- Yesterday, the team of minor leaguers and back-up types beat the Cubs’ mostly-starters team 10-4 in an intrasquad game. Travis Wood was knocked around in his few innings of work, and Matt Szczur had the fake game of his lifetime, including a grand slam, and tagging up and scoring from second base on a fly ball to right field. There is no box score, and it wouldn’t have a ton of value if there was one. I know that it’s fun to see the Cubs playing baseball finally, but the thing you have to understand about “games” like this is that we have no idea what the players were working on. Wood could have been working, exclusively, on his inside fastball. Batters could have been focused on hitting fly balls. We really have no idea. So, to read too much into the result or the individual performances would be a mistake.
- …but, if you want to take the game as metaphor, you could say it was a representation of the Cubs’ rough-looking present, and bright-looking future. Plus, that headline was fun to type.
- The Sweet Sixteen of the Cubs Bunt Tournament is set, with Dale Sveum having taken out two of the tourney’s favorites (first Kerry Wood, and now Ryan Dempster). The match-ups are Beliveau vs. McNutt, Rusin vs. Coleman, Samardzija vs. Wells, Maholm vs. Sveum, Cardenas vs. Lalli, W. Castillo vs. Clevenger, Mather vs. Castro, and Baker vs. DeJesus. I guess you’ve gotta figure Sveum is the favorite now, which is either awesome or sad.
- Dale Sveum strongly suggests that Starlin Castro will be his number three hitter to start the year, which is theoretically fine with me (I’d prefer him hitting second, but whateves). We’ll discuss the batting order a bit more later today, but it continues to be a tough thing to put together with this group of players.
- Phil Rogers thinks the Yadier Molina extension will make the Cubs more likely to trade Geovany Soto (on the theory that extending Soto (he’s under control through 2013) just got more expensive). Eh. I’m not sure I see the impact of a hefty contract for an unquestionably elite player affecting the Cubs’ plans for Soto two years from now. The Cubs will shop Soto this year, regardless of Molina, if (1) Soto is producing, (2) Welington Castillo or Steve Clevenger look ready to take over, and (3) the market for catchers isn’t soft. The question I’d ask about the Molina deal is whether Soto just got more attractive to other teams – perhaps some who were hoping Molina would reach free agency?
- The Cubs’ defense is supposed to be dramatically improved this year, according to The Fielding Bible. But, unfortunately, it’s still expected to be one of the worst in the league, primarily due to huge negative marks for Alfonso Soriano in left field and Starlin Castro at shortstop. The former is easily remediable, and the latter could improve on his own. Just sayin’.
- Cubs players ever-so-gently needle Ryan Braun by noting that they’ve never had any problems with “The Collector.” Alfonso Soriano offers the best dig: “I’m not worried that it’s the same guy,” Soriano told the Sun-Times, referencing the fact that Dino Laurenzi, Jr. also collects for the Cubs. “I’m not worried because I know what I take. It doesn’t matter who takes the sample. If you don’t take nothing, he can take [the specimen] home for a week and nothing will come out.”
- Cubs’ GM Jed Hoyer is a fan of the new playoff format, but hints at the Trade Deadline impact (namely, that fewer teams may be willing to sell that early). Perhaps it’s time to consider pushing the Trade Deadline back a few weeks, as some BN’ers recently suggested?
- The small, subtle changes in the Cubs’ organization continue, for the better. At Spring Training, the Cubs now have an in-house chef preparing healthy, nutritious meals for all players and staff at breakfast and lunch. Before this year, the Cubs’ clubhouse manager was in charge of getting the food. I’m not saying he didn’t do a fine job – I’m sure he did acceptably – but this is clearly a change with a purpose.
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