It's still somewhat early in spring training -- today's 14-13 win over the Angels is game 10 of 35 -- but there has to be some urgency among the Cubs brass regarding the future of Carlos Silva. Before we talk about Silva's performance, let's give props where they are due -- to the sub Cubs who came into the game after the fifth inning and fueled a comeback from a 10-run deficit. No credit, though, to Jeff Samardzija, who had a shot at posting a save, but instead served up a game-tying homer to Brandon Wood. Instead, it was up to Bryan LaHair, who drove in Fernando Perez with two out in the bottom of the ninth with the winning run, the Cubs' second straight walkoff win. Incidentally, had this been a regular-season game, it would have broken the National League record for longest nine-inning game in history. It ran four hours and 29 minutes; the NL record is 4:27, set by the Dodgers and Giants in 2001. (The MLB record is 4:45, set by -- you guessed it -- the Yankees and Red Sox.)
Scott Moore, who's been playing 2B in an effort to increase his versatility, hit a grand slam in a seven-run Cub sixth. Moore likely won't make the team, but he could be a useful spare part at Iowa this year. Then the Cubs' winning rally in the bottom of the eighth was highlighted by a bases-clearing double by Max Ramirez. The two Cubs catchers today, Ramirez and Welington Castillo, combined to go 3-for-5 with four RBI. Which is three more hits than Koyie Hill has had all spring. Seriously -- I know the organization loves Hill and the pitchers have said good things about him. But one of these guys -- Castillo or Ramirez -- has to be a better choice to back up Geovany Soto.
Now, on to the Silva-bashing.
Silva was bad today. Really bad. He got hit hard, giving up ten hits and eight earned runs, one of which scored after he left the game. Last year, he got roughed up in his first spring outing and then had a good spring, which continued into the first half of last year. Then Silva had some injury and health problems, had a bad second half and got shut down in September.
Silva has had some major league success, but it appears to have come to an end. I suppose it's worth giving Silva at least one more start, but if he gets hit hard again, it's probably time to simply release him. The Cubs owe him $7.5 million and that's a large hit to take, but you'd think that among a group that includes Andrew Cashner, Todd Wellemeyer, Casey Coleman and Braden Looper (and I may be missing a few), they could find someone who could give $7.5 million worth of production for the minimum wage. In particular, I'd like to see Coleman getting some chances to start; I liked what I saw from him once he was given a rotation slot last September. Granted that five of his eight starts were against also-ran teams, but he's earned the shot, I think.
James Russell wasn't real good today either; he gave up a long home run to Mark Trumbo, who went 4-for-4 with three runs scored. The Cubs are counting on him, I think, to be the third lefty in the bullpen, so he'll need to do better than this.
Attendance watch: the per-game average went down for Cubs home games with the paid attendance of 6,804 today. The average is 7,407 and only one of the six dates has drawn over 10,000. That has to be concerning. Other Cactus League crowds today: Diamondbacks/Royals in Surprise, 3,356; Brewers/Reds in Goodyear, 2,568; Mariners/Athletics in Phoenix, 3,404 and Dodgers/Rockies at Talking Stick, 7,786. A game played in Tucson between split squads of the White Sox and Diamondbacks to raise money in memory of the Tucson shooting victims drew 7,419. The Indians/White Sox game in Glendale was still in progress at the time of this post (meaning it will be an even longer game by time than the Cubs game!); two other games (Royals/Padres at Peoria, Rangers/Giants at Scottsdale) are tonight. Many of those figures still seem quite low, even though it's Monday.
Tomorrow, I'm hitting the road to head to Arizona. There will be game threads as usual, but recaps will likely be delayed. I'll post lineups if I can get them, otherwise, please feel free to post them in the comments. My first game in Mesa is Thursday.