It was rainy and chilly in the Phoenix area — temperatures didn’t get out of the low 50s — and so I opted out of heading to Mesa for today’s Cubs game.
Good choice, for the result of the game, anyway. The Brewers crushed the Cubs 8-3.
But Javier Baez put on a defensive show, so for the folks who did attend (some wrapped in blankets!), they got their money’s worth.
With two out in the top of the second, Javy bobbled Orlando Arcia’s ground ball but then threw him out anyway [VIDEO].
The Brewers took a 2-0 lead off Jake Arrieta in the third inning. One of the runs was driven in on a single by former Cubs prospect Daniel Vogelbach [VIDEO], and there’s a reason I’m showing you this.
Vogelbach has always been a big guy, but... man, he’s huge now. Even Cubs TV analyst Jim Deshaies noticed.
Regarding Jake’s outing, in general I thought he threw pretty well, with decent movement on his breaking stuff.
In the top of the fourth, while JD and Pat Hughes were talking with Jason Heyward, Javy did himself some more Javy [VIDEO].
We have seen enough of this to almost consider it routine, but... that’s not a routine play for anyone else. Baez has instincts that don’t exist in almost any other player in baseball. He’s got flaws in his game (too many strikeouts, for one) and is coming off a bad 2020, but the Cubs still ought to give him a contract extension.
The Cubs got on the board in the top of the sixth on a double by Eric Sogard, followed by an RBI triple by Alfonso Rivas [VIDEO].
They tacked on two more in the bottom of the seventh on a single by Rafael Ortega and a bases-loaded walk.
The other story of this game was yet another rough outing from Craig Kimbrel. He gave up a single, two walks, a triple and a home run and... well, it was pretty horrific. Kimbrel has faced 16 batters this spring. Nine of them have reached base, and of the seven hits he’s allowed, three are for extra bases (two doubles and a homer). Of his three outings, only one (against the A’s on March 9) was even close to “good,” and that day he allowed a home run and all the outs were smacked pretty hard. Kimbrel’s ERA is 30.38 and his WHIP is 3.375.
Maybe he’s “working on stuff,” as pitchers sometimes do during spring training, but... I dunno, he just looks lost. I don’t think there’s any injury involved here, but the Cubs probably have to find a way for Kimbrel to start the year on the injured list.
Cubs players who went for the high-sock look were wearing snazzy tri-color socks in this game. I rather like them:
Also, in addition to the 22 roster cuts announced earlier today, here’s one more spring roster note:
#Cubs have returned Rule 5 pick Gray Fenter to the Orioles, btw.— Russell Dorsey (@Russ_Dorsey1) March 12, 2021
Here’s the reason this is important:
Shelby Miller and Eric Sogard are two non-roster players pushing for Opening Day jobs. If the Romine situation lingers, a catcher would need to be added to 40-man roster.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) March 12, 2021
Returning Fenter opens a roster spot for Cubs as they start mapping out these kinds of upcoming moves.
So the Cubs’ 40-man roster thus currently stands at 39, and there are 50 total players in camp.
Since I skipped going to the game today, I was able to watch the Marquee broadcast of the game. It was fun to hear Pat Hughes on the call with JD — I doubt Pat has done much TV in his career, but he seemed right at home doing the call. He’ll also call Sunday’s Sloan Park game against the Angels. Pat and JD are at the Marquee studios in Chicago calling the game remotely. Also, Pat will do some fill-in on the TV broadcasts when Boog Sciambi is away during the season.
Saturday, the Cubs travel to Surprise to take on the Royals. Adbert Alzolay gets the start for the Cubs. The Royals have not yet announced a starter for Saturday’s game. Game time is again 2:05 p.m. CT. Radio only Saturday, via KCSP, the Royals flagship station. No TV Saturday.