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


if only they weren't lobbing them in there

the sound of that collective "ohhhh"

I laughed really, really hard when I watched that. That's excellent.

5/75 with 6th year $15M mutual option starts in 2013.

I was about to complain, but he's 29 this season. Catchers usually drop off a cliff after 32 with the bat, but well he's not getting the money for his bat.

Still runs him from age 30 to 34 with the option for age 35.

Sign me up for counting this as good news for the Cubs. Molina is good, but he's nowhere near $15mil a year good.

DeJesus, Byrd, Castro, Soriano, LaHair, Soto, Stewart, Barney?

I could live with that.

or flip Byrd and Barney or god forbid if Lou or Quade's notes are left behind....
DeJesus, Barney, Castro, Soriano, LaHair, Byrd, Stewart, Soto

and there were 20

Samardzija over #1 seed T. Wood, Mather over Barney, Castro over Stewart, R. Wells over Sonnastine

Sweet 16 so far....4 2nd round match-ups to go.
(1) Beliveau vs. (12) McNutt
(2) Coleman vs. (14) Rusin
(9) Samardzija vs. (12) Wells
(4) Lalli vs. (9) Cardenas
(3) W. Castillo vs. (10) Clevenger
(1) Mather vs. (5) Castro

Bunting: a useful skill for Castro to have in his toolbox. #sarcasm

cause they got rid of everyone holding the scrappy down.

blah, blah, we're gonna win cause we're playing as a team now...

Add in the newly bulked up Darwin Barney -- who gained nearly 15 pounds of muscle to help him handle the rigors of a long season -- and the improvement expected from star shortstop Starlin Castro and the optimism is somewhat understandable for an improved season over 2011 when the Cubs lost 91 games.

Stop it.

Kaplan was on WGN today and you could here the orgasmic groans over the phone

-Smarninja throwing easy and "topping 97" blowing away Sveum, could "easily be in rotation"
-Darwin "Camp Colvin" Barney
-And BRYAN LAHAIR smashing the ball all over the park

He made Hawk sound like Pat Sumerall on Ash Wednesday.

Trib version, anyone notice if he's throwing strikes? Velocity was never the problem.

Did you copy paste that? Or can you actually spell it by typing?

Or can you actually spell it by typing?
the key is having "block quote" in a quick key macro

at no time did my fingers leave my hands


I can just spell it, years of practice with my own difficult last name.


This really makes no sense. So they sign Beltran and Molina for $28M total, but let Pujols--the face of your franchise--for $25M?

Wouldn't most teams want Pujols + any catcher vs. Molina + Beltran?

I realize the difference in years; and it's certainly possible Pujols does not live up to $25M/year in 5+ years; but honestly, if I'm the Cardinals Org, I would've taken my chances knowing what they did today.

Unless they know Pujols is really 39

G. Sizemore out 8-12 weeks after back surgery.

maybe a M. Byrd would help ease the suffering...

but not Zambrano intense...until he clocks someone.

He would be if Michael Barrett was here.

"Kids Of Milwaukee Forced To Look Up To Ryan Braun On Technicality"

BP's roundtable on the NL Central is out... (this is part one including Reds and Astros)

here's the first question they discuss.

​1. What kind of effect will the new front office have on the team? What will be most affected by the switch?
Larry Granillo: I think any Cubs fans expecting immediate returns on the new front office are probably expecting too much. That said, I do think Epstein and Hoyer will have an effect. Epstein has already shown that he can envision something and make the moves necessary to create it. That shouldn't change in Chicago, even if he's no longer the actual GM. I'd expect the team to be more willing to take risks that might be hard to explain in talk radio, but ones that could help the team in the long run.

​Stephani Bee: Excellent points. I also think that the new front office represents a change in philosophy, from a team that threw money at problems and wound up making ill-advised deals (Soriano being the last remaining major mistake), to a team that, as you suggest, is willing to take risks and wait patiently for prospects to develop.

And speaking of their farm system, bringing Jason McLeod over to work with scouting and player development will be huge. The Cubs haven't exactly raised the roof in the draft in recent years.

​LG: Very true. If I were a Cubs fan, I'd take this as a great sign from the Ricketts family. People have been content with being good enough in Wrigley for far too long. Hiring Epstein makes me feel like the Ricketts want to be better than that.

​SB: It helps that the Ricketts family has a deep pocketbook and should be willing to spend money when Epstein and Hoyer ask for it.

In the short term, I don't see the Cubs signing many free agents. They'll probably shell out the dough to lock up key players like Starlin Castro, but I think this is going to be a steadier, patient front office than the North Side has seen recently.

they also discuss:
2. Speaking of Castro, he'll be entering his third season as the Cubs' starting shortstop at the ripe young age of 22. Just how good do you think he'll be? (brief answer, very good)
3. Will the Cubs continue playing salary munchers and deal Alfonso Soriano? If so, who are the likely takers? (brief answer, no and nobody)
4. Will the Cubs deal Matt Garza at the trade deadline? What kind of return might they get for him? (brief answer, maybe...speculation about the Rangers included)
5. Aramis Ramirez was the team's best offensive player in 2011, and he signed with the Brewers over the winter. Can the Cubs make up the offense they lost? (brief answer, no)

and BP has an article on 14 breakout candidates...LaHair in at #10:

10. Bryan LaHair
In my early teenage years, I did some writing for a couple of High-A ballclubs in Southern California: the Lake Elsinore Storm (still a Padres affiliate) and the Inland Empire 66ers (then a Seattle Mariners affiliate). One of my first interviews was with Bryan LaHair, and when he hit a game-winning homer later that evening, my prospect crush was born. I swore that he was going to make the majors.

As Steve Goldman can attest, I've remained vigilant in that conviction, despite scouts and teams branding LaHair as an organizational soldier. And really, his stats haven't been all that eye-popping. Scouts started paying more attention to the first baseman in 2010, when he hit .308/.385/.557 at Triple-A Iowa and showed increased patience at the dish. LaHair kicked up his slugging in 2011, knocking 38 homers and 38 doubles, and beefed up his OBP to .405, helping him to a 1.070 OPS in 129 games. The Cubs gave him a cup of coffee at the end of the year, and he held his own with a .288/.377/.508 performance in 20 games.

Carlos Pena skipped town over the winter to soak up some Rays, leaving the first-base job to LaHair... until the Cubs traded for Anthony Rizzo. But Rizzo still needs some seasoning in Triple-A, meaning that LaHair is clear for takeoff in April. I don't think he's going to put up huge numbers—I can be realistic when I have to be—but I do think he'll be able to hold his own in extended playing time. For a guy who has played minor-league journeyman for eight years, I think that's good enough to be considered a breakout. —Stephani Bee

Cubs MLB network 2012 preview starts Wednesday 7:00 cst

Barney added 15 - 20 punds of muscle. This is certainly a misguided attempt to improve his game. Now he will hit .260 with 12 hrs and more stirkeouts. What he needs to do is to add about 40-50 walks per season. This does not require lifting weights.

Two teams are looking for center fielders. Washington and Cleveland. Hello Marvin Byrd.


Well that may be dead on, but it's also an attempt to keep from wearing down late in the season.

Players with more power tend to walk more. No reason to walk a guy who is only going to hit a single.

If he has to change his name to get traded, he should do it. My mistake.

with 12 hrs
opium dreams?

Soriano at leadoff not out of the realm of possibilities...

“The one thing about Soriano is that his numbers as a leadoff hitter are pretty good in his career whether he’s leading off a game or leading off an inning, his numbers are pretty incredible over his career,” Sveum said. “ If you want to get into the details of why you might come up with something like that it could be as simple as that.

“We don’t have the bona fide guys at any position in the order. We don’t have any guys that drive in runs in the big leagues. (Starlin) Castro is obviously probably the most sound hitter we have to hit third. Do we have that base stealer, leadoff and on-base guy? (David) DeJesus probably fills that as much as anything. But we don’t have a lot of cut and dried spots to say ‘This guy is this’ and ‘This guy is that.’ It’s not that easy with that lineup right now.”

I wonder what Crunch thinks of this idea.

me, too. constantly.

Fangraphs Howard Bender goes on a bender with his top 10 Bold predictions:

Bryan LaHair hits at least 30 HR — This late-bloomer will have Cubs fans saying, “better late than never!” Though the PCL is notoriously hitter friendly, something clicked for LaHair last season and his power really took off. Look for him to start hot right out of the gate and lead the Cubbies in home runs this season.

he also picks Matt Cain for NL Cy Young.


for this year only, Division series will be 2-3 format with lower seed (including WC) getting first two home games to eliminate a travel day.

back to 2-2-1 format next year.

and there were 16....

Sveum over Dempster, Maholm over Marmol, DeJesus over Byrd, Baker over Soto

Sweet 16
(1) Beliveau vs. (12) McNutt
(2) Coleman vs. (14) Rusin
(9) Samardzija vs. (12) Wells
(3) Maholm vs. (15) Sveum
(4) Lalli vs. (9) Cardenas
(3) W. Castillo vs. (10) Clevenger
(1) Mather vs. (5) Castro
(2) DeJesus vs. (3) Baker

If Sveum wins this thing we might have to roster him.

wouldn't be surprised if he could outhit Barney...

Or at least out Walk him.

Sveum career: .236/.298/.378... maybe not?

Go Clevenger Go (Steve Goodman's latest little ditty)

B. Jackson leads off with a HR off lefty T. Wood
Szczur singles, manages to score from 2nd on a sac fly to RF (believe DeJesus was in RF).

Wells goes 1-2-3 versus the starters.

starting lineups are essentially vets vs. rookies fwiw with Wells pitching for rookies and T. Wood pitching for vets

Szczur grand slam in the 2nd off T. Wood

Campana is the DH on one the teams

Mike Wellman's gonna have a great season.

Pretty surprising to see players standing up for Braun's urine collector, I like it.

"The process to me is something a lot of the guys in the clubhouse really trust," Johnson said. "Obviously, you don't want your sample going to somebody's house and sitting around for a couple of days, but you know that that process of them taking your sample and sealing it inside a case, stickers over it and that's inside a bag, stickers over that and that's inside a sealed box, stickers over that.

The more I read stuff like that the more ridiculous it seems to me that anyone would think the sample was possibly screwed with.

At that time of the week, the samples either sit in the guys basement or at the local FedEx for the same amount of time. Dude's basement is much safer. Braun never once disputed the test results.

nothing new here...
Chicago Cubs
Signed: RHP Rodrigo Lopez (re-signed), LHP Nate Robertson
Released: C Carlos Romero

Jayson Stark: "If you can build an 89-win team under this system, you can just about bank on playing in October. Under the old wild-card format, 20 teams have won 89 games or more and still missed the playoffs. If there had been a second wild card, just four teams with that many wins would have had to watch the October action on their flat-screens."

89 wins gets you one more game. If you advance, you'll probably won't be able to use your best pitcher in the first three games of the first series. I don't think anyone wants to be a wild card team in this system.

If the guy could take some walks and improve his OBP overall, I don't think we would have a problem with it. But, based on recent Soriano revisionist history - blech!

Recent comments

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  • Correct. Castro 5th, AJax 6th; I'll edit my lineup post to fix this.

  • Lineup: Fowler, Soler, KB, Rizzo, Castro, AJax, Montero, Hendricks, Russell

  • if he put ajax 1st/2nd in the f'n playoffs he deserves to lose his nearly sure-thing MOY award to terry collins.

  • I believe Castro batting fifth, Ajax (LF) sixth

  • Maddon did not listen to me yesterday re Strop, or EricS on Schwarbs today.

    Wtf is up w/that?!

  • Crunch got his wish - Ajax not hitting 1-2 in the lineup ...

  • I know he's struggles against lefties but Schwarber seems zoned in - hope he starts tonight.

  • Awesome stuff, Phil.

  • listening on ESPN 1000, caller says Bill Welke will be the home plate ump today. Supposedly his reputation is for having an even bigger strike zone than last night's Phil Cuzzi. Some of the issues with bad umpiring come from an inconsistent strike zone. Hoping at least for consistency. Last night's called strike on David Ross was outright embarrassing for Cuzzi.

    That might work out in favor of Kyle Hendricks, who benefits much from a large strike zone.

  • it's kind of mesmerizing to watch
    should Theo add some Ted Abernathy videos for minor league pitching coordinator's use?

    sadly, Ted passed away in 2004 from complications of Alzheimers. I always loved the Cub bullpen trio of Phil Regan, Ted Abernathy and Hank Aguirre. As a kid, I even worked on both Phil Regan (very quirky delivery) and Ted Abernathy (extreme submarine) imitations when throwing a rubber ball against a wall. It wasn't a good imitation unless I could scrape my knuckles off the ground. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for submariners.

  • HAGSAG: Chris Pieters was sent to instructs to develop his hitting, bunting, and outfield play (he is already a decent first-baseman).  

    Pieters is tall and rangy , a "long-strider" in the same mold as Trey Martin and Rashad Crawford. He is a very patient hitter (unusual for a hitter with his lack of experience) and has an outstanding (almost uncanny) eye at the plate, and he is a fast runner with unusually good baserunning instincts, and he is a good basestealer, too.

  • I doubt we will see Pedro in any more "high leverage" situations this series. With Hendricks and the pen today, we need Bryant-Rizzo-Castro to get going ASAP.

  • One funny thing to see before the game was the two submariner pitchers (David Berg and Corbin Hoffner) playing catch with each other. Both pitchers throw "submarine" even when they play catch, and it's kind of mesmerizing to watch, even for the other players. 

  • CUBSTER: One of the points of emphasis  at "basic" Instructs this year was teaching the position players the art of baserunning and base-stealing, like getting a good primary and seconday lead, reading the pitcher, cutting bases sharply, and different ways to slide to maximize the baserunner's chance to arrive safely. 

  • has some interesting stats/graphs on pitch and strike zones and you can dial up individual games/pitchers. I'd love to see some comments from readers who can interpret this better than I can. I thought the Ump was really inconsistent with a very wide zone. Does this info seem to match up with my eyeball perception? Also, looking at the graphs, Lackey was not throwing as many pitches below the K-zone (certainly more above) while Lester was clearly getting his pitches down and not many above.

  • As I was fearing in my post yesterday, Maddon keeps trotting Strop out against the Redbirds and he constantly fails. I understand the psychology behind this, but in a series where there is a finite lock on who moves on, why does he keep riding the wrong horse?