The acquisition of Ryan Sweeney has led to some speculating and while there’s nothing concrete right now, logic suggests that the Cubs have more flexibility in their OF than they did two days ago. The Cubs had done a good job acquiring depth this offseason, but Sweeney is a proven commodity in the MLB.
Granted that commodity is essentially an extra outfielder or platoon player, a tweener who is stretched defensively in CF but doesn’t have the bat for RF — but that may not be a whole lot different than what the Cubs have now with David DeJesus.
Like DeJesus, Sweeney is far more effective vs. RHP, putting up a line of .293/.347/.402 in his career, so its likely that if he does get a chance to play regularly with the Cubs, it will be a platoon situation in CF with Dave Sappelt.
While a lot of the trade talk in Chicago tends to swirl around Alfonso Soriano, it’s DeJesus who seems to have more value around the league because of his friendly contract, proven defense, and OBP skills. Speculation at various times this year have included the Mariners, Yankees, Royals, and now the Reds will be short an OF’er with Ryan Ludwick scheduled to undergo shoulder surgery.ack. Logic says Soriano would be the best fit to replace Ludwick in the short term, but DeJesus offers the flexibility to move Shin-Soo Choo to LF and to seamlessly transition into a bench role when and if Ludwick returns this season.
The Reds have said they will look to fill the hole internally, but you should know by now that anything front office people say publicly should be taken with a grain of salt. The last thing they want to do is convey the message that they are desperately looking for a deal.
News and Notes…
- UPDATE 4:00: I put this on my Facebook page/Twitter feed, but for those who didn’t see that, the Cubs have signed utility infielder Donnie Murphy. Iowa was short a utility infielder without Alberto Gonzalez and were using Wes Darvill for that role even though Darvill played at Class A Peoria last year. The extra infielder also gives the Cubs some flexibility in case they need to remove Gonzalez from the 40 man roster to add a player. Murphy is a solid depth guy in the infield. He has some pop and a decent approach at the plate. He’s not as good a fielder as Gonzalez, however.
- For those following the Wrigley renovation saga, it may be on the verge of ending. CBS Local is saying that an agreement could be reached by the home opener.
- On the heels of our draft piece yesterday, Kevin and Big League Futures completed their own mock draft last night. It seems that the top 5-8 names are beginning to solidify.
- Phil Rogers notes that the Cubs are utilizing Welington Castillo‘s arm as a weapon behind the plate. They’ve worked with him on throwing behind the runner. He did pick off a runner late in the spring and we should expect to see more attempts to do that this season. Even if he doesn’t catch them off base, manager Dale Sveum hopes that the treat of Castillo’s cannon arm will hold runners closer at 1B and perhaps save them a few runs — and maybe help them win a game or two — during the season. In the opener we also saw the Cubs utilize Castillo’s bat on offense, calling the hit and run 3 times while he was at the plate. Two of those ABs resulted in doubles and one drove in a run.
- Robert Whitenack has been claimed by the Cleveland Indians, according to Carrie Muskat. Whitenack was never able to regain velocity after Tommy John surgery, working at 87-88 rather than the 92-93 mph (peak 96) where he is most successful. Making it even more difficult to keep him, Whitenack has also had a lot of trouble regaining command of his slider.
- I don’t know if any of you watched Yu Darvish’s gem got me talking about previous close calls with Cubs no-hitters/perfect games. It gave my father a chance to talk Milt Pappas again while Tom and I instantly thought of Chuck Rainey‘s no-hit bid that was broken up by Eddie Milner with two outs in the 9th. Tom also mentioned
AngelJose Guzman‘s bid, while I went way back to remember Dennis Lamp‘s one-hit game vs. the Padres.
The Cubs face Wandy Rodriguez and the Pirates at 6:05 CT. TV will be on CSN and radio on WGN 720 AM.
- Dave Sappelt CF
- Starlin Castro SS
- Anthony Rizzo 1B
- Alfonso Soriano LF
- Scott Hairston RF
- Welington Castillo C
- Brent Lillibridge 3B
- Alberto Gonzalez 2B
- Edwin Jackson P
What to Watch For…
- Tom: Excited to see EJax Cubs debut could be really huge for this team to get consecutive strong starts out of the gate.
- Felzz: The BOTO blues- The bottom of the order (BOTO….) looks like it’s gonna eat away at our souls all season. They were god awful on opening day, stranding a full day care of base runners and not getting a single hit. Nobody is expecting miracles. But if Sveum can set the tone early and kick Lillibridge, Valbuena & co. in the rear…..all the better.
- John: I’m looking forward to seeing the RH dominant lineup vs. LHP. Last year the Cubs had trouble scoring runs with Jeff Baker and Joe Mather making a lot of starts. This year the Cubs will try and see if they have better success with Scott Hairston, Dave Sappelt, and Brent Lillibridge.
Filed under: Preview and Game Thread