Hooray!

Well, sort of. The Cubs broke a three-game losing streak today by beating the Mariners 6-5 on yet another coolish (65 degrees, says that boxscore) day in the Valley of the Sun, in front of a not-so-large crowd of 7,024 (about 3,000 short of capacity in Peoria).

As usual, there was good and bad today. Good:

  • Despite allowing two runs in two innings, I thought Jon Lieber looked good. Threw strikes, worked fast. Didn't appear to be at all affected by last year's injury.
  • Kosuke Fukudome has an absolute GUN in the outfield. Didn't throw out anyone, but held some runners and nearly doubled a runner off first after making a nice running stab of a ball near the wall.
  • Jake Fox and Micah Hoffpauir can both rake. Too bad there's no spot for either of them on the Cubs. One or both should really be traded, because they do have hitting talent that could help a major league team, particularly an AL team (Fox's best position appears to be DH).
  • Jeff Samardzija threw an efficient two innings, his first outing of the spring. Scott Eyre and Tim Lahey also threw well.
Bad:
  • Sean Marshall's line looks better than Lieber's (no runs), but he labored, walking three and only getting out of it with a slick double play.
  • Ronny Cedeno really does need to be sent back to Baserunning 101, doesn't he? Everyone in the ballpark knew he was running on that 2-2 pitch, and (sigh) he got picked off again. He had three hits, but so what?
  • Bob Howry looked bad. Got hit hard, and by Mariners who have little chance of making the major league roster.
We have, now, apparently seen all the starting pitcher candidates we're going to -- because tomorrow, Ryan Dempster, who started the first spring game last Thursday, will go against the Brewers at Mesa. Does this mean Sean Gallagher and Kevin Hart don't have a real shot at the rotation? By my count, that leaves seven starters for five slots: Dempster, Z, Ted Lilly, Rich Hill, Jason Marquis, Lieber and Marshall. We'll see who survives.

I watched most of the game on MLB.TV; the announcers are veterans Billy Sample, who did games for TBS for many years, and Harold Reynolds, formerly of ESPN. They were pretty good, although a bit too chatty at times. There was also a "sideline" reporter named Ed Randall, whose presence was utterly pointless, especially when he yakked during the action. Otherwise I thought MLB.TV did a decent job; their graphics seem major league quality and as long as you use the original video player, not the new "Silverlight" player, the video quality is good -- provided you have a fast enough connection.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention Carrie Muskat's mailbag today, in which she extolls the hitting prowess of Sam Fuld:

Fuld has a career .300 Minor League average, and was sizzling in the Arizona Fall League, batting .402 in 29 games. He led the AFL in hits, doubles, total bases, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Now, if he can carry his AFL stats into the big leagues, it'd be quite a story. At Double-A Tennessee, Fuld batted .290 with 23 doubles and 41 walks, and that might be more likely. Pie has more power, and is faster than Fuld.

So far, none of us have seen any of this translate to the major league level, and the "competition" between Fuld and Felix Pie for CF -- well, I don't think there IS any real competition. The only question now is, has Fuld's mediocre performance so far this spring played himself off of the roster entirely?

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