A League of Her Own

Monday Cubs Headlines

Chicago Cubs @ Los Angeles Angels



The Cubs have now played 12 spring training games, and have gone through the first round of cuts (sorry Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson). Gordo of ST fame gives us an update on where the rotation, bullpen and position battles stand.

Sean Marshall (L) vs. Tom Gorzelanny (L) vs. Carlos Silva (R) vs. Jeff Samardzija (R) for two rotation jobs. So far, it's the best of times and worst of times for Marshall. He's been the most consistent and effective of the four through three outings (2.57 ERA), and he would seem to have an added advantage considering Piniella wants at least one of these spots filled by a lefty.

But Marshall also has had the most success as a reliever, in multiple roles, among the four, and the Cubs' bullpen could find itself in dire need of an experienced, reliable, versatile arm.

Poor Sean Marshall. He might end up sitting in the bullpen with the likes of some of these fellows.

John Gaub (L)* vs. Jeff Stevens (R) vs. James Russell (L)* vs. Blake Parker (R)* vs. Thomas Diamond (R)* vs. Justin Berg (R) vs. Mike Parisi (R) vs. The Professor and Mary Ann for two bullpen jobs.

''Not that I have a concern, but I'm more preoccupied with our bullpen than anything else,'' Piniella says of the wide-open, uncertain state of the relief corps after closer Carlos Marmol, lefty John Grabow, righty rookie Esmailin Caridad and the two pitchers who fall from the rotation battle.


Speaking of guys who may get the short end of the stick, why has Jeff Baker only had 15 at bats so far?

Mike Fontenot vs. Jeff Baker for the starting second-base job. Baker (.133 in 15 at-bats) was at a disadvantage even before getting off to the slow start at the plate because Fontenot (.450 plus Sunday's homer) can give the Cubs a rare left-handed presence in the everyday lineup.

But since both are on the roster either way, Baker has the full spring to make his push, and Piniella said he'll take the best hitter for the job. And since Piniella plans to bat his second baseman seventh, the lefty-righty consideration might not be quite as important as if the guy was expected to bat, say, fifth.

Kevin Millar continues to make me worry that he might actually end up on the bench this summer.

Kevin Millar hit a home run, a double and drove in 3 runs, making his case for a spot on the Cubs roster in their 8-7 win over the Angels on Sunday in Tempe, Ariz.

The 38-year-old Millar signed a minor-league contract with the Cubs during the off-season.

"I can play the outfield," Millar said. "I've got 500 games in the outfield (actually 355). I can play third; I can play first. I don't think it would be a problem to go into the outfield if (manager Lou Piniella would) need me."

Maybe a discussion of the bench would help to allay any fears about Millar actually going north.

The bench players who are set include Nady, Koyie Hill, and either Mike Fontenot or Jeff Baker (whoever isn't starting). In a "perfect scenario," Lou Piniella said Sunday, the Cubs would carry 11 pitchers. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild is insisting on 12.

"I keep talking to Larry and he keeps shaking his head," Piniella said.

Expect Nady to play in the outfield in the last 10 days of Spring Training. He's rehabbing his right elbow after undergoing Tommy John surgery for the second time in his career. Among the extra outfielders being considered are Sam Fuld, Tyler Colvin, Jim Adduci and Bryan Snyder.

"All four of those kids can play all three positions," Piniella said. "We'll see what happens."

Finally, Fukudome's hitting coach is back

Kosuke Fukudome's Japanese hitting coach is back. Kyosuke Sasaki joined the Cubs in Mesa on Sunday and will stay with the team for a week. Sasaki worked with Fukudome this offseason in Nagoya for five days, hitting for three hours a day. The key this season, Sasaki said, is to have Fukudome be a little lower in his stance. He agreed with Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, who wants to the outfielder to close his stance a little. Sasaki promised last year that Fukudome would hit .300. He didn't. What about this season? "He will -- I promise," Sasaki said.

Maybe next year he'll hit .350.

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34 Comments

Teebob2000 said:

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>>"Kevin Millar continues to make me worry"

Why exactly? Who would you keep? Huffenpuff? Mr. Crash-and-burn-after-the-first-month-of-the-season?

With Millar you've got an experienced player (lifetime .275 hitter, 10 pts higher than Huffenpuff) who's been ripping the cover off the ball and is at least average (I say above avg) in the field (10 pts higher fielding % than Huffenpuff and comparable to Lee/Ramirez). Keep him up and let the younger guys season a little more and then when Alfie has his inevitable physical breakdown in early June, bring a young guy up when he can get playing time.

Doc said:

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The problem is that Millar, who's been healthy, has been down right horrible the last 2 years. Spring be damned...he won't be any good if the Cubs keep him.

He can only, really, play first base. Until Nady's arm is ready to throw, first base is probably where he will play when coming off the bench.

I'd rather have Tracy stay on the roster. He's a left handed bat that can still hit right handed hitters well.

But personally, I'd rather have Fuld...the Cubs need a defensive replacement for the outfield. Nady coming off the bench is offense enough.

itsjenjen said:

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People keep panicking about Millar, but if he makes the final cut and stinks, they always have other options at AAA. Fuld is good defensively, but that's about it.

Teebob2000 said:

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Exactly.

Doc said:

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My concern is that they will keep Millar and cut Tracy. Tracy is a better option right now.

plamorte said:

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I mean this in a completely straight way (maybe) but this is one of the ugliest rotation spot competitions ever.

AndCounting said:

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You gotta include some kind of warning when you post man nipple of that size.

plamorte said:

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My bad, though if you expected Silva to be in it, that's warning enough.

AndCounting said:

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Fair enough.

gravedigger said:

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Except for Marshall, I agree. But I definitely don't mean it in a straight way.

Cubs Psychologist said:

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Nice pics!!!

DustyBaylor said:

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Millar is comparable to Ramirez and Lee in the field. Really.
Millar has played 32 games at 3B in his career, and is a minus defensive first baseman if you look at his stats. fielding percentage is one of the most overrated stats in the game.
Lee is considered one of the better fielding 1B in the game.
There is a reason that Millar is on a minor league deal, he's 38, and is at the end of the line. Pinch hitting, he may help the Cubs..but comparable to Lee/Ramirez? Hahahahaha...that's good...

itsjenjen said:

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There was a good example of Millar's fielding in yesterday's game on the bad throw by the SS. Lee would have had that ball easily; Millar couldn't come up with it. Error on SS-Millar in the clear statistically.

Teebob2000 said:

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OK, maybe not lately due to age but he's made a couple of really good fielding plays in the games I've seen. I'd still rather has his off-the-bench bat and one-inning-per-week fill-in fielding than Huffenpuff.

itsjenjen said:

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I agree that he's a better choice over Hoffpauir (sp?).

Dmband said:

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Im thinking Marshall has to be a starter. I realize our BP is already very slim, but thats irrelevant when you give up 8 runs in the first two innings.

With Marshall, at least we'll have an oppty to get to our bullpen with a lead...

itsjenjen said:

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It will be either Marshall or Gorzelanny. The advantage to Marshall being in relief is that he can also play outfield. That was a joke.

Eric From The Dugs said:

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If by joke you mean awesome, then I agree.

Just a few more appearances out there, and Marshall will be my starting right fielder for my fantasy team.

itsjenjen said:

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He was very awesome, indeed. =)

Dmband said:

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PS. I know he's hitting well in spring training, but are we seriously starting the season with him at 2nd base? Seriously? I mean I hope to god he proves me wrong...but Ive personally seen enough of him playing every day. Personally, I think the whole "left handed bat" arguement is completely idiotic, give me someone who can hit the ball with SOME measure of consistency.

itsjenjen said:

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The problem is, there isn't much of a choice. Baker is not as good defensively, and hasn't been doing much at the plate this spring. So far, Fontenot has him beat. Many are hoping to see Castro at some point in the not-too-distant future at SS, moving Theriot to second. But, per Lou, that's not happening yet.

Dmband said:

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by "him" I mean Fontenot

Dmband said:

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JenJen-

I hear ya...I guess Im just disappointed that its actually happening. I agree Fontenot is better defensively. It was just really tough seeing the 7,8,9 part of our lineup disappear last year...

Edelweiss said:

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For the most part, it was a team-wide thing. Don't forget that up until last year, Fontenot was tearing the cover off the ball. His problem was not from playing every day. Something happened at the end of Spring Training last year, and he didn't recover until the middle of August. Baker got off to a slow start last year, and didn' begin to hit until August, and that hot streak lasted about a month. He will probably be an asset off the bench because he does tire easily in regular play, but can hit well for short periods. Also, he is too tall and lanky to be a middle infielder, and cannot get his long legs off the ground to complete the double play.

Dmband said:

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Marshall is still working on perfecting his version of the pre catch hop...then perennial gold gloves, here we come!!

JulieDiCaro said:

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Hey guys, I'm just out of one courtroom and into another. Can someone post a game thread?

On a happy note, Day 2 of the vegan/macrobiotic diet and I'm feeling pretty good. Not deprived at all. The salad bar at Whole Foods helps with that. :)

JulieDiCaro said:

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okay, I WAS feeling pretty good, until i bit my tongue. :(

Doc said:

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There's a joke there...but I'm fairly sure I'd botch it up.

AndCounting said:

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I can post one.

Carl Heartscubs Gierhan said:

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I'm on it. And enjoying delicious pork sausage.

AndCounting said:

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Never mind. I'll defer to you and your sausage.

There's no non-dirty way to phrase that.

itsjenjen said:

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I won't ask about its size, either.

Edelweiss said:

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You would be surprised to learn which Cubs players are "plusses" and "minuses" in that category! One of my insiders is very nosy, and can't keep a secret.

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