Cubs Game Preview and Thread: Cubs cut 6; Stewart optimistic; Baez pranked

Cubs Game Preview and Thread:  Cubs cut 6; Stewart optimistic; Baez pranked

It's great coming off a victory, even when it's just spring -- especially when you get a great start from a guy you're depending on - Travis Wood.  Also nice to get HRs from prospects Jorge Soler and Christian Villanueva.

You can catch the Cubs today at 3:10 central time.  Audio available on

News and Notes:

  • The Cubs send 6 players to minor league camp.  To AAA: Logan Watkins, Trey McNutt, Alberto Cabrera, and Brooks Raley.  To AA: Robert Whitenack.  Nick Struck was just assigned to minor league camp so it's still undetermined where he'll play.  None of these cuts are surprises.  They were destined for the minor leagues and they'll be able to get more reps at the minor league camp.  All 6 players have a shot at seeing Wrigley Field later this season.
  • Bruce Levine writes that the Cubs can't afford to cut Ian Stewart.  Stewart isn't worried about his job, however.  He is participating in all activities except for running and could see playing time this weekend, though he thinks it might be earlier.  I do want the team to keep Stewart until he's fully ready, but its nice to see he's eager to come back and play.
  • Not news, but kinda fun.  The Cubs (looks like James Russell) pranked Javier Baez today.

Today's Lineup:

  1. DeJesus, CF
  2. Barney, 2B
  3. Schierholtz, RF
  4. Soriano, LF
  5. Valbuena, 3B
  6. Castillo, C
  7. Baez, SS
  8. Clevenger, 1B
  9. Samardzija, P


5 Things to Watch For...

  • We said it yesterday but it's no coincidence the Cubs lineup is starting to look more like the one we'll see in Chicago.  The only players missing from the probably opening day lineup today are Starlin Castro (hamstring) and Anthony Rizzo (playing for Italy in the WBC).  With the day off tomorrow, Castro will return on Wednesday.
  • One nice thing about letting Castro rest the hammy is that we get to see a little bit more of Javier Baez before he gets sent down too.
  • Similarly, Rizzo's absence is giving Steve Clevenger a chance to prove he can be versatile.  He'll play 1st base as he vies for that last roster spot.
  • Jeff Samardzija has had a couple of bumpy starts, including getting shelled by in a B league game.  Samardzija and the team said he was working on some specific things (which explains why he's in a B game to begin with), and it is spring -- so no need to worry there.  Just want to see good command from him today.
  • More interesting players to get into the game later.  Brett Jackson is slated for work in LF, Dave Sappelt in CF, and Jorge Soler in RF.  Christian Villanueva will likely get some action at 3B.  More noted for his defense and ability to hit for average, Villanueva has put on some weight and has shown some power (3 HRs) this spring.


Leave a comment
  • fb_avatar

    The only kind-of surprise is that Rusin isn't in that list. It would seem our suspicions are correct, and he's in the running for the last bullpen slot.

    Baez 7. Dale does enjoy moving him all over the lineup, doesn't he?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    He's definitely put himself in prime position for that last spot. I'd like to see him get it.

    I also think Struck's position is in limbo because of Rusin. If Rusin makes the team, Struck goes to AAA, if he doesn't Rusin probably goes to AAA to start and bumps Struck down. Hard luck, but team wants to put the most MLB ready pitchers in line for a call-up.

    I wouldn't take too much stock into Baez's hitting position. He is probably going to just hit wherever they have room. The vets get priority -- which is how it should be.

  • It has been hard for me to see how the FO can cut Stewart as well. It seems too early to give up on him being back to full strength (wrt the wrist). He is a legitimate 3B and can hit with power when he is healthy. I have to believe at this point that he gets a real chance at 3B.

  • In reply to les561:

    I think he makes the team, honestly. Sometimes an FO or manager want to light a fire under a guy. Nothing against Stewart here but I think they wanted to make sure Stewart treated this time off with a sense of urgency and understands the importance of him being prepared to play. Also that he needs to perform this season.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I feel like Stewart's injury has helped his chances to make the team. I think if he were playing more and showed some of the same problems he had last year, then the Cubs would be more inclined to think that his issues were more than just previous injury concerns. Now, they really have to wait and see what they've got, since they're so slim at 3B.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to les561:

    Stewart hasn't hit higher than .201 since 2010 and has earned his reputation for not being a team player. If his name were Milton Bradley we would all be running him out of town. He's a bum who needs to go.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    Comparing Stewart to Milton Bradley is like comparing Obama (or Bush) to Hitler.

    There is absolutely no reason to think that Stewart is a bum.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    I love the Bradley-Hitler comparison though.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    If I said this comparison, certain crowd would knocked me by now.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    You were probably a big Ramirez fan? He put up good numbers when it didn't matter and cashed a lot of big checks, all kinds of bums aren't there. Maybe you liked Derrick Lee during his struggles with his wrist injury? How much did he get paid for those last few years with the cubs when he was barely able to hit? Stewart hasn't performed, yet, but he may surprise people when he gets healthy. In the meantime, he isn't costing the cubs much at all. I'm starting to become a stewart fan just because of the reactions he gets from cubs fans, you know the ones that thought Quade had earned his chance to manage in the bigs and deserved a couple of years to get the right players and on and on. Speaking tof bums the money the cubs wasted on ramirez, who would never help the team win anything, Lee who made millions when he couldn't play at all, and Quade who never should have been in the major leagues, would have paid a player like Stewart for around 60 or 70 years. So who is the real bum?

  • fb_avatar

    The fact that Cabrera got sent out to ML camp tells me they are "committed" to keeping him a starter even though he's had a few bad outings. I like it. Almost positive if the FO still viewed him as a reliever that last BP spot would have been his to lose.

    Coaching staff is going to need a lot of patience with him, people like to compare the Cabrera situation to Samardzija and expect him to make the transition as quickly but need to remember Cabrera is 3yrs younger than Shark, he's way ahead of where Shark was at 25.

    Speaking of Shark. I know he has a fresh arm but at 28 when is the right time to get him locked up? I don't like the idea of handing him a 5-6 yr deal at age 31. Would rather get him on a 5yr now and you have him till 33, right when decline usually sets in and you paid for all his prime years.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Agree here.

    On Samardzija, my take is if he has a good year this year, both sides will have an incentive to sit down next winter and work out a four or five year deal that will make everyone very happy.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Definitely. I think he want to stay a Cub. He has icon potential in Chicago and his arm is fresh. Keeping him might be better than other options when you look at FA for the next few years, nobody with Shark's ceiling.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    that is all right if he is a number 1, but what if he struggles and losed 12 games this year with a 4.2 ERA still want to lock him up. To lock him up right now he is projected as our #1 even though he doesn't project to have number 1 potential. That would not be a smart move

    That would be like the Angels extending Trout has most view him as the #1 player in the game after 1 year

    There is still time to iron this out and Samardj could come back to earth a little or he could light it up. I don't think either is a bad thing.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to waitingOn2015:

    Because W/L and ERA are the end-all-be-all of pitcher performance........ Those are the worst ways to measure how good/bad a pitcher is.

    If he does pitch like a #1 or even a #3 those contract figures I posted would be a bargain. I could see your point if I suggested an ace level contract but I didn't, 11mil AAV is the going rate for #3 starters so Shark could regress a bit and still be worth that much.

    I don't know where your getting this "if he's a #1" talk from but there's no doubt in anyones mind that he has the tools to be a #1 and if he becomes that, again the deal would be a steal. And if he regresses to a #3-4 type then the contract is good market value, still a win. What's not smart about that?

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I think they'll start some dialogue after this season, perhaps even midseason. Samardzija is smart enough to know that if he signs now he's signing low because he has only had one good year. Another good year and his value goes up despite him turning 29. He'll still be in his prime and will have quelled most doubts, so he can negotiate from a position of better strength.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    True. I was thinking a deal similar to what Matt Harrison got is comparable. 5yrs 55mil. Or if he really breaks out,maybe what we were going to give Sanchez(4yrs 60mil). (I don't really like giving pitchers 5yr deals.)

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I think those kind of deals would work out great if he has another good year.

  • The Iowa Cubs should be a solid club. An IF of Vitters, Lake, Watkins and Nelson (should be Bour) with B.Jax and Na in the OF and Clevenger catching. Fortunately, I will be in Texas in Apr/May and hope to catch them in Round Rock.

  • In reply to RayA:

    Agreed Part 1 of Iowa preview coming up tonight. It's already finished but will wait until after game today to publish.

  • John,

    This is kind of off topic. I few weeks ago Theo made a statement about trying to get a secured draft pick for 2014 if the Cubs fall out of it. That has gotten me thinking about the Cubs becoming players in free agency next year. If this is true, who are some of the names that might be targeting for next year? I was thinking perhaps Josh Johnson or maybe Ellsworth.

  • In reply to supercapo:

    I think they're both possibilities. Less so with Ellsbury unless he continues to hit with enough power to play a corner when Almora comes up. Both have to prove they're healthy, of course, but if they do, I can't see why they wouldn't inquire on both of them if they make it to free agency.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    I like a healthy Johnson but IMO we should stay far, far away from Ellsbury.....He can't stay healthy and aside from his MVP-like year he had never shown anywhere near that kind of power so I doubt it's legit. That doesn't make him a bad player but unfortunately teams will likely pay him for that one season, not what he really is.

    Word on the street is he'll be looking for 100mil+ if he does even half of what he did a few years ago based on reputation alone. He'll be 30 after the season.

    Do not want.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Yikes...I don't want Ellsbury for that kind of money.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I have little interest in Josh Johnson. He is the definition of injury prone.

  • 3 Cubs on the fangraphs top 100 prospect list. It's the usual suspects, with Soler ranked 1 ahead of Almora at 50 and 51 respectively. No sign of Bobbie Brownlie, Corey Patterson, Felix Pie or Josh Vitters. I'll follow up with the author.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    What??? And no Luke Hagerty either? This guy doesn't know what he's talking about.

    Side note, seems to like the Rays prospects more than most.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Eddie:

    What about Angel Guzman??? He's gotta be there...

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Eddie:

    Man that's a high ranking for Wacha. Steal of the last draft if he's right. Given that its the Cardinals, he'll probably be a Hall of Famer.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Bite your tongue.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Typical Cardinal hype machine at work. Kid has thrown 21 professional innings, none as a starter. 3 months ago it was Rosenthal, who they now realize is not a starter, and will pitch out of the bullpen. Before that they were blowing up this Martinez kid, he hasn't even reported to spring training, and I hear he weighs all of 160 pounds.

  • It looks like a certain long-haired Cub and another player decided to prank Javy Baez today. Just put up a couple of pictures in new post.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    One of them looks like James Russell.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    That's a guy from the sign company that they hired.

  • I think you're right. Doesn't look like Shark.

  • fb_avatar

    McNutt to AAA pretty kills any chance of him going back to starting in the near future. Not too happy about that but we'll see what they do with him eventually.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I don't think they'll think about it until the offseason anyway.

  • Cubs have first two men on in the first. DeJesus heating up.

  • I wish the media and coaches would pull this crap of, if you don't make a huge deal, or blowup, "you don't care". Ian wants to be out there as much as anyone to be certain.

    I don't think he needs a kick in the ass. The guy is injured. It's tough being injured.

    As for Levine's column, I posted somewhere else, that keeping or cutting Stewart IS significant. He has a roster spot. The Cubs might want that spot for someone else.

    Many trade possibilities can come to light in the next couple of weeks.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    It's hard to know Stewart from afar. I really don't know if he's a hard worker or not -- but it does seem to me that when your team keeps saying he needs to play/he needs to win the job/raving about your backup, etc. it seems to me they're trying to motivate him to work hard to get back on the field. Whether that's necessary or not, I don't know.

    Whatever the case, the Cubs will need Stewart to play well to have a chance at competing, in my opinion. Valbuena is a backup while Stewart has the potential to be more.

  • I said some time ago that it would best interest if the Cubs put Stewart on the DL and let someone else take over third.....the money is not bad, and Stewart could add trade value by July if he comes around.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    He needs to play to add trade value.

  • fb_avatar

    Anyone check out the recent Ask BA section from Jim Callis of He did a projected 2014 top ten prospect list sans people graduating to the majors this year. He has Javy Baez at #3. Nice to see him get some even more love.

  • In reply to Ryan Kalasz:

    I saw that. Will add it to tomorrow's notes.

    Baez just worked a full count before flying out. Good to see.

  • In reply to Ryan Kalasz:

    And there are some who think Soler is better than Baez. Soler must then be #1 or #2. :)

  • Good stuff from today...

    Great defensive play by Villanueva. Baez made a nice one too.
    Sappelt has better speed than I thought
    Soler with heads up baserunning play to take an extra base hit.
    Rondon's developing breaking ball.

  • Hey if anybody is still around, TLC has Undercover Boss on. It's Todd Ricketts undercover. 8:00-9:00 Central time. It's not bad.

  • Hey John and Everyone, I've said this before, but I have to say again: I really like Cubs Den. So many good posts by John, and so many good fans and conversation. Some great people on here!

  • In reply to MikeWadle:

    Amen to that. Did anyone read the posts to Levine's Link that john provided. Just disgusting that a major outlet like ESPN would allow some of this crap!

Leave a comment