Cubs Pitching Steps Up in the Split Squads – Cubs 2, Padres 0 – Cubs 2, Diamondbacks 3

Spring Game Twenty-Six – Cubs (SS) 2, Padres 0
WP – Paul Maholm (1-1 LP – Tim Stauffer (1-2 Save – Rafael Dolis (2)

Spring Game Twenty-Seven – Cubs (SS) 2, Diamondbacks 3
WP – Ian Kennedy (2-2) LP – Jay Jackson (1-1) Save – J.J. Putz (1)

The Cubs played their fifth and final split squad day and the story in both games was the pitching. Paul Maholm put together an excellent five inning start against the Padres and set the tone for the afternoon in Mesa. Jay Jackson gave up all three runs that the Cubs surrendered to what was likely Arizona’s Opening Day lineup in Scottsdale.

In Mesa, Paul Maholm put together his best outing of the spring and the Cubs ended up notching their first shutout of the spring. Maholm surrendered just four hits with a pair of walks and struck out six in five innings … and doubled in the fourth (Maholm was 1-for-2 on the afternoon) Carlos Marmol returned from his nearly weak long absence and allowed a hit with a walk and a strikeout in his inning of work. Casey Coleman allowed just one runner to reach over two innings and Rafael Dolis picked up his second spring save with a solid ninth.

The Cubs offense managed only seven hits and scored both of their runs in the first and second inning. Reed Johnson (1-for-4 with a RBI), Starlin Castro (1-for-3 with a double, a stolen base, a walk and a run scored), Bryan LaHair (1-for-4 with a double and a RBI) and Jeff Baker (2-for-3 with two doubles and a run scored) supplied the offense against the Padres.

In Scottsdale, Jay Jackson gave up single runs in the first, third and fourth innings and ended up taking the spring loss after allowing three runs on seven hits with a walk and two strikeouts in four innings. Scott Maine walked two in his inning of work but did not allow any runs while Manny Corpas stuck out the side in the eighth. Both Maine and Corpas stayed in the mix for a bullpen spot with their performances on Monday.

Ian Kennedy dominated the Cubs’ offense for seven innings. The Cubs tried to mount a comeback late but fell short. Blake DeWitt (2-for-4 with a double and a run scored) and Ian Stewart (1-for-4 with a double and a RBI) supplied three of the Cubs seven hits … and the Cubs other run was driven in by Micah Gibbs (1-for-1 with a RBI) in the eighth.

Spring Game Twenty-Six – Cubs (SS) 2, Padres 0
Paul Maholm’s day started by giving up a single to Will Venable on a 2-1 pitch. Maholm then retired the next three batters he faced to end the first inning. Maholm struck out Nick Hundley swinging (2-2 pitch) and Matt Clark looking (3-2 pitch) for the last two outs in the opening inning.

After Reed Johnson struck out swinging and Darwin Barney (1-2 pitch) lined back to Tim Stauffer, Starlin Castro worked his first free pass of the spring. On a 1-0 pitch to LaHair, Castro stole second and put himself into scoring position with two outs.

Bryan LaHair stayed hot and hit a double to right center (one-hopped the wall). Castro scored, 1-0 Cubs. Geovany Soto struck out swinging for the third out.

James Darnell lined out to Jeff Baker in right to start the second. Jaff Decker followed with a triple to left center (1-2) past Reed Johnson. Johnson took a bad route to the ball and it skipped past him to the wall. Maholm kept the ball down and induced a grounder to third off the bat of Everth Cabrera. Decker held at third. Maholm wanted to have nothing to do with Andy Parrino and walked him on four pitches. Tim Stauffer grounded out to second to end the inning.

The Cubs tacked on a run in the bottom of the second after Jeff Baker led off with his first of two doubles on the afternoon (right center). Edgar Gonzalez popped out to second for the first out. Tony Campana hit a grounder up the middle that Cabrera fielded. Knowing Campana was running, Cabrera threw behind Baker at third. Baker dove back and the Cubs had runners on first and third with one out for Paul Maholm.

The bunting tournament did not pay off, Maholm popped up a bunt attempt and fouled out to Nick Hundley.

Reed Johnson stepped in and with Tony Campana running, ripped a 1-1 pitch back up the middle. Baker scored, Campana ended up at third. After Darwin Barney was hit by a pitch to load the bases with two down, Starlin Castro worked the count to 2-2 before flying out to center to end the inning.

After two, the Cubs led 2-0.

Maholm retired Will Venable to start the third but Chris Denorfia doubled down the third baseline. Maholm walked Hundley then struck out Matt Clark looking (2-2 pitch) and James Darnell swinging (3-2 pitch) to end the inning.

Other than a two-out double to left center off the bat of Jeff Baker, the Cubs did nothing against Tim Stauffer in the bottom of the third.

Paul Maholm sat down the Padres in order in the fourth.

Paul Maholm doubled to right with one out in the fourth … but Reed Johnson flied out to right and Darwin Barney lined out to third to end the fourth.

The Cubs defense stepped up behind Maholm in the fifth. Maholm ended up facing the minimum after striking out Tim Stauffer for the first out. Will Venable tried to stretch a single into a double but was thrown out at second by Tony Campana. Maholm’s day ended with Chris Denorfia lining out to center.

Starlin Castro led off the fifth with a hustle double to left center. LaHair grounded out to second, Castro advanced to third with one down. With the infield in, Geovany Soto grounded out to short … and with the infield back, Baker grounded out to short for the third out.

Carlos Marmol made his way in from the pen in the sixth. Marmol threw strikes on Monday. Nick Hundley tapped back to Marmol (1-2 pitch) for the first out. Matt Clark hit a roller up the first base line that hit the bag and ended up in right field. James Darnell looked at strike three and Jaff Decker took a 3-2 pitch for a walk. Cabrera grounded out to short (1-2 pitch) to end the sixth.

The Cubs did nothing against Brad Brach in the sixth. Brach struck out the side.

Casey Coleman took the hill in the seventh with Matt Tolbert (3B) taking over for Edgar Gonzalez.

Coleman sat down the Padres in order in the seventh.

The Cubs did nothing against Ernesto Frieri in the seventh … at the time Padres pitching had retired nine in a row.

Matt Szczur (CF), Nate Samson (2B) and Nelson Perez (RF) took over for the starters in the top of the eighth and Casey Coleman stayed in the game.

Coleman gave up a one-out single to Jonathan Galvez … but that was all for the Padres in the eighth.

Other than a two-out walk by Nelson Perez, the Cubs did nothing against Jason Ray in the bottom of the eighth.

Rafael Dolis actually retired the first three batters he faced in the ninth. Everett Williams swung at and missed what should have been a game ending third strike. But the ball got past Geovany Soto. Williams reached first and advanced to second when Dolis walked Yasmani Grandal on four pitches. Dolis retired Vincent Belnome on a grounder to second to finally end the game.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Spring Game Twenty-Seven – Cubs (SS) 2, Diamondbacks 3
The Cubs went down in order against Ian Kennedy in the first.

Jay Jackson retired Willie Bloomquist (flied out to right) and Aaron Hill (struck out looking) to start the home half of the first. Justin Upton reached on a two-out double to right. Miguel Montero followed with a single to right. Upton scored, 1-0 Arizona.

Jackson issued a two-out walk to Chris Young and Jason Kubel singled to right. David DeJesus threw out Montero at the plate to end the inning.

Ian Stewart struck out swinging to start the second. Steve Clevenger followed with a double to center but Dave Sappelt grounded out to short and Blake Lalli struck out swinging to end the inning.

Jay Jackson sat down the D’Backs in order in the bottom of the second.

Other than a two-out walk by David DeJesus, the Cubs did nothing in the third.

The D’Backs tacked on in the bottom of the third after Aaron Hill reached on a one-out double to left. Hill stole third and trotted home on a double to right off the bat of Justin Upton. Montero hit a tapper back to Jay Jackson. Jackson threw to third to retire Upton for the second out … and Chris Young fouled out to Clevenger to end the inning.

After three, the Diamondbacks led 2-0.

The Cubs did nothing in the fourth … 1-2-3 against Ian Kennedy.

The Diamondbacks third and final run of the game came on one swing of the bat. Jackson retired Kubel on a ground out to second. Paul Goldschmidt hit a big fly over the centerfield wall … 3-0 Arizona. Jackson then gave up a single to Geoff Blum.

Ian Kennedy hit into a 4-3 fielder’s choice and Bloomquist flied out to right for the third out.

Dave Sappelt led off the fifth with a single to left … but Blake Lalli and Alfredo Amezaga flied out. Eduardo Gonzalez hit for Jay Jackson … but Sappelt was picked off first to end the inning.

Frank Batista, up from minor league camp for the day, kept Arizona off the board in the fifth. After Aaron Hill (flied out to left) and Justin Upton (struck out swinging), Miguel Montero singled to left … but was forced when Chris Young hit a grounder to Amezaga at short.

Zeke DeVoss, up from minor league camp for the day, hit for Frank Batista to start the sixth. DeVoss singled to center but was doubled off first when DeJesus hit a liner to first. Marlon Byrd struck out swinging to end the sixth.

Scott Maine took over for Batista in the bottom of the sixth. Zeke DeVoss stayed in and replaced Byrd in center.

Maine struggled with his command and issued back-to-back one out walks to pinch-hitters Ryan Roberts and Gerardo Parra. Ian Kennedy sacrificed both runners up ninety feet but Maine struck out pinch-hitter Lyle Overbay, swinging, to end the inning.

The Cubs finally got on the board in the seventh thanks to back-to-back doubles by Blake DeWitt and Ian Stewart.

DeWitt led off the seventh with a double to center and scored on Stewart’s double to center. Steve Clevenger flied out to center and Dave Sappelt grounded out to short. Blake Lalli walked to put runners on first and second with two down … but Alfredo Amezaga flied out to right to end the inning.

Esmailin Caridad pitched around back-to-back two out singles in the bottom of the seventh without allowing any runs.

Takashi Saito took over for Ian Kennedy in the eighth and hit Zeke DeVoss to start the inning. After David DeJesus flied out to left, Micah Gibbs hit for Caridad. A wild pitch allowed DeVoss to advance to second and he scored the Cubs’ second run. Gibbs singled to right, DeVoss scored and the Cubs were down by one.

Blake DeWitt followed with a single. With runners on first and second with one down, Ian Stewart hit into a 6-4 fielder’s choice. Steve Clevenger grounded out to second to end the inning.

Manny Corpas struck out the side (swinging) in the eighth … Roberts, Parra and Jonathan Griffin.

The Cubs did nothing against J.J. Putz in the ninth … exhibition game over.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

The Cubs make their second trip to Goodyear in three days on Tuesday … but this time it will be to take on the Cincinnati Reds. Matt Garza is scheduled to face Mat Latos.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

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"There are only two seasons ... winter and baseball." - Bill Veeck

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  • Aaron

    Neil,

    Didn’t Sveum say that most of the cuts would be made by today? Do you think it’s taking so long because  Theo and Hoyer are scouring the waiver wires and such, or working on significant deals or something?

    Again, I’ve mentioned this along with plenty of others on here, I think this is the current Opening Day roster:
    Garza
    Dempster
    Maholm
    Samardzija
    Volstad

    Marmol
    Wood
    Russell
    Dolis
    Maine
    L. Castillo
    Wells/Lopez/Coleman

    Soto, Clevenger
    LaHair
    Barney, DeWitt
    Castro
    Stewart, Baker
    Soriano
    Byrd, Johnson
    DeJesus, Mather

    What might be happening is they could be considering deals not only for Byrd and Wells (the obvious suspects), but also Baker and DeWitt.

    DeWitt has to be the most perplexing inclusion on the roster if he doesn’t get traded. As I mentioned before, they’d have only Barney that would be capable of playing SS, and he is the everyday 2B. The smart thing to do is add a guy that can play multiple positions, including SS. There are two guys worthy of that right now, and that’s Cardenas and Amezaga.

    As for the rest of the team, it’s pretty much set…including the back-end of the rotation…unless Samardzija implodes yet again, in which case he’d move to the pen and Wells would take his rotation spot…which could be why they haven’t made anymore cuts yet as they’re waiting to see how he does.

    As far as I’m concerned, they should stay away from Lopez and Coleman in the pen, and look to deal Wells for a power arm in the pen. De La Cruz or Camp could be options for the pen in that case. The only other surprise I could foresee would be Corpas making the pen. In that case, the ONLY spot he could possibly take is the Wells/Lopez/Coleman spot. Therefore, that would necessitate a trade of Wells. Since Corpas already passed through waivers, it’s likely he could open up the season at AAA, then the Cubs could see how Castillo does. If he fails, they could work out a trade with the Phillies if they’re really high on him, and send him down to AAA. Marmol, Wood, Dolis, and Russell aren’t going anywhere, and they likely want 2 lefties, so Maine makes it by default.

    Everyone follow that logic?

    I could actually see them trading Garza at some point if they can’t extend him…and while they could get more of a return at the deadline, is it really wise to risk an arm injury if they choose to go that route?!?

    They could potentially re-engage discussions with the Jays, Tigers, or Marlins.

    Again, they could get more for him at the deadline (in theory), but I’d try to deal him now, especially since they’re rebuilding.

    An article posted today said that Hoyer and Theo knew they probably got hosed on the Marshall trade, but this entire offseason and during the season and next offseason will be ALL about trading short-term assets for long-term controllable assets.

    If you read into that…consider the fact that Marshall was still controlled, but would require a new contract after this season.

    Guys like Byrd, Baker, DeWitt, Soto, DeJesus (sort of…because he’s only signed for 1 more year), Maholm, Marmol, Dempster, Garza, Wells (if he’s not traded soon anyway), etc. are as good as gone.

    In fact, about the only guys staying are rookies, or younger guys like Barney and Castro.

    If the Cubs start out slowly, I’d look for a boatload of changes, because  I firmly believe their goal is just to get through this season, see what they can land in international free agency and the draft, build from there, and before the season is over, start bringing up some of the prospects like Rizzo, B. Jackson, Vitters, McNutt, etc. to see what they can do, so they know holes that need to be filled via next year’s FA class or via trade.

    • RickinMSP

      I think about the only thing Dewitt brings to the table is a left handed bat.  They are trying to make him versatile, and while he isn’t a butcher at any postition he really isn’t good at any either.  An even bigger problem is, as you pointed out, not able to play shortstop, so in the end what he is is a left handed version of Jeff Baker.  Personally, I’d like to see both of them go, but at a minimum one needs to be moved.  Given the need for a lefty off the bench, I think I would have to hold my nose and keep Dewitt.

  • Bfox360

    Sounding like there is alot of White sux fans on here. How can negative nancys bash Ricketts and Theo? They have a plan, and they have been doing a fantastic job so far. Hell, Theo hasnt had the luxury of even seeing what his team can do in a regular season game and a lot of people here are calling for his job? Question….if hes so stupid and garbage…who do you Debbie Downers suggest lead this team? Exactly…So just be quiet..or vent nicely or better yet…go bash Cubbies on the White sox website if they even have one.

    Me personally, i like damn near all the moves they made so far. I wish they woulda signed Prince, but hey that was a longshot anyways and probably a good move on there part realizing that him alone wasnt going to produce a w.s.

    On a different note though..just wait and see the 25 man roster before you start callin blake dewitt the cleanup hitter. He actually can field well and hit with no power but does get on base. Hes not bad for a backup.

    • Steve Rock-Vegas

      Thank you Bfox, what a novel concept hey?  Actually giving these guys a chance to work a bit before calling for their heads as so many have on here already.  It would be nice to AT LEAST give them one season and two off-seasons before degrading every move they make. I almost agree with every move so far, but still cringe on the Marshall deal so far.  That one could look bad eventually but you’re going to have a clunker here or there as you completely blow up a mess and start over. 

      • cubtex

        Really??? Theo can make a bad deal? You would never think that is possible the way some people revere him.

        • cubs1967

          here’s the problem; Marshall was the 1st trade……so now I’m freakin’ on how did they think that was a good trade?? and what will they get for soto or marmol if this is the haul for marshall; plus why trade a 29 yr old lefty in his prime??….they pitch till they are 40.
          and screw the crap about having wood for 5 yrs…..5 yrs of crap and last time i checked 40m came off the payroll in 2011; 45M off in 2012; they could afford him.

          i know their are clunkers…….but boy genius blew marshall trade.
          and i think bryd should be gone by now……..

          patience…………mine is about gone and there is NO guarantee this will work; NONE.

          and let’s remember; theo has never started from the ground up and hoyer had the padres in last place last year…..so giving them “blindly” a pass on everything is wrong; Cubs fans should know better.

          just because JH could not win with FA; yanks-red sox-phils have; and theo is not JH.

          sooner or later; 100 plus yrs HAS to end…..soner the better.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Hood/100000706523521 Richard Hood

            I actually totally agree with you on this one 67′. But I think (again only opinion but it fits) that Theo wants “his guys” in on this more than wants to win with JH’s players. It would do some serious problems to his ego if he went from yeah he won with Duquette’s players to yeah he won with Hendry’s players. I think we will see a total turnover of the roster just so he can say “see this time I did it not anyone else.” 

          • Scott

            You have shown patience?  Did it end during, or right after Epsteins initial press conference?

            I don’t see how you can even judge the Marshall trade yet.  Marchall has yet to throw one pitch for the Reds and none of the players we received have played/pitched for the Cubs.

            Would you feel better if we would just trade for a 27 year old starter coming off of an 18-8 season with an ERA of 2.99 and a WHIP of 1.168 for a light hitting outfielder who can barely hit .260 after two years in the league?  You probably would.  Congrats – you just traded Brock for Broglio….see sometimes you need to wait to judge a trade….

            You are right, there is NO guarantee that anything the Theo or Hoyer do will work.  And they will not have a 100% success rate on their moves.  But you act like they have NO chance of ANYTHING working.

          • cubtex

            After watching Casey Weathers pitch as well…..Wow! All I can say is who is the scout who recommended him. There is lack of command and then there are pitchers like Weathers who don’t have any idea where the ball is going. There are so many hard throwers like Weathers who cannot find the strikezone that are worthless. I hope Ian Stewart pans out because the trade was Colvin and LeMahieu for Stewart.

        • Tony_Hall

          This may be the reason for all of this.  It’s not that I and others thing that every move has been great, and that Theo and Jed can’t make a bad move or that we agree with all of the moves that have been made this off-season. I know I don’t.  It’s that you have to look at the whole body of work for a President/GM, not every single move by itself.  To do that fully, we need to give them some time (at least 1 off-season) to be able to see the whole picture of what they are trying to accomplish.  Once you know the big picture, and have some years of watching them build a team and system, then you can’t dissect every move for how it fits into the big picture.

          Do you really think any of us wanted to see Marshall traded?  But when you get back 3 player for a set-up guy (you can’t say closer, as Madson was signed to be their closer) you have to wait a few years to see what all 3 players turn into.  If Torreyes turns into an everyday 2nd baseman, this was a steal of a trade, as Sappelt will be a decent 4th/5th OF for awhile and T Wood could be a 4th/5th starter at some point, something Marshall wasn’t able to do.

          • cubtex

            So…..What about that Garza trade again? You immediately blasted that trade last year. Do we know what Hak Ju Lee will become yet? Do we know what Archer will become yet? We know who Matt Garza is and he has not reached his full potential yet(imo) but you blasted that trade? Look at Theo’s whole body of work as you say…..Alot of mistakes and bad trades. Look at the payroll he had to correct and overcome those mistakes. That is why I say Theo can build a winner if he is given the freedom to spend money and correct his mistakes. I do not have confidence in him to build a winner with a low payroll team. He has never done it.

          • Tony_Hall

            Do we have to keep repeating ourselves on the Garza trade?

            JH was known by then, what he was doing, going for it every year.  I was against going for it last winter, because we were a bad team, built on overpaid, aging vets.  I disagreed with the concept of trading 5 prospects for a SP, who was entering his arbitration years, and under control for 3 years.  If Garza doesn’t get traded and doesn’t sign an extension, the Cubs made a horrible trade.   If we trade him, or he signs an extension, then it will be a few years, before anyone can say, for sure who won the trade.    I hated the trade, because I didn’t think last year was a year to add a SP, who wasn’t the missing piece to winning a World Series.  

            As far as Theo goes, he is not the President of a low payroll club.  Just because he didn’t go out and overspend on FA, in his 1st offseason, doesn’t mean that they are going to have a lower payroll every year.  Payroll is a direct reflection on your need to sign FA’s, who are expensive, or extend good young talent.

            As far as mistakes go, every GM makes mistakes.  The only way to not make mistakes is to never take any chances.

          • cubtex

            I just wanted to point out how different your comments are this year compared to last. You criticized moves all the time and now everything Theo does is not debatable.

          • Tony_Hall

            I am glad you noticed, I thought I was being too subtle.  

            I wanted JH gone.  He was making all short term moves and the expense of the long term of the Cubs.

            He is gone.

            A new regime is here.

            They are making long term moves at the expense of the short term.  But they are not neglecting the short term as much as JH neglected the long term.

            Once they announce the 25 man roster, I will give you a critical critique of it.

        • Tony_Hall

          This may be the reason for all of this.  It’s not that I and others thing that every move has been great, and that Theo and Jed can’t make a bad move or that we agree with all of the moves that have been made this off-season. I know I don’t.  It’s that you have to look at the whole body of work for a President/GM, not every single move by itself.  To do that fully, we need to give them some time (at least 1 off-season) to be able to see the whole picture of what they are trying to accomplish.  Once you know the big picture, and have some years of watching them build a team and system, then you can’t dissect every move for how it fits into the big picture.

          Do you really think any of us wanted to see Marshall traded?  But when you get back 3 player for a set-up guy (you can’t say closer, as Madson was signed to be their closer) you have to wait a few years to see what all 3 players turn into.  If Torreyes turns into an everyday 2nd baseman, this was a steal of a trade, as Sappelt will be a decent 4th/5th OF for awhile and T Wood could be a 4th/5th starter at some point, something Marshall wasn’t able to do.

    • Redlarczykg

      The Blake Dewitt, I saw in 2011, was not a good infielder.  His fielding percentage was .952.  Not good.  And has trouble making the pivot on double plays.

      Jeff Baker, also not very good in the field.  Not a real glove man on the bench.

  • cubs1967

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/

    cross our fingers Bryd still could get moved.  Even if PkMcCaskey pulls out the penny pinching ways of the Chicago Rays; alter ego team; at least BJax could be up by May sometime; instead of waiting for something in June to happen; when June itself means nothing OR Byrd could get off to a horrible start dragging out BJax till July or who knows when’ it takes 2 to make a trade.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Hood/100000706523521 Richard Hood

      If they do or do not make a trade of Byrd will have more to do with the right fit for long term assets (Especially LH relief pitching) than arbitration for Jackson.

       Which makes you question why the Cubs gave up Marshall in the first place. I know that he is towards the end of his arbitration years and about to get expensive but you do not have to trade today for cheap when you can wait for a bidding war later.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Hood/100000706523521 Richard Hood

    In case anyone missed it MLB Trade Rumors did a nice job on their off season review of the Cubs

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2012/03/offseason-in-review-chicago-cubs.html