I know many of you probably watched today's game on WGN, but for those of you who didn't, or for those of you who did but weren't paying attention....
Cubs Spring Training
There has been a lot of talk out here this Spring about if and when the Cubs will leave Mesa.
-- Tigers, Diamondbacks, Nationals, Astros; that's your complete list of the teams which ranked lower than the Cubs in Kevin Goldstein's organizational rankings at Baseball Prospectus (subscription required).
Goldstein's comments about the Cubs, who stood 16th in his '08 rankings:
"Josh Vitters is one of the best pure hitters in the minors; 2008 top pick Andrew Cashner's post-draft struggles were a fluke and his stuff will play; Jeff Samardzija finally began figuring things out."
"Other than Vitters, there is
really not a single hitter in this system that excites anyone; the
weakness in terms of the organization's depth is the key reason that
the long-rumored Jake Peavy deal never went down."
"Samardzija is the only player who is likely to lose his prospect status; there's no reason to see (the Cubs) moving up considerably (in the rankings)."
--We all know that spring training numbers mean next to nothing, but since Opening Day is, what, another 11 weeks away?, they're the only numbers we have, so let's enjoy them, dammit!
Nick Noonan capped a five-run 9th with a two-out grand slam, as the Giants rallied to defeat the Cubs (and leave a lot of Cubs fans speechless) before a record crowd of 13,024 under sunny skies at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa this afternoon.
Also, the Cubs sent have sent non-roster RHPs Esmailin Cardidad and Ken Kadokura to minor league camp. This brings the Cubs Spring Training roster down to 43 (including Ted Lily and Kosuke Fukudome, who are still playing in the WBC)
The 35-year old Karokura was making his U. S. debut after spending 13 years playing in Japan, and I suspect he will be released (or will request his release) prior to Opening Day and will return to Japan. He probably isn't at the point in his career where he would want to spend a year playing AAA ball. He didn't really have a bad Spring with the Cubs, but he had a tendency to get ahead of hitters 0-1 or 1-2 and then nibble, nibble, nibble. I don't think Manager Lou Piniella likes that approach too much.
Caridad is a different matter, however, I have him rated as one of the Cubs Top Ten prospects, and he pitched very well so far this Spring and could surface sometime this season in Chicago. Now 25, Caridad was (like Alfonso Soriano and Timo Perez) originally signed by the Hiroshima Carp and was assigned to their Dominican Academy, before pitching in Japan in 2007. But Caridad became a free-agent on a technicality after that season, and Cubs Player Personnel Director Oneri Fleita personally signed the right-hander while on a trip to the Dominican Republic in December 2007 Caridad pitched at Daytona and Tennessee in 2008 (going a combined 13-7, 3.73 ERA, 1.11 WHIP), and then pitched in the AFL with the Mesa Solar Sox in October-November '08. He can start or relieve.
As for today's game...
Pitchers Mitch Atkins, Justin Berg and Jeff Stevens have been optioned to Triple A, with Marcos Mateo headed to Double A(for now). NRI's C Welington Castillo, INF Luis Rivas and Darwin Barney and OF Doug Deeds and Jason Dubois have been assigned to minor league camp.
The Cubs travel to Glendale to play the Dodgers, Carlos Zambrano gets his fourth start of the spring. Randy Wolf goes for the Dodgers.
The batting order from Muskat:
LF Alfonso Soriano, 2B Miles, CF Reed Johnson,
1B Derrek Lee, RF So Taguchi, 3B Koskie, C Koyie Hill, SS Andres
Blanco, P Carlos Zambrano.
Matt Brown crushed a bases-loaded double to turn a 4-2 deficit into a 5-4 lead, as the Angels rallied to defeat the Cubs 6-4 at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park this afternoon, in a game many of you probably watched on WGN-TV.
Sam Fuld and Andres Blanco slammed home runs and Sean Marshall took a shutout into the 5th inning, as a Cubs "split squad" drubbed a Seattle Mariners "split squad" 8-1 in front of 10,910 happy fans at sunny Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park this afternoon in Mesa
Prepping for the first game of 2nd Round WBC play in San Diego on Sunday, Team Japan edged the Chicago Cubs 3-2 at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park on a cool & breezy Thursday afternoon in Mesa, AZ.
I don't put much stock in what Lou says about the lineup order a month before the season, but he seemed to indicate that Kosuke Fukudome is in line to bat second after the outfielder dropped by camp today with Team Japan.