Cubs Game Preview and Thread: News on Marmol, Baker, and Garza

Last night was a wash, the Cubs go at it again today against Cleveland for a 2:05 game at HoHo Kam.  The game is on WGN radio and also available through

With that, here's our daily fix of Cubs info..

News and Notes...

  • In news that's really not news, the Cubs have told Carlos Marmol to expect a trade this season.   Frankly, it seems almost impossible that he won't be traded.  As I mentioned before, however, I'm hearing they are no closer to trading Marmol than they were at the deadline this year.  And part of the reason may be that the Cubs are setting Marmol's value as a closer and teams simply don't view him that way.
  • Scott Baker and Matt Garza are on the trail back.  Or so we are told.  Baker was at 89 mph, a few ticks lower than normal but encouraging at this stage as he's got until May to build up arm strength.
  • Manager Dale Sveum was so confident that Anthony Rizzo's Italian team would not win that he offered to give $500 to Rizzo's charity if Italy won one game.  Well, they've won two as they have easily been the surprise of the WBC.  Rizzo's team faces the USA next and it will be on MLB Network and ESPN Deportes at 8 pm tonight.
  • Ian Stewart says he's days away from returning which is a good thing since there are only 3 weeks left in camp. Stewart has been taking swings in the batting cages for the past 5 or 6 days and recently added fielding and throwing to his rehab.  I guess considering this is a quad injury, the biggest test will be running full speed. Gordon Wittenmeyer tweets Stewart could be back in the lineup by Friday.
  • A nice article by Carrie Muskat on Javier Baez which explains pretty well why the 20 year old is in camp -- to give him a taste of big league life.  He has found that it's not quite so easy.  Baez said he faced all different kinds of arm angles and saw only 3 fastballs all day as he went 0-3 in a "B" game against the Rangers.
  • Here's one thing I've really liked seeing lately -- the 22 year old Starlin Castro developing into a leader.  There was some doubt whether he had the kind of personality but there are all kinds of leaders and it appears Baez really looks up to Castro -- and Castro is more than willing to impart what he's learned as a young veteran.

"I asked him if it was easy to be in the big leagues and he said, 'Just don't get comfortable up there,'" Baez said. "You've just got to keep working hard and keep doing what you were doing before you were there."

Today's Lineup...

  1. DeJesus, CF
  2. Baez SS
  3. Castillo C
  4. Schierholtz RF
  5. Hairston DH
  6. Valbuena 3B
  7. Chavez LF
  8. Nelson 1B
  9. Watkins 2B

Starting Pitcher: Chris Rusin

5 Things to Watch for...

  • Javier Baez in the 2nd spot in the lineup.  Will he play the role of a top of the order hitter and look to get on base as much as drive the ball?  We'll see.
  • Chris Rusin gets the start and he's been the best of the lefties who are vying for a spot on the pitchng staff.  The rotation is full, but Rusin should get a look as a potential 2nd lefty out of the bullpen to go with James Russell.
  • Logan Watkins has played well and despite this being his first MLB camp, survived the first cut despite having no realistic shot at making the team.  It's probably not a big deal but it tells me Sveum likes what he sees so far and would like to see more.
  • The same goes for non-roster invitee Johermyn Chavez, who has played very well.
  • Scott Hairston is beginning to heat up at the plate and its a good thing.  The Cubs need a second source of RH power behind Alfonso Soriano.  Of course, that power could come from Starlin Castro or Welington Castillo, but Hairston has shown he can do it at the MLB level already.


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  • Nice to read that most of the rookies, not just the top ones, are
    making an good impression. This is great for next year and in
    future years. Hope Carlos, Garza, and other veterans are
    traded for some good prospects by the end of July.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Nice to get multiple players impressing from the system.

  • Hey John, does that answer your question about Baez today? LOL

    How about trying to hit the ball to the right side to advance the runner and hitting a hr to CF as he attempts? LOL

  • In reply to Caps:

    Haha! That works for me!

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    Did Baez homer in his 1st AB of the day?

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    In reply to Kevin:

    He did, he is a having a really encouraging spring for a 20 year old, about as much as can be expected.

  • In reply to Kevin:


  • Am I the only one a little disappointed that Nick Struck didn't get the start today? I know he pitched and inning yesterday before the rain out, but I wanted to see more of this kid.

  • In reply to SymposiumX:

    I'm a little disappointed too. Maybe he gets an inning in relief but I'd just as soon see him wait a few days and pitch 3-4 innings.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Good point, John. I'm impatient to see him pitch, but if waiting a few days means seeing more innings from him, then so be it.

    Rusin is looking solid so far in his first 2 IP

  • Chisenhall 3B for the Indians...I'd love to see him in Cubbie Blue.

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    In reply to SymposiumX:

    Meh. He's just a left-handed hitting Josh Vitters with slightly better defense at this point. I wouldn't give up anything decent for him.

  • Caught leaning! Nice Pickoff by Rusin.

    Going back to Chsenhall for a moment (OT)...With the Indians picking up some insurance players for the hot corner, it seems like this could be a time to buy low on him.

    Does anyone see a realistic trade scenario between the Cubs and Indians?

  • In reply to SymposiumX:

    Im familiar with some of there prospects, the Injuns are not going to give Chisenhall away. The look at him as similar to Jason Kipnis, there 2b who had a solid offensive year in 2012 in spite of the teams poor performance. Chis is likely to stay there unless he completely flops.

  • Chavez doubles. Nice find so far.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Nice AB by Nelson to at least move the runner to 3rd with a hit to the right side. Watkins K's looking.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Hope he's the starting right fielder in Iowa. Really interested to see what he can do in the first half of the season. If he keeps hitting like this over an extended period, I think they'll find him ABs on the major league team.

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    Any word on Vitters and his quad? Him and Stewart had the same injury yet we keep getting updates on Stewart but nothing on Vitters. Is his injury worse than expected or something?

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I haven't heard a peep about Vitters and his injury. He'll most likely start the season in AAA, I would assume.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Seems that way. I'm wondering even when Vitters gets healthy if he goes straight to minor league camp. Cubs are going to want to see lot of Ian Stewart and it looks like Lake has passed him up on the depth chart.

  • Evers to Tinker to Chance....ooops...Baez to Watkins to Nelson.

  • In reply to SymposiumX:

    Tinker to evers.....blah....saturday my mind is mush.

  • In reply to SymposiumX:

    Haha! We may see 2/3 of that call one day.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm getting more and more excited for Baez. The past few articles have definitely changed the way I view him as a young kid. Good to remember that some things are taken out of context and he is a young kid and trying to mature in baseball and in life.

    If Baez keeps hitting like this, it will be interesting to see what the Cubs do with Castro/Baez. Those two + Vitters sounds like a drooling-at-the-mouth start to an infield.

  • Nice, solid outing by Rusin. 3H 0R 0BB 1K in 3IP of work.

  • In reply to SymposiumX:

    seems standard for Rusin. completely inconsistent, one day looks like a world beater, next day a little leaguer.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Finesse lefties are like that early in their careers. Remember it took Sean Marshall a couple of years to find the needed command and right approach

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    And he's been pretty consistent all spring. 1 run in 8 innings. No walks.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    If Rusin can turn into a Marshall, I'm going to do jumping jacks all the way down Clark and Addison.

  • In reply to SymposiumX:

    Ha! I don't think he'll be that good because he doesn't have that plus pitch like Marshall's curve. But I do see a lot of finesse guys struggle with consistency while they refine command and figure out what works best against MLB hitters.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    True, but that can be said about Shark a few years ago (heck even times last year). Maybe i'm being overly optimistic, but I'm hoping this is the start to Rusin "turning the corner"

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    In reply to mutant beast:

    As Raley is busy disqualifying himself as I type, I think Rusin is looking more and more like the last guy in the bullpen.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I try not too read too much into ST, but so far the chasm between Rusin and Raley is growing quickly.

    It is magnified with the two of them pitching one after the other. Rusin looked sharp, with command, and getting the hitters to do his bidding. Raley has been all over the place, left the ball up, and been tossing BP.

    Raley's line: 1.1IP 4H 3R 1BB 1K Not good.

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    Finally got around to analyzing some video of J. Chavez as early as 2011. Impressive build and power but you can tell why he's had issues making contact. His swing is "loud", too many moving parts in it, especially with his hands during load with multiple wiggles, and the back elbow is all over the place. Placement changes almost pitch-to-pitch. Flails head out to left field before making contact, doesn't stay on the ball long enough.

    All small things but can contribute to contact issues. I wonder if he's made any changes this spring.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    If you have the MLB package, I'm pretty sure he played in that Angels game a week or so ago. The video should be stored online.

  • I just returned from 10days in Mesa. Here are some my observations as a fan, not an expert. Cubs fan attendence is down by a lot. Most speak poorly of new FO and the team. Most common question 'who are these guys'?
    Jackson new swing is inconsistant. Still deep loads on some swings.
    Soler carries himself like a veteran.
    Baez is really a good SS.
    Lake looked good at 3b w/one high throw. Strong arm and quick feet and soft hands.
    Watkins hit the ball hard even when he made outs. Made some great plays on defense.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Thank you for the update and sharing your experience with us. It is a shame that a lot of fans can't envision the big picture that the new FO is trying to create. I get it, Cubs have been dry of a title in over a century, but contention is "relatively" just around the corner.

    I'm jealous of your time down in Mesa, and I hope to be able to make that trip some season soon. Who would you say MOST surprised you?

  • In reply to SymposiumX:

    Baez! He hits and hits hard. He fields. He is fast. He can be patient at the plate when he wants, but swings early and made couple throws with no play. He will be hard to keep down on the farm.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Thanks 44 slug! Appreciate the update and first hand look. A little surprised at fan reaction.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Those speaking ill of the FO seem to have missed the significant improvement in the system's rating noted by so many and well documented here. I suspect they also may be among the age group who drive 12 miles with their turn signal on.

  • In reply to Hubbs16:


  • Nice inning ending Dp induced by Cabrera to keep Raley's line to only 3ER.

  • In reply to SymposiumX:

    Cabrera seems to be really good at getting a groundball when he needs it. Maybe getting focused on keeping the ball down helps.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    That is going to be an important skill not only for Cabrera, but for all the Cubs pitchers at Wrigley.

    I hope they keep Baez and Watkins in the game. I would like to see them hit again, today.

    Time to give Soler and Lake a few swings. -hope-

  • lead-off BB by Cabrera. During ST, nothing pisses me off more than BB.

  • In reply to SymposiumX:

    Ugh. Me too. And, of course, it costs them a run -- could have been more if not for Chavez's sliding catch.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    That makes 3BB by Cabrera. Maybe they have him working on the 'don't get it too close to the plate' routine.

  • In reply to SymposiumX:

    I don't what it is but lately it seems like he starts out well then falls apart in his second or 3rd inning of work.

  • Cabrera's line: 1.1IP 3H 5R 3BB <---most annoyed 0K

    What was that you were saying about keeping the ball down, John?

  • As hopeful as many were for Cabrera, I didn't think he could throw strikes consistently to make the parent club. Looks like he will be in Iowa now and he has a long road back.

    Has a ton of talent but you have to throw strikes. Period.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Agreed. His good stuff isn't going to matter if he doesn't throw strikes. Not sure if it's a confidence thing or what because he wasn't this wild in the minors.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm not sure what conversations they are having with him, but I for one would start with, "this is ST, attack the plate. I don't care if you give up 3HRs just don't walk anyone".

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Very well put. It is like Marmol....he oozes talent and the ability to get batters out, but when he is off, he is really off. ML batters will eventually lay off bad pitches and take the BB.

  • Russell's line: 1.1IP 2H 1R 1BB 1K

  • Fujikawa with a solid inning of work. 0H 0R 0BB 2K

    If he keeps this up, I can easily see him sliding into the CL role once Marmol is traded at the deadline and Camp becoming the primary SU man.

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    Ok guys brace yourselves because i'm about to show post one of the dumbest comments i've ever seen from a Cubs fan(and that's saying alot) This was on none other than

    "OK If Baez and Soler aren't coming up in Sept. nor is Almora, then they should just tell us they are forfeiting 2013 and don't expect us to really play until 2015.

    I was looking for some chance we would see our top prospects playing in Chicago sometime this year."

    Yes....That was a serious comment by a longtime poster. People still think like this????? lol Had to share that one.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Oh don't get me started with that guy. Said something about how bloggers are nothing but people who live in there parent's basements. There information on the Cubs is no better than any of the other 'commenters' on this site. Said another thing about how you can't learn anything about the players in the minors by watching them with the MiLB package.

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    In reply to Furiousjeff:

    Lol and that''s what so great about this site. Do we agree on everything all the time? No. Are some people more informed than others here? Yes. But no one in my time here has spouted such nonsense and was serious. The commenters on this site are top notch and while some may know more than others the "floor" are those who are at least somewhat knowledgeable, willing to learn more, and enthusiastic but realistic as well. That's 100x more than you can say about other blogs.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Marcel, what I love best about this site is that the majority if not all of us have bought into Theo's philosophy of being patient, not rushing guys who aren't ready and unlike Hendry developing the kids and not settling for a mediocre quick fix...This thing is gonna be special when some of these guys make it up and it's nice to be able to talk to guys who don't fly off the handle when someone else overpays for a free agent...I have friends like that who no doubt love the Cubs, but calls Ricketts cheap and says Theo hasn't done shit!! I'm tell him he's gotta be patient and it's not the time to pull a John McDounough /Crane Kenney/Jim Hendry and over pay mediocrity to make a splash..some people just just don't see the big picture and thanks to John and Tom and all you guys I think we're the most knowledgeable Cub fans of the lot

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    In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    Agreed 100%

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Wow! Sounds like that guy lacks a little perspective :)

  • What is Theo thinking!? The Cubs should have signed Fielder last year, Hamilton and Grienke this year, traded away the entire farm for Stanton, and the Cubs would have won the World Series! Grrr...I'm so mad!

    THAT is a typical post from those "fans" who lack perspective or the understanding of how to properly build a MLB Organization from the Farm up to the Parent club.

  • In reply to SymposiumX:

    I think to us guys/gals here, it's about common sense. How does that old saying go? "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results"...something like that. What we've seen in the past is akin to the "stimulus package". It slows the bleeding, but the patient still dies - treat the symptoms while ignoring the cure. Common sense is not that common.

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    In reply to SymposiumX:

    The worst part is....I've seen people actually say this stuff constantly and then rage when you throw some perspective their way. It's insane.

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