Cubs Notes: Kane County rotation and injury updates, a college hitter for the MLB Draft, and can the Cubs be .500?

Cubs Notes: Kane County rotation and injury updates, a college hitter for the MLB Draft, and can the Cubs be .500?
Paul Blackburn

Yesterday I wrote about the possibility of the Cubs finishing .500 and that it would bring a smile to my face -- because to me it would mean the core of young players took a big step forward.  I just don't see how the Cubs can even sniff .500 if they don't a lot of production from players such as Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, Mike Olt, Wellington Castillo, and Jeff Samardzija,

And while the idea of the Cubs finishing .500 may seem outlandish to some, at least one other writer believes they can and it's one of the brightest analysts in the game today: Dave Cameron from Fangraphs.  Cameron believes it's the prospects who could make a difference this year,

Given early enough call-ups, I could see some combination of prospects adding three to five wins to the Cubs total this year, and I don’t think a .500 season is completely out of the question.

I agree.  I don't know if this team is good enough to be .500 on their own, but they may be good enough to move in that direction this year and the prospects call-ups could give them that added boost they need to reach that level.

Kane County: The Rotation, the Defense, and Injury Updates

Last year was the first season since college (I was in Peoria and went to plenty of Chiefs games back then) in which I attended more games from another team than I did the Cubs.  That team was the Kane County Cougars.

That is not going to change this season.

Whereas last year we all salivated at the lineup, this year it's going to be the rotation.  The Cubs two best lower level pitching prospects, Jen Ho Tseng and Paul Blackburn, highlight a rotation of promising young arms that also includes Tyler Skulina, who was identified as a sleeper by more than one scout with whom I spoke, Daury Torrez, who has been very productive and has #3 starter type stuff, and Juan Carlos Paniagua.

You don't often see a Class A rotation with 5 legitimate pitching prospects -- but that's not even the whole story.  There is also Duane Underwood (forearm) and Dillon Maples (broken rib) who will start the season rehabbing at extended spring training in Arizona.  Maples injury is the more serious one and will keep him out 6 to 8 weeks.  So by the time Skulina and others are ready for a promotion to Daytona, the Cubs will be able to replace them with a couple more good pitching prospects.  They are simply loaded on the mound.

They'll get help on defense where the outfield will include Yasiel Balaguert, Trey Martin, Shawon Dunston, Jr., and Jacob Hanneman.  In particular, on the days when Dunston, Martin, and Hanneman are starting, pitchers can be pretty sure that anything that can be run down, will be run down.

But it's not just the OF, the Cougars had a nice DP combo last year in Marco Hernandez and Gioskar Amaya but this year's may be even better.  Carlos Penalver is the new SS and he may have better range than Hernandez while the fundamentally sound and athletically underrated Daniel Lockhart will likely man 2B.

MLB Draft

We've pretty much focused on the pitching in this draft and rightfully so.  Carlos Rodon, Jeff Hoffman, Tyler Beede, Tyler Kolek, and Brady Aiken make an interesting quintet and make it likely that this year, the BPA will be a pitcher.

Alex Jackson has received some early buzz with his reported good start to the season and we know the Cubs will gamble on a high school bat with long track records, as we saw with Almora.  But we also know they prefer college bats, all other things being equal.  Up to now, we've pretty much ruled that out in what has been a relatively weak crop of college hitters.  One hitter, however, could change that line of thinking.

His name is Bradley Zimmer and he has already been drafted by the Cubs in their last Pre-Theo draft.  That was 2011 and the Cubs selected Bradley in the 23rd round but did not sign him.  He is the brother of Royals pitching prospect Kyle Zimmer, whom the Cubs scouted extensively prior to the 2012 draft.  Like his brother, Bradley is very athletic.  The younger Zimmer is playing CF this season for the University of San Francisco, though some doubt he can play the position at the MLB level -- and probably fewer still believe he could play it better than current Cubs prospect Albert Almora, so if the Cubs were to select Zimmer, they'd have to believe his bat can carry a corner OF position.

So far he's showing that he may just be able to do that.  He's hitting .430/.492/.701 with 6 HRs and 11 SBs.  He's more of a solid across the board player than Kris Bryant, who had a standout tool in terms of power.  Here is what one NL Central scout said about Zimmer (ESPN Insider Only),

"[Zimmer] is the one true five-tool player in this class," an NL Central scout said. "He's not going to hit for massive power numbers, steal 40 bases and hit .330, but I think he's going to provide above-average numbers everywhere. My only question is at 6-foot-5, is he going to be able to stay in center field. The bat plays wherever he ends up, though."

Also of particular interest to Cubs fans is that Zimmer bats left-handed, which, like pitching, is an area in the system that the Cubs would like to address.  I wouldn't say he's a top 5 player now, but he's almost certain to get consideration in the top 10.  But he's a player to watch, especially considering that the Cubs previous two picks, Albert Almora and Kris Bryant also rose into top 5 consideration relatively late in the draft process.

Other Notes

  • If you're looking for the next installment in our Top 35 Prospect Countdown, it's been pushed back a day.  The opening of the baseball season has us all scrambling to find time.
  • A pretty cool note:  Cubs Den was among the Twitter selections on CBS Sportsline for the Cubs opener.  Hopefully I'll be on there again tonight.
  • Our stuff about Francisco Liriano's dominance vs. the best LH hitters in the NL was mentioned by David Kaplan on Chicago Sports Live.  Thanks for the shout out Kap!

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  • Can the Cubs be .500? Yes, they need to win today.

    Sorry, to go micro on your macro, John. Just couldn't resist putting it out there.

    You have put together some very good articles over the last 24 hours. I am starting to think that a break in the meaningful (Cubs) baseball action improves your writing skills.

  • In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    LOL!

    Thanks...maybe the day-off has given me a second wind! I also think I'm getting used to my new puppy-induced schedule. I used to write stuff late at night but the puppy gets up early and I can't do that anymore. Now I fall asleep earlier, get up earlier, and then get time to write when she falls asleep again soon after waking me up. Took me a while to get used to the change in routine!

  • Thanks for the recap on things going on at Kane John.

    And to answer that elusive question,..... Can the 2014 Cubs be a 0.500 team,....

    Sure - they can. But it doesn't seem likely. Unlikely does not mean it couldn't happen though. And I like surprises - good ones anyway.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Agreed. I think it's unlikely but I do think it's more likely than many think.

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    It would be fun watching Mayo and Callis if the Cubs take Zimmer with guys like Hoffman and Beede still on the board. I think heads may just explode.

    Have you heard anything on Nick Gordon? I read a few weeks ago the Cubs are scouting him and he also strikes me as a Theo/Jed type pick.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Nobody predicted the Bryant pick last year... we all assumed it would be Gray.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I think they were more stunned than we were, though. We had Kevin banging the Bryant drum for months and the morning of the draft I had a pretty good sense that the list went (1) Appel (2) Bryant. (Talk about lucking out.)

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    IDK where you got that sense because John & Kevin both thought they were going Appel, Gray, Bryant...

    Kevin was on record as having Bryant #1 on his board, but he also said he thought they would select Appel/Gray.

    But more to my point, none of the draft guru's called it. Everyone thought they were going Appel/Gray.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Nobody in the ranks, but iirc, Kevin Gallo did here.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Oops, should've read Mike's reply.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    At least we know the comments here at Cubs Den will remain calm and trusting in Theo if the Cubs take a bat with their first pick.

    Oh wait.....

  • In reply to Richard Beckman:

    Haha! I think there would be an uproar. For me, I still think they'll take a pitcher but Zimmer is an interesting name to throw in the mix.

  • I am still kicking myself for not taking my Dad to a KCC game last year. This year, I have to make it out there. This could be exciting yet again but for much different reasons. PITCHING!! As a former catcher, I like the thought of a quality staff working their way up the system.

  • In reply to Gator:

    I definitely recommend it. And a couple of interesting catchers to watch in Will Remillard and Ben Carhart.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Any insight as to how Carhart is progressing behind the plate?

  • In reply to Matt McNear:

    From all accounts he has taken to it extremely well. Has the perfect makeup for it. I think the bat plays better there too.

  • Everything being equal, it is not, I would still take a hitter over a
    pitcher. Lets hope our young pitcher develop as we hope the do

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Agreed. Hitters are generally the safer bet but not sure we can be sure of that this year.

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    Unfortunately the cubs have made it very easy for a sportswriter who doesn't want to do too much work, to simply follow the prevailing paradigm that the cubs stink, always have, always will. Bernstein read a power ranking from some guy (?sheehy?) who ranked the cubs the worst team in mlb, behind Miami, Houston, Minnesota, CWS, etc. it may be the lazy man's view, but given the results on the field so far it's also hard to argue against it.

  • For those that haven't seen this yet, ESPN just did a nice full feature story on the rebuild:

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/10622213/theo-epstein-plans-rebuild-chicago-cubs-blueprint-boston-espn-magazine

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Great article. Thanks Hoosier

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    NP, I'm wondering how long before we get a Cubs Den version of the "neuro-scouting" proprietary video-games used to gauge hand-eye coordination and pitch recognition skills.

  • The thing about our roster this year, is there is a lot of upside there. Improvements from our core guys, we've upgraded the other pieces with additions like Bonifacio, Kalish, etc... Then add in the prospects arriving... Lots of ways we "could" surprise. In fact, one could argue Theo & Co built this current MLB roster with surprising and flexibility in mind. I's still like to see them execute the fundamentals better, but there's plenty of time.

    It's hard to look at the TEN & KC rotations and not get excited.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I think they are more hopeful than they'll let on about this season but no doubt it is going to take a lot of things breaking their way.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Of course they are! But they are also realists. They know not everything will break the right way for us. But some of them will and there will be unforeseen setbacks. But the depth and having so many "things" that could surprise increases our odds of surprising if that makes any sense... lol

  • I'm a little discouraged after the first game, but I'm trying not. Many promising things even though the team was shutout.

  • I looked up a couple Bleacher Nation Mock Drafts from January 2012 and 2013. - in parentheses is where they actually went.
    2013
    1.Ryne Stanek (29)
    2.Sean Manaea (34)
    3.Austin Meadows (9)
    4.Chris Rivera (7th round)
    5.Mark Appel (1)
    6.Clint Frazier (5)
    7.Jonathan Crawford (20)
    8.Trey Ball (7)
    9.Kris Bryant (2)
    10.J.P Crawford (16)
    11.Colin Moran (6)
    12.Austin Wilson (2nd round)
    13.Robert Kaminsky (28)
    14.Kohl Stewart (4)
    15.Jordan Sheffield (13th round)
    *Jonathan Gray doesn’t even show up in the first round,
    2012
    1. Mark Appel (1)
    2. Deven Marrero (24)
    3. Byron Buxton (2)
    4. Victor Roache (28)
    5. Lucas Giolito (16)
    6. Walker Weickel (55)
    7. Gavin Cecchini (12)
    8. David Dahl (10)
    9. Mike Zunino (3)
    10. Chris Beck (2nd round)
    11. Kevin Gausman (4)
    12. Matt Smoral (50)
    13. Michael Wacha (19)
    14. Jake Barrett (3rd round)
    15. Lance McCullers (41)
    *Carlos Correa was predicted to go 25th, Albert Almora 17th, Max Fried 20,

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    John,

    I would've thought Scott Frazier would also be in the Kane County rotation. Is he going full time to the bullpen?

  • In reply to Chris Trengove:

    It appears that way for now.

  • In reply to Chris Trengove:

    All the reports I have seen is that his stuff is awesome but his control and command are pretty terrible. Can't be a starter until you can find the strike zone. My guess is if he can find some consistency in the pen, they would revisit making him a starter down the road. He is definitely one of the many pitchers on the KC staff that I am looking forward to watching this year.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Yes, he has good stuff. Delivery tough to repeat, especially for a guy his size. If it ever clicks, he could be frightening.

  • I saw your twitter feed on CBS monday. Congrats and well done! ( I had the game open on one window and CBS gamecast on the other.)

  • In reply to Oneear:

    Thanks. I didn't know about it until afterward.

  • Got the draft on my brain today for some reason
    Of the top twenty prospects according to BA, here’s where they were drafted and the year (didn’t look up years for International signings):
    1. Byron Buxton ( 2012 –2nd)
    2. Xander Bogaerts (amateur free agent)
    3. Oscar Taveras (Amateur Free agent)
    4. Masahiro Tanaka (Amateur Free agent)
    5. Javier Baez (2011 - 9th)
    6. Miguel Sano (Amateur Free agent)
    7. Carlos Correa (2012 - 1)
    8. Kris Bryant (2013 - 2)
    9. Archie Bradley (2012 - 7th)
    10. Gregory Polanco (International)
    11. Taijuan Walker - (2010 – 43)
    12. Jonathan Gray (2013 – 3)
    13. Francisco Lindor (2011 – 8)
    14. Addison Russel (2012 – 11)
    15. Dylan Bundy (2011 – 4)
    16. Noah Syndergaard (2010 – 38)
    17. Maikel Franko (Amateur Free Agent)
    18. George Springer (2011 – 11)
    19. Robert Stephenson (2011 – 27)
    20. Kevin Gausman (2012 – 4)

    It really backs up John's point about success rates in the top of the draft. We would love to find a diamond in the rough in the 2nd or third round but the reality is that we have to hit at the top of the draft. Players without proven track records that have one great year aren't going to be high on the Cub's board. I don't think they will miss on the pick. Unless injuries derail the prospect, I fully expect them to pick someone who will be a major contributor to the major league squad some day. I just hope this is the last year. I don't want another high pick. I'm ready to get a taste of some of the fruit they've been growing on the prospect tree.

  • In reply to Break The Curse:

    I'm not sure what the difference is between international and amateur free agent signings, but according to this, we have the 2nd and 4th ranked DRAFTED prospects. I'd guess that Almora comes within the top 20 of that group. That's very nice.

  • In reply to HackWilson09:

    John, can you expand on this (or someone else)? Is there a difference. I think the site I was on listed them all as amateur so I went with that (except one where I see I put International). As far as Almora and Edwards, they do fall right around 20 on the draft list. I can only assume they'll be in the top 20 next year along with our next pick.

  • In reply to Break The Curse:

    Whether they have played as an amateur or professionally in countries outside of the US, they fall under the new CBA's IFA signing restrictions. It's really not that confusing, not sure where you got the Amateur classification from. But as an example, of the ones you have listed, all but Tanaka were teenage IFA's when originally signed.

    Older IFA's, i.e. the CWS signing of Jose Abreu do not fall under the spending limitations of the new CBA.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Thanks Hoosier. On Baseball reference, they use the amateur term. I thought I got it until Hack's comments. Appreciate the refresher.

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    I would love to see the Cubs progress to the .500 mark.

  • John,

    I am one of those who loves the Cubs(for 67 years), BUT, not very optimistic for this year. And yesterdays game just adds to the pessimism. We haven't had a true leadoff guy for how long, we get one, with speed, gets on base what, 4x, and we still can't score a run. A run, by the way, which would have won the game.

    We are a very weak hitting club, with suspect pitching. No Ace to put a stop to bad streaks, and a rookie manager(still, I believe, gonna be better than Sveum).

    Yesterday you wrote a strong, optimistic paragraph including the 'IF' that if Rizzo and Olt combine for 60 home runs. John, John, I love ya, but, man I think you Overdosed on the CubKoolaid when you wrote that one. That, my friend,is the pinnacle of Hope. God Bless Ya.

  • In reply to rakmessiah:

    I would agree with you here, but I don't think 50 is that much of a stretch. I figure Olt should hit around 20 and if Rizzo goes back to his 2012 homers per plate appearance number (1 per 24.5), he'll hit 28 homers. For 60, he'll probably have to hit 35 though as I would guess Olt's ceiling (at least this year) to be 25.

  • In reply to rakmessiah:

    Honest post.

  • The Kane County Opening Series will be televised on MiLBTV, in case someone is interested.

    And congratulations John, you have come a long way and everyday Cubs Den is being recognized more and more by the experts and the media, good jobn

  • In regards to the Cubs being .500 this year, I think we'll have a good idea by May 15 if that's possible. If they only win 10 games by the end of April it's going to be tough, and once we're 10 games out of first I'm expecting a full-scale sell-off. I saw the Cameron article and agree the Cubs could be a better team in the 2nd half, but getting to .500 would be quite an accomplishment.

    This draft is really going to be interesting with some of the top pitchers not performing well at this point. Right now I have no clue who the Cubs might take... last year they scouted six players for that first round pick and I could see them looking at least twice as many this year.

  • So we get the new improved Charlie Morton tonight.
    Given his splits, vs. RHH: 251/.316/.345 and vs. LHH: .327/.410/.497
    I'd expect Renteria to go with a LHH dominated line-up. But reportedly he now has a 3rd pitch, a Splitter that has looked Roy Halladay'esque in ST...

    Any Bold predictions on our scoring/hitting woes?

    Am I being bold by predicting us with 7 hits and 3 ER's in 6 IP?

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Good call on the lineup here it is. Bonifacio 2B, Valbuena 3B, Castro SS, Rizzo 1B, Schierholtz RF, Sweeney CF, Castillo C, Kalish LF, Jackson P

  • In reply to Sean Holland:

    Wow. Ricky could be platoon-crazy.

    I wouldn't get too carried away - once guys like Olt and Lake start proving themselves, they're likely to take on full-time roles. If they don't prove they deserve it, then it is what it is.

    Happiest of all to see Barney sitting against righties, and sadly, I hope that continues for most of the season.

  • In reply to HackWilson09:

    How can guys prove themselves with out regular starting roles. Its hard to play every 3rd day and veterans can handle it typically better than young guys trying to break in . Thing is everyone knows LV is a super utility guy same as Sweeney, Kalish, Olt, Lake need to play most everyday this year .

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Its early in the season. Every manager will get every player on the team a start within the first few games. You don't want Sweeney, Valbuena, Baker to go the first week without a start. After the first week, we should see them settle into a normal pattern for playing time.

  • In reply to HackWilson09:

    It may not be Ricky. Jed is on record suggesting how the Cubs (the FO) want to improve the day-to-day matchups to more consistently take advantage of favorable hitting splits over these same metrics from last year (basically meaning that they want more platoons).

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    You're probably close to what I would guess Hoosier. 3 ER off the starter in 6 or 7 innings work.

  • No Olt or Lake in lineup tonight , Why is RR going to give playing time to players who are utility guys and not keep Olt/Lake on the field to get at bats to see if they are core pieces . I get playing the L/R things but the main thing this year is to get the young potential impact talent on the field, not impressed 1 bit. Has Valbuena at 3rd batting 2nd and Kalish in the 8 hole . Swweney / Nate other Ofs. Pukey line up

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Its about getting every player on the team a chance at 4 at bats and hopefully get their first hit and get off to a good start. Nothing to worry about yet. You don't want bench guys still looking for their first hit 2 weeks into the season because the manager hs only given them 5 pinch hit apearances.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I could care less how long it takes Sweeney, Valbuena ect to get their 1st hit, we have been force fed a nessesary rebuild for 3 years and after an off day to see this abortion lineup with Olt, Lake on the bench is just as I said pukey. ,Valbuena would be in an independent league by now if he hadn't had the great fortune of being picked up by a terrible Cubs team, but He is starting over Olt who by the way still needs his 1st hit and really needs to get off to a good start. If Ricky plans to be platton happy then He was the wrong hire, and Olt should be in Iowa like Jswick said so He doesn't get ruined by Dusty lite .

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    You can care less because you don't have to look them in the eye. The actual manager of a team has to worry about stuff like that.

    Will i be upset if Olt is playing in a strict platoon? Absolutely. Do I care that they give Valbuena one start the first week of the season against a tough righty. No. Especially since Olt might need a couple of days off the first week or two to make sure his shoulder is healthy.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    just off an off day and if his shoulder is that bad he should be on DL right now to not risk him long term , he could be in Arizona getting at bats . or in Iowa DH , lots of options better than watching role players from the bench .

  • In reply to mjvz:

    funny I have no problem looking any person in the eye and telling them something they may not want to hear, guess that comes from leading a platoon of grunts and if Ricky is that much of a pu##y he is in the wrong position, any position of leadership comes with that aspect, it also comes with the aspect of being honest with everyone under you . That's how you get people to trust and follow you not blowing sunshine or coddling them .

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    First of all let me say that in my opinion Luis Valbuena and Ryan Sweeney should not get more than 20 starts during the season assuming the guys in front of them stay healthy. But do I have a problem with giving them one of those 20 starts in the first couple of games of the season? Absolutely not.

    Putting people into a position to succeed is also a part of being a leader. Its nice to say that there are only 5-10 guys on this team that matter, but it isn't true. Everyone in that clubhouse wants to win. And everyone wants to make money. Telling Ryan Sweeney that he is never goign to get a start and is only going to get 50 at bats all year and that they are going to be against the opposition's closer more often than not is going to cause problems. You are basically telling him that he is going to have a crappy year and that you are going to be ruining his future earnings potential. Good luck with that approach.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Sweeney just turned 29. It's possible that he is also auditioning for a larger role going forward. This FO thought enough of his play last year to bring him back on a 2yr deal. Of course, they had no way of knowing that Kalish would be available, but it's possible this FO likes him as a piece of the 25 man roster for the next few years. He's still in his prime for the next few years so...

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    It's day 2, let's not overanalyze every decision. Valbuena had the 27th OPS for 3rd baseman. He's a utility infielder, and would be on a lot of teams. Olt will get the lion share of starts. What's most important, especially in the cold months, is that he's healthy. Results will come in time. Relax a bit. Plus, I think Lake is a future utility player, so I would prefer he platoon and get used to it. If he proves he is an everyday player, so be it. I'm not ready to buy into that after 1/2 a season. He's raw and can learn from the bench if he sits 1/3 of the games.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I think that is a great point MJVZ....Renteria might end up being platoon-happy, but this game isn't proof of it.

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Because this is the big leagues, and the manager is trying to win ball games. Probably would like to keep his job.

  • Olt , Lake and any other player the FO thinks could be an impact player getting starting playing time and showing improvement will make Rickys job a lot safer than him not playing the kids , keeping them question marks ands winning 3 extra games this year, hell we might as well have Dusty on the pine again . Sorry not after 3 years of watching theLuis Valbuena's of the world .

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    In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Lake I understand because he's so raw. But if Olt isn't in the lineup Friday against the righty I am not going to be happy.

  • I know it is only the 2nd game, but I really hope its not going to be a pattern with Olt already sitting against the righty. If they plan on platooning him and Valbuena, I think it is pointless to have him in the majors.

  • if that is Rickys plan I want him fired on the spot, that does nothing to build core impact player platooning them .

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    If that is his plan then it had to come out in during the interviews and Theo's ok with it. If not then I think that he could simply want everyone to get their feet wet sooner than later.

    Besides, this early in the season hardly nobody pitches a full game and RR's assured himself of having a strong bench for the pitching change that's sure to come.

  • Not really going to be a .500 team, especially based on the core if Lake and Olt get the short end of a platoon... I also don't like Castro hitting 3rd after coming off his worst season in his career... And after Castro said he liked leading off and RR said he was going to try Castro there, he's actually hitting him 3rd, where he has his worst career numbers, based on lineup spot... At least hit him 2nd, but I don't know when Valbuena became a better hitter than Castro or even a speedy runner... Follow that with 3 straight left handed hitters that are weak vs a LOOGY in Rizzo, Schieroltz and Sweeney... Then Castillo...

    I wonder if Castillo will start tomorrow's game again, you know, day game after night game or if RR will go with Baker vs LHP Wandy Rodriguez?

    I'm not sure, but this looks like a ST lineup.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Oh a second thought and I feel silly for jumping the gun... This might be a case of getting as many left handed hitters in the lineup as possible... LHH have hit at a .327/.410/.496 clip vs Morton, while RHH have hit at a .251/.316/.345 clip... Not just the BA and the OBP but the power numbers are completely superior when it comes to left handed hitters... I think I'm good if that is the thinking behind this lineup... I still would've had Baker in today, to keep Castillo fresh for tomorrow's game vs Wandy.

  • In reply to Caps:

    I get it so short term success using guys like Valbuena/ Sweeney trumps the player developement of potential long term impact core pieces . Lets try to be semi competitive at the expense of development by playing utility scrubs because of what side of the plate they stand . PS Rizzo still cant hit lefties but is getting every chance under the sun to stay out there every day. Consistency would be nice .

  • In reply to Caps:

    why the Loogy ref? Morton is a RHP...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I made the LOOGY ref because in the later innings, the Pirates can bring a LOOGY and completely shut down that part of the lineup, but I really did jump the gun there with my judgement.

  • sorry just disgusted seeing a guy the Cubs tried to get for 2 years , battled thru the eye issues , had a great spring and He is going to get platooned with Luis freakin Valbuena , I mean really that is the epitomy of stupidity or nonsense , take your choice .Memo to RR wins take backseat to player development . Your genious lineups or in game strategy displays can be exhibited once the team has established core pieces.

  • Guys, nobody wants to see potential core pieces sit or platooned with "role players" like Valbuena, etc... But the reality is, Olt's shoulder may not yet be 100% and we need him to play a day game tomorrow so it makes sense to play the match-up on a evening with temps in the 50's.

    IDK about sitting Lake... and I think I would have played Baker and saved Beef for tomorrow. But just like Rizzo on opening day, every little thing can be second guessed.

  • ok done griping about something I have no power to change , but after 3 years of patience it will get real hard to support this if it becomes a platoon environment .

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Bryan, if there is any consolation, consider that in a few years our platoon guys could be starters on other teams.

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    It has been two games. There is absolutely zero basis for calling this a "platoon" until at least 50 games in. You're jumping the gun big time. If in 50 games, the splits are pretty even, then your arguments are relevant. But 50 games from now, when Olt has played 40 to Valbuena's 10 (at third, not counting the days he'll play second), then I would say you have a base for your argument. You're extrapolating this to a full season after two days, man. Give it a few weeks.

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Your concerns are valid. It's just too early. Not enough data to know what Renteria intends.

  • For everyone lamenting the offense on day 1, the Tigers (one of the biggest offensive juggernauts) got no hit through 6 by Aaron Harang and scored 2 runs on him and their pen in 10 today, so there's your significance of one game. None.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Wasn't that the Brewers?

  • In reply to Caps:

    Oops, yes. The tigers didn't face Harang, they faced Vargas. But were totally shut down, which was the point. If the Cubs play the game the Tigers did today we would be over-analyzing on day 2, instead of giving things time to develop.

  • I'm looking for E-Jax to get out of the blocks on a positive note. Historically, he has done pretty well vs PIT and has dominated their line-up, except for Marte (.909 OPS) & McCutcheon (1.278 OPS). Those two have killed E-Jax. He has to know this and just can't let those two beat him. In 15 AB's, Alvarez is only OPS'ing .467 vs E-Jax!

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I really think he will be locked in this year. But I'm not so sure about him vs the pirates, he had an ERA well above 5 in his 4 starts vs them last season.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    #1, don't look at the ERA. It's misleading.

    #2, he went 2-2 vs PIT last year (He's 5-2 vs PIT for his career) but as a Cub, he's 2-2. In those 4 starts, he gave up 8 runs, all of them ER's. But only once gave up more than 2 ER's. So even with his 3.0 IP 4ER loss on 5/23, he's been fairly consistent against them.

    But back out Marte's & McCutcheon's production against him and you'll see, other than those two; he's been pretty solid against them.

    4/3 (1st start of the year) he went 5.0 IP (92 pitches) and gave up 2-ER (Both produce by M&M). Cubs Lose 3-0

    5/23 (terrible outing) 3.0 IP, 4 ER (Marte 2/3 with 2 runs scored, McCutch 3/4 with 2 RBI's, and 1 run scored) Cubs lose 4-2

    6/9 = 7.0 IP, 1 ER (McCutcheon 2/3 with 1 run scored) Cubs WIN 4-1

    7/6 = 5.2 IP, 1 ER (Marte 2/4 and McCutch 1/3 - he gave up a solo HR to Alvarez, 1 of his 2 careers hits [BA .133 vs E-Jax]) Cubs WIN 4-1.

    So you can kinda see how one bad outing really skews his ERA. Like I said, if he limits the damage that those two do, we should win. Of course, that's a recipe to beat PIT by everyone and it's easier said than done, but...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Touche. Can't argue that. I certainly hope you're right and he has a good plan of attack for those two tonight.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    We're about to find out... lol

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    In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Are you off in school or still around town? I'm usually at the place behind the road ranger around 5:00 on wednesdays eating wings. I'm the 46 yr old guy sweating buckets. Not because I'm chubby, but because they make my wings "off the menu" hot.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    I'm in school, but I'm done with exams the last weekend in April, so I'll be home for a couple weeks then. Maybe I'll stop by and catch a game.

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    In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Cool. Looking forward to meeting you. I usually duck out of work a little early and stop on the way home. If you think someone might be me, just ask the bartender. They all know me.

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    In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Oh, and one tip. I'm usually drinking a coke. I don't drink too often.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Sounds good.

  • its a copy cat league. the A's showed how well platoons work. smart teams have followed

  • I don't know, but i imagine, that if Renteria is going to have any degree of success with this roster, he will have to get a feel for how to mix and match. This isn't the '27' Yankees.

  • Considering how much Morton struggles against LH hitters, I'm all for the platoon here. Olt and Lake will get their ABs and if the Cubs were overly concerned about their development at this stage, they would have kept them at Iowa. I think sometimes good matchups helps players break in to the bigs easier and you gradually increase their workload. Would also say that Olt had a sore shoulder all spring...they may not want him at 3B everyday right off the bat.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree... At first I was upset and then I looked at Morton's splits and it clicked... The only thing I would've made different was to send Baker out there and keep Castillo fresh to face Wandy tomorrow.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm curious to see his new Splitter. He hasn't been much of a swing & miss guy previously. There's been some chatter amongst some of my PIT friends that it's filthy and taht he has looked solid in ST when he's used it....

  • John, what's your thoughts on Mike Papi? Do you think he's a sleeper on the rise in the draft?

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    Caught the end of an interview on Waddle and "Silvy"
    theres some national report on the Cubs tonight I believe
    from Arman Kitane (sp)?

    anyone catch it or hear anything about it - including theo interviews
    I guess.

  • In reply to deport soriano com:

    I listened to an interview of Armen Keteyian on the Kap and Haugh show today. Not sure if it's what you are talking about specifically, but he goes into some pretty good detail about the Ricketts ownership.

  • Any idea where Reggie Golden is these days? I haven't seen mention of him this spring.

  • In reply to Eldrad:

    Golden was waived and then released when nobody claimed him.

  • he gone !!!

  • So far Bonifacio is an easier out at 1B than he is at home plate.... lol

  • It's a good think the Cubs did not win yesterday. Clearly, such an event would have everyone clearing their October calender so as to attend the Series at Wrigley.

  • Anyone given any thought to base running errors being a little on the rookie first base coach who just finished playing and hasn't focused on stealing bags for much of his career? I'm not defending Bonifacio because he absolutely should be able to handle himself on the basepaths, but I don't exactly think we have a baserunning guru over there at first...

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Yes, I thought the same thing. I'm sure it didn't help.

  • Is it okay to be more excited about the start of the minor league season tomorrow than I am about the Cubs. Still watching the game, though...

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I think a good chunk of us are...

  • Almost another disaster bunt

  • How to get Boni out - either put him on base, or put an RISP.

  • The offense looks pathetic. Plus it still looks like the same old starlin.

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    Grimm looks plain filthy.

    The good old eye test tells me he should have at least been given a fair chance to start. I've no idea why he was instantly passed up by guys like Rusin and McDonald. I see a mid-rotation guy there.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    All the pitching has this series. Take away that hanging CU from Villanueva and some sloppy defense in the 2nd inning and they'd be shut-out in 21+ innings so far...

  • Woohoo! The Cubs score the first run of the year, and Bonifacio managed to stay on base long enough to get moved along...that's progress.

  • I've got to think that Rizzo getting plunked woke up the Cubs a little bit. Nice job by Lake, Bonifacio, and Valbuena to tie it up.

  • In reply to Henry Loose:

    It may have wakened the cubs, but did it awaken Rizzo?

  • In reply to pricewriter:

    It did now.

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    In reply to pricewriter:

    Looks like it did!

  • Now, is anyone still pi**ing and moaning about Valbuena getting a start on the second day of the season?

  • I'd still do something about the batting order. Put Castro either 2ndor 5th and slide Rizzo to 7th.

  • veras always makes it interesting... #panicattack

  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    Marmol Flashbacks... #BadCarlos = #BadJose

  • :(

  • Renteria is sure getting a baptism by fire.

  • I thought the Cubs traded Marmol?! #soconfused

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    Veras is not a closer. We knew a few pitches in when marmol didn't have it - same way, it was obvious when Veras had labored through 20+ pitches and hit a batter, he needed to come out.

  • #facepalm

  • following up veras by wright is adding insult to injury

    these two clons will compete for the most blown leads throughout the region and are contenders for the title of worst off-season signing...

    "new and improved bullpen"...yeah right....

  • In reply to Csanad:

    *clowns*

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    In reply to Csanad:

    Within weeks Veras will not be the closer and wright will be used only in blowouts.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    hope you are right

  • THATS RIGHT! LETS GO! LETS WIN THIS B*!$H!

  • I'm a fearless man, but I'm scared to death of you #TheWrightStuff

  • The good ole 7-2-3 double-play

  • The 'ol 7-2-3, hey hey!!

  • The stache again. I'm calling Fuji to the 60 day and Rusin up to pitch Sunday.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    That makes sense. I'll 2nd that.

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    2 games two L's for Villanueva. He's on pace to go 0-162. That was a frustrating game. Typical from last year, hung around but can't close out.

  • At least the Cub losses this season haven't been too hard to stomach so far.

    *puking*

  • A rare game I got to see on TV. Watched with my gal. I told her on the break that Schlitter was throwing well and I'd leave him in for another inning, but that it would be standard to bring in the closer because nobody thinks like me. Stats and match-ups are great but they don't tell you how a guy is throwing that day. Glad to see nearly the entire roster. Veras' curve to McCutchen on 3-2 after he couldn't find the plate all inning with anything but the fastball was amazing, Andrew himself was grinning broadly after striking out. Oddly encouraged after a tough loss. This is a strong bullpen.

  • tough loss. keep fightin guys!

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