Castillo’s healthy.


      • Cheryl

        Gary. Henry, Thanks. We needed this.

      • GaryLeeT

        Cutting Silva was an easy choice. I am waiting for management to make a tough choice.

        • Gary J

          Deciding to eat $11 million is by no means an easy choice. The right choice certainly, but I have disagree it was easy.

          An analogy would be me going to watch a movie. I decide i want to see a movie. I spend the time researching which movie to see and head into town. I buy my popcorn, soda, and head on in.

          I can tell in the first 15 minutes generally I it’s going to be good. I get fooled sometimes, but it’s rare. I know if it’s going to be worth it fairly quickly.

          The same thing to do would be to get up and leave. Take my lumps and get an hour of my life back. But I never do. I spent the money an by golly I’m going to tough it out. Maybe it’ll get better.

          That’s $10.

          Silva was $11 million.

          It wasn’t easy I’m sure. :-)

          • GaryLeeT

            It was easy, given the choices. Eat11 million, or keep a club house cancer and a guaranteed loss every 5th game. Even in the pen, he had a chance to do some serious damage. Given the assured player, and fan fallout,11 million was a small price to pay.

      • Neil

        Henry, Welcome to the CCO!

    • GaryLeeT

      I take issue with your comment that the Cubs have 4 quality outfielders. With hitting factored in, Soriano and Fukudome simply do not qualify.

      • gocubs

        GaryLeeT, Im confused about your post. As far as hitting, Soriano was second on the team (behind only Soto) last year in OPS…he is one of our best hitters. Fukudome is a good player, not great, and certainly overpaid…but still a good player.

        • GaryLeeT

          Having the 2nd best OPS on a 5th place team, that was near last in runs scored, is not impressive, and you have seen Soriano in the field, right? Fukudome has to be platooned. How does that qualify as a quality outfielder? When someone says “quality” I think above average on both offense and defense.

          • Theboardrider

            Soriano is at least above average on offense. And he’s in better shape and looks like he could have a really good year. He’s not the 40-40 guy he was years back but he’s still gonna hit 25 bombs at least if he stays healthy.

    • JedMosley

      Gary I love your posts because they are always what I’m feeling as well. There are a lot of people on here with the same opinion on everything and it’s nice to get a different view of things

    • cubtex

      Gary you make some good points but one thing you want is depth and competition at spring training for backup roles.
      I am glad Barney won the job but what would have happened if Barney struggled this spring??? Without an Ojeda there or another veteran for insurance that could have been a disaster.
      Looper was a no risk and so was Wellemeyer. Minor league deals.
      DeWitt has looked awful this spring but lets not forget that he is only 25,working on a new swing with Jaramillo and he did play pretty well for the Dodgers last year in the first half. If he struggles early this year, I am sure Barney will get more playing time. I would like the Cubs to upgrade that position in the offseason with a potential leadoff hitter and basestealer through free agency or a trade. The Cubs really need to add more team speed and 2nd base is a position where that can be done!

      • Gary J

        Cubtex – I think you missed my intent… I was outlining all the negative comments that were flying about the board in reference to those positional issues. I was one of the people trying to say at the time that Ojeda was just being brought in as split-squad fodder – with baker already set as the backup to SS and 2B, I really didn’t see any chance of him even sniffing Wrigley this year.

        And yeah – I’m with you on the minor league deals for the pitchers too… said so at the time. If they had some magic left – then great. Didn’t think there was any chance of them getting anywhere near the rotation, but if they had a decent spring, then a vet in the pen isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’d rather see youngsters out there getting used to the rhythm of the big show – but every year there’s that one guy that everyone counted out that comes out of nowhere to shine for somebody. It’s always worth a shot especially if it’s a non-guaranteed deal.

        The point of my statements was just highlighting the negativity that had been brewing about the moves all spring :-) The arguments of the “let’s (Ed) lynch them behind the right field bleachers” crowd :-)

        But in an odd way, you just backed up my point :-) Thanks man LOL I’m right with you on your analysis.

        • Tony

          ST is almost over, and not to bring all the details up again, as you and I have already had this discussion, but the point many people have made is, why not let some of our own guys in our system, get those AB’s, IP, defensive innings, time in camp, that will help our future, versus bringing in guys who really should of had no chance to make this team. Players like Ojeda, Looper, Wellemeyer, etc are all available, RIGHT NOW, as teams have made their cuts. They have gone through ST, somewhere, but why did it have to be in the Cubs ST. If Barney had a bad ST, then we could have picked up someone to be a veteran IF player on the bench, etc.

    • Agustinrexach

      super post.

      • Agustinrexach

        Though I’d like to establish that they have been making the right decisions within the $hitty reality that was self imposed. 😉

    • Gary J

      Thanks to all the folks giving me kudos… it’s appreciated. Just didn’t want to thank individually and clog up the board :-)

  • cc002600

    Personally, I could care less about the whole Hill thing. People, like Aaron, are making this out to be the biggest decision the cubs have made since trading away Lou Brock. I mean its the BACKUP CATCHER !!! holy crap. I’m not a Hill fan either, but it is stupid to have Castillo on the cubs bench, he should be in AAA. Period, end of story. Outside of that, who cares ?

    The one thing I don’t get is playing Fuk over Colvin. Fuk is gone after this year (thank God), Colvin is the future. Fuk has zero power, Colvin could develop into that lefthanded run producer we have all been waiting for. If you need a leadoff man, put Castro or Barney there. Plus, Fuk has no speed and K’s a lot, and yes I know his OBP is pretty good, but still.

    • BillyFinT

      There’s actually a good take from Tom U in one earlier thread:

      If Castillo has nothing more to learn in AAA, then it’s time to make him play on the Big league level. Tom U brought up three points before: It’s about the player’s confidence; this also shows something to other minor league talents vying for that position (catcher), and it won’t mess up the whole organizational move of promoting younger players down the minor league levels.

      I’ll add that Castillo will then watch and learn, be active working with Major League talents and participating with team decisions.

      That’s why playing the bench role will still help him grow, as opposed to play daily with AAAA players who are long shots making a Major League team.

      • cc002600

        how do you gain confidence by watching ? sorry, he’s only 23, he needs to play everyday. He should be in AAA. I disagree.

        • BillyFinT

          I hope I am not trying to convince you. But “staying in the Big” is just one of the three things important to this organization. If we just tackle that, from what I’m seeing, pro.players benefit from playing the best of the best. We can work this backward, too: If Castillo will not learn with the Big club, then he’ll not learn in AAA.

          Remember Felix Pie? There was an issue of his playing time. The issue was not if he needed playing time with Iowa Cubs, but the Chicago Cubs.

          It’s not just only about playing on the field, but working off the field. The preparation, the every-day actions. Knowing that he’s able to deal with these on the Major League level, he’ll build confidence… I also wonder why would the organization keep Castillo in AAA and block three other good catchers who should be promoted to play on a higher level?

          There of course has been a question, if Castillo is Major-league ready or not? Watch his spring training actions. He should be. In fact, if he’s good enough, he might replace Soto in more games sooner than later.

          And we’ll never find out if that’s the case if he’s kept in AAA.

    • Aaron

      Do your research before spouting off….just sayin’

      Hill played in 77 games with 231 plate appearances….You do realize that equates to roughly 60 games started, right?

      That’s quite a hefty amount.

      To put it in laymens terms for you……so you can clearly understand this one (as apparently you don’t get it)…as I am NOT making this out to be a Lou Brock deal, blah blah blah….whatever else you’re blathering.

      But let’s see if you can understand this one….

      Here’s our pitcher’s stats from last year:
      Dempster-.136/.136/.153, 75 PA, 3 runs, 8 hits, 1 double, 2 RBI, 0 walks, 19 K’s
      Zambrano-.231/.255/.288, 57 PA, 5 runs, 12 hits, 1 hr, 6 RBI, 2 walks, 15 K’s
      Wells-.173/.204/.212, 63 PA, 1 runs, 9 hits, 2 doubles, 3 RBI, 2 walks, 15 K’s
      *Cashner and Garza obviously weren’t starters last year for the Cubs…

      Here’s Hill’s line:
      .214/.254/.298, 231 PA, 18 runs, 46 hits, 13 doubles, 1 triple, 1 hr, 17 RBI, 12 walks, 61 K’s

      Now, to put that into perspective….Hill had the 11th most plate appearances of anyone else on the team…more than Baker, DeWitt, Fontenot, etc.

      So, in those approximately 60 starts for Hill, the Cubs essentially had 2 pitchers batting in the lineup.

      Now, riddle me this smart guy….why the hell are you ignoring that fact….that the Cubs were running out 2 automatic outs in 60 games….and you somehow think that’s not a big deal?!?!?!?

      What planet are you living on?

      Ask Lou Piniella if that mattered. I’m sure he’d tell you it absolutely was a big deal. I don’t have the time to do it, so I’m going to arbitrarily throw out some numbers for you…

      Let’s just say that in 60 of his starts, the Cubs lost about 30 of them (which was actually higher than their overall winning percentage. The Cubs finished with a record of 75-87…..Now, let’s just say they had a competent back-up in Castillo….or even Ramirez in there. With the offense they bring to the table, do you think it’s even remotely feasible that the Cubs could have won about half of the games they lost under Hill? That’d add 15 wins to their total, putting them at 90-72, and in 2nd place (still 1 game out of the playoffs with the Wild Card…but more respectable). The reason I believe that’s actually feasible is the fact the Cubs offense was so dreadful last year, and their starting pitching was very good….I don’t think it’s any stretch to assume that taking 231 plate appearances away from a guy that hits worse than some pitchers would make a monumental difference with the team, as it’d turn over the lineup, allowing for more runs to be scored.

      • JedMosley

        Aaron he can say whatever he wants and he was just disagreeing with you. People can have their opinions, and it’s not the end of the world if someone disagrees with you. Hill played that many games last year because Soto got hurt, he wouldn’t have played nearly as much if Soto stayed healthy. If Soto gets hurt this year for any extended period of time and with the spring Castillo’s had, I have no doubt he would come up and get more time than Hill. I don’t think Hill should be on the team like the rest of us, I just don’t think it’s a big deal. Now you can go ahead and attack me, because it seems you like to do that when someone doesn’t agree with you.

      • cubtex

        Aaron- Expanding on what turkleddawg said….I too am getting tired of attacks on anyone who disagrees with you! I haven’t been commenting on this board nearly as long as I hear that you have been. Have you always been attacking everyone who disagrees with you? Do you ever say anything positive about the Cubs? I am sure there are more people than turkledawg and myself who are getting tired of reading your attacks!

        • Theboardrider

          Sometimes when I read these threads it seems like we’re not all on the same team. I always wonder how two Cubs fans could end up fighting in the bleachers, but these threads illustrate the scenario electronically. There are two squads: the negatives and the positives. The negatives don’t always seem supportive of the Cubs and they certainly aren’t open to dissenting opinions. The negatives DON’T like to be disagreed with.

          • JedMosley

            I agree man, I feel like an outcast in these discussions because I choose to look at the Cubs situation as half full, not half empty. I think it’s more enjoyable and who knows, maybe the Cubs will have a good year. Because I’m positive about the situation doesn’t mean I don’t see all the shortcomings the Cubs have, I just choose to wait and see this year, like every year. Isn’t that what a fan is supposed to be?

          • Gary J

            Outcasts unite! :-)

          • Theboardrider

            I’m with you on the shortcomings. Of course they are there but I love the Cubs, so I focus on the good. I’m not capable of hating on them whether I agree with management decisions or not. I think that we may have underestimated how bitter the Sandberg decision made some people. Since then the vitriol has been worse than ever! If we’re going to break 105 year losing streak then we gotta stay positive. Quote The Dude: “If you will it, it is no dream.” Maybe all the negative feelings in the atmosphere effect the Cubs mojo. I’m not really that new age but who knows? The Cubs need our support, for better or worse. They’ll always have mine! As far as I’m concerned a couple things go our way and we could win the Central. Or the opposite and we could finish below the Pirates. You just never know and staying positive can’t hurt.

      • Gary J

        As to what turkledawg and cubtex said…

        I actually love the baseball content of your posts Aaron.

        I’m OK with you having an opinion – we all have ’em.
        I’m OK with you stating it in a passionate manner.
        I actually love the amount of research and statistical analysis you pack in your posts.
        And you are obviously very knowledgeable.
        And believe it or not I actually agree with about half of what you say too :-)

        And even the negative slant of most of your posts – that’s OK too. It’s obvious you’re frustrated with the current situation. I realize I have probably unrealistic optimism at times myself – but that’s just how I am LOL.

        But the condescending tone and outright attacks on people not agreeing with you…. just in this post alone… that’s what’s getting people in a huff.

        “Do your research before spouting off”
        “You do realize that equates to roughly 60 games started, right?”
        “To put it in laymens terms for you……so you can clearly understand this one (as apparently you don’t get it)…as I am NOT making this out to be a Lou Brock deal, blah blah blah….whatever else you’re blathering.”
        “let’s see if you can understand this one”
        “riddle me this smart guy”
        “why the hell are you ignoring that”
        “you somehow think that’s not a big deal?!?!?!?”
        “What planet are you living on?”

        …and this is one of your shorter posts. :-)

        But roughly a third of the post is devoted to your disdain for the other poster.

        If someone doesn’t agree with you – they’re allowed to do that.
        If you want to respond – you’re allowed to do that. In fact I like it. It’s fun to do point/counter-point. There are (almost) always two side to every point. Every negative has a positive and vice versa.

        But because someone disagrees with you doesn’t mean it’s YOU – it’s your opinion they are disagreeing with. Please stop reacting as if it’s a personal thing.

        Or at least give the other person the benefit of the doubt that they are an intelligent adult with an opinion. Because someone doesn’t agree with you doesn’t make them ignorant, stupid, extra-terrestrial, etc.

        Neil has been nice enough to pull this site together and make this a place where Cubs fans can get together and discuss their favorite team. Discuss being the key work. Not argue – not attack each other – not be borderline hostile.

        The really ironic thing is that I actually AGREE with the baseball centric portion of your post. Hill is like having a second pitcher in the offense. Good call. His bat is below average (at best), his defense is pedestrian, and his game calling is nothing special. We could do better even for a backup catcher.

        But the manner in which you delivered your point made me not even really pay attention to the meat of it… which was actually a well thought out analysis.

        A shout out to Gramps on this one if you’re out there big guy….


  • David Colby

    I was at the game. I counted 4 Cub errors. Sad. We need a left fielder that can catch the ball or at least have some desire to do so. He was loudly booed!!!

  • studio179

    This is what we will see all year. They will play a couple games or a series of tight, crisp ball…win or lose. Then, they will go through stretches of sloppy, bad miscue baseball. I don’t think this team is prepared to execute well played baseball consistently all year. I hope for guys to improve and develope.

    • GaryLeeT

      I know. This year’s team looks a lot like last year’s 75 win team. There are some exciting parts to the Cubs worth watching, but the cries for all of us to dawn our rose colored glasses, and to put an end to all the negativity about a team that is obviously going nowhere this year, is child like foolishness. And where were all you rah, rah people at the end of last year when Tony, Aaron, I (use to post as Gary, before Disqus), and very few others could hear our own echos on these pages during “Talkin Live”?

      • studio179

        Hmm… I am not sure if you are calling me out or not. I will assume you are directing your ‘rah, rah people’ point toward me, since you responded to my post.

        First, I am not a ‘rah, rah’ Cub person. I call it as I see it. If the team makes a negative move, I will call it out. If the team does something poisitive, I will call that out as well. I am not going to post an opinion just for the sake of being negative or positive.

        Second, I was not on this board last season to comment. I found the site during the very end of last season and this offseason. If I were on this site last year, you would have seen me post how Lou handled the Colvin situation wrong and how he quit managing the last 2 to 2 1/2 years and was sleeping at the wheel far too often. That is just an example.

        The ‘rah, rah’ types or strictly negative types can answer for themselves.

        • GaryLeeT

          The part directed to you was about the team still being error prone, and I agreed. Since little has changed this year over last, why would we expect a different result? Sometimes, reality is negative.

          • studio179

            A lot of what I see is not much different than last year. This offense is going to be about the same. The days they pounce the ball out, they will fair alright. It will cover mistakes. It looks like too often we will see the days where they do not go deep and struggle in moving guys over, ec.

  • Monica

    It sounds like this game was full of errors; I hope this isn’t what the whole season is going to be like. I’m planning on watching every game wherever I am with the help of DISH Network’s TV Everywhere. I can bring my employee subscription with me everywhere and watch all the Cubs games live on my iPhone. Other companies like Time Warner have similar features but none let me stream live TV outside of my home network. Why would I want to watch the Cubs on my phone when I’m at home with my big screen TV? I can’t wait for this season to start.