Tag:Cactus League
Posted on: March 8, 2008 9:24 pm

Cactus League Report 3/8

Yesterday (Friday) we went to Mesa to watch Seattle play the Cubs. Here are some observations:

  • Mesa Stadium is the largest of all the Cactus League parks, and it's always packed. Today was no exception.
  • Ted Lilly started for the Cubs and he promplty walked Ichiro and Yuneisky Betancourt hit a bomb to give the M's a 2-run lead. But Lilly settled down from there on and didn't allow another baserunner in his three innings of work.
  • I was looking forward to see Kosuke Fukudome play and fortunately Pinella put in the game. Actually, it was a pretty good lineup, with all the starters in except Soriano. The Mariners did likewise, with Adrian Beltre being the one notable absence.
  • With Ichiro and Fukudome on the same game, the Japanese media was out in full force for this game.
  • Fukudome showed good line drive power when he doubled to left center in the first inning:

  • Carlos Silva started for the Mariners. He looked a bit overweight and his pitches looked like they barely hit 80mph. Since his fastball can get anyone out, he really has no margin for error. If his control is not great, he's in trouble. At least Seattle has a good defense and big park. Still, I don't want him anywhere near my fantasy team.
  • Silva escaped some trouble in the first inning, settled down and then got hit hard in the 4th. When the dust settled he had allowed 4 runs, two of them on a 2-run shot by pinch hitter Daryle Ward.
  • Brad Wilkerson is now with Seattle. A few years ago I thought he was going to become a superstar with his combination of power and speed. I guess that will never happen now.
  • R.A. Dickey looked fantastic in 3 innings of relief for Seattle. I don't know how many pitches he threw, but it couldn't have been much more than 20. He had some sort of screwball looking pitch that was breaking in the wrong direction for a right handed. It was much too fast to be a knuckle ball, but whatever it was it kept the Cubs hitters from making solid contact.
  • Dickey of course is the player born without a ligament on his elbow. So if he can pitch without one, how come all these other pitchers can't pitch when they tear theirs?
  • Richie Sexson looked pretty bad. He struck out twice and didn't seem to be getting good swings at all.
  • Today's "Wow he's still around?" player is JD Closser who came in to catch in the late innings. How many catches have come out of the Colorado system with a lot of promise and have not panned out?
  • Carlos Marmol pitched the 9th for the Cubs which may or may not say something about his chances to be the Cubs closer. Managers in spring training usually bring their top relievers early on in the game to insure that they face top hitters, not the triple A fodder that typically bat in the 8th and 9th innings.
And today (Saturday) we went to Tempe to watch the Giants play the Angels
  • Now, I consider myself to have a good knowledge of young prospects, but I must say that the lineup the GIants threw out there stumped me. Maybe it was the Fresno Giants that showed up.  Eugenio Velez started at 2B, Travis Denker at 3B, Clay Timpner at CF, and Brian Bocock at SS. I've never heard of these guys.  If those were the starters, who came in after?  Well John Bowker, Travis Ishikawa and Steve Holm.  Never heard of them either.  Yes it was a split squad, but still, that is ridiculous.
  • And the recognizable names were either has been (Aurilia, Durham) or never will be's (Fred Lewis, Rajah Davis, Eliezer Alfonso).
  • Meanwhile, the Angels had a murderers row by comparison: Figgins, Matthews, Guerrero, Anderson, Hunter, Kotchman, Kendrick, Napoli, Aybar.
  • Joe Saunders started for the Angels and quickly got in trouble when he allowed a single by Davis.  He had him picked off first, but Kotchman's throw hit the runner and went into centerfield, allowing Davis to get to third.  Davis then scored on a sac fly by Velez:
  • Brad Hennessey started for the Giants and was effective.  The Giants pitching is much better than their hitters, so he's not assured of a starting job. 
  • Runners had problems all game long.  4 players were picked off in the game, including Denker who got himself picked off from third with one out.  Guess what Travis, your odds of making the team, which were around zero coming in, just went negative.
  • Gary Matthews (below) started at DH while Garret Anderson played left.  I figured that Matthews would play the OF most nights while Anderson, Guerrero and Rivera take turns at DH.  Not that it really matters as all 5 OF should get enough playing time to get over 500 ABs each. 
  • The Angels brought in a true side armer to pitch in the middle of the game.  Didn't catch his name because the PA system at Tempe stadium sounds as good as the local McDonalds drive thru speaker and the scoreboard dates around 1950 and no one's ever replaced a burned light bulb.  But anyway, it's always cool to see someone do things differently, it's what makes this such a great game.
  • Ray Durham hit a bases loaded double that scored 3 runs.  Rajah Davis showed some speed by scoring from first on the play as the ball wasn't hit that hard and didn't even get to the warning track.
  • Somehow these crappy Giants managed to take a 6-3 lead on the Angels. But it didn't last as their bullpen blew it and allowed the Angels to tie the score in the 8th.  The game ended in a 6-6 tie.
Posted on: March 7, 2008 12:57 am

Cactus League Report

Today we went to watch the Arizona Diamondbacks take on the Kansas City Royals in Surprise. Here are some observations:

  • The Surprise stadium is perhaps the nicest in the entire Cactus League. Too bad its tenants are the Royals and Rangers.  The good thing is always easy to get good seats.
  • Dan Haren (below) started for the D-Backs and pitched really well. I'm as big a fan of him but fans in Arizona are expecting Brandon Webb and him to do what Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling did in 2001. The thing is, this team has so many good young players, their two aces don't have to be that good to win a championship.
  • Arizona played their entire starting lineup except for Justin Upton. Too bad, I was really hoping to see that future star play.
  • Why do they bat Chris Young leadoff? Yeah, he's fast, but he has absolutely no idea what the strike zone looks like. In his first at bat he swung at a pitch that was way outside and grounded weakly to second. In his next at bat, he took 3 consecutive balls and then took three consecutive strikes. Bat him 5th or 6th and use his power to drive others in.
  • For the Royals the starter was former super prospect Zach Greinke. He got into some trouble in two of the three innings he pitched but worked thru it.
  • The Royals lineup was downright horrible. Billy Butler starting at DH was the only noteworthy thing. Miguel Olivo batted cleanup. Too bad Alex Gordon took the day off.
  • Is there a team will less name recognition than the Royals?
  • The coolest part of the game was seeing George Brett and Kirk Gibson taking before the game started. There must be a rule in MLB that says that each team has to have a former local hero be a spring training coach of some sort. Since the Diamondbacks haven't been around long enough for that they must have gotten Gibson to fill in. Next year Luis Gonzalez may be available.
  • Joakim Soria came in in the 4th... I guess the Royals wanted him to pitch to the major leagues in the D-Backs roster. He looked really good. Even a closer for a bad team will get 30-40 chances, so I wouldn't shy away from him.
  • Here's Mike Reynolds breaking his bat on a pitch from Leo Nunez, who also pitched pretty well.
  • Emiliano Fruto pitched an inning for the D-Backs and the Royals beat him pretty good.
  • Billy Butler showed why he's one of the top prospects in baseball by hitting a HR to tie the game in the 7th.
  • Today's Wow, he's still around? is Tim Raines Jr. He's trying to win a job with the D-Backs. Do you think if his name was anything else that he still be around? Someone must really be hoping he's a late bloomer. When his father was 28 years old, he already had 7 All Star appearances and had over 500 SB.
  • Ryan Sheely, who was a bust as a rookie last year hit the first pitch of the bottom of the 9th over the left field fence for a walk off home run giving the Royals a 4-3 win. If he can put it together, him, Gordon and Butler could make the Royals somewhat interesting to watch this year. They still won't finish any higher than 4th though.
Category: MLB
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