Before we get to today’s practice game against the Padres, let’s get through a few items first. We know that unfortunately for them, Randy Wells and Welington Castillo were sent down to the minors. Thanks to Bleacher Nation we know that Randy will stay a Cub (what with all those silly waiver rules and crap) and will probably be the first one called up should the Jeff Samardzija experiment fail. Now that he’s the odd man out, Randy might be on the trade block as speculated by various media outlets. You can check my earlier roster predictions article to see how I did…it was fairly obvious who was going to stick, but Samardzija over Wells was definitely a surprise. Plus there’s the whole bullpen thing where up to four spots are yet to be decided, but most of the guys in there are pretty interchangeable so I honestly don’t care as long as they don’t walk too many guys and don’t serve up batting practice
In other news, despite Chris (the Cubs’ version, not the good one) Carpenter being broken (actually, both of them are broken so I guess it doesn’t matter), the Theo Epstein compensation crap has finally been settled. The Cubs got their PTBNL, a first-base prospect named Jair Bogaerts, to complete the trade and Jed Hoyer says all is well. Now they just have to figure out the Jed compensation to the Padres.
Speaking of the Padres, there was a game today. It was more like batting practice.
Chris Volstad got the first start of the post-Randy Wells-as-MLB-starter era. I’m sure Randy had a good chuckle between his tears as Volstad got knocked around a bit in his 4.2 innings of work. Volstad was sinker-happy today (yay for Pitchf/x!) but did mix in some sliders and changeups as well as a curveball. He hung a couple sliders, one of which was destroyed for a home run, and also mislocated a couple of his sinkers into the Padres’ wheelhouse. Thanks to the Padres’ pitching also being less than stellar (the Cubs chased Clayton Richard in the fifth) he wouldn’t take the loss, but that’s the beef with Volstad. He does get a ton of ground balls, but he also gets smacked around to a ridiculous home run rate, and he was giving up a relatively high amount of flyballs today compared to previous starts. But Volstad did pound the strike zone consistently and only walked one batter, so at least his control wasn’t too terrible. He just couldn’t get them to swing and miss very often.
It’s tough to know who will end up in the bullpen to join Kerry Wood, James Russell and Carlos Marmol. Today, Kerry Wood got his first action in a while and got the last out after Volstad exited. Shawn Camp came in and almost pissed away the Cubs’ lead, and Alberto Cabrera followed that up with some wildness to allow the Padres to go ahead in the 8th. Relievers being as volatile as they are performance-wise, I guess you chalk this up to a bad day for everyone, but at this point both sides are going to use their starters for the most part. They’re going to play the game and manage it the way they believe will result in a victory. So there’s no more “working on stuff”, this is go-time and they have to execute pitches. Maybe Volstad was working on stuff earlier, but relievers fighting for a spot don’t have that luxury. They talk about small samples in spring training but for the fringe-type players, they still have to perform to make the 25-man roster. But take solace in the fact that the game was lost by scrubs and not so much the starters.
On the offensive side, the fact that the Cubs put up double digits makes it slightly more likely that I will win my bet against Anno of whether the Cubs can score 70 runs in April. Too bad they made some stupid outs on the basepaths again, and there were some defensive fails that directly resulted in runs. So the Cubs still have to work on baserunning and defense, two of the things Theo Epstein promised to look into when he took over. By the way, you should enter our contests with the runs and the Tony Campana would-be homers to win some free swag from our store.
The Cubs play a split-squad of Dodgers tomorrow. Let’s see if the bats stay hot and the play improves. We know they can score runs…now let’s try to prevent them, eh?