Cubs Game Preview and Thread 3/5: Tigers looking for closer, Law breaks down BJax and the Cubs

Cubs Game Preview and Thread 3/5: Tigers looking for closer, Law breaks down BJax and the Cubs

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

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.

Today's Lineup...

  1. Sappelt CF
  2. Barney 2B
  3. Castillo C
  4. Hairston RF
  5. Lake 3B
  6. Bogusevic 1B
  7. Maysonet SS
  8. Szczur LF
  9. 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.




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  • fb_avatar

    I'm liking the Bogusvic experiement at 1st. I think he could take the last roster spot. He can hit off the bench-not so much if he plays everyday. I think his bat is too good (and right handed) to leave behind. If Bogusevic can match Sappelt's defense-and I think it's better, it seems like a no-brainer.

    As for Marmol-I can't imagine the Cubs would pay to get someone like Castellanos. Let's do it!

  • In reply to Dale Miller:

    I really have been impressed with Bogusevic. Unfortunately, he would have had a much better shot if he was righty or the Cubs didn't sign Schierholtz. As it is, being a lefty and backing up Scheirholtz, Rizzo, and DeJesus puts him in no man's land. His best chance is an opportunity opened up by trade or injury.

  • I'd like to see the Cubs trade Marmol now as well. He does not fit into any long term plans and he spot in the bullpen can be used for another young pitcher.
    I just can't imagine the Cubs holding out til the trade deadline after last years (and still ongoing) Garza fiasco. They should get what they can and move forward.

  • In reply to jaxx51:

    It depends on what you can get for Marmol. Trading him for whatever you can get serves no purpose other than to open up a roster spot for a fringe bullpen guy. The Cubs should only be trading guys with the purpose of bringing in talent. If they're unable to do that, then I don't understand the rush of trading someone just to trade someone.

    Marmol was horrific from the second half of 2011 to the first month or two of 2012. Teams may be willing to give up more once they're convinced his second half last year was for real.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Good analysis....what value do other clubs place on Marmol? Other GMs see the same things we see, which is a pitcher that lost it for a few months. Though he did pitch well after, he could easily fall back into control problems. Marmol is late to pitching, and has a strange delivery that is difficult to repeat.

    For anybody, he's a roll of the dice.....even if the Cubs pick up most of the salary tab, which I know we would do, at best we would get back a question mark, or someone with limited ceiling

    On the flip side, we're likely asking less than other teams with excess closers. The Nats have some depth there with Storen and Clippard, but they are in win-now mode, and need ML value in return

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Agreed. My point was more to accept a good offer now rather than wait until the deadline and hope some team will be desperate to give up the farm.
    I believe Marmol's price is already set, even if he pitches lights out, the past will always be brought up in negotiations and then you are back to square one trying to convince a teams of his talents.
    I never want to give him away, Marmol does have value, I just feel if you can capitalize on that value now, then do it. Why wait and risk an injury if he is not in our future anyway.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Looks like Fujikawa has quality stuff, and the mentality to handle the closers role. Seems similair to former Ms closer Kensuke Sasake from the early 2000s.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    John, why do people say that Marmol doesn't fit into the Cubs' long term plans? He's only 30 and, if memory serves me, aren't closers one of the rare MLB positions that actually age pretty well? 7 of the top 10 closers (by saves) last year were the same age or older. In fact 5 were between 2 - 9 years older than Marmol. Unless the Cubs can get a significant package of prospects they need to hang on to him because he can be a long term part if there's no value in the return.

  • fb_avatar

    In my last post I mean to say wouldn't instead of would. Meaning I thnk the Cubs would pay enough of Marmol's salary to get the prospect they want.

  • In reply to Dale Miller:

    I figured that's what you meant :)

  • The bench is going to be key this year because of the increased AL/interleague games. I like Clevenger's bat (maybe more than Castillo's) but 3 catchers on the 25man?

    RH Hairston
    RH Lillibridge
    LH Valbeuna
    RH Sappelt
    S Navarro
    LH Clevenger 1B, 2B, 3B, & LF? ..i don't think Steve's versitility is enough unless he steals starts away from Barney at 2B, maybe even a full on platoon w/ Barney to maximize offense..but then, the more athletic Valbuena may have offensive upside at 2B vs RHP

    LH Brian Bogusevic's 2011 splits vs RHP is encouraging, i'm glad the Astro's gave up on him so fast. Nice depth when DeJesus (maybe Schierholtz too) gets traded midseason.

  • In reply to CubFan Paul:

    Clevenger would only make it if he can show he can play 2B and possibly 3B. At that point a 3rd catcher can be valuable because it gives you flexibility with in-game moves. It's between him and Lillibridge, it seems.

    Agree Bogusevic was a nice pickup and will probably get his shot once the Cubs make some trades.

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    Sun times article is a pretty good read on Baez. What I find most interesting is Baez just following Soriano around since Sori is mentoring him so much.

    Can we extend Sori?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Good stuff. Thanks for the link.

    I don't know about extending Sori though :)

    I do like one hidden thing in that article is that Castro seems like he's learning (no doubt from Soriano) how to be a leader.

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    Hi John, can you expand on the Johermyn Chavez tidbit?

  • In reply to Steve Kermath:

    Chavez was once a top prospect with big upside in Seattle. Great tools, decent approach, but has had trouble making contact. He's been terrible the last two years in AA and the Cubs took a flyer. Could be a huge steal.

  • If the Cubs can pry Castellanos from the Tigers it would make-up for Garza's injury costing them Olt last summer. Marmol, Vitters and $5M would be a solid offer IMO.

  • In reply to Zorb:

    Lets play reversal here.......Cubs needed a closer......If Marmol was on the Tigers, and Dombrowski wanted Javier Baez in return...would you make that deal ?

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    I would hardly put Castellanos in the same level with Baez. He is a good prospect, but hardly as valuable as Baez.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    You gotta be kidding. Castellanos was moved off 3B because of his poor defense, and hes not remotely close to Baezs upside.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Zorb:

    If I am the Tigers, Castellanos is too much to give up for Marmol. And the last thing the Tigers need is a defensively-challenged hit only type of player in Vitters. (Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Prince, etc) Not that Vitters is even worth that much anyway.

    Jake Thompson might be a more realistic prospect, and one that doesn't figure to help the Tigers this year or next. They are in win-now mode.

  • In reply to Zorb:

    Great for the Cubs but I think it will take more than that. I don't think Vitters has much value. Marmol doesn't have much unless you pay down that salary.

  • Here we go again with the Castellanos rumors......

    Now lets be sensible here.....pretend you are Tigers GM Dombrowski, one of the top GM's in all of baseball......and you are ready to trade your #1 prospect for Carlos Marmol !

    Are you people on CRACK ?

    Not going to happen.......

    Dombrowski would rather make a trade for Marlins Stanton & Nicolini which he will give up Castellanos, Porcello, Garcia & Crosby.

    Casey Coleman heading North ?....right now I have Casey as my 13th pitcher, tied with Zach Putman.....right now, the Cubs need Marmol in case of any more injuries.

  • Is it possible that Theo is show casing Lake for a trade?

  • What is $1.5 million these days?......petty cash for the Cubs......I believe Ian Stewart will head to the DL and not be waived by the Cubs...Ian will stay in Arizona for extended ST period........Theo will stick with Stewart one more time.

  • How about a cross town trade with the White Sox? Since they are always willing to take on salary and if they remain competitive this season, they may need a compliment to young Addison Reed. Reed did post a 4.73 era and 6.22 in the cell, so if they are in the hunt at the deadline maybe Marmol & cash for prospect Scott Snodgrass?

  • I can't imagine the Cubs releasing Stewart at this point. There is a big difference between not having enough time to prove he CAN make it and proving he can NOT make it.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    I don't think he'll be released before he gets a chance to play, but I have to think he's going to have to prove himself quickly. If he looks like he's not ready to play when they send him out there, then I think his days are numbered.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    You may be right, John, but I don't think the Cubs will be too quick to release him until he proves that he is NOT healthy.

    But in the back of my mind, it seems I read somewhere that if the Cubs try to send him to the minors, he can elect free agency, so they might not have a lot of choice in the matter.

  • fb_avatar

    Anyone else hear Carrie Muskat just say that Dale Sveum is referring to Bogusevic as "the next Joe Mather?"

    If I were Brian, I'd be insulted.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Carrie is a nice lady who likes to hang out with the boys of summer.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I'm hoping she means as the non-roster spring surprise.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I heard her comment on MLB.COM, and it sounds like what Sveum was saying is that he is this Sprint Training's Joe Mather.

  • Hey, let's keep it about baseball everyone. Don't want to see the comments section turn into a site where people attack each other. We can debate baseball and people's post from an idea standpoiont -- but if you don't like someone from a personality standpoint, just ignore them. The only thing you do is bring attention to the stuff you don't like.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Sorry for starting that. It was a moment of frustration that I couldn't delete.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    No problem, Mike. Frustration happens to all of us. It wound up escalating a bit today and just wanted to nip it in the bud.

    The comments section here is what helps make this site great. In fact, I often get e-mail about how much people enjoy reading the comments.

  • Sorry, posted before I read yours.
    Good Cubs baseball talk is good !

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    No problem, Hubbs. At this point will delete every non-baseball related comment, though. Bickering seems to be mostly between two people anyway.

  • Let me state for the record I did not start it...and it was four against one.....and I am sorry if some people got their "feelings" hurt.

    Remember that saying that Sean Connery made of how the mob goes after you in "The Untouchables"... .......I kinda live by that code.

    Not a good day for Feldman.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    That's cool, not trying to say you did. Everyone knows how I feel here. You can have any opinion you want as long as it's on baseball (and sometimes we do get into pop culture, that's cool too). We also have some spirited debates here but don't want things to degrade into a spitting contest. I think we're all smart enough to debate ideas without having to attack the person, but sometimes frustration boils over. It happens.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Sometime I believe we have White Sox fans in disguise as Bleacher Bums.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Anthony Rizzo homered for Italy today against the A's.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Woohoo! Can't wait to see him back here!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    You run a first class blog. The other day I mentioned that I enjoy reading almost every contributor. Almost. Except one.

  • In reply to Hubbs16:

    Thanks for the kind words Hubbs!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Well said, John. I participate in a political "discussion" forum and it, more often than not, gets into name-calling and outright disgusting comments. We don't need that here.

  • In reply to cubs1969:

    Thanks, cubs1969.

  • So inside the park HR by Maysonet and some good pitching by Travis Wood today.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Encouraging to see from Tr Wood, he looks like a totally different pitcher than the one that showed up in ST last year... Feldman has been roughed up... But you know, also remember Maholm allowed something like 11 runs in his first 2 reg season outings and ended up putting solid numbers.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Very true. Guys like Feldman, Maholm are usually working on stuff this early in the spring. Wood too, probably, but whatever he was working on, he apparently did it well!

  • fb_avatar

    can someone explain: the Gameday box score says feldman threw 4 innings, but the comments state that he only pitched to 2 batters in the 3rd. Can't be both, can it?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to SKMD:

    sorry, read the wrong column he pitched 2 innings. As Rosanne Rosannadannah would say, "never mind."

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Haha! It's always something!

  • In reply to SKMD:

    2 IP
    4 R
    6 H
    1 BB
    1 K

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