No News is Good News...I Guess
It certainly has been a rather drama free first week of camp, which doesn't give me much to react to...but I'll do my best.
- A Dave Kaplan tweet says Dale Sveum would bat Starlin Casto third if the season started today. I have no problem with that. I do have a problem with that leading to Darwin Barney probably batting second. Hopefully the front office can talk some sense into him or he'll set a record for losing the benefit of the doubt by fans like me rather quickly. If that is the case, I presume the lineup could look like this against righties: DeJesus, Barney (gag), Castro, LaHair, Soriano, Stewart, Byrd, Soto.
I'd prefer Castro batting second, but if Sveum insists on him batting third, I'd rather see: DeJesus, Byrd, Castro, LaHair, Soriano, Stewart, Soto, Barney.
- An article on Ryan Flaherty's chances of sticking with the Baltimore Orioles.
- Sveum on what he's looking for in a back-up catcher, "[Handedness] matters, but it’s not the final piece of the puzzle,” Sveum said. “The guy who will work and be able to handle pitchers is the biggest thing when it comes down to it.”
That should be one of the spring training battles which from what I can tell come down to the following:
Back-up Catcher: Steve Clevenger, Welington Castillo and Jason Jaramillo
4th/5th Starter: Figure Garza, Dempster and Maholm are locked in leaving Chris Volstad, Travis Wood, Randy Wells, Andy Sonnastine and Jeff Samardzija fighting for 2 spots.
5th OF: Soriano, Byrd, DeJesus, Johnson take up the first four with Tony Campana, Dave Sappelt and Joe Mather battling for a spot.
Back-up Middle Infielder: LaHair, Barney, Castro, Stewart and Baker seem locked in leaving Adrian Cardenas, Blake DeWitt, Matt Tolbert, Edgar Gonzalez and even Bobby Scales fighting it out.
Bullpen: I suspect Marmol, Wood, Russell and Samardzija are locked in. That leaves 3 spots open for the likes of Scott Maine, Jeff Beliveau, John Gaub, Trever Miller, Marcus Mateo, Manny Corpas, Rodrigo Lopez, Casey Coleman, Lendy Castillo and whomever loses out on the starter jobs if they don't get optioned, traded or released.
Obviously a spot on the 40-man gives a player the edge and then it'll be a mix of how they look in spring training versus what Sveum and his coaches feel the team needs and what the player needs (more development time, major league experience, speed, handedness, etc).
If I had to guess today: Jaramillo, Volstad and T. Wood, Campana, Cardenas and Maine, Corpas and either Lopez, Sonnastine or Wells for the swingman job (in order of likelihood).
- The Cubs are half way through the second round of the bunting tourney, here are the 8 that have advanced with 8 more second round match-ups to go.
(1) Beliveau vs. (12) McNutt
(2) Coleman vs. (14) Rusin
(4) Lalli vs. (9) Cardenas
(3) W. Castillo vs. (10) Clevenger
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?
It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.
Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.
He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.
Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.
Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.
101 wins...most since 1910 (104).
neat. ...or sad. pick one. pick both. 'murica.
Just looked up Grimm's stats -- after a great run, he gave up 2 runs vs. MIL then didn't pitch for 10 days. Don't remember why?
Sean Rodriguez's helmet looks like it's taking a dump
Grimm not doing himself any favors lately re: making the playoff squad. Seems to have lost the feel for his curveball.
j.grimm is literally worse than hitler.
felix pena, your turn.