At this point I'm still not decided on whether or not Mike Olt should start at third on the Cubs' Opening Day roster. It may be a better long-term move to send him to Iowa. I don't know. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
But I know where Olt wants to be, which is with the Chicago team, and I know his strategy for getting a spot with that club, and that's hit a frickin' bunch of home runs. Olt executed on that strategy once again last night, hitting a bomb to the opposite field a day after being benched to let his shoulder heal up.
Another guy that obviously wants to be in Chicago is Ryan Kalish (YES I GET IT EVERYONE WANTS TO BE A BIG LEAGUER BUT JUST LET ME HAVE THIS ONE WRITING DEVICE PLEASE). Kalish has a slightly different strategy from Olt's; his plan is to get on base a frickin' bunch. Guy has eight hits and five walks in 30 plate appearances, good for a .433 on-base. He smoked a double last night.
I agree with you that, in general, spring stats don't mean a damn. But when I tweeted that generalization out last night, @spncrpatterson astutely argued that spring stats *can* matter -- particularly for guys on the edge of the roster. And I think he's right.
So with Olt and Kalish both hitting pretty well* as of right now, let's go ahead and guess on the 25-man roster, as well as the Opening Day lineups (yes there will be two because this team has a lot of potential platooning going on).
(*Olt's OBP is actually just .273 right now, with 11 K to just 1 BB, but I think he thinks that he doesn't think he can get to the bigs by walking a bunch, and I think that's probably right.)
OK, let's do this; lefties get stars:
C: Castillo, Kottaras*
IF: Rizzo*, Castro, Valbuena*, Barney, Olt, Murphy
OF: Schierholtz*, Lake, Ruggiano, Sweeney*, Kalish*
SP: Samardzija, Wood*, Jackson, Hammel, and I'm gonna go with Rusin* until Arrieta comes back
RP: Veras, Strop, Wright*, Russell*, Villanueva, Rondon, Parker
I think that's actually not a very controversial guess. The only real glaring omission is Emilio Bonifacio, but let me remind you that the "versatile" speedster has a .662 career OPS in the major leagues -- 23 points worse than Donnie Murphy. So you can fret about that if you want but I don't think it's a big deal.
Lineup vs RHP might be:
That is totally made up and based on the comments of no one. Now let's address all the problems you have with it.
If Olt plays third, I think you have to strongly consider putting Valbuena in at second over Barney. Batting Castro second splits up the lefties a bit. And I realize Junior Lake is young and exciting and all that but I don't know if he's THAT exciting.
In reality, the Cubs will probably use a gazillion different lineups to start the year to see who can hit and who can't. So Lake and Barney fans can cool their jets.
Lineup vs LHP might be:
It's probably too much to ask for Olt to bat fourth or fifth, but, like, where else are you going to put him?
OK, I'm done. Please commence with the complaining.
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