Wednesday, March 09, 2005


Let's Play Two!

And they did. The Cubbies saw split-squad action, with Cub team #1 heading out to Kansas City (from now on known as good Cubs), and Cubs team #2 taking on Oakland(we will call this team the evil Cubs). The details:

Good Cubs - Won. Whee! Of course, it was against the Kansas City Lack-o'-Talents, a team with less ability than 90% of Triple-A teams. Final score: 4-0. Glendon Rusch, Sergio Mitre, Jermaine Van Buren, and Michael Wuertz combined on a shutout. The Box.

Evil Cubs - Lost. Boo! But, however evil these Cubs may seem, even the most evil Cub team can't be all bad. You see, the game wasn't actually too bad. The people that might actually break camp all did find, with Johnny Anonymous (a.k.a. R. Rohlicek) giving up four runs to blow it. Carlos Zambrano continues to embarrass the opposition (although he did walk a pitcher that was publicly instructed not to swing the bat. oops) and threw 3 shutout innings. Angel Guzman also threw two shutout innings and Will Ohman and Stephen Randolph both did fine. The Box.

But the real story of these two games was that it was like a Future's game. The Cubs minor league All-Stars were out to play, and play well they did. Let's take a look at some of the performances of note:

Angel Guzman - Rapidly becoming my favorite pitcher in the Cubs' system. 95-97 mph fastball and fantastic control. The breaking ball still needs some work, but this sounds and awful lot like Zambrano except with better control albeit less movement on his fastball. Each of them only had a decent breaking ball when they broke with the club. So far this spring he's given up exactly zero runs and has wow'd scouts. Unfortunately, he is recovering from a shoulder problem from last year (for those that don't know, shoulder problems are about the worst problem a pitcher can have) and so he will be very limited this year. About 150 innings tops. So, he will certainly start the season in AAA, but we could see him in the 'pen by mid-season.

Felix Pie - That's pronounced pee-yay not 3.14159. He is a favorite with the scouts ability-wise, but has yet to develop any power. However, he is really fast, really young, and really advanced for his age. He strikes out out a lot, but his plate discipline is not really that bad (.358 obp last year) , especially for a 20 year old. He scored a hit in (i think) his only at bat this spring, and drove in a couple of runs. Watch for him while he moves up the system. Even without power, he will have lots of value just by his amazing defense alone. Hoo-ray for pee-yay!

Brian Dopirak - Power stud from single-A, making an impression in spring training. He was the Midwest League MVP after having a very impressive season in A ball. He has great power (39 hrs!), good eye, and hit for a good average (.300+). The scouts all rave about this guy, and he was 1 for 2 yesterday, for a spring training average of .500. If he can just maintain that average for a full season, I'm pretty sure it would be a record.

Adam Greenberg - He's a speedy, 5' 9" white guy, so by baseball law I'm required to call him scrappy. He's gotten a few chances this spring and has hit .375 so far in his limited opportunities. I think he is a great guy to root for because he is a perfect example of a legitimate fourth outfielder that is freely available. He can hit a little, get on base a little, and play all three OF positions. The perfect bench player. In the minors, he hit .290 with a .380 obp (good eye) in A ball, and then when moved up to AA, he held his own, hitting .277 with a .366 obp.

And finally, I've discussed Jermaine Van Buren before, but it bears mentioning again. He came up from the Independent Leagues (like JoBo), snatched up by super-scout GaryHughes, and just gets people out. None of his stuff is amazing (although he must have some sort of trick pitch) but he has simply dominated the competition. So far this spring he has a solid 2.25 era but more impressive was in the minors, were he sported a 2.08 era in AAA, a 1.87 era in AA, and 1.80 era in A. He climbed the full ladder last season. He will probably start the season in AAA as the closer.

Thing are still looking fine this spring. The pitching has been very encouraging, and the offense has not been neither discouraging nor encouraging. It has done nothing to courage either way. The Cubs stand at 5-2, and play today against Texas at 2:05, with Wood taking the mound. Go you Cubs!

I'm with you on Guzman. I had fogotten about this guy. Is he our 5th starter? Wood, Prior, Zambrano, Maddux, ???????
Maybe next year. He is limitted to 150 innings this year. Also, if he is starting, he needs to be in a situation where he can be pulled if he throws too many pitches too early (like 100 in 4 innings). They need to really makes sure they bring him back slowly. A shoulder injury can steal all of your velocity, so they need to make sure his injury does not reoccur. I'm hoping for 2006 for Guzman, and maybe some major league bullpen work this year.
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