Last game was a disaster as Alberto Cabrera and Brooks Raley had tough outings. The good news is that Alfonso Soriano is starting to heat up and the Cubs may have themselves a find with Johermyn Chavez.
The Cubs play the Rockies today at 2:05 and you can listen to Len Kasper and Mick Gillespie on MLB.com.
In the news...
- Danny Knobler reports that Detroit is getting cold feet about using prospect Bruce Rondon as their closer and may look to deal for someone with experience. No mention of Carlos Marmol, but you have to wonder if he's a possibility. The Tigers are no doubt wary of closers with control problems after having to deal with the Valverde-coaster last year, but Marmol has superior stuff at this stage and is better equipped to work out of trouble. Whether that's enough to convince them to explore a trade with the Cubs remains to be seen. Bruce Levine remains convinced Marmol will be traded by Opening Day, but has doubts about the Tigers interest. If they were to make a trade with the Tigers, Levine believes the Cubs will try to target Nick Castellanos rather than Rick Porcello.
- Keith Law breaks down Brett Jackson's swing. The verdict? He thinks it's different but not necessarily better. It's not what we want to hear as Cubs fans but the best we can say is it that it's gotten mixed reviews and the people who have seen him most have been the most positive. Then again, those people also have the most to gain from his success. Jackson doesn't need anyone to build his confidence though, he has plenty of that and it's going to be an asset for him when he goes through an inevitable struggle at some point this year.
- Law had positive things to say about Javier Baez, including the increased plate discipline we saw in his last start. If Baez can learn to grind out ABs consistently, he's going to reach that next level -- and that's a scary thought for Class A pitchers. He'll be almost impossible to pitch to.
- Trey McNutt was at a solid 92-94 mph and shows a good slider, but as noted here many times, stuff isn't the issue with McNutt, it's his command. Law thought he looked a little bigger than the last time he saw him and it didn't sound like he meant that in a positive way.
- Kyuji Fujikawa was at 90-92 and showed a plus splitter, which looks like an out pitch.
- In case you missed it yesterday, Quedub gave us some radar readings on some pitchers. Alberto Cabrera started at 94-95 mph but then dropped into the 91-93 range later in his outing. His slider was at 80-81 mph. Brooks Raley was at 89-90 with a curve in the mid 70s and Casey Coleman was at 91-92. Coleman has been sharp this spring and we've noted that he throws a few ticks harder in relief. Right now I'm considering him a sleeper candidate for the newly opened bullpen spot. We also have some pictures that we'll share with you a little later today.
- In case you're wondering where Anthony Rizzo is, he's going to play 1B for Italy in the WBC.
- Sappelt CF
- Barney 2B
- Castillo C
- Hairston RF
- Lake 3B
- Bogusevic 1B
- Maysonet SS
- Szczur LF
- Feldman P
Starting Pitcher: Scott Feldman suddenly finds himself as the Cubs #3 starter to open the season. It looks like he made the right decision to come here and he'll get every chance to prove his worth as a starter this season as he heads into free agency.
Five Things to Watch...
- Junior Lake is starting to rack up some starts at 3B which seems to indicate the Cubs are taking a long look. He has played really well this spring and is putting himself in good position for a midseason call-up. Wouldn't be surprised to see a platoon with either Luis Valbuena or Ian Stewart sometime after the all-star break.
- Matt Szczur gets the start in LF today. He's struggled at the plate today and perhaps a start and some extended looks will snap him out of his funk. Szczur has developed into a good extra outfielder type and his start in LF shows the Cubs want to make him versatile in that respect. But he'll have to prove he can hit to become a starter -- which, if it happens, would be in CF, not in LF.
- You know you're getting close to the season when there's no DH. Scott Feldman has spent his career in the AL, so hitting MLB pitching should be an adventure today.
- Bryan Bogusevic is playing 1B today and it's going to be a key position for him if he's to find a spot on the bench with the Cubs. The team lacks a true 1B backup and he'll compete with Brad Nelson, Josh Vitters, and Steve Clevenger to provide 1B depth at Iowa -- though Clevenger has a chance to make the Opening Day roster.
- Edwin Maysonet's best chance to make the team is show that he can play a good defensive SS while showing enough bat to play some 3B against LHP. He's a long shot, but he'll get his chance to show he can handle both tasks today.