Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

MLB is expected – by everyone – to announce today the official inclusion of an additional Wild Card in each league for the 2012 season, and I’ll have more on that (and its impact on the Cubs) later today. Until then, Bullets…

  • Randy Wells and Travis Wood will start tomorrow’s intrasquad game, with Casey Coleman and Andy Sonnanstine following in relief. Each of the four is competing for a rotation spot, so the order of the four is probably not altogether coincidental. On Saturday, AAA starters Jay Jackson and Chris Rusin will start, with Alberto Cabrera and Trey McNutt pitching thereafter.
  • Geovany Soto says his “minor” groin strain is nothing like the “not-so-minor” groin strain that cost him a few weeks last May. Dale Sveum will get plenty of looks at his back-up catcher options – Welington Castillo, Steve Clevenger, and Jason Jaramillo being the primary three – with Soto out. Sveum conceded that Clevenger and Jaramillo will have a slight leg up because of their ability to bat left-handed.

  • The Cubs Bunt Tournament has reached its Sweet Sixteen, with Steve Clevenger, Welington Castillo, Chris Rusin, and Casey Coleman taking down Bryan LaHair, Brett Jackson, Dae-Eun Rhee, and Scott Maine.
  • Matt Garza says starting on Opening Day would be “awesome” and “an honor” (presumably, in his head, he was thinking that it would be “the cat’s pajamas”), but, ultimately, it’s just another day. Spot on, Matt. Spot on. Speaking of Garza, here’s some fluff on his excitable nature.
  • The Cubs’ early-season schedule is the second toughest in baseball (behind only the Pirates), according to Buster Olney. Of the Cubs’ first 39 games, a full 27 are against teams that had winning records in 2011. The first half of May is particularly brutal, during which the Cubs play the Reds, Dodgers, Braves, Brewers, Cardinals, and Phillies, in order. Eesh. Obviously 2011 records aren’t the tell-all (though that cuts both way – I reckon the Reds are going to be a heck of a lot better than they were in 2011), but it’s a data point. If the Cubs have a .500 record come May 18, we should probably be pretty pleased.

  • Dave Kaplan discusses the possibility of Bryan LaHair and Anthony Rizzo both playing for the Cubs in 2012 at the same time. Rizzo, who will start the year at AAA Iowa, has a good attitude about the whole thing: “I can’t control anything. I can go to the minors and do what Bryan did last year and still be there all season. I know that I can play up here but I will just continue working as hard as I can until I get my shot in the big leagues. I have never struggled like I did when I was called up in San Diego but I think that experience will help me when I do finally come up.”
  • MLB teams (and possibly MLB) are fixin’ to be pretty pissed at the Rangers for signing Dominican teenager Jairo Beras to a $4.5 million contract. Why? Because the MLB teams believed Beras to be just 16, and thus not eligible to sign until July 2 (which is significant, since the international signing “cap” of $2.9 million will have kicked in by then). The Rangers, apparently unearthed “proof” that Beras is actually 17, and signed him quickly and quietly. Beras may have previously represented to baseball that he was 16, so there could be some problems for both he and the Rangers here. Kevin Goldstein has a good write-up of the situation here. (You’ll have to ignore the “Curious Case” title. Please: writers of the world, stop using “the Curious Case of So-And-So” as your title. It ceased to be clever the day after that damn movie came out … four years ago. I’m just trying to help.)
  • The Yadier Molina five-year, $75 million extension is going to happen. Unlike with Albert Pujols, whose crippling contract would have crushed the Cardinals for years, this one isn’t particularly damning, even though it is the second largest contract for a catcher in the game today (behind Joe Mauer’s unfortunately large deal). Molina, I suspect, is far more valuable to the Cardinals than is readily-apparent, so I don’t think the Cards could afford to lose him after this season. That said, 2011 was his first above-average offensive season, and he’ll have to sustain that kind of production to truly justify $15 million per year.
  • The Orioles very much want to keep Ryan Flaherty – whom they took from the Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft this year – but are already struggling with finding a spot on the 25-man roster for him. It will be interesting to see how he performs in Spring Training because, I’ve got a feeling that, if he breaks camp with the O’s, they’ll find a way to keep him all year.

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