Cubs Game Preview and Thread: 5 things to watch for

Cubs Game Preview and Thread: 5 things to watch for

The Cubs face Matt Cain and the San Francisco Giants today at 2.05 PM CT.  Audio available on MLB.com.

Here's the lineup for today's game:

  1. DeJesus CF
  2. Castro SS
  3. Rizzo 1B
  4. Soriano LF
  5. Schierholtz RF
  6. Navarro C
  7. Bogusevic DH
  8. Barney 2B
  9. Villanueva 3B

Starting Pitcher:  Jeff Samardzija

This is a very different spring for Jeff Samardzija.  He had a great second half out of the bullpen in 2011 after two straight poor seasons in 2009 and 2010 -- but 2012 was about proving himself all over again as a starter.  This year Samardzija goes in as arguably the team's best starting pitcher and all he's looking to do now is build on a breakthrough season -- and perhaps pitch his way into a long term deal.

5 things to watch for:

  1. The lineup today is very similar to the one we'll see in the regular season against RHP -- and they'll be facing a real big test today in Matt Cain.
  2. Nate Schierholtz is facing his former team and taking on a new role with the Cubs.  He'll be in a prime spot in the lineup at #5 where he is expected to help Anthony Rizzo provide some power and production from the left side.  Schierholtz was once the Giants #3 prospect but hasn't lived up to expectations so far.  He'll get a fresh opportunity and a welcome change of scenery from AT&T park, where he struggled for most of his career.
  3. Not much in the way of prospects but we'll get a good look at 3B Christian Villaueva today.  Texas considered him a sleeper in their organization and weren't eager to let him go for Dempster, but with depth at 3B, they agreed to the deal.  Villanueva is now the Cubs sleeper prospect at 3B with good contact ability, a solid approach, and defense which some scouts rate a 70 on the 20-80 scale. That would put him just behind Albert Almora when it comes to the system's best defensive prospects.
  4. Alfonso Soriano makes his first appearance of the spring and looks to continue the momentum he's built since switching to a lighter bat last season.  The Cubs are counting on him as their main source of RH power but if they're not in contention by the trade deadline, this season could be Soriano's last go-round with the Cubs.
  5. For those of you that like deep sleepers, Brian Bogusevic gets a start today at DH.  The Cubs picked him up early in the offseason as he has that combination of athleticism and approach that the team is trying to add.  He should provide some speed and decent pop from the left side.  He probably starts the year in Iowa but could well be playing in Chicago when and if the team starts dealing away veterans.  He's a good fit for this team and it wouldn't surprise me to see him put together a solid spring and solidify a top spot on the OF depth chart at Iowa.

** I'll be celebrating my mom's birthday today so I'll miss much of the game, but please feel free to use this article as a game thread as well.**

 

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    Hey John, I've been thinking about Soler playing in left. Tell me if you think this scenario is insane: the Cubs are clearly trying to move Soriano. Soler appears to be slightly ahead of schedule. If July comes and Soriano moves to a contender and Soler is tearing up the Sourthern league, he can just step right into Soriano's place.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I think that's probably a little optimistic. It will probably be Hairston in LF and the Cubs will platoon him with DeJesus if he's still here. Brett Jackson in CF.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    To me, the reason why Soler has been playing LF is because it's already locked up and Soriano has no need for early playing time. How Sappelt and Hairston handle the platoons in CF and RF and getting them time there this spring is far more important than having Soler play where he usually plays.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    good point.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Granderson out 10 weeks. Broken forearm. Could Soriano reunite with the Yankees? He could play LF for a couple months and then switch to DH. East Coast team, good shot at the playoffs. It could work.

  • In reply to Ratmoss:

    Broken forearm and only 10 weeks? C olor me skeptical. Hes out till the all-star break.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    How about Soriano to the Yanks? Granderson got hit by a pitch in his first at-bat today. He has a broken arm...out 10 weeks.

  • Navarro with a 3 run HR.

    Castro, Soriano with singles and Bogusevic with a double.

  • Happy birthday to your mom, John. If you and she are Cubs fans as I was with mine, you have an added gift.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Thanks. My dad is the Cubs fan. My mom is the writer...so I got a gift from each!

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    What does your mom write?

    And I'm not sure I'd call being a Cubs fan a gift. An old teacher -- and one of the best writher's I've ever met -- referred to it as an incurable disease.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Haha! You're right. Maybe not the best gift.

    As for my mom...She's never tried to publish anything, more of an amateur poet. Different style than me, but she's the one who taught me how to write and use words creatively since I was just a kid.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    That's amazing.

    You should post a piece of her work here Sunday mornings to go with Felzz's brunches, with her permission, of course.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Thanks. It's all in Spanish, though :)

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    As a 3rd-generation Cubs fan, I always refer to being a Cubs fan as a genetic defect.

  • Great start. If all these guys can bat 1.000 or near for the whole year, the Cubs should be in good shape.

    I am worried that Jackson's shorter swing is costing him power - two triples after all.

    I love the start of spring training...

  • In reply to bruno14:

    if BJax hits .300 with 15HR and a 375 OBP along with stellar defense, Id sacrifice some power. Situational hitting matters more than mere numbers.

  • I'm off everyone and I'll be back early tonight. Enjoy the game!

  • what kind of cake?

  • Cubs win 4-3. Camp with the save.

  • fb_avatar

    So are we looking at a situation like last year when the there was an unspoken platoon between Clevenger and Castillo? I hope not because that would mean Navarro would be the starter essentially because you face RHP's more often than LHP's. I would have liked to see Castillo play 120-130 games with Navarro playing a usual back-ups amount. Not a platoon. Correct me if i'm wrong.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I could see a 100/110 (Castillo) to 50/60 (Navarro) game split, to ease him into the full-time starter's role a bit. It may help the learning process for game-calling to watch every 3-4 days or so.

  • fb_avatar

    Another nice pitching performance with 1 BB 8 K and 6 hits!

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    Any timeline for Vizciano to start throwing this spring. I know he is coming off major surgery and expected to spend a good part of the season in Iowa rehabbing.

  • Jon Heyman is all in on the Soriano to the Yankees rumor.

  • fb_avatar

    Was at the game today, nice to see the 4 run first off Matt Cain including the Navarro blast into a strong wind blowing out to right...Smardz looked solid and was bringing it...I just want Marmol the hell off my team and James Russell and Shawn Camp looked real good too..Not as many of the studs I wanted to see like Soler, Lake and B Jax but a good game nonetheless.. Had a nice chat with Jody Davis who was signing with Fergie and Friends which included Fergie, Rollie Fingers, Jody and Gaylord Perry...Trying to get tickets for Sat in Scottsdale vs the Giants

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    In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    John, do you have any info on Johemyn Chavez?? He played RF later in the game and took one deep that on a still day would have cleared the park but with the crosswind it held up and went for a double..I thought it was Soler at first, similar stature and height and build.

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    Big athletic kid with some power and speed. Good defender with RF skills (excellent arm). Pretty decent approach at the plate too. Used to be a top prospect with Seattle but hasn't made enough consistent contact to take advantage of those great tools.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks John, the guy looks like a stud player, and the ball jumped off his bat too

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