I can’t promise I’ll be diligent with posting thoughts on every spring game. In fact, I can almost guarantee that I won’t do it, but tonight I’m posting some quick thoughts on what we saw today in the Cactus League opener for the Cubs.
- I’m really happy to see Starlin Castro hitting 2nd in the order. We reaped the benefits of his speed in the 1st inning when he stole second base off Trevor Cahill to move into scoring position. It’s a bigger responsibility for a young player to hit higher in the order, but at the same time you see better pitches because of the protection around you.
- At the same time, I can’t figure out why both Mike Quade and Lou Piniella see Geo as a lower part of the order hitter. He hit 7th in the order, ahead of Blake DeWitt, but was behind Alfonso Soriano. I tend to think he’s a more productive hitter than Soriano overall. You may disagree, but at the very least, hit him ahead of Sori against lefties.
- Gotta give Sori some props for going 3-for-3 in the spring debut. Of all the hitters in this lineup, no one is going to be scrutinized more than Soriano because of his age and remaining amount of money on his contract. I don’t subscribe to the club that totally thinks Soriano is worthless. He can still be one of the hottest hitters in the game when he’s locked in. The problem is that he can also be one of the worst in the league when he’s not. Hopefully 2011 yields more consistency.
- Really nice outing by Zambrano. He set down two of three in the first inning via strikeout, which is a good thing to see, and didn’t allow a hit or a run in his two innings. Matt Garza on the other hand forgot to bring his pitches and got shelled. Do with that what you will. Thankfully the season stats are all that matter for Garza.
- Justin Berg, on the other hand, got hit hard and really can’t afford to have many screw ups this spring if he’s going to make this club out of camp. The way I see it, you’ve got very few spots available in that pen and Berg is on the outside looking in. Carlos Marmol, Kerry Wood, Sean Marshall are all locks. If Andrew Cashner doesn’t win a starting spot, he’ll be a lock for the pen. After those four spots, my guess is that, unless he pitches his way out of it (he began that quest today), John Grabow will be the 2nd lefty in the pen, which leaves two open spots to compete for. If you’re one of the guys battling for those two spots, every outing is critical. As much as they will say it doesn’t come into play, an ERA is the first thing you see. Berg could have a string of dominant outings in a row, but when you look at his line, you’ll still see that bloated number for awhile.
Next Game: Brewers (SS) @ Cubs – 4:05pm eastern time