Today the Chicago Cubs kick off their Cactus League schedule, taking on the Oakland A’s (who’ve already played a couple games, so, like, if the Cubs lose, it’s totally because the A’s have had more practice) at 2:05 CT.

The Cubs’ lineup is as follows, and it’s certainly an interesting configuration. As I said with respect to the intrasquad game, it isn’t worth reading *too* much into this lineup, as it likely to change dramatically by Opening Day (it also doesn’t feature Geovany Soto, and does feature a DH). There could be any number of reasons for batting Ian Stewart second or David DeJesus sixth.

Or, you know, leading off with Alfonso Soriano:

1. Alfonso Soriano, LF

2. Ian Stewart, 3B

3. Starlin Castro, SS

4. Bryan LaHair, 1B

5. Marlon Byrd, CF

6. David DeJesus, RF

7. Jeff Baker, DH

8. Darwin Barney, 2B

9. Welington Castillo, C

For now, I sate myself with the belief that there are instructional/organizational/whatever reasons for batting Soriano leadoff that have nothing to do with where he’ll actually bat when the season rolls around. If he’s still there come late March, then I’ll start really grousing. For his part, Dale Sveum has said that we’re likely to see a different leadoff hitter “every day.” I’m not sure if that’s literally true, but I expect to see a healthy rotation over the next few weeks.

Rodrigo Lopez gets the start for the Cubs today, and is expected to be followed by some combination of (but not necessarily all of) Carlos Marmol, Rafael Dolis, Dae-Eun Rhee, Lendy Castillo and Marcos Mateo.

Today’s game is not available on TV, but will be on radio on, featuring Len Kasper.

  • HR Trucker

    When do we hear Pat get to say hid great words – “Chicago Cubs Baseball is on the air”

  • ferrets_bueller

    Dale Sveum,

    Y U NO bat Dejesus Leadoff?!?!?

    • Brett

      Ha. Yay.

  • Martin

    To this day, I have no idea why they don’t show all the spring training games on television or at least a live video stream on their website. MLB just can’t get on the ball when it comes to new media/promoting their product.

  • die hard

    Its fun to get excited now with spring training starting but lest we fool ourselves the Cubs 40 man roster is eerily similar to the 1962 Mets 40 win roster…but as fans we can take comfort in what Casey Stengel told his players then: “just bust your heiny is all I ask”…and thats all Sveum can do and all we can expect…Go Cubs!!!

    # Pitchers Height Weight Throws Bats Date Of Birth
    20 Craig Anderson 6-02 205 Right Right 1938-07-01
    26 Galen Cisco 5-11 215 Right Right 1936-03-07
    38 Roger Craig 6-04 191 Right Right 1930-02-17
    35 Ray Daviault 6-01 170 Right Right 1934-05-27
    27 Larry Foss 6-02 187 Right Right 1936-04-18
    27, 34Dave Hillman 5-11 168 Right Right 1927-09-14
    47 Jay Hook 6-02 182 Right Left 1936-11-18
    29 Willard Hunter 6-02 180 Left Right 1934-03-08
    15 Al Jackson 5-10 169 Left Left 1935-12-25
    36 Sherman Jones 6-04 205 Right Left 1935-02-10
    41 Clem Labine 6-00 180 Right Right 1926-08-06
    19 Ken MacKenzie 6-00 185 Left Right 1934-03-10
    36 Bob Miller 6-01 185 Left Right 1935-07-15
    24 Bob Miller 6-01 182 Right Right 1939-02-18
    26 Vinegar Bend Mizell 6-03½205 Left Right 1930-08-13
    26 Herb Moford 6-01 175 Right Right 1928-08-06
    22 Bob Moorhead 6-01 208 Right Right 1938-01-23

    # Catchers Height Weight Throws Bats Date Of Birth
    8 Chris Cannizzaro 6-00 190 Right Right 1938-05-03
    44 Harry Chiti 6-03 225 Right Right 1932-11-16
    17 Choo Choo Coleman 5-09 165 Right Left 1937-08-25
    12 Joe Ginsberg 5-11 180 Right Left 1926-10-11
    5 Hobie Landrith 5-10 170 Right Left 1930-03-16
    5 Joe Pignatano 5-10 180 Right Right 1929-08-04
    16 Sammy Taylor 6-02 185 Right Left 1933-02-27

    # Infielders Height Weight Throws Bats Date Of Birth
    3, 11 Ed Bouchee 6-01 205 Left Left 1933-03-07
    2, 7 Elio Chacon 5-09 160 Right Right 1936-10-26
    6 Cliff Cook 6-00 188 Right Right 1936-08-20
    12 Sammy Drake 5-11 175 Right Both 1934-10-07
    6 Rick Herrscher 6-02½ 187 Right Right 1936-11-03
    14 Gil Hodges 6-01½200 Right Right 1924-04-04
    10 Rod Kanehl 6-01 180 Right Right 1934-04-01
    21 Ed Kranepool 6-03 215 Left Left 1944-11-08
    18 Felix Mantilla 6-00 160 Right Right 1934-07-29
    6 Jim Marshall 6-01 190 Left Left 1931-05-25
    4 Charlie Neal 5-10 165 Right Right 1931-01-30
    2 Marv Throneberry6-00 197 Left Left 1933-09-02
    17 Don Zimmer 5-09 177 Right Right 1931-01-17

    # Outfielders Height Weight Throws Bats Date Of Birth
    1 Richie Ashburn 5-10 170 Right Left 1927-03-19
    3 Gus Bell 6-02 196 Right Left 1928-11-15
    23 Joe Christopher 5-10 176 Right Right 1935-12-13
    29 John DeMerit 6-01½ 195 Right Right 1936-01-08
    9 Jim Hickman 6-04 205 Right Right 1937-05-10
    16 Bobby Gene Smith 5-11 185 Right Right 1934-05-28
    25 Frank Thomas 6-03 205 Right Right 1929-06-11
    11 Gene Woodling5-09 195 Right Left 1922-08-16

    • djriz

      the funniest thing on this…..don zimmer at 177 pounds…..sure!

      • die hard

        Is LaHair the Cubs’ Marv Throneberry or Ed Kranepool?

        • OlderStyle

          Maybe he’s the next Joe Shlabotnik.

      • die hard

        But seriously Ashburn, Bell, Thomas, Hickman, and Hodges were good players on a bad team. The pitching was the problem for the most part. The Cubs’ pitching could be similar. Also that team could not field at all. Hopefully, the Cubs will show improvement this year or it could be as ugly.

    • David

      One of my favorite baseball books is “Now Wait a Minute, Casey!”, about the ’62 Mets. They were…amazing.

      • die hard

        Is Campana or DeJesus Cubs’ version of Choo Choo Coleman?

    • Quintz

      Not that I disagree with your premise on a talent level at all, but holy crap have players got bigger since then. Darwin Barney is about the same size as most of the catchers on their roster. If Bryan LaHair or Chris Volstad walked in that clubhouse they would think aliens had landed and run for their lives.

      • die hard

        good point as players have grown considerably. Question is why? Better nutrition? I dont think Big Macs and Dunkin Donuts qualifies…so whats the reason?…Back then maybe the bigger kids worked in the factories or on the farms?..Or maybe big kids now are more coordinated? If so, why?…evolution?

        • Quintz

          My uninformed guess is that it’s a combination of; we eat more meat from animals that are jacked full of hormones and pure evolution (I’m completely ready for the Christian right bashing:)

          • DocWimsey

            heh, I’m an evolutionary biologist, but I’ll have to correct you! Evolution simply doesn’t work that fast. Getting that level of size increase over 100K years would be quite quick. (The increase in size for people over the last 100 years has been entirely due to improvements in diet: big people aren’t outbreeding little people.)

            Instead, we are dealing with two other things. One is selection: front offices used to think that big guys couldn’t play baseball, but now they do. The other is ecophenotypic: ballplayers now work out 12 months a year (they used to take the entire winter off), and they now do things like life weights (verboten in the day!), follow year-long nutrition plans, etc.

            This gets back to how anachronistic spring training is. 40 years ago, they needed all of this time to whip the players back into shape after a winter of being face men for insurance companies. Without the need to do this, ST is about 3 weeks longer than necessary.

            • Bric

              Doc, any thoughts on the huge expansion of autism over the last decade? Evolution? Diet? Just curious and thought I’d throw in a total non sequitor.

              • DocWimsey

                The big problem with identifying any causes of this is that they have greatly expanded the diagnoses and definitions of autism over time. For example, I have two brothers who, under modern criteria, would have been diagnosed as autistic. However, in the 1970’s, one was called “quiet” and the other was called “trouble-maker.” (One does fine as a programmer, the other does fine as a musician!)

                By analogy, it is like a team moving from a pitchers park to a hitters park and seeing the HRs go up. Are PEDs involved? Well, maybe: but now that so many more flyballs are labelled HR instead of flyball outs, it’s tough to say that how (if at all) things have really changed.

                On the whole, however, it’s probably better that we recognize that people like my brothers are not acting as they do by choice. Correspondingly, it’s certainly good cultural evolution that we don’t try to punish them anymore. Now, whether the current “remedies” are any good, I have no idea: but hopefully future generations will benefit.

                (In baseball terms, there are a lot of talents that you either have or you don’t: don’t call a guy “lazy” if he never develops one that he never had!)

        • OlderStyle

          Weight training is the quick and dirty answer.

          • Quintz

            Yea, should have “injected” that in as well.

            • Quintz

              I remember as a kid thinking that Cecil Fielder was the most giant baseball player I had ever seen. He (according to Baseball Reference) is the exact height and weight (6’3 230) as Albert Pujols. People always compare Prince to his dad when it comes to body type but Prince is 4 inches shorter and 45 pounds heavier.

              • OlderStyle

                I strongly suspect Cecil’s #’s were “fudged”.

                • Quintz

                  Yea, was surprised when I saw that too. His a$$ looked over 230.

  • DocWimsey

    It will be interesting listening to Pat Hughes describe baseball under a Theo team. Don’t get me wrong, I like Pat. However, Pat’s description of baseball really makes it sound like all teams have pretty much equal opportunity to win, it’s just that the winners make the most of their opportunities.

    Epstein’s style of baseball is fundamentally perpendicular to that: it is all about making more opportunities on offense and reducing opportunities on defense. If the Cubs become like the Sox, then this will be preached up and down the organization: including in the broadcast booth! (The Sox announcers give slash lines when a player comes up and always refer to numbers of opportunities, e.g., OBP or total men on base when a guy has hit.)

    In short: we might start hearing baseball differently, too. (Moreland understands this, I think: he corrected Pat a few times last year on some relevant things.)

    • Luke

      Pat Hughes calls the games a little differently when the Cubs are good as opposed to when they aren’t good.  When the team is not good, his tone is more optimistic, more of the ‘every team can win if they take advantage of their opportunities’ type.

      When the Cubs are good, you’ll hear him talk more about the importance of getting men on, hitting the cut off man, shutting down the opponents running game, finding opportunities to run, etc.  In other words, creating opportunities at the plate and reducing them in the field.  It seems like he pitches more tough ‘what do you do in this situation?’ hypotheticals to his partner in those seasons.

      It’s one of the reasons I like Hughes as a broadcaster.  If he broadcast bad Cub teams the same way he broadcast good Cub teams, he’d be the most depressing broadcaster ever.  Santo adapted to Hughes’s adaptive broadcasting in the last half a dozen years or so before he died, but before then he’d get on to Hughes when the Cubs were bad and Hughes was trying to hold on to a bit of positivism.  Moreland hasn’t learned that trick yet, but he will if he sticks around long enough.

      You know the Cubs are really bad when Hughes starts regularly talking about minor league box scores on the air.  That’s only happened a couple of times while I’ve been listening… but 1997 sticks out as a year in which it happened quite a bit.

      • Andrew

        As long as he describes every player’s uniform with the utmost detail that I’ve become accustomed to, I’ll be happy

      • DocWimsey

        You might be correct on this, although I don’t remember Hughes extolling OBP in 2008 (when the Cubs looked like the Sox). However, my son was born that year, so my memory got nuked by sleep deprivation!

        However, I do remember Hughes really struggling last year during the Cubs-Sox series in late May with how the Cubs and Sox could both have the same BAwRiSP and yet the Sox had scored so many more runs. It was Moreland who quickly realized: “well, Boston just bats a lot more often with runners on base than the Cubs do.” (At that point, it was something like 75 more PAs already.)

    • Andrew

      I hope he doesn’t change. I agree that slash lines and obp and such are definitely very important to a team, but for me as a fan, it’s a lot more fun to emphasize the clutch parts of the games, i.e. getting pumped for the big 2-out rbi opportunity.

      Also especially for the radio, describing a sharp single is alot more interesting than a walk, even though the two usually have the same impact on the game.

      • DocWimsey

        I agree that it is dramatic. However, winning teams get a lot more 0-out RBI than do losing teams do. The 2-out one is dramatic: but the 0-out one often is followed by a lot more “undramatic” runs. Combine that with decent run prevention, and then you are worrying about October drama.

  • Sam

    Maybe Sveum thinks this is 2002 and the Cubs just got Soriano from the Yankees…

    • PoppyPants McGee

      I think Sveum was knocked in the eye like Burnett and has been blind for the first few weeks of camp.

  • Brian Myers

    I won’t question it too much until he puts Soto or Welington Castillo at lead-off. After all, they only have so many combinations to have a “different lead-off hitter” every day. 😉

    • DocWimsey

      Actually, Soto has great OBP when he’s posting any kind of BA. Remember, the Rays got great great mileage out of Jay Jaso in the leadoff spot in 2010. People complained that he was going to “clog up the paths” by being slow, but he was on base 40% of the time, and I don’t recall any ESPN blooper reels showing him preventing Longoria from scoring.

      • OlderStyle

        It could make sense, he’s not exactly Russ Martin but hey, if Soto is due for a rebound year, it could make some sense. It’s Ian Stewart that would bug me at leadoff.

  • Toosh

    On a fantasy baseball note, I have 6 spots left to fill in my (20 team) league. If anyone’s interested, let me know.

    • Cheryl

      Toosh, I may be interested. Tell me what’s involved

    • Dustin S

      I might be interested also, let me know the details.

  • Mrp

    Anyone know if today’s game requires an subscription?

    • Brett

      I actually don’t know (I have

    • Toosh

      I looked at MLB.TV’s schedule earlier today and the Cub’s game is not on it.

      • Mrp

        Oooh, its the free game of the day!

  • Dustin S

    Looking at today’s lineup and Soriano leading off…one other angle Sveum might be taking is planning ahead for Soriano leaving. If/when Jackson takes over leadoff and Soriano is traded/benched, it does leave everyone else comfortably in their same batting order positions. It just becomes a straight 1 for 1 swap instead of the domino effect of having to juggle everyone else around. I never really understood how moving around in the batting order can affect some player’s hitting so much anyway (other than maybe protection or lack of protection behind you), but for whatever reason for some players like Castro it seems to. Soriano leading off still seems totally crazy but just grasping for straws.

    • Mrp

      Len was just saying on the radio that Soriano leading off is probably to get him more at bats in spring training while saving his legs by playing him 5 innings in the field instead of 7. Sounds logical.

  • Brett

    Both sides were retired in order in the first inning. Pitchers ahead of hitters and all that…

    • Kyle

      Hitters caught up fast :) 6-3 in the fourth

  • RY34

    wow, getting picked off twice in the same inning; great heads up baserunning dejesus and barney; dont think i have ever seen that before!

  • manny

    Is it me or is Len’s Voice like SUPER DEEP?

  • ty

    In Vegas today. Bet a C note on Cubs winning division. 12-1 odds. Lou told me two years ago to bet wildcard-baseballand football. I will cover my eyes in case of retorts.

    • Brett

      As long as you aren’t attached to that $100…

  • ty

    o. k. Brett . and I was going to invite you to the easy money party.

    • Brett

      Ok, so I won’t get any of the money. But can I still come to the party? I’ll bring dip.

  • Katie

    So frustrating to not be able to watch the game today. I needed something to break me out of my funk, even if they did lose. No such luck. Still in my funk, but glad Spring is here. Sort of.

  • ty

    Katie–road trip–run into guys and gals every s.t. who take turns driving non-stop for just a game or two and head back. Not that un-usual for Florida or Arz. Just do it.

    • Katie

      I wish I could but I don’t have anyone to go with except my son and he can’t drive. But it sounds like a blast. It’s definitely on my bucket list. A road trip sounds awfully good though.

      • TWC

        He “can’t” drive? Maybe ol’ mom’s just too strict, huh? I thought by eight most Iowa kids know how to drive a combine harvester. Color me disillusioned.

        • farmerjon

          Late bloomer if he’s 8 and not driving yet, that boy should be raking hay ;-). The rule around here was, “if you can push in the clutch, you can drive”. Hey Kate, when is opening day in capital city?

          • Katie

            Well of course he can drive a combine! I just don’t trust him to drive my car to AZ. I know, I’m definitely too strict.

            Farmer Jon, I Cubs opener is April 5th.

  • farmerjon

    Die hard = sly as a fox or crazy as a loon? Anyone?