Cubs News and Notes after Three Spring Training Games

Three games down and 31 to go on the Cubs’ Cactus League schedule …

The biggest news from the first three exhibition games is the Cubs inability to catch and throw a baseball. Following the Cubs’ third three-error game of the spring, Mike Quade said it’s too early to blow his top over miscues. But his Opening Day starter was told of other plans.

Ryan Dempster addressed the Cubs nine errors following Tuesday’s game in Scottsdale. Dempster indicated he spoke with Quade about the problem. According to Dempster, Quade’s solution is going to be to cut off fingers, one at a time, for every error a player commits. The media thought Dempster was joking.

Here’s the update that includes video from game three against the Giants …

News and Notes from Mesa
According to a report from Carrie Muskat, Tyler Colvin will get a start at first base Friday when the Cubs travel to Surprise to face the Royals.

According to multiple reports, Fernando Perez will miss a couple of days due to a bruised shoulder. Perez made a diving/tumbling catch on a ball in the ninth inning Monday afternoon and landed awkwardly on his shoulder. The Cubs thought he had re-injured the left wrist he had surgery on in 2009.

Carlos Zambrano will start Thursday’s game against the Rangers. Zambrano was very good in his first outing Sunday.

Matt Garza will get his first start of the spring Friday against the Royals. Garza struggled in his debut Sunday.

Mike Quade is targeting March 16 for the first round of cuts. The Cubs only off day of the spring is March 16 and they play all four of their split-squad games before Quade’s target date.

Video from Game Three


Starlin Castro against Tim Lincecum


Brett Jackson


Josh Vitters and Max Ramirez

Click here for Video from Game One
Click here for Video from Game Two

Follow the CCO on Twitter: @TheCCO
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Check out the CCO’s Facebook page for photos from Spring Training

Well, there’s the update … and the Cubs just committed another error.

Quote of the Day

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

    It is too early to get worked up about anything right now, but I had so hoped that we would see a more fundamentally sound team out of the gate this spring.

    At least we have games going alreay. To me, a few games of ST, won’t change my opinion, good or bad, of a player. I like the March 16th day for cuts, it gives over 2 weeks for players to have a chance to show something for call-ups this year. There really should be no surprises on the first round of cuts, anyway.

    • Dorasaga

      I was watching the Reds-Angels game, and I must say those teams looked good, defensively, fundamentally speaking.

      All pitchers from both teams covered the bases and other positions swiftly with balls in play; other infielders didn’t miss any double plays; their outfielders knew exactly where the ball will land. They didn’t have Baker like the Cubs has.

      We always knew the Angels are a fundamentally solid team, the numbers proved it; the Spring Training now proves it. But the Reds, too? Or maybe just because the Cubs are so bad that the Reds look like a great team now?

      There’s no excuse for not making those plays. Players must be trained and whipped to get those right since playing in the MINORS. I mean rookie ball, A-ball, AA-ball, Iowa, and on every level, the footwork, the balance to your side, all the fundamentals be stressed, and repeated, taught.

      Somebody needed to guide the up-and-coming youth to learn that you need to be good enough for the unexpected task. Say, game 4, NLCS, 8th inning, you lead by one, your starting pitcher is showing fatigue, and the middle of the order comes up for the opponent-team. The ball could be put in play ANYTIME. Be prepared.

      The whole ORGANIZATION needs to put players to work for the fundamentals. It’s too late when you get to the Major League level.

      The Cubs was not. When they hit, we forgot how bad they are, fundamentally. When not, well, welcome to another Cubbie Occurence.

      • Tony_Hall

        You are so right. The Cubs, year after year, have this issue, while other teams always have good fundamentals. It must be in the system.

        • Cheryl

          So, Tony are you saying the Cubs are fundamentally error prone?

          • Tony_Hall

            Error prone? I think that they just develop our prospects to be as fundamentally sound as other teams. I think they just made another error…

  • Chuck

    March 16 is a date when most of the clubs start making cuts. Minor leaugers begin workouts March 12-15. Here in sunny Florida, the minor league teams of Boston, Tampa, Baltimore and Minnesota begin spring training games on March 16. On March 31, one can see Rochester (Twins AAA) vs. Pawtucket (Red Sox AAA) play in Fort Myers. So seeing major league clubs make their first cuts around March 16 is not unique to the Cubs. The other clubs will be making their first round of cuts the same time.

    • Tony_Hall

      Thanks for the info, but not sure who said it was unique, though.

  • Ripsnorter1

    What’s all the whinning about the errors and poor defense? All of your poor fielders are also your best hitters:
    Aram
    Castro
    Sorry=oh=no (better stick than Funko, ain’t he?)
    Colvin

    And who on this board is going to start riding Cashner?

    Only Jeff Baker will get criticized. Nobody but me will ride Blake DeWitt’s poor fielding to go with his weak bat.

    SOOOOOOOOOOO…..
    things ain’t a gonna change around here. Quade can talk, but the fact is the same bums are going to play.

    • Aaron

      I’ve said that as well: “Quade can talk, but the fact is the same bums are going to play.”

      Soooooooooooooo true. In fact, for everyday players, all we did was swap Lee for Pena, which isn’t even an upgrade. It’s actually a downgrade if you go off Pena’s stats last year. And the fact that he’s declined the last 3 years does NOT bode well for him going forward.

      I keep going back to the real question: What aspect of the game did this team really struggle with last year, and the year prior?

      It was all about the offense, right? First, we get rid of Edmonds and DeRosa, who combined for 40 hr, 136 RBI in 2008, and we replaced them with Bradley and Miles, who combined for 26 hr, 108 RBI in 2008, and those were career years for them.

      My point at that time, was that we absolutely need to find someone to make up for the lost run production, and then some, because Hendry was betting that at 30+years old for both players, their career years in 2008 were the norm, and not an anomaly.

      For 2011, we are hoping that ARAM returns to career norms of 25+hr, 100+RBI, and bats close to .300. We’re hoping that Soriano actually hits the way a $19 million/year player should, and hits somewhere close to 30+hr, 90+RBI (where he’s only had at best 33 hr in his first season with us, and at best 79 RBI last season). We’re also hoping Byrd returns to career best form and hits 20 hr, 89 RBI like he did in 2009 (he hit 12 hr, 66 RBI last year for us). We’re also hoping Castro and Colvin don’t go into sophomore slumps.

      That’s a lot of hope, and I have to tell you, one of two things will happen:
      1) All the “hope” clicks, and we win the World Series
      or
      2) Almost none of the “hope” clicks, and we lose about 90 games.

      Even the pitching rests on hope. We’re hoping Z continues his hot finish. We hope that Dempster is a true ace, which he’s not. We’re hoping Garza develops into a true ace, or at least a #2, which scouts have projected for him almost since day one when he came up with the Twins…and it still hasn’t happened.

      I don’t know about you guys, but I like to go for the sure thing, and if I was gambling over $130 million (Cubs payroll), you bet your ass I’d be careful about how I gambled that money. The problem is, Hendry has absolutely no fear of losing his job, which is a primary reason we’ve seen such awful personnel decisions.

      Wellemeyer, Ojeda, Reed Johnson, Hill, and Baker are almost assured of spots on the roster. Let’s say that DeWitt/Castro, Byrd/Colvin/Fukudome, and Soto either struggle or get injured. Are you comfortable running out a lineup of:

      Ojeda/Baker-2B/SS
      Ojeda/Baker-2B/SS
      Byrd-CF
      ARAM-3B
      Pena-1B
      Soriano-LF
      Johnson-RF
      Hill-C

      That’s the back-up plan Hendry has created for us. That’s why I kept pleading for the Cubs to go after the likes of Melky Cabrera, Franceour, Milledge, Josh Fields, Chris Carter, etc., because I saw the danger if injuries/ineffectiveness hit this team.

      That’s why I’m saying that if everything clicks, we will win the World Series, because the most likely (and obvious) outcome is another 10+game under .500 finish.

      True, anything can happen in a baseball season. It’s long….162 games, but we are looking up at vastly superior teams with far more talent at the MLB level than we currently have.

      If you were to tell me that we’d open up the season with Chrinos, Lee, Archer, and Guyer on our roster, I’d actually like our chances this year. They’re young, hungry, and filled positions of need. Sure, Lee is VERY young, but so was Castro, and at the same age, they both had very similar stats in the minors. It seemed that Fleita was more impressed with Castro’s diary than anything (look it up…it’s the damn truth). So, I guess if Lee spoke Spanish, he might’ve been neck and neck with Castro in their eyes…but I digress.

      With Lee, Guyer, and Chirinos, I don’t think anyone could argue that they’re not better options than Ojeda, Johnson, and Hill respectively. And the benefit to the Cubs would’ve been the fact that not only would they cost half of what the veterans would cost, but they’d also gain a valuable year of experience at the MLB level.

      As it stands now, we got a solid #3 starter for essentially 4 solid players that could be on our MLB roster right now. And as Garza continues to get pounded, I will continue to bitch about this trade, as it has more than likely ruined the Cubs future.

      You guys want to know how to build depth on an MLB roster? You need to look no further than the South Side, where they’ve actually spent just $5 million less than us this year in payroll, but will likely put the Cubs to shame with their record.

      **********************************************************************************
      Here’s how a real GM builds a team: Kudos to you Mr. Kenny Williams

      Buehrle
      Danks
      Floyd
      Jackson
      *Peavy (injured, but likely ready by Opening Day)

      Thornton, Santos, Crain, Pena, Ohman, Sale (if Peavy is ready by Opening Day), Harrell

      C-AJ, Castro, *top prospect Flowers is ready of Castro can’t get it done
      1B-Konerko, Dunn (DH, LF/RF as well)
      2B-Beckham
      SS-Ramirez, Vizquel
      3B-Morel, Teahen
      LF-Pierre
      CF-Rios
      RF-Quentin

      *Viciedo, Milledge, and De Aza are battling for the last spot, which if you’re choosing between Viciedo and Milledge, you have some pretty impressive depth.

      The White Sox have a solid 40 hr, 100 RBI, 100 walk man in Dunn, who might just hit 50 bombs at the Cell. Konerko averages 32 hr, 101 RBI. Beckham is like Castro to us….He tore it up his first year, then struggled early last year before coming on late. Ramirez is better all-around than Castro, and is still young. Pierre has no power and no arm, but still has speed, which the Cubs don’t have at all, and then you have Rios and Quentin that are 20+hr, 80+RBI guys.

      I even look around our own damn division, and I’m so envious of the lineups constructed by the Brewers and Reds, where it’s like a “who’s who” of under 30 talent all around it seems.

      The Reds have: Votto, Phillips, Bruce, Stubbs, Cueto, Leake, Wood, Volquez, and Chapman (provided he’s a starter this year)

      The Brewers have: Fielder, Weeks, McGehee (painful, isn’t it?), Braun, Hart, Gallardo, Marcum, Greinke, and Rogers

      Our “impressive” under 30 list goes like this: Castro, Colvin, Soto, Garza, Cashner (if he makes rotation), Wells, Zambrano
      *Marshall and Marmol are very impressive, but I wasn’t including pen guys, just starters and everyday players. Also, please note that I was including Colvin, a player who hit under .260, but had 20 hr, 50+RBI as impressive. If you look around at the other teams, this is NOT very impressive. In fact, unless he hit over 70 RBI, he’d probably be relegated to the bench with the Reds and Brewers.

      Isn’t it amazing that Cubs fans actually believe a guy that has a slash line of .254/.316/.500, and 18 doubles, 5 triples, 20 hr, and 56 RBI is somehow a cornerstone of the franchise for years to come?!?!?

      Carlos Quentin, who was 25 in his first full-time duty, had a slash line of .288/.394/.571, with 26 doubles, 36 hr, 100 RBI and 66 walks vs 80 K’s. Yes, he had 130 more ABs than Colvin, but he flat out dominated Colvin in every category, and strikes out FAR less.

      Last year was a “down year” for Quentin, and he still amassed a .243/.342/.479 line with 25 doubles, 26 hr, 87 RBI, and 50 walks vs 83 K’s

      I think it’s important to put EVERYTHING Cubs related into perspective, so everyone can take their Cubbie goggles off, and put their Cubbie kool-aid sippy cup down as well, and take inventory of the rest of the league and what our supposed up-and-comers look like compared to the league.

      For instance, Gordon Beckham was 22 yrs old in his debut. He played in 103 games (so about 20 less than Castro), and had the following line: .270/.347/.460, 28 doubles, 1 triples, 14 hr, 63 RBI and 41 walks vs 65 K’s

      Castro had 125 games: .300/.347/.408, 31 doubles, 5 triples, 3 hr, 41 RBI, and 29 walks vs 71 K’s
      *he did have about 30 more hits than Beckham, but had about 100 more ABs. But Castro almost doubled Beckham’s error totals.

      What I just posted might seem like I’m crapping on our young players, and saying you shouldn’t trust their stats, but what I’m trying to show is that Cubs fans tend to gravitate towards any young player that we have that has ever had a good season, because they’re just too few and far between as we typically go after veterans to fill holes, which is absolutely idiotic, given how poorly they’ve finished over the years.

      I could be wrong, but I think outside of Soto, Matt Murton might’ve been the only rookie we’ve had in the last 20 years to break camp with the team as a starter. Prior to that, I believe it was Jerome Walton. Again, I could be wrong, but I believe that’s the case.

      I don’t think most fans even realize that Colvin, despite his outstanding spring, didn’t even break camp as a starter, and just withered away on the bench the first month or so. And Castro didn’t even come up until May, I believe.

      • Dorasaga

        Please, no Franceour. Other than his brilliant smile (charm), the guy is not even an AAA player.

        You want Cubbie offense, then you need people who get on-base.