March Madness technically kicked off earlier this week, but, it gets underway for realsies today. Remember how you used to be able to watch all the games online for free while you were toiling away at work? No more. Now it costs $3.99 to do it. Nothing worth having or using is free (except BN, of course)…

  • He’s said it a half dozen times, but Cubs manager Dale Sveum is saying it again: Brett Jackson is not breaking camp with the big club, short of serious injuries or trades. “I don’t see that opportunity the way the roster is configured,” Sveum said Wednesday. “You don’t want the guy to sit on the bench. He needs to go play still. Unfortunately there isn’t an opening right now for that to happen …. You still have to remember that developing is just as important as anything else, too. There are just no job openings, unfortunately for him. It’s just one of those things, timing and a numbers thing. But he will spend a lot of time here [eventually], and part of that development plan is that he hasn’t spent a whole year in Triple-A. We have to see what’s going on and what’s happening after the halfway mark and make your decisions in Triple-A.” You’ll recall that, if Jackson stays at AAA until mid-season, the Cubs get an “extra” year of control over him, and he probably wouldn’t qualify as a Super Two player, which would save the Cubs a fair bit of money.
  • Sveum probably hates having to answer the question like that, by the way, when he knows full well that the decision is largely out of his hands. Jackson starting at the big league level would be bad, overall, for the organization (and possibly bad for Jackson, too). Whether Sveum agrees or not (and he might), I doubt he has much say in the matter.
  • Another thing Sveum probably doesn’t like having to do: meet with his closer in mid-March. But that’s what he did yesterday, trying to settle Carlos Marmol down. “I just tried to make him relax and everything is fine,” Sveum said. “It was a great meeting and that’s what it was. It was nothing more than, ‘Don’t worry about all this and what happened. We have a long spring left and just be ready for the season.’”
  • Fluff on reliever Jeff Beliveau. I have a feeling that, even though the organization is high on Beliveau, and even if he continues to pitch well in the Spring, the Cubs are more likely to go with, for example, Trever Miller as the second lefty in the bullpen to start the year than Beliveau for a few reasons: (1) if the Cubs don’t add Miller to the 25-man, they either have to release him or pay him $100k; (2) though less important for a reliever like Beliveau, delaying Beliveau’s service clock for a month or two has financial benefits down the road; and (3) Miller could pitch well enough in the first two months to become a minor trade chip at mid-season (at which time he could be replaced by Beliveau).
  • For those of you who’ve been around a while, you may remember the “Why Team X Will Suck” series, previewing only the negative aspects of the other teams in the NL Central. We’re doing it a little differently this year, because I think we should all have a say on why those teams suck. So head over to the Message Board where we’ve started with why the 2012 Cincinnati Reds will suck. Add your thoughts. There are already some great ones.
  • Starlin Castro is focused on baseball, rather than any legal issues (which may or may not ever really pop up again).
  • As you’ve undoubtedly noticed, Dale Sveum is really pushing his players to be aggressive on the base paths in Spring Training.
  • CubFan Paul

    Sveum answering that question like is him sending signals to the front office. BJax is obviously our best OF. The media will keep asking the question til a trade is made or Soriano is released

    • JB88

      I guess I don’t see it that way. Given that Jackson is still striking out a prodigious rate, I think seeing a ton of ABs at AAA will only benefit him long term. Especially if it gives him an opportunity to work on some things without the pressure applied by playing in the bigs.

      Why set the kid up for failure when there is no rush for him to start the season in Chicago? It isn’t like his defense or speed or bat is going to be the difference in making the playoffs this year. Let the kid get a bit more seasoning, learn his craft a bit more, and then bring him up in June or July.

      • CubFan Paul

        Don’t tell me that. Tell Sveum, he’s the club official who said he’s ready & wants him on the 25man.

      • Norm

        I agree…not to mention he’s not on the 40 man and rumors say Soler will need a spot on it as well.

  • lancealot03

    This worked for me. I got it from Deadspin. Looks like a way to watch the games for free.

    I think coke zero sends you texts or something but you can opt out.

    Good luck.

    • Spencer

      I think part of the reason why you can’t watch for free is because it’s on four networks now instead of just CBS. Anyway, just got this tip and it seemed to work just fine: Text 0COLORADO to 2653 and they send you a web address and promo code so you can watch for free on your computer, Apple product, or Android phone. Good stuff.

  • Luke

    Beliveau would probably benefit from a few months in Iowa as well.  He and Dolis should make an effective combo in the eighth and ninth innings until mid-season, when I think both will come to Chicago (if all goes well).

    • CubFan Paul

      Could Rusin or another AAA/AA starter be ready midseason in your opinion (if all goes well)?

      • Luke

        Chris Rusin and Ryan Searle could both probably be ready to step in on Opening Day if necessary.  Unlike last year, I think the Cubs will have enough arms in Iowa that they can promote one or two in short order without risking injury to the Iowa bullpen.

        Rusin looks to be a prototypical crafty lefty.  I like him and think he could be a decent back of the rotation starter.  Ryan Searle opened some eyes with an effective season in 2011, and then he topped that off with some nice outings pitching for Australia (I think) in an international tournament.  Like Rusin, he could be a serviceable starter right away if necessary.

        Jay Jackson is still hanging around, too.  He was suffering from tendinitis early in 2011 and was not able to help out when Cashner and Wells went down, but I think he is healthy this spring.

        • Brett

          What concerns me about Rusin is how frequently you see lefties with excellent control having huge success in the minors, and then flaming out in the bigs. Examples are eluding me, but it’s one of those truisms you hear about – control lefties do great in the minors, but the guys in the bigs are ready for them.

          • Luke

            Absolutely.  The success rate of non-power lefties in the majors is not great, and if there is a statistical factor that predicts success or failure I haven’t found it yet.  A lot of it, I suspect, has to do with deception, ball movement, and how quickly a right handed hitter can pick up the pitch.

          • Norm

            Let’s check the Fangraphs velocity charts to find a few…

            Mark Buerhle – 85.8 mph fastball
            Shaun Marcum – 87.0
            Ted Lilly – 87.1
            Paul Maholm – 87.9

            • Brett

              Oh yeah, they definitely exist – I’m saying in the minors, there are a bunch of kids who tear it up as control lefties, but whom no one expects to do much of anything in the bigs.

        • CubFan Paul

          Good. I’d like the season to end with volstad, wood, samardzija, and at least another young guy (or two if Garza is traded) in the rotation. By the end of the season we should know what we have for 2013 (starters/trade bait/failures)

          • Ivy Walls

            First the OF. There are mentions and whispers that there are multiple team interests in Byrd in a ST trade. If you parse Sveum’s words he is saying there is no room for BJackson until there is room for an OF’er. Soriano is not the move, though if Soriano has an All Star like three months the Cubs might be able to unload him for what they want, someone taking him with some $$ return but that is more about Szczur. I think an Aug-Sept OF would look great with Jackson–Szczur–DeJesus to track down those gappers.

            In the Starting rotation, we have to hope that Volstad is what took place in SD and Cook where a big sinker baller sticks while a power pitcher in Samardz finally blossoms. What is really needed are a couple of surprises in the minors like Whitnack or Maples quickly ascending.

            • Norm

              Szczur in 2012 might be a bit premature.

            • CubFan Paul

              Szczur will not sniff the big leagues this year unless he hits .300/.425/.500 in april, may, june

              • Luke

                Not even then.  If he hits that well through June, then he’ll be a proud member of the Double A Tennessee Smokies.  Szczur is a great athlete, but he’s got some work to do on his baseball specific skills.

                Since he’s on the 40 man roster, I wouldn’t completely rule out a September call up, but I think that’s the only way he sees the majors in 2012.  I don’t expect him up to stay until mid-2013 at the absolute earliest.

                • CubFan Paul

                  I was thinking he would start the season at AA, not A. But yea mid 2013 seems logical

                  • Luke

                    He could start the season in Tennessee.  That wouldn’t be a big surprise, actually.  If that happens, I think odds are good the Cubs would look to keep him there all year.

  • Ivy Walls

    I don’t mind the small fee for online re broadcasts and I was able to watch the Bears through FirstRowSports, now shut down. For me MLB or NFL or NBA or the NCAA is plain stupid not providing the reasonable means to watch all games on line.

    $3.99 is reasonable.

    MLB with its blackout rules is not something I will partake in, though I will sign up for gameday audio. NBA is simply too expensive.

    NFL should provide their own means, but reasonable.

    • Andrewmoore4isu it’s free

  • Eric

    You know after reading that really entertaining and informative post from TC (guy should really be making money in journalism), I’m starting to be so glad Dusty is in our past and Dale is here. Just from what I hear and see about Dale. He’s the kinda guy that is a teacher, a friend, a tough coach who pushes his guys hard because he cares. That’s exactly who you want mentoring young players. Whereas Dusty is a selfish, excusemaking louch, who will use and abuse whoever comes his way to get where he wants to go. That, and he’s dumb.