Another Zloppy Zpring Tune-up – Cubs 3 Indians 4

Spring Training Game Thirty-Two – Cubs 3 Indians 4
WP – Carlos Carrasco (1-2) LP – Carlos Zambrano (0-2) Save – Vinnie Pestano (2)

After showing improvement for nearly a week, the Cubs have gone backwards over the last two games as the exhibition season comes to an end.

The Cubs offense was pretty much non-existent again Monday. Carlos Pena and Aramis Ramirez tallied four of the Cubs six hits and Pena recorded the Cubs only two RBI … a solo home run in the second and a double in the ninth. The Cubs had a chance to tie and/or take the lead in the ninth but Alfonso Soriano struck out with the tying run on third and Reed Johnson came up empty with the bases loaded to end the game.

Carlos Zambrano struggled with his command in his final tune-up. Zambrano gave up four runs, two earned, on four hits with five walks and two strikeouts in five innings of work. The Cubs defense did not pick up their starting pitcher and committed more mistakes then the single error that ended up on the box score. Z got his work in but was not as sharp as he’s been this spring.

Chris Carpenter and John Grabow labored through their inning of work while Marcos Mateo was very impressive once again.

Cubs pitching issued seven free passes and hit a batter to go along with the six hits allowed … the offense worked just two walks (both in the ninth) and picked up two free baserunners in the ninth when Chris Perez and Vinnie Pestano hit Tyler Colvin and Koyie Hill to help with the late rally.

Q’s crew has one more Cactus League game remaining and an Intrasquad game before departing for Chicago and Opening Day on Friday against the Pittsburgh Pirates …

Carlos Zambrano made quick work of the Indians in the first but struggled in his other four innings of work.

Carlos Pena gave Big Z a 1-0 lead with a solo homer in the second … Pena’s third homer cleared the wall in right. Outside of Pena’s blast, the Cubs offense was ineffective until the ninth.

The Indians tied the game in the bottom of the second. Carlos Santana led off with a single to left on a 2-2 pitch. Austin Kearns singled to right on a 1-2 pitch ahead of Orlando Cabrera flying out to right. Santana tagged and advanced to third on Cabrera’s fly out.

Matt LaPorta tied the game with a sac fly to right center on a 2-0 pitch.

Carlos Zambrano issued a one out walk to Grady Sizemore in the third. Asdrubal Cabrera worked the count to 3-2 before swinging and missing at Z’s next offering. Koyie Hill threw a strike to Starlin Castro to nail Sizemore at second to end the inning.

As the Cubs were busy making outs, the Indians took the lead in the fourth and tacked on in the fifth.

Z walked Travis Buck on four pitches to start the fourth … then issued a free pass to Carlos Santana on five pitches. Z threw seven straight out of the strike zone before receiving a visit from Carlos Pena.

Zambrano settled down and retired Austin Kearns on a fly out to right center. Orlando Cabrera then ripped a double down the left field line. The ball went off Aramis Ramirez’s glove and plated Buck with the go ahead run.

Matt LaPorta lined out to short and Jack Hannahan grounded out to Darwin Barney to end the inning.

The Indians took a 4-1 lead in the fifth … with a little help from Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney.

Michael Brantley reached on an error by Starlin Castro to start the inning. Grady Sizemore hit a rocket to short. Castro knocked the ball down and threw out Brantley at second but Barney could not turn the double play. Asdrubal Cabrera singled to right center.

With Travis Buck at the plate, Z uncorked a wild pitch. Both runners advanced on the play. Buck ended up working a walk to load the bases with one out.

Z then walked Carlos Santana to force in the Indians’ third run.

Austin Kearns hit a tailor made double play ball to Starlin Castro. Castro bobbled the ball, threw to Barney to force Santana but Barney dropped the ball. Cabrera scored and Kearns reached on the miscue.

Orlando Cabrera flied out to center to end the inning … and Carlos Zambrano’s afternoon. At the end of five, the Indians had a comfortable 4-1 lead following a mistake filled half inning by the Chicago Cubs.

The Cubs made the exhibition game interesting in the ninth.

Chris Perez hit Tyler Colvin on a 0-2 pitch. Aramis Ramirez then worked the Cubs first walk of the game. With runners on first and second with one out, Carlos Pena stepped in and put together an excellent at bat. Pena made Perez work before ripping a double down the right field line on a 3-2 pitch. Colvin scored, 4-2 Indians.

James Adduci ran for Pena and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Ramirez scored on the play … 4-3 Indians. With the tying run on third, Alfonso Soriano eventually struck out swinging on a 2-2 pitch. Darwin Barney walked to put runners on first and third with two outs.

Chris Perez left in apparent pain, no word on his condition following the game. Vinnie Pestano replaced Perez and hit Koyie Hill to load the bases.

Reed Johnson struck out on a foul tip to end the game.

One more Cactus League game remains for Q’s crew.

Box Score from MLB.com

Matt Garza will face Joe Saunders and the Diamondbacks in the spring finale at HoHoKam Park on Tuesday afternoon. The Cubs are looking to stretch out Garza in his final spring start.

Quote of the Day

"Sometimes you have to stop worrying, wondering, and doubting and just have faith that things will work out." - Steve Jobs
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  • paulcatanese

    Nice post Neil,looks like the dynamic duo Castro and Barney had a few little growing pains, thats okay,they will overcome. Glad to hear about Mateo,he can throw.

  • Aaron

    The following is compliments of a poster on TCR. While I obviously have been very outspoken in my distaste for Koyie Hill, I’ve probably said too much, so I thought coming from someone else, it might have more of an impact:

    ********************************************************************************************
    Hill is undoubtedly a symptom and not the problem, however when you go to the doctor, they typically treat the symptoms first. Hendry and now his manager too, despite their vast years of experience don’t understand the difference between superstars and stars, between useful bench players and flotsam, and fluke seasons and consistently good performers.

    They made four changes to the roster during the off-season and only one of them is what a more enlightened management team would have done – and they didn’t address Hill, even though they had in house options to do so.
    ********************************************************************************************

    I couldn’t have said it better. Hill is probably a great guy, but the GM in charge doesn’t know good talent when he sees it. And he couldn’t manage a roster effectively if his life/job depended on it…it’s just not in his DNA. Just as some of us have had amazing managers in the past, there are also those that you just shake your head when you walk out of a meeting, because they’re in way over their head, and haven’t the slightest clue how to manage a team…..you also have some managers that get promoted from your team and they’re clearly not cut out for the job…but they’re much better in another capacity. I have a real life situation like that going on right now, where I’m trying to move an employee out of a position she’s not good at to a position that suits her far better. …..similarly, in baseball, you have similar issues, where a pitching coach or hitting coach, scouting director, etc., get promoted to manager or GM, and they’re clearly not cut out for it….In that case, you don’t necessarily have to get rid of them, but re-assign them to their original position, or something similar.

    Hendry is one of those guys that is a far better fit for a scouting director position, where he has daily contact with players, than he is as a GM. Scouting Directors must have rapport with players that they can translate into results, and by nature, they’re very subjective individuals regarding player potential, etc., because of the amount of time they spend with them, evaluating them, and trying to make them better….whereas GM’s must be far more business-savvy and much more objective than subjective. The simple reason is you don’t want to get too close to a player where you have to make a difficult decision and cut ties with them as they’re well past their prime, or just can’t hack it any longer at the MLB level. It clouds one’s judgement if you seek to be well-liked by your players….both as a manager and as a GM.

    Do you think Jon Daniels, Kenny Williams, Theo Epstein, Brian Cashman, or Andrew Friedman are well-liked from a player’s standpoint? Sorry, but I hardly think so! Plus, I have personal knowledge that they are NOT well-liked in player’s circles. In fact, they’re feared in some ways with players trying their best, almost to a fault sometimes putting too much pressure on themselves to perform. They do that, because they know those guys will look at stats objectively and get rid of the dead weight on the roster.

    All you have to do is look at their transactions over the years to know that they don’t put up with lack of performance. You’ll see a flurry of DFA moves and trades in preseason, early season, and especially right before and even after the trade deadline.

    With Hendry being more reactionary, you’ll see his moves come after nearly every other team has made their moves. Again, it goes back to objectivity, and he is NOT that type of guy. He will go to the ends of the earth it seems to give players the benefit of the doubt. A case in point would be the Milton Bradley signing (in the first place) and fiasco thereafter. The other GM’s I listed never would’ve put up with that. All you need to know about how much of a sucker Hendry truly is, is the fact that Daniels wouldn’t go more than one year with Bradley, and wouldn’t even give him more than $6 or 7 million supposedly. Hendry went 3 yrs, $30 million for a guy that was a problem child, coming off a career year (that even his current team seemed to think was a fluke), and had already played for 6 teams in 9 years.

    I once had this explained perfectly by one of my professors in college. He said the way you can tell a subjective person apart from an objective person, is by their language. If they use words that evoke “feeling”, they’re subjective, but if they use words that evoke “confidence”, they’re objective. Hendry’s statements recently indict him as a subjective individual, especially with his comments about using old school scouting techniques versus proven statistical methods.

    Hendry’s roster management, especially as it relates to Koyie Hill, is clearly subjective, as Steve Clevenger bats left-handed (something Hendry obviously values with his back-up catcher), and is well-liked by the pitching staff. If he were objective, he’d look at Clevenger’s overall stats and his very good showing this spring, and go with him over Hill…but he let his judgement be clouded by his relationship with Hill, and the Cubs will suffer because of it.

    • carmelo

      How do you know Clevenger is well liked by the pitching staff? Where do you get that type of information? Still waiting for you to get that GM job at the big league level—what’s taking so long? You seem to have all the answers.

      • Aaron

        Scouting reports. You know how to use a search engine, right? Do your own research! I’ll just add that Miles has answered questions about him in the past, and Wrigleybound has a nice article on him, as well as a scouting report.

        I’m still waiting for you to get that job as a professor at Yale. You know, the condescending type, right? You fit that pretty well.

        Or perhaps you’d like to try your hand at comedy. I hear Comedy Central is hiring. On second thought….scrap the professor job…just go straight for the comedy. If you had to ask the question about Clevenger, I don’t think you’re intelligent enough to use a search engine and find out for yourself.

        LOL….seriously, get a life man

        • JedMosley

          Get a life? This coming from a guy who does research on an organization’s 4th string catcher?…Hmmm….

    • paulcatanese

      Whether I agree with youre post or not,its a well thought out process to a situation that is on a lot of peoples minds. As you say there were trades made by Hendry that were suspect to say the least. It took him way too long with the Silva Issue and as I think we both agree on that. I as well as many others cannot understand the Hill dilema and I dont know how that can be resolved without the removal,departure or whatever of Hendry. And I had expressed earlier about the Manager –,__quotes dont work–and being a Players manager ,that I dont care for.

    • JedMosley

      How do you know Clevenger is well-liked by the pitching staff? My question to you would also be if they trust Clevenger as well?

      • Tom U

        Turkledawg, I haven’t read much about how pitchers personally like Clevenger. What I can say is that while doing research for last week’s Down on the Farm Report, I did come across several sources reporting on Clevenger being a high character individual. Hopefully, that can translate into other aspects of his game.

        • JedMosley

          Thanks for the answer Tom, I also enjoy your articles, keep up the good work!

  • Cheryl

    The next few weeks look promising. Thke pitching looks good and Barney seems at home at second. Pena looks like he’s comingg around. Questions about Aramis, Soriano and Fukudome But the club looks, on paper, better than last year. The weakest position is catcher and if Quade uses Hill and gets nothing from him in the next month it will be interesting to see what happens. And, there are questions that remain on DeWitt and Baker. A partial change for 2011. By June 30th there may be more changes.

    • Aaron

      That’s the point…more question marks than certainty…..more inconsistent players than nearly any other team in the league. Pena, Soriano, Fukudome, Baker, and DeWitt could really give you anything. It’s possible they all might hit .280+, and with Pena and Soriano, they both could hit 30+hr, 100+RBI. Why? Because they’ve done it in the past. But there’s also a track record of regression with both, and it would appear highly unlikely they’d experience that level of success ever again.

      The weakest positions for the Cubs are 1B (offensively), back-up catcher, bench, LF (both offensively and defensively), RF (Fukudome’s offense), 2B (both offensively and defensively if Barney starts), and the front end of the pen with Samardzija, Grabow, and Russell.

      The positive things for the Cubs going into the season are Castro, ARAM, Byrd, and Soto with the lineup, the entire starting rotation, and the back-end of the pen with Marmol, Marshall, and Wood. But when virtually every other hitter in your lineup is league average or worse offensively at their positions, it doesn’t really bode well for the team’s outlook, does it?

      And for the reasons I outlined above, there’s virtually no chance the Cubs will DFA Hill at this point during the season, even if he hits .031 (as he has this spring), because in doing so, they’d admit making a mistake in the first place, which we all know Hendry simply never wants to do with any FA/trade acquisition, or even controversial roster moves out of spring training. Furthermore, it will be made even worse if Max Ramirez latches on with another team, and the Cubs have to take Castillo out of his starting role in the minors, which is their reasoning for not taking him north, despite him outperforming all catchers, including Soto both defensively and offensively.

      • cc002600

        Hendry has admitted to mistakes on numerous occasions. what are you talking about ???? How many times has he said Bradley was a mistake and he took responsibility for it ? Hello ?

        And didn’t they just cut Silva and his $11M contract ??
        Was that not an admission of a mistake ?

        They basically benched Fukdome and bloated contract last year. What about that ?

        Your hatred for Hendry is nauseating.

      • cc002600

        You say pena is weak offensively and yet you love adam Dunn…..whaaaat ?? Their numbers are very comparable.

        But of course if the cubs signed Dunn he would be a bum.

        • Tony_Hall

          Dunn and Pena the same, take another look.