Cubs Game Notes and Thread: Garza feeling good, Theo wants to win, and BA talks MLB Draft

Cubs Game Notes and Thread: Garza feeling good, Theo wants to win, and BA talks MLB Draft
Scott Hairston and Cody Ransom

It appears the Starlin Castro move to the 5th spot may not be that temporary after all.  He's back there again even with Alfonso Soriano back in the lineup.  As I've said, I'm a fan.  Castro just isn't a top of the order hitter to me at this point.

News and Notes:

  •  Matt Garza is feeling no ill-effects after throwing 42 pitches in a rehab start yesterday.  In fact, he says he feels pretty good.“I feel great,” Garza said. “I’m glad to be back, sort of. I’m excited for No. 2.”

    Garza threw mostly fastballs and though they clocked at 87-90 mph the Cubs staff confirmed what Lonestar Dugout's Jason Cole tweeted yesterday, that the Mississippi stadium gun is inaccurate.   It's likely now that his velocity was at least sitting in the low 90s and probably in the 91-94 mph range.  That would be very encouraging if ture. There are still some tests ahead.  Garza will have to throw more breaking stuff and stretch out his pitch count, but overall he accomplished what he wanted to do for his first start.

    “I was glad to throw strikes and glad they were swinging,” Garza said. “That’s a good sign. I know I had no punchouts but that means I got a lot of outs with them swinging the ball so I threw the ball in the zone a lot, so that’s kind of what I was looking for.”

    So it may be a couple more starts and the Cubs could have a completely different question to answer soon.  Who is the odd man out once Garza returns to the rotation.  4 of the 5 pitchers are throwing well and the one who isn't, Edwin Jackson, was given a big contract to be a mainstay in the Cubs rotation.

  • Kyuji Fujikawa threw another bullpen session today and looked better, according to Dale Sveum.  He will get a "start" on Sunday in Iowa, though he'll probably only pitch one inning.
  • 3B problem?  What 3B problem? Carrie Muskat notes that Cubs 3Bs have hit 7 HRs, most in the majors.
  • Patrick Mooney writes that Theo says the Cubs need to find a way to act like a big market team.  "Tom (Ricketts) loves Wrigley Field and he doesn’t wake up in the morning thinking about moving. He wakes up thinking about winning here. But winning does come first. We’re all committed to finding a way to make it work so that we can win and act like a big market here.”  I think we can all agree with that.
  • Baseball America writes about the draft expectations for each team.  Like everyone else, BA believes the Cubs will wind up with either Mark Appel or Jonathan Gray, but after that it's not as clear as the Cubs are tough to read with a new scouting director in Jaron Madison.  He was involved in more college heavy drafts when with the Cardinals or Padres, so perhaps that lends a clue.

Today's Lineup:

  1. Sappelt CF
  2. Ransom 3B
  3. Rizzo 1B
  4. Soriano LF
  5. Castro SS
  6. Castillo C
  7. Hairston RF
  8. Barney 2B
  9. Wood SP

What to Watch For:

Tom:  Cody Ransom has been a valuable pick up so far off the bench.  Let's see if he can contribute again today.

John: For some reason, I'm feeling a growing confidence in this all RH lineup.  I like moving Hairston down for now and I think he and Sappelt will start making more consistent contribution.  Or maybe that's wishful thinking because the team needs them to start producing.  For those who advocate scrapping the platoon system, the hard truth is that the Cubs don't have a real everyday lineup -- this roster is built to platoon and the RH hitters need to start pulling their weight.  They've been getting better ABs lately and I think we'll see the results of that today.

Felzz:  Starlin Castro- Let's see if #13 can continue the good feelings from yesterday. A few good games in the 5 hole may keep him there for a chunk of time. And an 0-fer may send him back to the 2 hole ( Where Dale Re-itterated today that that's his preferred place for Castro....)


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  • fb_avatar

    Our 3B combined have hit .219/.292/.490. Not really that great, but better than last year's offensive train wreck at the position.

    It's also difficult to see minor league help on the way. Maybe Baez if he moves, but Carlos Villanueva is hitting poorly, and is slipping in prospect status. Lake is hurt. And Vitters....well, you know.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    The slugging number is nice at least!

    Hoping it's just a slow start with Villanueva. Love his defense and if he can just hit .280 with 15 HRs or so, I think he can be an asset, but so far he's really struggled.

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    In reply to Zonk:

    Not sure why everyone is so down on Valbuena. The average looks ugly at .230, but that's a slash of .230/.329/.473. For me, his proven ability to work walks makes up for the low average. He's OPSing over .800. I'm just fine with him keeping the job for the foreseeable future.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Agreed, and if he could just get the BA up into the .250 range and keep it there, those other numbers would look even better.

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    This is not the kind of thing to make me particularly optimistic about our draft: [H]e was scouting director with the Padres from 2010-2012 where his top picks included Karsten Whitson, Cory Spangenberg and Max Fried.

  • I don't think Castro is an ideal #5 hitter anymore than he is an ideal #2 hitter. But with this roster, we make due with what you got.

    Good to see Garza feeling good, but we've heard this before so...

    I'm curious, if we had Appel/Gray right now, where would you rank them on our top prospects list?

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    My thought is that Appel would be our new top prospect. He's already proven himself against equal or better talent than Baez and Almora have. If drafted in June he likely will be put in AA above Baez and Almora. At least to start, I think he's #1 but that can change once Baez and Almora move up the ladder, but Appel may not be considered a prospect anymore by then.

    I'm a first time poster but love reading this site. I especially love the well written posts on the draft and prospects.

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    Welcome! Excellent first post!

    I'd say Appel would be #1 too. Only because of his proximity to the Majors. Though I think Baez & Soler should be at AA this summer....

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    In reply to Holy Cattle:

    Welcome aboard, and yes, I think Appel or Gray would be at or near the top. Jim Callis seems to think though that the Cubs wouldn't rush either of them to get to Wrigley this season. They might be September call ups, but that would be the extent of it.

    I get the feeling Callis thinks the Cubs would send either to the FSL first, based on how the three Amigos have operated in the past, then move them to the Southern League after a few starts, assuming they were dominating Hi-A ball hitters. Then, if their performance warranted it, there would be a September call up, but no matter what, they'd start 2014 in the minors, probably in AAA but possibly in AA.

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    Thanks Holy Cattle! Appreciate the kind words. Hoping to have a draft piece soon and maybe a mock draft in the next week or so.

    Agree that Appel would be the Cubs top prospect too. So would Gray.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I'd rank either Gray or Appel first.

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    My pick for a big day is Hairston. Saw where Vitters played left field last night...if he hits and Stewart continues to struggle you'd have to think they'll cut bait w Stewart and give Vittrers his last shot.

  • In reply to Dale Miller:

    A solo HR from Hairston might be enough today. I think Stewart and Vitters are on their last chance.

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    Still believe the best 3-4-5 combination is Castro-Rizzo-Soriano. Rizzo is just as much not a 3-hole guy as Castro isn't a 2 hitters. The former order fits their strengths better with Valbuena hitting second but we'll see how this works.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I agree, both have shown flashes, but not enough of the whole package for those spots. Rizzo's high K rate this year has me thinking he ends up our #5 guy. Castro is probably ideally suited for #6 on a championship caliber line-up.

  • Speaking of 3rd basemen, Rangers' prospect Mike Olt is consulting eye specialists after telling his AAA team that he is having problems with his vision. This is from Rangers' beat sources.
    Olt is hitting .139 at Round Rock. He is often mentioned in "what-if" trades involving the Cubs.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    I would still like to pick up Mike Olt. But I'm not so sure it will take as much as Garza to get him anymore.

  • Hello everyone.....long time reader and this is my first comment. I love the work everyone does here, and really appreciate it. I just read in a chat that Keith Law has the Astros taking Gray, and Appel to the Cubs.

    He mentioned that the Astros would try to work a deal with Gray to save money to go towards their next pick, and that Stewart could possibly drop to them due to durability concerns.

    Keep up the great work, and GO CUBS!

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    In reply to Ryno23:

    Great first post. I like that thinking -- it fits what we know about the Astros to this point. Getting Gray and Kohl Stewart would just be wrong. Still, think I might be happier with Appel and whoever we get at 2.

  • In reply to Ryno23:

    Hey Ryno, thanks for the kind words and the good question. I saw that Law chat and I think it's realistic to think they'll try to work out a deal with Gray. I also would have thought Kohl Stewart would have had a chance to slip -- and even mentioned that myself once in an article -- but I think Stewart's impressive performance is making it more likely he goes in the top 10, maybe top 5. If he slips out of the top 10, however, all bets are off and Houston could pull off a major coup.

  • Is the game feed shaky for everyone today or just me?

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    John, I asked a friend who played in the Southern League not long ago about the gun. He laughed. He said Mississippi had the worst facilities of any franchise in the Southern League, and their to cheap to even buy a modern radar gun.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Boss Hogg has all the good radar stuff a-down thayah.....

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    In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    I was kind of surprised to hear that. I'd always thought the Braves kept good facilities. He did say that every Cubs facility he ever played at was first rate. That's always a good thing to hear.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    That doesn't surprise me at all. Not hearing a lot of flattering things about the Mississippi affiliate right now.

    It's crazy how much these affiliates vary. You go to Kane County or Peoria and it's a beautiful place to see a game and then last year I went to Beloit and well....not so much. Had a good time there at the game, but I wouldn't call that a state of the art facility by any stretch of the imagination.

  • are you trying to tell me that we have our so-called staff "Ace" rehabbing in AA, a man making 10 million a year, a man who is a key player in Epstein's plans to reap prospects in deadline trades, and the Cubs couldn't send a man down there with a decent radar gun?

    I haven't heard anything THAT stupid since the last Amanda Bynes tweet

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    In reply to Rob Letterly:

    No, what they're telling you is that the ballpark radar gun is junk. Of course the Cubs had a decent radar gun on site with someone who knew how to use, and so did every organization that thinks they might have an interest in Garza. Believe me when I tell you that there are few secrets in baseball. If Garza was really sitting upper 80's, you'd have heard about it because someone from another team would've talked.

  • In reply to Rob Letterly:

    No one is trying to tell you that. It was a road reason for the Braves to be on top of Garza's rehab. And as Michael says, the Cubs were on top of it.

  • It would be nice if we ended up with our choice of Appel or Gray. However, it looks like either way we will be able to take Appel if we want him. I think I prefer Appel as a top of the rotation starter who has proven himself longer. Gray has just recently boosted his stock and I just get the feeling that Gray is going to end up a closer.

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    In reply to Holy Cattle:

    It may go down that way. There are some draft prognosticators who think the Astros will go with Frazier or Meadows, and Gray's agent used to work for Scott Boras. So Gray may not be an easy sign either.

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    I am more sold on Gray then Appel because of the fastball. Gray's FB shows movement at 99 which is just unfair. Appel's fastball flattens out about 96. I know everyone is going to say that Gray only has 2 pitches. He has only needed two pitches to do the same thing Appel has done with 4. Gray will get better when he has to throw his change up more.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    I'm at the point where they are almost equal to me. Appel is the more complete pitcher and has plus stuff pretty much across the board. But Gray's FB and slider may be plus-plus, however -- and with that he only needs an average MLB change, which is good enough considering his top two pitches.

  • If Travis Wood keeps pitching this well. What kind of prospects could we expect to get for him if we trade him?

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    I'm not sure I want to trade Wood right now. He's still 26 and he's already good. And he's an ideal fit for the NL considering how much he helps himself in the other phases of the game. I think he's a potential part of the core.

  • Finally...some run support for Wood.

  • 7th inning: 1) Castro and Rizzo: the Cubs are throwin' some leather at the Pads today.
    2) That was an Ernie Banks-style HR by Hairston--got outta there quick!
    3) Wood is looking legit....

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    No doubt on #3. Not to jinx, but are we looking at back-to-bac complete games? Who'd a-thunk it.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    If they do it, it's Free Lutefisk Night in Norway.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    No! Riots in the streets! Anarchy! Please no!

    Actually, Wood's over 90 pitches, now. Back-to-back CGs probably not happening. Sveum has been seen throwing darts at pictures of Marmol and Gregg to see who will pitch the 9th.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    I'd say that sums up the whole game pretty well to this point.

  • Dale Miller gets it right today with the Scott Hairston call. Can I get partial credit for mentioning him in my "what to watch for" as well?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    But of course! You da man!

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    John it's your world-we're just living in it!

  • Haha! Thanks Dale and Norway.

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    Any word on how/what clevenger is doing?

  • In reply to SKMD:

    I think he's going to be out a long time. Had the same injury last year and took him months -- and he still may have come back too early.

  • Well...dammit.

  • Can I take it back about the "throwin' leather at the Pads"? Seemed to have jinxed 'em..... dang !

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Ha! I did the same on Twitter.

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    When Fujikawa gets back, is camp dfa'd? Definitely taken over as the weak link in the bullpen.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    I'm getting to the point where I cringe a little when I see him warming up.

  • Just when everything was going so well. Sigh.

  • My impression from following the game on (gamecast, no audio or video) is that nothing was really hit hard - but not hard enough. Is this accurate? If so, how frustrating...

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    That's pretty accurate. A short fly that should have been caught. A dribbler to Barney...

    Frustrating inning to say the least.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Every team has losses like this through the course of the season. Difference is, good teams have them maybe once a month. Bad teams - like ours right now - have them once a week.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Agreed. And good teams can often overcome mistakes or occasional bad luck. Cubs aren't there right now.

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    I watched 42 last night and enjoyed it. I found the portrayal of Leo Durocher amusing too.

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    Not all losses are created equal. Ouch.

  • RISP 0-7.

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    Glad I didn't get to see this game. Sounded like a heartbreaker. Still a good outing for Wood. He's hitting his stride bigtime. Seems like one of those games where the baseball gods just wanted the Padres to walk away with. Didn't really earn it but had just enough go right.

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