Our poll earlier today indicates that Cubs fans still favor polished college power RHP Mark Appel, but the fireballing Jonathan Gray is starting to intrigue and has passed up LHP Sean Manaea as the second favorite. Meanwhile a scout tells David Kaplan that they'd like a college pitcher but if it isn't Mark Appel, they may go for the best position player...would that be Kris Bryant, Austin Meadows, Clint Frazier...or will they go with a guy who could rise late like C Jonathan Denney or a soon-to-be healthy college OF'er Austin Wilson. Remember too that many consider Colin Moran to be the best pure college bat in the draft.
But after our weekly draft update, it's time to get back to the big league team...
We're going to change up the 5 things to watch for a little and we're going to cut it to 3 with Tom, Felzz, and me all chipping in one thing each. We may add to it later, such as an opposing fan's view and/or a contribution from different readers each day. Here's a sneak preview...
John: It looks like Brett Jackson is available off the bench after missing some time with a minor injury. I'm anxious to see his new swing in a live game.
Tom: We should see Edwin Jackson treat this like a regular season start. So we'll see him use his whole repertoire, work efficiently, and try to get deep into the game. It may be a sneak peak at what we can expect from him this season.
Felzz: Mistakes. This isn't about seeing players. It's about tightening up and getting ready for April 1. All kinks should be considered ironed. And mistakes should now count against you. Also keep your eye on the waiver wire (see below).
News and Notes...
- The Cubs are scouring the waiver wire in case a utility middle infielder becomes available. I do not expect that to be Chone Figgins despite his name popping up in the news recently. Figgins just doesn't hit enough to make any of his other skills (switch-hitting, versatiliy, speed, good eye) matter. Felzz also gave me his thoughts on this: "Rumors of Chone Figgins already have most observers in a tizzy. And not in a good tizzy either. Still, there's a roster spot open and someone out there could take it. Brad Hawpe perhaps." It seems Dale Sveum is looking for a lefty bat with some pop. That was probably going to be Luis Valbuena's role until Ian Stewart got hurt. The new in-house candidate is Steve Clevenger, but his power is limited and his ability to fill in in the infield remains a question mark. The left-handed quote also seems to rule out former Cubs Ronny Cedeno and Ryan Theriot. If the Cubs are going to go with a true utility infielder, then it appears they will go with defensive specialist Alberto Gonzalez.
- Late spring is a time for trade rumors to start resurfacing as teams re-evaluate their roster situations. While most expect the Cubs to trade Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Marmol, it's a different player that may intrigue other teams. Rany Jazeril writes that the Royals would like a lefty bat to platoon with Jeff Francouer and that David DeJesus would be an ideal fit. The Royals recently gutted their farm system a bit with the big James Shields trade, but there's enough talent there to get my attention. While the Cubs don't have an immediate full-time player to replace DeJesus, it's likely the Cubs will listen as long as the Royals are willing to part with a prospect with a chance to make an impact.
- If some of you are worried about "the plan" this article by Tony Andracki based on a tweet by David Kaplan may assuage some of those fears. An AL scout is saying that the Cubs are doing exactly what everyone feared they would -- developing within while still having the financial might to bring star players in through free agency. The scout believes the Cubs could become a monster in the NL Central.
- David DeJesus, CF
- Starlin Castro, SS
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Scott Hairston, LF
- Nate Schierholtz, RF
- Dioner Navarro, C
- Luis Valbuena, 3B
- Darwin Barney, 2B
- Edwin Jackson, P
Filed under: Preview and Game Thread