I know you're expecting me to give today's attendance report, so here it is: the Cubs drew their largest home crowd of the spring so far, 10,445, making the spring average 7,243 for four home dates. That's a good crowd -- in some past years, a similar Saturday date with great weather would have been sold out (meaning about 12,700 or so). Attendance still appears to be off. Tomorrow, with the Dodgers visiting Mesa, I'd expect a sellout. Other parks in the Cactus League drew far fewer than you'd expect for a Saturday afternoon, with two exceptions: Phoenix Muni, where the A's hosted the Giants and drew 8,330, and Salt River Fields, where the hometown Diamondbacks drew a near-sellout of 12,482. Otherwise, here are some low numbers: Goodyear (Indians/White Sox, 3,105); Glendale (Dodgers/Reds, 7,147, only about half capacity); Maryvale (Brewers/Angels, 5,883); and Peoria (Mariners/Indians, 6,168). The (Royals/Rockies game at Surprise was still in progress at the time of this post.
Now, on to baseball. While spring training statistics don't tell the whole story, it's absolutely clear to me -- and I hope to Cubs management, too -- that Koyie Hill just isn't a suitable backup catcher any more. He went 0-for-3 today, still hasn't had a hit this spring, and made a throw that wound up being charged as an error to Aramis Ramirez, leading to an unearned run off Randy Wells, who otherwise threw three solid innings and should be close to nailing down the No. 4 spot in the rotation.
I would like to see Max Ramirez get some playing time. Ramirez has major league experience and had a couple of pretty good power years in Triple-A. I'm sure it's true that pitchers like Hill and I know he's a good guy. But that's not good enough. He just can't hit -- at all.
Cubs who did hit today include Marlon Byrd (2-for-2, two doubles, a walk, three runs scored); Aramis Ramirez (RBI single), Kosuke Fukudome (2-for-3, spring average .308), Starlin Castro (1-for-3, spring average .533) and Jessica's favorite outfielder, Bobby Scales, who played 2B in the second half of today's game and hit a two-run homer that finished off the scoring. The Cubs also drew 10 walks today, which accounts for yet another game that went over three hours -- all the other Cactus League action finished well before the Cubs game.
Tomorrow, the Cubs will split the squad. Half the team heads to Goodyear to play the Reds, with Todd Wellemeyer starting (and Tyler Colvin scheduled to DH); the rest will stay in Mesa to face the Dodgers. The Mesa game will be televised on WGN, the first TV game of the year, with Ryan Dempster starting... and (hopefully) a full house in attendance.