Royal Pain Has Happy End

With both teams probably "out of pitchers," and with a tie game looming, Ronny Cedeno lofted a two-out three-run walk-off home run off the scoreboard in left field, giving the Cubs a hard-fought 13-10 ten-inning victory over the Kansas City Royals in front of 10,886 fans at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa today. box score With hot and dry weather having returned to Arizona, and with the desert wind starching the flags and blowing straight-out for almost the entire game, it was pretty clear that today's ST game between the Cubs and Royals would probably be a typical Cactus League slugfest. And it was. The two teams combined for 23 runs on 25 hits (including five home runs, 11 doubles, and one triple), plus nine walks, in the course of the ten innings. LHP Jorge De La Rosa (KC) and LHP Rich Hill (CUBS) were today's starting pitchers, and the Royals got off to a quick 1-0 lead before an out was recorded in the top of the first inning, as David DeJesus and Esteban German stroked back-to-back line doubles to the outfield fence. But Rich Hill bore down, and wiggled out of the inning with no further damage, as he got Mark Teahan on a ground-out to 1st, Mark Sweeney on a line-drive to 3rd, and Alex Gordon on a fly out to right. The Cubs came right back and tied the score in the bottom of the 1st, as lead-off man Ryan Theriot worked a walk, stole second, and--after Matt Murton and Derrek Lee both fanned--scored on a two-out double to left-center by Aramis Ramirez. The Cubs seemingly broke the game open in the bottom of the second, knocking out De La Rosa as they put up a five-spot. With one out, Angel Pagan tripled (and he probably could have pushed it into an inside-the-park-HR) when a long fly took a crazy ricochet off the LF fence and bounced into left-centerfield, and then Cesar Izturis drew a walk. A De La Rosa WP plated the go-ahead run, and then with two outs, Matt Murton and Derrek Lee clubbed back-to-back opposite-field doubles off the right-centerfield fence, before Aramis Ramirez capped the five-run explosion with a two-run HR high and far over the left-centerfield fence. Meanwhile, Rich Hill was pitching fairly well, retiring nine of eleven between the back-to-back doubles in the 1st and a two-run HR by Emil Brown onto the berm beyond the LF fence with two-outs in the fourth. Hill gave up a one-out single to Tony Pena Jr and a double to David DeJesus in the 5th, but could have been out of the inning with just one run scoring, except Aramis Ramirez bobbled an easy bouncer for an error that prolonged the inning, leading Hill to throw 21 pitches and take him right near his (apparent) 80 pitch limit before the side could be retired. As a result, Hill left the game with two outs in the 5th and runners on 1st and 3rd, and the Cubs leading 6-4. For the game, Hill went 4.2 IP (79 pitches - 17-9-13-19-21), giving up eight hits, six runs (four earned), no walks, and one HR, with four strikeouts (DeJesus, Shealy, Buck, and Teahan), and a 4/5 GB/FB. Michael Wuertz followed Hill, entering the game with two outs and runners on 1st and 3rd, and proceeded to throw back-to-back gopher balls to Mark Sweeney and Alex Gordon that quickly turned a 6-4 Cub lead into a 8-6 deficit. Wuertz ended up throwing 1.0 IP and got two Ks, but the two dingers at the very start of his outing was a back-breaker. (But only a temporary one!) Facing Royals RHP middle-reliever Joel Peralta in the bottom of the 6th, the Cubs stormed back, scoring three unearned runs and re-taking the lead. With one out, Mark DeRosa singled, and Angel Pagan hit a potential 4-6-3 DP ball to the second-baseman. But SS Esteban German could not handle the throw, and both runners were safe, with DeRosa advancing to 3rd. After Izturis drove in one run with a 3-6 FC (just barely beating the potential inning-ending relay to first), Ryan Theriot and Matt Murton slammed back-to-back opposite-field doubles, as the Cubs took the lead back, 9-8. Will Ohman pitched a strong 1.1 IP (four up and four down, with one K), and Scott Eyre got through his one inning (the 8th), with the only blemish being a two-out walk that led to nowhere. The Cubs tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the 8th against RHP Octavio Dotel, manufacturing a run as Angel Pagan led off by slicing a single to LF, stole second base, advanced to third on a perfect 1-3 sac bunt by Cesar Izturis, and scored on a Ryan Theriot sac fly to right. Leading 10-8, Ryan Dempster entered the game for the Cubs in the top of the 9th, facing only minor league players. But he could not get the job done. After striking out the first batter he faced on three pitches, Dempster surrendered a single, a stolen base, a WP, and back-to-back RBI doubles, as the Royals tied the score, before he toughened up and retired the side on a 1-3 GO and another K. The Cubs were unable to do anything in the bottom of the 9th, just as the Royals did nothing with RHP Federico Baez (easy 1-2-3 inning) in the top of the 10th. (Baez was the designated "emergency pitcher" brought up from minor league camp at Fitch Park for today's game at HoHoKam). But then Cedeno came through with his two-out game-winning long-ball in the bottom of the 10th, after Izturis and Murton had walked to keep the inning alive. One item of note is that the Cubs (as a team) drew seven walks today (two by Cesar Izturis, and one each by Ryan Theriot, Matt Murton, Michael Barrett, Cliff Floyd, and Ryan Norwood), while Cubs pitchers only allowed two BB (one by Michael Wuertz and one by Scott Eyre). And Rich Hill has now thrown 15.2 IP in ST this year, and has yet to walk his first batter. On offense, Murton went 3-4 with two doubles, a single, and a walk, and two RBI, Ramirez was 2-3 with an RBI double and a two-run HR, and Pagan went 2-5 with a triple, a single, and a stolen base. Before today's game at HoHoKam Park, I had the opportunity to watch Jeff Samardzija pitch again in a minor league game at Fitch Park (the minor leaguers started an hour early today). In the two innings I saw The Shark throw, he gave up two hits, two runs (both earned), and three walks, with no K. He threw 15 pitches in the 1st inning, and 29 pitches in his 2nd inning of work. Of his six "outs," two were CS by catcher Jake Muyco (who has THE best arm among Cubs catchers), and the other four were fly balls. NO GROUND BALLS! Most all of his pitches were up in the strike zone. After his second inning of work, he was met at the dugout by Daytona pitching coach Rich Bombard and catcher Jake Muyco, and they had a long discussion. Then I had to leave to get to HoHoKam, so I don't know how Samardizija's day turned out, but if nothing else, the first two innings must have been an excellent learning experience for him. The Cubs will host Colorado tomorrow at HoHoKam Park, as the Rockies make their one and only appearance in Mesa this year. Barring a last-minute switch, Mark Prior will get the start. Meanwhile, Cubs Opening Day starter Carlos Zambrano will get his final tune-up by throwing in one of the two minor league games (Cubs AAA versus Giants AAA or Cubs AA versus Giants AA) at Fitch Park tomorrow afternoon.


After somewhat sIoppy defense yesterday, I was hoping to get some details on the nature of Ryan Theriot's error in RF. Was it bobbled? Due to inexperience in RF? Stuff like that...


Ryan Theriot's error in RF today was a bobble on a one-out RBI bloop liner to right-center in the top of the 9th inning where the batter never stopped running and made it to 2nd base. It wasn't a good play by The Riot, because if he had picked it clean, he MIGHT (maybe) have been able to throw the batter out at 2nd (and the batter was the tying run). I'm not sure I would have scored it an error, though, because even though Theriot bobbled the ball, the batter was clearly going for a double right out of the box. Usually that play is scored a double.

BTW, Theriot also made an outstanding catch with one out in the top of the 10th, while running full speed into the RF corner.

Thanks, Arizona Phil. He's definitely one of my favorite Cubs, so I like to keep tabs on him.

RHP Federico Baez (easy 1-2-3 inning) in the top of the 10th.
Phil: This is another pitcher I've never heard of. What's his draft/scouting history and what's his potential?

Bruce Levine on Espn 1000 tonite said Loupa said after the game that he might go north with ELEVEN pitchers.

Leave Weurtz behind and bring Pagan.

Holy Sh!t.

cubster — March 27, 2007 @ 8:59 pm
RHP Federico Baez (easy 1-2-3 inning) in the top of the 10th.
Phil: This is another pitcher I’ve never heard of. What’s his draft/scouting history and what’s his potential?


CUBSTER: Federico Baez is a 25-year old Puerto Rican RHP who has been pitching in the Cubs organization since the '02 season.

The Cubs liked Baez as a pitcher and had selected him in the lower rounds of 1999 and 2000 June drafts but were unable to sign him at the time because he wanted to play SS. So he played JC ball for a couple of years in Laredo, TX, before signing as a NDFA with BAL in 2001.

Baez played infield for the Orioles GCL rookie ball club in 2001, but then he got released the following Spring Training. After he was released by BAL, the Cubs approached him again and asked him if he would be willing to try pitching, and this time he said he would.

And he has developed as a pitcher to the extent that he was selected to pitch for Team Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic last year, and he pitched in both AA and AAA for the Cubs in 2006. However, he will be a Six-Year Minor League FA after this season, so the Cubs have to decide by October 15th whether to add him to their 40-man roster or risk losing him as a 6YMLFA.

I like Baez a lot, because (like most converted position-players) he is a rubber-armed guy who can throw an inning or two out of the bullpen one day, and then spot start two days later. He would be a perfect "utility" pitcher on an MLB staff.

Federico Baez, Carlos Marmol, Randy Wells, and Adalberto Mendez are the best of about a dozen pitchers in the Cubs organization who are converted position players. The Cubs seem to like to try and convert "offensively challenged" position players who have high-quality arms to pitcher. (Might Ryan Harvey be next?). In that sense, they are like a doctor who specializes in sex-change operations.

Wuertz wouldn't get left behind, it would be Guzman and Cherry. I suppose after Theriot's misplay, Lou's wanting an extra outfielder too. :)


Wood, Mateo and Coats could start on the disabled list. An MRI revealed a cyst in the back of Coats' right knee, and it was to be removed. Coats said he hopes that will alleviate the pain he's been experiencing.

Mateo, who has been in one game this spring, has a right shoulder impingement, and he has just started throwing off flat ground. Mateo, who will begin the season on the disabled list, has been busy running the stadium steps with strength and conditioning coordinator Tim Buss.

Didn't realize Mateo was hurt.....

same story says Lou is still leaning towards 12 pitchers but yeah it's between the Angels...Pagan or Guzman for the final roster spot.

I had comment on this from the previous thread by ND....

Why are cotts and wuertz coming north? They stink. We’ve seen Wuertz’s act the last 2 years, he hasn’t shown much. Yeah he’s got a good slider, but he walks too many guys and today he gave up 2 more gopher balls. Cotts hasn’t looked good at all.

We haven't seen much of Wuertz over the last 2 years? Ehhhh?? Huh???? What????? He has been one of our better bullpen arms over the last couple years.

2005 in his first real season in the majors he pitched 75 innings struck out 89, gave up 60 hits, 6 HR, 40 BB for a 3.81 ERA

2006 he pitched 45 innings, with 42 SO's, 35 hits and 16 BB for a 2.66 ERA.

What in sam hell are you talking about? Who gives a damn how many HR's he gives up in Spring Training. It is like saying Zambrano sucks cuz he walked too many guys last year and gave up a couple HR's in Spring Training. It just makes you want to slap your head and go WTF?

I took a look at Muyco's minors and college stats at the baseball cube. Don't look yourself it isn't pretty. I would say go ahead and move him to the mound if he's got a good arm. He can't hit.

re Wuertz's numbers (#9):

Wuertz was optioned to Iowa twice last year, in April and again in late May, so he couldn't have been too great.

He did not have setup responsibilites in 2006. Dempster, Eyre and Howry did the bullpen heavy lifting. In 2005, when Wuertz (along with Novoa and Ohman) did a lot of setup work, his ERA was 3.81, which is a little high for a reliever in the eighth innings of tight games. And then there's the little detail of runners you inherit. When Wuertz was done working yesterday, both his and Rich Hill's ERAs had gone up.

Numbers aside, Wuertz has a great slider (which is called a slider but acts like a splitter) that is effective when it's below the knees, and a very hittable fastball. He gets people out if they swing at the low stuff. When they stop swinging, he has a problem, like in the Rangers game last week when he had two outs, nobody on in the ninth of a one-run game. The third out was elusive. A Ranger baserunner ran into the third out after a walk and two hits had tied the game.

"He gets people out if they swing at the low stuff. When they stop swinging, he has a problem,.."

This makes sense.

I have never been a huge Wuertz fan.

I hope he succeeds this year, however.

Of the dozen + games I went to in 2006, Wuertz gave up 3 HR's!

So, the HR-IP ratio in E-Man games is not good!

Wuertz seemed to be tipping his pitches early last season. That is why he was sent down. I remember a game in Pittsburgh in April when Craig Wilson hit a moonshot off of Wuertz. Wilson ran to the on-deck hitter and started yapping then went to the dugout. The next 2 batters hit Wuertz really hard and Mike was taken out of the game. He was on a plane to Des Moines the next day. This problem got fixed in Iowa, and he has been really effective since.

What's the projections on the amount of ab's Theriot gets this year?

it seems that Lou likes the kid - he seems to be in the 1st / 2nd slot virtually every game.

The Real Neal — March 28, 2007 @ 1:00 am
I took a look at Muyco’s minors and college stats at the baseball cube. Don’t look yourself it isn’t pretty. I would say go ahead and move him to the mound if he’s got a good arm. He can’t hit.


REAL NEAL: If the Cubs could take Jake Muyco's arm, Geovany Soto's catching mechanics, Chris Robinson's brain, Mark Reed's athleticism, Jake Fox's power, and Casey McGehee's hitting stroke, and put them together in one player, THEN, the Cubs would have one outstanding young catcher.

Calling Dr. Frankenstein!
Calling Dr. Frankenstein!

We wouldn't need Dr. Frankenstein if we can get someone to steal that vial of holy water in Dusty's safe.

Wuertz seemed to be tipping his pitches early last season.

With Wuertz's two-pitch repertoire, I don't know that tipping is a problem. When he thinks you'll be swinging, he throws the slider. When he thinks he needs a called strike, he throws the fastball. That's the one that gets hammered.

Maybe Craig Wilson told his teammates to "lay off the low stuff" or "take a couple."

Wuertz is okay, but after many opportunities, he's still a seventh-inning reliever, and Lou is starting to wonder why Hendry told him to congratulate Wuertz on making the team a couple weeks ago.

I wouldn't have minded Rocky Cherry instead.

well I doubt Cherry makes the team but Wuertz might get sent down, Lou says he doesn't think the arm strength is quite there yet. Might leave the door open for Pagan to make the team.

Virginia Phil,

1. Weurtz's slider has sidewas movement.
2. If a slider doesn't look like a fastball out of the pitcher's hand, no one is going to swing at them, unless they're hanging high in the strikezone.
3. The thing about setup work makes no sense. If the Cubs have Howry and Eyre and they're pitching the 7th and 8th effectively, and they called up Weurtz, what did you want them to do, realease Howry and Eyre so Weurtz could prove himself as the primary set-up guy?

In 2005 Weurtz had 18 holds 3 blown saves
In 2007 Eyre had ... 18 holds and 3 blown saves
In 2007 Weurtz had 6 holds and 1 blow save
In 2007 Howry and 21 holds 5 saves and 4 blown saves

Holds and blown saves aren't the best stat in the world, but given that his rate was approximate (or identicle) to these two stars, and he had a better ERA well...

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