Cubs Game Preview and Thread: Barret Loux is the latest cut from the roster; Soler impresses Rowson

Cubs Game Preview and Thread: Barret Loux is the latest cut from the roster; Soler impresses Rowson

Kind of a slow news day but we have a big mock draft piece coming later for all my fellow draftniks.  It's a big draft this year for the rebuild and we're going to try and bring you the most original and comprehensive Cubs-centric draft info possible.

Meanwhile, the Cubs take on the Dodgers and lefty Chris Capuano today at 3:05 CT.

In the news...

"It's fun to watch him, to be honest," Rowson said. "It's a matter of learning him right now. We're letting him go out and show what he does naturally, his natural ability, and then we'll talk later. His natural ability speaks for itself so far. The power is ridiculous, the ability to lay off some tough breaking balls for a young kid is phenomenal, so obviously, he'll continue in his development, but he's on the right track. The great part is that he's not intimidated at all.  He goes up there and he's very confident, no matter who he's facing. There's no, 'Oh, this pitcher is in the big leagues.' He's concerned about himself and performing, and he's done a good job so far."

Today's Lineup...

  1. Barney 2B
  2. Lillibridge 3B
  3. Schierholtz RF
  4. Castillo C
  5. Sappelt CF
  6. Valbuena SS
  7. McDonald LF
  8. Nelson 1B
  9. Rusin P

5 Things to Watch...

  • Chris Rusin looks to continue his good spring and solidify a spot on the opening day roster as the second lefty out of the bullpen.
  • Ian Stewart gets his first game action since 2/21.  With injuries to Junior Lake and Josh Vitters, the Cubs are suddenly thin at 3B at the upper levels, which probably ensures a starting role for Stewart to open the season as long as he stays healthy. The Cubs seem to be preparing Luis Valbuena for utility work and he gets a look at SS today and if he can handle it defensively, it'll be a nice asset to have a lefty backup Castro.
  • On a related note, Starlin Castro is out today but he's fine.  The Cubs just aren't looking to rush him back right now.  There's plenty of time before the season starts.
  • As we get later in the spring we can see the competition for roster spots more clearly.  Dave Sappelt is playing CF against a lefty today so he's probably the leading candidate, but Darnell McDonald still looms and is in LF.  Nate Schierholtz is getting some ABs against a lefty today and he's done well this spring.  If he continues it during the season, then that will change the outfield plans.
  • Brent Lillibridge gets the start today at 3B and it's something we may see more of during the season.  Other than RF, which is already spoken for by Scott Hairston, the Cubs have two positions where they'd like a RH bat -- 3B and CF, but if Sappelt can handle CF and spell David DeJesus against some lefties, than that frees up Lillibridge to do the same for Ian Stewart at 3B.

Comments

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  • I was hoping to get another look at Baez vs MLB competition, this spring. I guess that ship may have sailed as the intensity starts picking up and they are trying to put the last few pieces of the MLB roster together.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I don't think we'll see much more of those guys. Getting to the nitty gritty now.

  • Here's what I'm hoping... Stewart comes back and makes an impression, gets the everyday 3B job... Lillibridge and Sappelt have a solid Spring the rest of the way... All of that translating into a solid, versatile bench of Valbuena (2B/3B/SS), Lillibridge (3B/1B and emergency OF/SS), Hairston (OF), Sappelt (OF) and Navarro (C).

    That bench right there has a nice combination of versatility, power, speed and defense... Maybe not a lot of power from the left side, but Valbuena can get a hold of one every now and then and when Lillibridge and/or Hairston play, then you have some power from the left side with Stewart and Schierholtz.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Agreed. That would work out nicely.

  • In reply to Caps:

    I could live with that bench. But unless DDJ, Nate, Stewart, and Beef live up to expectations, we will struggle to score enough runs....

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Probably yeah, I'm not expecting big things during a rebuilding process, all I can hope for from the offense is for the kids to keep developing and the vets to have a strong first half to get a good return from them.

  • John, thinking of Soler, is there any reason he couldn't rocket up the system this year and make it to the show before September? There must be some level of performance that would convince the team that he is ready sooner. What do you think he would have to do.

  • In reply to Bilbo161:

    Biggest reason is he has a long way to go. He's starting in A ball and the jump to AA alone is considered by some to be the biggest jump in terms of talent differential between the two levels. I think he needs to get promoted to AA and light it up before there is serious talk about it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Yes I agree. I wonder how much they factor in where the MLB team is expected to be competitively and when they expect to compete. Would they slow his progress in order to time his arrival? Considering his contract I'm not sure if service time could be a contributing factor here as well as a reason to take it slow. I know it was with Rizzo last year.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    We all want our top 3 guys to make it as soon as possible, but
    they are all very young and need lots of AB's and experience.
    With the guy we pick in the draft they should,with Castro, form
    the core of the team for many years to come.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Agreed. They need those ABs before they come up.

  • Having the #1 pick puts lots of pressure on Houston to make the
    right choice. What risks are there in them drafting Appel and are
    they willing to take it.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    It seems they've already tried that before.If Appel is gone I could see them drafting Frazier or Meadows, but that's another 4 years of development for a high school kid.Pitching shortens that development by at least 1-2 yrs., if a top college pitcher is there at draft time.

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    In reply to TheRiot2:

    Appel's looking more and more like Prior, could be at the top of the rotation by '14, would make a huge difference in the rebuild timeline.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    If he is like Prior,... I hope his has a better outcome in the long run for both himself and for the Cubs should they draft him.

  • Can't wait for the season to get started, let's go Cubs...

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    OT fangraphs 1B power rankings Cubs (rizzo/lillibridge) #5.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    It's on-topic ;) It's one of the bullets!

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    Wooooops!! I do pay attention to what you write, really I do.....

  • In reply to SKMD:

    LOL...I know :) I miss stuff like that too - especially when it's a line or two.

  • Welington Castillo has got some juice in that swing.

  • Cubs up 3-0. 2B by Lillibridge, walk by Schierholt, and triple by Castillo brings both home. Sappelt then drove in Castillo.

  • Speedy fingers, John. Beat me by 3 seconds...

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Haha! There's smoke coming out of my keyboard right now.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Does that mean you've chosen a pope?

  • In reply to Taft:

    Pope John of Arguello.

  • Scoreless 1st for Rusin even with a leadoff walk.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Ethier, Kemp, and Gonzalez. Another impressive performance by Rusin.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I think he has to make the team.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I think we're getting to the point where he's pushing Carlos Villanueva for the 5th spot in the rotation.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Didn't think of that. Cubs seem to have committed to Villanueva, so he'll get it to open the season, but very possible Rusin passes him at some point this season.

  • Is anyone at this game in person?...if so, are there Tiger scouts nearby?

    MLB saying Tigers need a closer.........Marmol?

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    I don't see a trade happening for Marmol and the Tigers.

  • Rusin and Lillibridge are making a good impression today to make the roster.

  • In reply to Caps:

    I think we can lock up that last bench spot for Lillibridge. Rusin getting close too.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    With Maysonet and Gonzalez doing poor, it is likely that Lillibridge gets the spot... And the fact that Valbuena is playing SS and Lillibridge 3B today probably mean Sveum is thinking about using Valbuena instead of Maysonet and Gonzalez and probably Lillibridge to platoon with Stewart.

    Although, one guy that is not helping his cause is Sappelt... I still think he's the likely candidate, but as poor as he's doing, he probably doesn't have anything guaranteed yet.

  • In reply to Caps:

    He's the best fit, so it depends on how much weight they want to put on his spring.

  • Both Stewart and Vitters going to see action today at the scrimmage.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I hear you, but Carrie Muskat tweeted this:

    RT @CarrieMuskat Josh Vitters, who hasn't played since 2/21 because of sore left quad, on the bench for #Cubs vs #Dodgers today. about 2 mins ago

    But if you hear any updates about that side game, please post, thank you!

  • In reply to Caps:

    Hopefully it still means he gets in later

    Duane Underwood with a 1-2-3 inning, by the way.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks for the update!! And Vitters is in.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Nice update on Underwood. Wish we could see where his FB velo was. Hope it was mid 90's

  • In reply to Caps:

    Josh Vitters in the game. My mistake saying he was a the scrimmage. Not sure why I put him there. Maybe I figured they start all limpy 3Bs at Fitch Park.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I wonder why Vitters is in the MLB camp and Stewart playing a side game... Maybe Stewart was a little behind?

  • In reply to Caps:

    Could be. They sped up Stewarts timetable so maybe easier to ease him in since he's playing a day or so earlier than expected.

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    Castillo with a triple, Rusin 5IP 1H 1BB 1K. Damn good today.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    And Vitters and Stewart are back. Rizzo on the way.

  • Good to see Br Jackson ambushing a first pitch for a hit, stealing second and moving to 3B on a groundout.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Agreed! And 5 strikeouts, 23 PAs for a 21.7% K rate. Short sample, but still encouraging

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Yep, I don't think he has started a game yet and that's true, I'm thinking he's not starting games because the Cubs don't want to expose him too soon yet as he's probably still working on his new mechanics, they probably want him to get comfortable down at AAA first.

  • Ugh, Vitters sees two pitches in two at-bats, producing two ground-outs to the right side of the infield. Looks like he's got some work to do in terms of picking pitches to drive.

  • In reply to Taft:

    I'm pretty sure he saw more pitches, I think he fouled some pitches in both ab's..

  • In reply to Caps:

    Oh, sorry. I'm relying on Gameday. I guess it's also spring training for the intern who's scoring the game on behalf of the Cubs website.

  • In reply to Taft:

    Gameday has been doing that all year long...

  • In reply to Taft:

    Only a couple of AZ parks have pitch F/X, so you won't get an accurate reading until the season starts.

  • I've been a fan of Rusin's ever since he was drafted in the 4th round out of Kentucky simply because when he's on, he's really on. These types of performances are not uncommon for him. Chris had 7 starts last year. In 3, he allowed 1 earned run with one more in which he allowed 2. That's more than half of his starts. The problem is that when he's off, he's really off. In his other 3 starts, he gave up 6, 5 and 5.

    He can definitely be effective, sometimes very effective. If he can become more consistent, he can be Tom Glavine lite. He's consistently a groundball pitcher with a very good 1.83 GO/AO in 428 minor league innings and a 1.48 ratio in just under 30 major league innings. He just needs consistent command because good control isn't going to be enough with his mediocre stuff.

    If Rusin succeeds at refining the consistency of his command, the Cubs may have something. Otherwise, he will be what he is, hit-or-miss.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Agreed. With guys like Rusin, it's all about commanding their stuff, changing speeds, etc. I think it takes time to learn to pitch with that kind of precision consistently. Most guys never get there, but Rusin occasionally gives you hope.

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