High Ho Silva

Battling for the 5th starter's job and perhaps his big league career, Carlos Silva threw six innings of three-hit ball, retiring 17 of the last 18 men he faced, and Reed Johnson--also battling for a spot on the 25-man roster--singled twice and scored two runs, leading the Cubs to a 3-1 victory over the Oakland A's in Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in sunny & warm Mesa, AZ, this afternoon    



box score


I think most of us know that the Cubs were hoping to find a reason to not release Carlos Silva and pay him $8M ($6M in 2011 salary and a $2M buy-out in 2012) to not pitch for them, and perhaps today's outing did in fact secure the #5 starter job for the veteran Venezuelan.


Silva allowed a lead-off line drive single to Coco Crisp to open the game, and after Ryan Sweney fanned, Josh Willingham doubled into the left-center alley to score Crisp and give the A's a quick 1-0 lead. But Silva then retired 16 of the next 17 men he faced, and although many of the balls hit off him would best be described as "loud outs," he did get the job done, working quickly and (in the main) throwing strikes. And his defense made all the plays required to keep him from getting into jams.


For the day Silva allowed just the one first-inning run on three hits (two singles and a double), striking out three while issuing no walks, in 6.0 IP (78 pitches - 49 strikes, 6/5 GO/FO).


Casey Coleman threw a super-efficient 1-2-3 7th (8 pitches - 6 strikes, 0/3 GO/FO), Marcos Mateo pitched a shutout 8th (16 pitches - 9 strikes, 0/2 GO/FO), allowing just one harmless single while striking out Conor Jackson (although before striking out, Jackson just missed a moonshot game-tying home run down the LF line when the ball curved foul at the last minute), and Kerry Wood tossed an easy 1-2-3 11-pitch 9th (three ground balls) for the Save. 


Meanwhile, the Cubs mustered just enough offense to outscore the A's, scoring twice in the bottom of the 1st, and then adding an insurance run in the 8th.


Reed Johnson led off the bottom of the 1st against A's LHSP Gio Gonzalez with a line-drive single tio left, and advanced to second when Starlin Castro walked. Jeff Baker struck out and Aramis Ramirez flied out, but Geovany Soto and Alfonso Soriano came through with two-out RBI singles to score Johnson and Castro and give the Cubs an early 2-1 lead.  


The Cubs used "small ball" to score their final tally in the 8th against submariner RHRP Brad Ziegler. Reed Johnson laid down a perfect bunt single into the "Bermuda Triangle" between the pitcher, the first-baseman, and the second-baseman to lead-off the inning, Matt Camp executed a textbook sac bunt to advance Johnson to 2nd, and after PH Blake DeWitt bounced out to the shortstop (with Johnson advancing to 3rd), the A's opted to intentionally walk Scott Moore to get to right-handed hitting Welington Castillo. But the plan backfired, as W. Castillo took a walk on a very close 3-2 pitch to load the bases, before Alfonso Soriano was hit by a pitch on the left leg to force-in a run and give the Cubs a 3-1 lead.


If Silva does in fact get the #5 starter's job, that moves Andrew Cashner to the bullpen, leaving one open spot in the pen to be filled by either Casey Coleman, James Russell, Marcos Mateo, Jeff Stevens, or NRI RHP Braden Looper. Since Manager Mike Quade is probably going to want one guy who can throw long relief/multiple innings, Coleman, Russell, and Looper probably have the edge over Mateo and Stevens at this time.   


With two hits, two runs scored, and a couple of nice catches in RF, Reed Johnson did nothing today to keep him from being the heavy favorite to capture the 5th OF job, especially since Fernando Perez has had several defensive lapses in games and is hitting just .147. F. Perez does have one minor league option left, so it would be no big deal to send him to Iowa to start the season.


And while Darwin Barney has almost certainly won the middle-infielder job (and may still be in the mix for at least a part-time gig at 2B), there would appear to be a battle between Blake DeWitt, Bobby Scales, and Scott Moore for the other infielder spot, since Jeff Baker has played well enough this Spring (hitting RHP with no difficulty, something he could not do last year) to perhaps be the everyday 2B. Like F. Perez, DeWiit has one minor league option left, and sending DeWitt to the minors for at least 100 days would keep him from being arbitration-eligible post-2011, not that that would be the only reason to option him out, but it is a factor to consider when making the final decision.  


The Cubs play the White Sox tomorrow afternoon in Mesa.

Comments

Excellent write up as always kemosabe.

From a Jim Callis chat:

mike (orlando): why are you so high on Szczur when others (specifically, Law & Goldstein) are not?

Jim Callis: Not sure what they don't like—you'd have to ask them. From my perspective, while he hasn't played much yet, he's a potential 6-7 bat, 4-5 power, 8 speed, 6-7 defender with tremendous makeup. Sign me up for more of those.

Mateo (again) (Boston (again)): If Starlin Castro were eligible (lest we forget he is only 20), would he be the top SS prospect ahead of Manny Machado? Where would Castro rank overall?

Jim Callis: Given the scarcity of stud shortstops, Castro would have to rank in the top five overall prospects. Assuming he hadn't hit .300 as a rookie last year and tore up Triple-A instead, I think he'd have to rank as the game's best shortstop prospect too.

http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospect...

and this buried nugget...

Josh (Cal): Do you think that Darwin Barney can hit enough this season to be the starting second baseman for the Cubs? His glove is really opening some eyes in Arizona so far.

Jim Callis: He won't put up big numbers, but I could see him hitting along the lines of .275/.320/.370. Not great, but coupled with his defense, that might make him the best option for the Cubs.

You forgot the best part (and my wish): "High Ho Silva...Away!"

I said "Posse!!"

A couple random things that I didn't know (but AZ Phil and some others surely did):

The ST experience is one of the coolest things ever. Cheaper tickets, smaller venues, more access to the players (got Garza's autog today and had a brief exchange with Marmol) just by hanging in the right place. Sign me up, I'm gonna try and make it an annual thing, my only regret is it taking me this long to finally do.

Lawn seats are the heat. Room for blankets, strollers, etc. Makes it way more family friendly.

The media guide is actually worth the coin. I never wanted to fork over the $30 or whatever until I paged through one quick, hell, I think it's got the favorite food of everyone on the 40 man.

Feel free to poke fun, but these are takeaways from a great few days in Phoenix. Unfortunately by myself with a newborn, I didn't get to see nearly enough actual baseball, but there's always..... The regular season

"But Silva then retired 16 of the next 17 men he faced, and although many of the balls hit off him would best be described as 'loud outs' ..."

The Trib article is a bit more candid: "'Today I still left some pitches up, but they were hit right at people,' Silva said."

So basically Silva gave up an early run and then continued to pitch rather poorly but benefited from good luck/fielding the rest of the way ...

Does anybody in the Cubs front office truly believe that an occasionally lucky Silva is preferable to a developing Cashner?

Please, Please, Please let them take advantage of Silva's high point of the season to kick in half his salary and trade him for a weak hitting 25 year old Hi-A leftfielder with 2 DUI arrests on his record. Please!

Matt Bush is a pitcher now.

I was going to say that Adam Kennedy plays 2b, not LF.

Cashner needs to build up his inning in AAA if they want him to be a starter.

AZ PHIL:

I have read the beat reporters remark that scouts of several teams were in attendance for the Silva Show.

Did you notice them, and if so, did you have the chance to speak with them about the stud, obese pitcher?

Just to piggyback on the Baker mention, an article over at fangraphs on the very same topic:

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/jeff...

Nothing too shocking for those of us who have followed the 2B "discussion" for the last year or so.

From the Silva fluff piece on MLB.com today:

Silva, competing with Andrew Cashner and Braden Looper for the final spot, took to heart some advice from pitcher Ryan Dempster.

"Today he said, 'I don't want you to give me 100 percent, I want you to give me 80 percent,'" Silva said of his conversation with the Cubs' Opening Day starter.

That's really good advice, imo. How many times have we seen it happen, the pitcher who is rolling just makes it look easy while the pitcher with a bunch of talent fights with himself an entire game? Maybe Z should heed the advice and give 80%. 80% of Zambrano is probably good enough to win most games.

via rotoworld

Cubs optioned OF Fernando Perez to Triple-A Iowa; reassigned INFs Bobby Scales, Augie Ojeda, Scott Moore and OF Matt Camp to minor league camp.

5th outfielder seems settled...

That settles all the position players other than catcher, doesn't it? Or is there an infielder I am forgetting?

I guess so, other than who may actually gets the starts at 2b. Somehow Blake DeWitt survives.

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/spring2011/news...

"[ ] the Cubs appear to want to give Blake DeWitt, who came from the Dodgers in the Ted Lilly trade, a chance at second base despite his .163 average and questionable defense this spring."

...because not doing so means Hendry and his yes-men really fucked up the Lilly/Theriot money-saver trade. (My favorite part was where Hendry actually thought he could sign Lilly back for less money in the fall)

Of course, we still have Brett Wallach and Kyle Smit somewhere.

Even better Quade is looking at DeWitt at...third base!

http://www.chicagobreakingsports.com/sports/c...

Hello Mike Fontentot 2011!

The Cubs still have four catchers, including Max Ramirez, who has a sore left wrist, and Welington Castillo, who is hitting .667. Koyie Hill (.037) is likely to win a spot based on his experience and handling of the pitching staff.

thrilling...

hopefully we get a lineup with Barney, Hill, DeWitt and Baker all playing on the same day.

seemed like a no-brainer w/ dewitt still having an option; after all, ST may be ST, but not like he's ever proven himself or has laurels to rest on - no glove; no stick; has an option, yep, let's keep him!

on that note, Rotoworld blurb says DeWitt will get some time at 3b the rest of the spring training with Barney getting some more 2b time

we'll see how much defense matters I guess...

DeWitt reminds me physically of Greg Jeffries... unfortunately he seems a lot more like Sean Burroughs 2.0.

I am sure all the Iowinians are upset about not getting to see him light up the PCL... at least not until May.

Except Greg Jeffries actually had speed, and could hit well enough at the big league level to have some value.

You mean sort of like Sean Burroughs?

Jeffries finished in the top 17 in MVP voting twice, and had several seasons hitting above .300 as an everday player. His best season was 1993 with STL when he hit .342/.408/.485 in 612 PA. And he stole 46 bases that year, was an all-star two years in a row.

Burroughs/DeWitt will never touch that.

How does, " Blake DeWitt is to MLB hitting as 'Paul Noce' is to reading comprehension ", grab you?

http://espn.go.com/blog/statsinfo/post/_/id/1...

standard stuff, bad BABIP, other peripherals stayed consistent, hit a lot more balls on the ground than he usually does.

"While batting-average-on-balls-in-play (BABIP) is not indicative of good or bad luck... the second-worst BABIP, combined with what appears to be a ground ball-fly ball anomaly, suggests Pena’s 2010 season was more of a result of bad luck than a complete collapse of skill."

That was a really bad article, and it took two people to write it.

What really happened - he hit more groundballs and more defenses played the shift against him, so he hit into more outs.

and more defenses played the shift against him, so he hit into more outs.

honest question, how do you check that?

I've heard it mentioned a couple of times that more and more teams used the shift against him the last couple of years. Not sure how to check it (outside of buying fielding data) but I guess Rays confirm it.

good enough...thanks.

Iowinians?

It's a thing now. Get use to it.

if anyone is looking for a fantasy baseball league, there are 3 openings in Transmission's annual "Rod Beck's America" league. It's Head to Head with fairly deep rosters and 12x12 stat categories (mix of ratio and the usual counting stats). The returning members are pretty much all current or former TCR readers/members. It's competitive, but it's a pretty casual league with only two 'rules'. 1) don't be a jerk 2) if you do sign up, you need to be at least semi-active (we'd prefer if you can check in at least once per week) but you DO need to check in at least once per month or we'll shoot you a polite email asking you to please check into your roster to make DL adjustments or whatnot.

The live draft is this Sunday at 1 PM EST, it's free, and hosted on Yahoo. If you can't make the live draft you can pre-rank your selections.

Just go to the Yahoo fantasy baseball homepage (you'll need to register if you don't have an acct), and click the "join custom league" tab and enter the following info

League id is - 132209
Password is - samfuld

if you have any further questions post them here and I'll try to answer them. Thanks

May be 3/44, but if you follow the Cubs on Facebook, you can watch the Cubs/Sox MLB.tv feed right now.

for a bigger feed...

http://mlb.mlb.com/shared/flash/video/share/O...

then right click on screen in an upper part of the feed and "zoom in"

fwiw, I believe if you click on the TV icon on mlb.com, it comes up as a free preview for anyone

it works if you have a mlb.com account (no purchase, just the account). that's why i kept getting thrown to the login screen.

Recent comments

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The first 600 characters of the last 16 comments, click "View" to see rest of comment.
  • four winds field is awesome. it's crazy how minor league parks have "grown up" since the 80s/90s and that park was one of the late-80s models that showed a low-capacity ballpark could look like you're at something other than a highschool baseball game.

    crunch 53 min 38 sec ago view
  • On another topic....I returned to South Bend last night for the 2nd time this season (still haven't tried either the deep-fried mac & cheese sandwich nor "The Porknado", as the drive home is over an hour and that could get ugly), and was pleasantly surprised to find D. Underwood pitching in a rehab start. He looked good -- although, to be fair, these are low-A hitters -- fastball consistently at 94-95 (if the SB scoreboard is to be believed -- several pitches were clocked in the 30s...) and with good location.

    billybucks 2 hours 1 min ago view
  • he gains nothing, no advantage, no saving of resources, nothing...there is not a cost/benefit tradeoff...him letting the running game go on around him for others to control isn't gaining him an advantage elsewhere. it's putting him at a disadvantage even if it's not cashed in with a run.

    crunch 4 hours 42 min ago view
  • And out of respect for the rest of TCR, I'm done on this. I'm sure I'm not the only one in the other camp, but time to let it go. (Until the next Lester start. I kid.)

    #baseballtalk

    Tito 4 hours 45 min ago view
  • He is putting himself at a disadvanage. But how much of one relative to the rest of his game? He's not Justin Germano -- he's inarguably one of the best SPs in baseball, issue or not. It would be more of thing to discuss ad nauseum if it constantly caused him to give up runs and lose games. But it doesn't.

    #baseballtalk

    Tito 4 hours 55 min ago view
  • shouting down my points about lester with "well, it didn't hurt" is like saying it doesn't matter if a guy starts out walking 3 guys every inning as long it's followed by a K and a double play.

    it's like elevating ERA and wins to a high level while ignoring what it took to get there.

    crunch 5 hours 52 sec ago view
  • I'm asking how much it has hurt Lester and the Cubs this year. Do you have that answer?

    I legitimately don't recall you answering that quesion, apart from the condescending silliness you just posted. So if you did answer specifically about the impact of Lester's issue, I'd like to re-read it. Thanks.

    #baseballtalk

    Tito 5 hours 14 min ago view
  • if runner = on base and pitcher = j.lester then lead = large

    if lead = large then probability of extra base on following hit > average of mean

    okay, enough of that silliness...

    ...you can read more on the thread i copy/pasted this from the last time you decided you needed to talk to me about me.

    crunch 5 hours 20 min ago view
  • Thank you for your answer.

    #baseballtalk

    Tito 5 hours 24 min ago view
  • bless your heart.

    crunch 5 hours 25 min ago view
  • I don't recall you answering my question about quantifying how it has hurt Lester and the Cubs this season, apart from one guy scoring on a sac fly. Can you direct me to your answer? Thanks.

    #baseballtalk

    Tito 5 hours 29 min ago view
  • Lester's personal catcher has an .809 OPS.

    #baseballtalk

    Tito 5 hours 33 min ago view
  • we already has this asinine discussion. you didn't like the answer. there's already an answer above you can apply about how a guy goes from 1st base to home on a sac fly that included him stealing 3rd while lester watched from the mound. the fact that the cubs bats, 100% independent of that situation, scored some runs invalidates it as an issue to you. i find that stupid. we will not get anywhere with this. you know we will not get anywhere with this...because we already had this asinine discussion.

    #circularlogic

    crunch 5 hours 34 min ago view
  • it's not about SB...it never was.

    jake arrieta being slow to the plate isn't comparable to jon lester not throwing to any base. how the runners read off arrieta isn't anything similar to what a runner is reading off lester.

    maybe arrieta could use a personal catcher solely to control his running game...but i doubt it's that important.

    crunch 5 hours 37 min ago view
  • Can you quantify how this has hurt Lester/the Cubs this season?

    #baseballtalk

    Tito 5 hours 38 min ago view
  • Is WISCGRAD still around? Here's a project for him or anyone else who would be interested...

    Lester's allowed 22 SBs. How many of those have scored and how many games did the Cubs lose due to them?

    #baseballtalk

    Tito 5 hours 44 min ago view