Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Royals – 03/07/12

Spring Training Game Four: Cubs (1-2) vs. Royals (3-1)
Game Time – 2:05pm CST
Coverage – TV: None – Radio: 720 WGN
Location – Surprise Stadium, Surprise

Jeff Samardzija (0-0, -.–/-.–) vs. Jonathan Sanchez (0-0, -.–/-.–)

Dale Sveum and the Cubs will play their first game of the spring today outside of the Mesa city limits. After two intrasquad games, two against the Oakland A’s and one against the Rockies at HoHoKam Park, the Cubs will hit the ‘road‘ for the first time this afternoon.

The Cubs posted their first ‘win‘ of the spring Tuesday and will shoot for the second behind Jeff Samardzija.

Samardzija has had a very good camp and is competing for a spot in the rotation with Chris Volstad, Randy Wells, Travis Wood, Casey Coleman, Andy Sonnanstine and Rodrigo Lopez. Theo Epstein recently said how Samardzija performs this spring will determine where he pitches this season … either the rotation or bullpen.

Samardzija has not made it a secret that he wants to be a starting pitcher. Today is his first shot against actual competition to prove he is ready.

Today’s exhibition game all starts with Jeff Samardzija

Jeff Samardzija is coming off his best season at the Major League level … and arguably of his career. Samardzija posted an 8-4 record last year with a 2.97 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP. In 75 games, all out of the pen, Samardzija pitched 88 innings and struck out 87 while walking 50 and surrendering 64 hits.

Samardzija seemed to put it all together after the break and posted a 3-0 record with a 2.23 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP in 36 games (36 1/3 innings).

The previous regime gave Samardzija a lot of money because they believed in his potential. It seems his career is at a crossroads. But if Samardzija could turn into the pitcher the Cubs thought they were drafting, the new regime could have a nice piece of the puzzle in place moving forward.

Wednesday’s Starting Lineup:
Dave Sappelt – CF
Reed Johnson – LF
Starlin Castro – SS
Bryan LaHair – 1B
Jae-Hoon Ha – DH
Darwin Barney – 2B
Matt Tolbert – 3B
Steve Clevenger – C
Joe Mather – RF

The Royals acquired Jonathan Sanchez from the Giants for Melky Cabrera over the off-season in hopes of strengthening their rotation. The Royals have a very talented, young team that many feel is on the verge of becoming a powerhouse in the AL Central. If Sanchez can pitch the way the Giants hoped, the Royals could have added a very good arm to their rotation.

Sanchez started just 19 games last year for San Francisco due to injury. The southpaw was 4-7 with a 4.26 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP.

Cubs News and Notes
The bunting tournament is down to the ‘Elite 8‘ after Paul Maholm (beat Dale Sveum), David DeJesus (beat Jeff Baker), Randy Wells (beat Jeff Samardzija) and Starlin Castro (beat Joe Mather) advanced Tuesday.

The next round match-ups are: Jeff Beliveau vs. Casey Coleman; Randy Wells vs. Paul Maholm; Adrian Cardenas vs. Welington Castillo; Starlin Castro vs. David DeJesus

Geovany Soto returned to full activities on Tuesday and could be in the Cubs’ starting lineup Saturday when the Cubs take on the Brewers in Maryvale.

Jason Jaramillo, who was the favorite to be Soto’s backup when camp started, has been slowed with a quad injury. There are doubts that Jaramillo will recover in time to fully compete with Welington Castillo and Steve Clevenger for the back-up job.

Dale Sveum said Tuesday that when the season starts Brett Jackson will play every day for either the Chicago Cubs or the Iowa Cubs. He will not sit on a bench and be a fourth or fifth outfielder at the big league level.

Dale Sveum likes what could be his bench when the season beginsReed Johnson, Jeff Baker and Blake DeWitt. DeWitt is currently not on the 40-man roster. If those three spots are filled, there would be only two open spots. The back-up catcher (either Castillo, Clevenger or Jaramillo) and another outfield position which could be filled by Tony Campana, Dave Sappelt or Joe Mather. Mather is not on the Cubs’ 40-man roster and with only one spot open (40-man currently has 39 players on it), the Cubs would have to open a spot to add both DeWitt and Mather.

According to Baseball America, the Cubs released RHP Kyle Smit. The Cubs acquired Smit along with Blake DeWitt and Brett Wallach in 2010 in the Ted LillyRyan Theriot trade with Dodgers.

Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …

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Quote of the Day

"The riches of the game are in the thrills, not in the money." – Ernie Banks

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  • Neil

    Cubs Lineup for Wednesday:

    Sappelt – CF
    Johnson – LF
    Castro – SS
    LaHair – 1B
    Ha – DH
    Barney – 2B
    Tolbert – 3B
    Clevenger – C
    Mather – RF

    Samardzija – P

  • roguesqr09

    Is there any word on why the cuban pitcher hasn’t been added to the 40 man yet? I’d try to spell his name, but would just mess it up.

    • Neil

      Nothing new on Concepcion, still waiting on the official word

  • Cloycub13

    Reminder, MLB Network 30 clubs in 30 days previews your Chicago Cubs tonight at 6pm CST. It is an hour long, enjoy! Go Cubs Go!

    • Neil

      I saw some of the filming for the show, good stuff.

  • paulcatanese

    Although the lineup seems to be a lock for the regular season, Sveum is certainly giving everyone an equal opportunity to show what they have.
    I don’t think that Sveum is anywhere near the same situation that Q was in last year. By that I mean that even though some people were brought in and at one time deemed to be the starters for this year,
    Sveum can and may make changes with no interference from above.
    Example, I think Castillo will be at the least the backup for Soto, and may even beat him out.
    BJax has a spot on the roster that is his to lose and is a good bet to have a starting spot. He has Sveum giving him a legitimate shot. (where has that been?)
    And even though they are high on Baker, Johnson and DeWitt there is so much competition right now that it could change as well.
    Aaron was high on Rhoderick and Tom U and I agree, think he will be a sleeper this year.
    So many things different every day that the Cubs are actualy interesting so far.
    And the movie that starred a big Cub fan, is appropiate “Things Change”.
    Really enjoying Spring Training. Could be the season, but it’s fun right now.

    • RynoTiger

      would the Cubs consider BJax as a starter and Marlon Byrd as a bench guy?

      • paulcatanese

        Can’t speak for Sveum, I would have no problem with it though.
        As it is now, the reports from Neil and some others BJax looks very good in left field also.
        At any rate, I think Byrd is in his last year as a starter for the Cubs, and he will be replaced.

        • paulcatanese

          Ryno, one more thing, when I said no problem I meant BJax over Byrd.
          Also as a bench player I don’t think Byrd has the consistant pop or contact to carry that off.

  • roguesqr09

    Check out this commercial for the new MLB game. Shows what it would be like when the Cubbies win it all.

    • Theboardrider

      I saw that and loved it!  

      I don’t know how I’ll act when it happens.  The Championship series with the Marlins was some of the craziest days of my life!  I wore the same Cubs shirt everyday all day and never washed it.  It was cool because so many friends and family were phoning me and telling me “congratulations,” after we beat the Braves.  Even my Cardinal friends.  People I hadn’t talked to in years were calling to tell me “way to go!”  It was awesome.  I didn’t realize they would even think of me. I was just batty that whole postseason.  If I had been married at the time my wife may have left me due to zany behavior.  I can only imagine a world series…

      • Theboardrider

        Just to clarify one thing.  I never phoned any Cardinal friends to say congratulations!  If they had lost I’d have rubbed it in hard.  I just freakin’ can’t stand the Cardinals.  

        I hate how Cardinal fans hate us so much.  Why do they care about us?  We’re rivals sure, but really.  The hammer and the nail aren’t rivals.  Until we actually beat them out or win a championship, it seems petty to me that Cardinal fans even acknowledge us.  

        I’ve been a lifelong OU Sooner fan and the OSU Cowboys have always hated us.  Honestly, until recently I never gave them a second thought.  OU won all the championships and OSU never won squat.  I understand why they hated us but I never thought about them.  That’s how I see Cubs vs. Cardinals. 

        • Theboardrider

          Oh and if I seem bitter toward the Tardinals it’s because I am.  I went to STL for a wedding a few years back and we got in real late.  We were staying at the Westin and walked over to White Castle for some grub.  I walked in wearing my Cubs hat and while waiting in line some dumb Tards fan noticed me and started booing.  Next thing you know the whole restaurant was booing me!!!!   I actually thought it was kind of funny.  But again, an example of their preoccupation with the Cubs…

          • paulcatanese

            Reminds me of sitting in the Dallas airport on my way to watch my Son play football at Tulane.
            Two fully grown men standing at the oyster bar,and soon after, a shouting match came to blows. Tulane VS LSU, live.
            And one hasn’t lived until you go to Oregon State vs Oregon at Oregon and try to go to the restroom with an Oregon State jacket on.

          • Theboardrider

            Wow!  I’ve heard similar at Charger vs. Raider games.  Even when they’re in San Diego!

  • gary3411

    No walks for Samardzija! And even ahead in the count most of the time. WOOO! Maybe the start of something great.

    Got a K on the reborn cutter too.

    • Neil

      Samardzija did not look like the same guy. Excellent outing for him today.

  • Devin Hill

    Joe Mather seems to be making a case as an extra outfielder. guy is playing pretty well so far

  • cubs1967

    randy wells-chris volstad your plane is leaving……….

    with garza, dempster, maholm(only due to his stupid never should of been signed contract), travis wood estes jr (only cuz we got robbed by the reds for marshall) and smardz is your 2012 rotation.

    enjoy iowa volstad.  enjoy the pen randy…..ur not a rookie so you won’t have to carry the backpack.

    • Neil

      When did Travis Wood pitch? I must have missed it over the last four days.

      • Tom U

        Did he pitch in the intersquad game?

        • Neil

          That’s the only time I’m aware of.

        • cubs1967

          that’s my guess of what will happen; considering marshall was the “big trade”; i’m guessing there is more for team theo to look bad if wood gets assgined to AAA than volstad; who is basically a throw in for Z; addition by subtraction.  as Maholm was the biggest FA contract for 2012 I assume he is in too; really just my sarcasm as it’s too early to know for sure; with or w/o them pitching…….
          so i’m guessing smardz-wells-volstad for fighting for the 5th spot….and of the 3 smardz has the best stuff; has been getting good reviews in the media from sveum and looked good today.
          considering this year is 104 of no championship as this team is not good by anyone’s cubbie blue kool-aid glasses; might as well have fun guessing the 25 man team…….however anyone choses to decide.

  • Ripsnorter1

    It is way too early in ST to say who will make the team and who won’t. Sure, there are some locks, like Soriano, Kerry Wood, et al. But to put Brett Jackson in there over Marlon Byrd, well, we haven’t seen any real good pitching just yet.

    • Tom U

      Agreed. No reason to put the cart in front of the horse yet. However, unlike last year, it does look like the Cubs will have a very strong team at Iowa.

    • paulcatanese

      True Rip, but Byrd hasn’t either:)

      • cubs1967

        so far bjax has 3 homers; intrasquad or not; byrd has none. we already know bjax is better defensively and will steal more bases………
        104 yrs and no championship; pretty sure everyone agrees; so might as well have some fun with the 25 man roster………it isn’t gonna be in the w-l record come april.

    • Theboardrider

      Hey Rip, could you do a comparison on Ridling’s BAPIP against some top players today?  I’ve seen you do them before and they are always informative.  I’ve looked at the stats but I like when you do those where you show a stat line and say “and who is this player, Dustin Pedroia or Evan Longoria.”  

      Ridling is very intriguing to me.  I want to see how he stacks up. 

      • Theboardrider

        If you have time of course.  I understand either way…

        • Ripsnorter1

          Yeah I could do that. Rebel Ridling’s stats….coming up!

      • Ripsnorter1

        BABIP is really not a good indicator of how good a player is. Folks here might be shocked, but has more to do with how good the defenses on the other team are than a batter’s skill. But I’ll post his numbers and you can judge for yourself.

        • Theboardrider

          Thanks so much!  In general, what’s your impression of him?  I was saying yesterday that being in Oklahoma, I’ve heard a lot about him and it’s all positive.  Good work ethic, solid character.  He’s putting up solid numbers.  Rip, why do you think I don’t see him in future lineup projections, etc?  Aaron mentioned his injury and I’m sure that’s true.  Is it also just the lack of hype?  What’s your feeling on him?

          • Ripsnorter1

            With Rizzo starting in AAA Iowa, Ridling will most likely be stuck in AA. Unless he can rake to the tune of .325 with 30+ HRs, he most likely won’t ever make the Cubs team. Injuries have set him back, and time is against him. 

            Unfortunately, I think he is one of the 85% of minor league players that are there so that the other 15% can practice against them to hone their skills to play MLB. That’s just my opinion of him right now. 

      • Ripsnorter1

        Okay, here’s the dope on Rebel Ridling, as I see it thus far….

        He’s 25, so time is against him already. He’s only in AA. Yup, he’s had some injuries, and that has slowed his progress. Still……

        His Major League Equivalent stats from 2011 are somewhat impressive. Just look at these:Based on his performance from 2011, if he were in a Cubs’ uniform in 2011, his stats may have looked like this:433 AB…15 HR….260 BA….728 OPS…7% walk rate…76% contact rate….

        Now these stats are made by taking into account the league, all the various stadiums and their dimensions, quality of the competition, and other factors into account, and are thus prorated to project what he would have done in MLB. He would have been in the lower echelon of MLB 1st basemen. So let’s compare him to Bryan LaHair…..
        25 HR…267 BA…305 OBP…764 OPS…..8% walk rate….68% contact rate…..

        Or to Brett Jackson….
        14 HR…14 SB…232 BA…703 OPS…10% walk rate….64% contact rate….

        Or Josh Vitters….
        11 HR…252 BA….666 OPS…4% walk rate….87% contact rate….

        Conclusion:Vitters ain’t ready.Jackson doesn’t look ready.Ridling isn’t ready.LaHair won’t play all year at 1B for the Cubs, at least as a starting 1B.

        Why do I say that?
        Carlos Pena was better than them all
        And Rizzo? I am not expecting all that much out of him unless he can make big changes in AAA Iowa. Too many holes in that swing. He could make the adjustments. 

      • Ripsnorter1

        Further comments on Ridling….

        His batting eye is right at average. This means he won’t be able to hit more than .260 with his present skill set. Of course he could improve in that area, but it is hard to move up into the 80+% bracket (such a move would move his BA up into the .270’s). 

        His power numbers are not enough to overcome a middling BA. .260 is acceptable if one is bashing 25+ HRs. But Ridling doesn’t have that type of power just yet. But he could develop it. 

        Ridling is a below average runner, so speed is not his forte. 

        • Theboardrider

          Great stuff. Thanks Rip…

    • Anthony

      Rip, are you saying every opposing pitcher the Cubs have faced so far is less than good?

      Other than a few dominant #1’s in MLB, most of the rest have stuff the same as A ball pitchers. Maybe ST is about working on command, location, and its early on as far as pitching to live hitters.


      • Ripsnorter1

        I am saying that the Cubs have seen only pitchers who are somewhat rusty from five months off, or AAA or AA or even A level pitchers. 

        • cubs1967

          typically, at this point, pitchers are ahead of hitters, most pitchers have been throwing for 2 weeks plus; some hitters have been in camp only a week…….

  • Anthony

    While many are making lineup cards and 25 man rosters after just a few ST games, I rather ask this:

    Neil, any chance you head a few blocks away in the AM and get a looksee and report on the minor league guys? Pics/vid would be a Bonus


  • Neil

    Just got back, bad traffic from Surprise. Will post the recap later tonight.

  • cc002600

    Kaplan just said that Cubs are closing in Solar = $27M

    • Theboardrider

      That’s what I’ve been hoping to hear!

  • cc002600
  • Theboardrider

    Watching the 30 Teams in 30 Days.  Wow!  Does Rizzo look like the product or what?  Imagine the women of Chicago will be en flock!