Some spring notes to help you get through that mid-afternoon lull...
- Update (2:25 pm): Dale Sveum says Scott Feldman will start the season in the rotation and that there is only one spot up for grabs. He also said there is "an above average chance" that Scott Baker will start the season late. If that's the case, though as Baker himself says, it's too early to tell if he'll be ready, hat pretty much leaves that last spot to either LHP Travis Wood and RHP Carlos Villanueva.
- Carlos Marmol would like to stay a Cub in 2013 and beyond, but is realistic. "I don't know about that," Marmol said. "They tried to trade me before. I hope I can stay here for the full year because it is hard to think about if you are going to be going somewhere else to pitch or not. I hope to stay here." Quite a few factors working against Marmol: 1) Theo has said he intends to get value for his closers, 2) Marmol is on the last year of his contract, 3) The Cubs have a ready replacement in Kyuji Fujikawa, and 4) A couple of contending teams, the Angels (Madson) and A's (Balfour), have had closers go down already.
- Anthony Rizzo believes a team will trade for Tony Campana, who is in good spirits despite the DFA. “It’s pretty good,” Rizzo said. “A fresh start. Just told him to keep his head up. He’s a good player and he’ll be pretty successful.” Rizzo believes this team needs more power than speed and while I think they need both, I agree that power is a priority at this point. The signing of Scott Hairson indicates the Cubs feel the same way. As for Campana, there has been talk that the White Sox claimed him last August but I think that's meaningless at this point. The Sox were contending at the time and it makes sense that they could have used that kind of weapon down the stretch, especially once rosters expand. However, carrying him on your 40 man roster for the entire season may not be as easy. I believe there's a good chance he clears, but he still may opt for free agency and look for that fresh start.
- As our 25th man poll predicted, Brent Lillibridge seems to have the inside track for that spot. We know from last season that manager Dale Sveum prefers versatility for that last spot and Lillibridge certainly offers that, along with some speed off the bench. "I'm not going to lie to you, it gives you a huge edge in the National League," Sveum said of Lillibridge's versatility. "He's got some sock in his bat for a guy who looks like he's 150 pounds soaking wet." Lillibridge could bring the Cubs a bit of a hybrid between Joe Mather and Tony Campana, the two players that fought for that spot last season. The Cub would have to clear a 40 man roster spot for the spring training invitee, but there's plenty of time for that to happen and it's likely the Cubs will make some sort of deal before then.
- Some optimism surrounding Cubs SP Travis Wood, the only lefty slotted for the rotation. “The ball is coming out of Wood’s hand so much better than last spring,” Sveum said. “The way he’s spinning the ball.” Wood is not guaranteed a spot, however, he'll still have to earn it, "We have enough depth, so right now we’ll take the best seven guys in the bullpen, whoever it is,” Sveum said. “His development as a starter is pretty much over.” He'll likely compete for one of 2 spots with Scott Feldman, Carlos Villanueva, and possibly Scott Baker, who is throwing the ball already but has been limited to fastballs only. Update: Feldman will be part of the rotation according to Dale Sveum, (see 2:25 update above).
- We talked about Brett Jackson earlier today so I won't go into much detail, but the CF has every intention of making the ballclub. My thought on that is this: Would we expect anything less from Jackson? He's a competitor and he's still very confident. I'd be surprised if he said he'd be happy with going down to AAA and working on his swing. I won't be surprised if he makes it tough for the Cubs to send him down, much as Anthony Rizzo did last year.
- AZ Bob sends us this from...where else? Arizona. I'll leave Bob's comment in it's entirety because I can't put it any better.... "The Arizona Republic reports that Mark Grace began his four month stay in tent city, courtesy of Maricopa County, AZ as a result of his second DUI in 15 months. Yes, he sleeps in a tent every night with the other inmates and complains about our 40 degree evenings. The difference between him and his other tent mates is that the D-Backs have hired him as a spring training instructor, so he's on work release, meaning he leaves at six a.m and has to be back in tent city twelve hours later. He's also spared the indignity of wearing Sheriff Joe's infamous pink underwear.They say he stuffs himself with D-Backs food so he doesn't have to eat the baloney sandwiches from the jail, and chain smokes cigarettes because he can't smoke in tent city. The article ends by saying "Baseball players get three strikes. The rest of us get two chances, and only if we're lucky" How the mighty have fallen."
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