- Bryan LaHair isn’t at risk for losing his starting job at first base due to a weak Spring. “He knows he’s not where he wants to be but unfortunately we keep facing left-handers too every day,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of LaHair’s struggles and the non-impact thereof. The numbers are about as ugly as it gets: .150/.150/.150 in 20 at bats. He has just three hits, no walks, and seven strikeouts. But, keep perspective: that’s a bad week or less in the regular season. They all have bad weeks. Lots of ’em.
- Peter Gammons says the Cubs/Red Sox outstanding players-to-be-named-later issue (for the Theo Epstein compensation) will be decided by the end of the month (which we expected), with the Red Sox choosing a player from a list of three, and then also selecting the player going back to the Cubs. Jed Hoyer has previously said that the player coming back to the Cubs will not be of the same caliber as the player going to the Red Sox, and Gammons suggests that’s true – talking about the player coming to the Cubs as though his inclusion is a mere procedural requirement (which it is). I’m not saying I’m worried about the player going to the Red Sox, but it remains possible that he will be a young, high upside kid that a lot of us really like.
- The third cut is the Bullet-iest: yesterday, in addition to outrighting Casey Weathers to Iowa, the Cubs also cut him from Major League camp. They also cut reliever Esmailin Caridad, who, like Weathers, never really had a chance of making the big club.
- Dale Sveum digs Joe Mather’s bat and his versatility. “It’s been pretty impressive to do what he’s done with the bat, especially against right-handed pitching,” Sveum said. “It’s not like he’s going out there against left-handed pitching and doing it. It’s just a huge asset to a manager. He can probably play every infield position, maybe get by for a day up the middle.” Sveum went on to project where Mather would play if he made the team: “You talk about our lineup and the way our team stacks up, it’s a perfect fit when you have two corner guys who are left-handed hitters and your right fielder is a left-handed hitter, and they need days off. He’s proven the athletic ability and the baserunning and the bat fits our team to a tee right now.” Fifth outfielder spot: edge Mather?
- I’m not belaboring the Dusty Baker thing, and if you’re tired of hearing about him, then don’t read this Bullet. I just noticed that a piece of his quote the other day about his time in Chicago was not included in the Chicago publications, but was included in the Cincinnati publications: “I was treated better [in San Francisco]. I got treated pretty good by some people in Chicago. I got treated pretty poorly by a lot of people in Chicago, especially at the end. That’s OK. It’s all good.” Dusty doesn’t really have any reason to lie at this point, so I’m sure that’s the truth. I just don’t really understand it, unless he’s referring to the criticism he fairly received in his latter two years in Chicago.
- Have you entered the Opening Day contest yet? It’s (a) easy, (b) fun, and (c) comes with a $75 prize. Do it!
- Carlos Zambrano is fitting in well with the Marlins. If he was going to fit in anywhere, it was there, and, let’s be honest: it’s Spring Training. Everyone fits in in Spring Training (except Carlos Silva). Zambrano: “I feel good here. I feel in peace. I feel stronger. I’m working harder. When you work hard and you see the result, and you have a team like this, it makes you want to do better.” Fine. Good. Great. Whatever.
- Bruce Levine chatted yesterday, and offered a handful of interesting bits: (1) The Cubs are getting a lot of interest on Marlon Byrd, (2) Jeff Samardzija looks likely to win a rotation spot, (3) Josh Vitters was late to the Spring’s first meeting between players, coaches and management, and the front office saw that as a red flag about his maturity, (4) Joe Mather is a favorite at this point to make the team, and (5) Bruce doesn’t believe either the PTBNL going to the Red Sox or the player going to the Padres is going to be anyone “of significance” (though he rationalizes that by saying they’ll be A-ball players, which doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable).
- A really interesting chart over at the Message Board on the subject of umpire bias. How do they call balls and strikes when there are two strikes? Three balls? Etc. The results are absurd.
- MLBullets at BCB, noting that expanded instant replay isn’t coming this year.