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I am headed out to Spring Training this morning (by way of a stop in Texas to meet my new niece), which means posting could be modestly erratic today through Monday. I’ll be traveling today, in Texas tomorrow, traveling Friday, going to games Saturday and Sunday, and then traveling again on Monday. We live in a fancy, modern world, so I expect the quantity of posts and quality of coverage to remain about the same this week, but the timing might be a little atypical (like this wee hours of the morning offering). Today’s an off-day in the Spring Training schedule, so that helps.

  • Ian Stewart is still bothered by the wrist injury that plagued him last year, causing him to miss a bunch of time, and produce a lot of nothing. It’s healthy enough to play, but he says he still feels it, and has to heat/ice it after games. I’m glad no one seems to be worried about it, but, like, um, seriously? It’s March. If he’s already icing/heating/whatever and feels it every time he makes contact, I have a hard time believing he’s playing at 100%, and/or will be at 100% come mid-season. Here’s the way Stewart describes it: “I have been happy about Spring and working out in the offseason because it’s all after contact which I can deal better with. If it’s before contact, then it’s hindering my swing. It’s something you treat and don’t let it get too sore and try to keep your head on it …. It’s not like it’s broke or anything. It’s just inflammation and general soreness type stuff. The best chance [to eliminate it] is in the offseason and even then, guys nowadays, we start working out right when the season is over. It’s just one of those things where if I had a whole year off it would probably be better.”
  • Bruce Levine did the chat thing yesterday, noting among other things: (1) Travis Wood doesn’t look anything like the pitcher he was in 2010; (2) Theo and Jed are probably not all that concerned by Bryan LaHair’s rough Spring; (3) Bruce thinks Ian Stewart looks like the most improved Cub; (4) the Phillies should be checking in on Blake DeWitt, but Bruce thinks DeWitt’s value to the Cubs is more than the marginal prospect he’d net; (5) Jay Jackson probably starts in AAA again this year; (6) if Marlon Byrd is traded, it’s likely to be mid-season; (7) the Cubs can’t trade away all of their “good” veterans, otherwise they can’t sell the third highest priced tickets in baseball; and (8) Bruce thinks the Cubs will be making Randy Wells available in trade and could make Rodrigo Lopez the long-man in the pen.
  • ESPN is ranking the top 500 players in all of baseball and they’ve got 401 to 500 up now. An unfortunate number of Cubs are already listed, with Chris Volstad at 402, Randy Wells at 407, Jeff Samardzija at 447, Darwin Barney at 472, and Reed Johnson at 490. At least three of those rankings are utterly absurd (it’s easy to rank Cubs players low, given the overall crappiness of the team in the last three years), and I’ll let you figure out which three I think are absurd.
  • Bruce Miles recounts the Baseball Prospectus tour stop in Chicago (featuring Kevin Goldstein and Colin Wyers), which has a number of really interesting anecdotes/thoughts from the duo. A couple random ones: the two expect the extra Wild Card this year to make for a wacky trade market at mid-season (more buyers AND more sellers, which I gather means more activity), and Goldstein says that, while he doesn’t think the odds of Samardzija succeeding in the rotation are great, the Cubs might as well try it this year. Lots of good stuff there – definitely worth a read.
  • I noted in yesterday’s Miscellany that Carlos Marmol was pulled mid-inning yesterday with what appeared to be a hand problem. Marmol says it was just cramping, and no one seems to be worried. He’s getting an MRI just to be safe, but probably won’t be an issue.
  • The way the schedule is lining up, Ryan Dempster looks like he’s going to get the Opening Day start, not Matt Garza. About Dempster’s solid outing yesterday, Dale offered another Dale-ism: “Very good fastball command, he was able to pitch up in the zone. It was kind of like the Dempster that pitches all the time that I’ve seen shove it up our butt in Milwaukee when I was there.” Ryan Dempster: Shoving it up other teams’ butts since 1998.
  • Spoda17

    Enjoy the games and have a safe trip Brett!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks.

  • die hard

    thats the risk when taking players with injury history….Think Derrik Lee…took him 3 yrs to get swing back…by that time Vitters will be ready…or maybe now to let him play and DL Stewart…nothing to lose

  • dick

    Brett, if you have time, make a trip to Fitch Park while you’re in Mesa to see the kids play.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Very much hoping to do that.

  • Kyle

    Oh man. Who could have possibly predicted that a wrist injury could linger and cause problems for the player the next season?

    Oh wait, I could. *takes a bow*

    • CubFan Paul

      You nailed this months ago. If I’m Sveum I’d platoon Stewart with Baker/Mather to start the season.

      w/o a clear cut backup we’re screwed either way offensively. Thanks Theo&Co

  • ferrets_bueller

    LMFAO I can’t believe Sveum said that.

  • Steve

    I have a shoulder injury that’s going to jeopardize my…well…nothing, but it hurts damnit!

  • a_mazz_ing

    Ryan “The Enema” Dempster.

    • Cubbiecop

      That quote is priceless from Sveum, I’ll take that all day long over the dumb ass quotes from our esteemed previous manager and his cutesy names for all the players. Come here Ramey and do what your name says….. Sorry, couldn’t resist that one.

  • JR Cubs

    So maybe the Sean Marshall deal wasn’t as good for the Cubs as everyone inititally thought? Looks like the Reds new something…

    • CubFan Paul

      Wasn’t as good as “everyone” thought? Please explain what we’re thinking…

      • JR Cubs

        Just saying Wood looks terrbile. I know it’s just spring training, but come on man. I am wondering if the Reds saw Woods struggles coming. And Sappelt doesn’t do much for me either. Hopefully Torreyes brings something to the table eventually..

        • Kyle

          I don’t think anyone was/is higher on Wood than me. I remain completely confident he’ll work out whatever mechanical hitch he has this spring.

          That said, yes, if he can’t cut it in the big leagues, then the Marshall trade hinges around Torreyes.

          • Mrp

            Let’s hope it is just mechanical and not mental.

          • CubFan Paul

            I read Wood’s struggles are mostly mental. He’s learned a cutter and Bosio has him throwing pitches in a different sequence/building a new repertoire. He’ll be fine after a half year in Iowa

            http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/cubs/post/_/id/8509/travis-woods-issues-on-many-levels#more

            • DocWimsey

              I remember reading (repeatedly) that all of Mark Prior’s problems were mental, too….

              Seriously, “mental” is used for everything and thus really means nothing. Mechanical issues can reflect concentration (which might be “mental”), but they also can reflect physical issues (yes, Mark Prior really was hurt) or simply the limit of individual talent.

        • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

          I think I’ll hold off for a few years before reassessing my thoughts on the Marshall trade…

  • D17FUZZ

    Of all I read there. The last line made me laugh!!! In fact I’m still giggling a little as type.

  • Packman711

    I smell a t-shirt idea…

    • SirCub

      And it smells like other teams butts…

    • OkieCub

      Just thought of another caption for the Samardzjia picture.

  • Spencer

    So basically, the Cubs are not going to have a third baseman in July. I guess that’d be a big deal if I thought the Cubs would be in contention in July.

  • SirCub

    “At least three of those rankings are utterly absurd (it’s easy to rank Cubs players low, given the overall crappiness of the team in the last three years), and I’ll let you figure out which three I think are absurd.”

    Darwin Barney, Darwin Barney, and Darwin Barney.

  • Chris

    Brett, what am I missing? What do you find absurd with this ranking?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Some back of the napkin math says that guys in the 400 to 500 range are all below average players, almost not meriting a roster spot. I think that designation is a bit silly for at least a few of those listed. But I’m probably being a bit unfair, given the unwieldy nature of the task.

      • Spencer

        Ranking 500 players means that about 17 guys per team should be ranked. I think that 501-750 is really where the “last” guys on the rosters come from, and ESPN didn’t rank them. Guys in the 400 range means that they are about the “13th” guy on the roster. They’re decent players, but not who you would pick to build a team around. I think it will be interesting to see how many Cubs are left off the list altogether. That would be more tell-tale about the quality of players on the roster.

        • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

          8 position players x 30 = 240
          5 SP x 30 = 180
          at least 1 RP, I would think…maybe even 2. Let’s call it 1.5 x 30 = 45
          14 DH’s? = 479 players
          leaves the 21 best back ups, who may or may not be considered starters that are blocked
          .

          • Spencer

            Yeah, I was just doing my math off 25-man rosters.

          • SirCub

            So Reed Johnson is one of the top 21 bench players in baseball? Not too bad.

            • SirCub

              Oh, but wait. 5 X 30 = 150, not 180. So there are an extra 30 spots in there. Reed Johnson is one of the top 51 bench players in baseball. That sounds more accurate.

  • Edwin

    My opinion hasn’t changed on the Travis Wood deal because there is no reason why it should. Spring training numbers are virtually meaningless. Even if spring training matters, is it that much more important than what a player has done over their minor league career and major league career?

    As terrible as Wood has been, I still think he should be in the rotation over Samardzija. Even if Samardzija has finally “figured it out”, he’s moving from being a reliever to being a starter. He’s going to pitch worse as a starter than a reliever. That’s just how baseball works. Starting is harder than relieving. And last season he wasn’t even a great reliever. He was an ok reliever who had very favorable results on balls in play, and on his HR/FB%. His ceiling is probably a 4.50-5.00 ERA, at best. He will probably be worse. We can’t ignore Jeff Samardzija’s entire minor league and major league career in favor of 40 innings as a relief pitcher and some nice quotes from a pitching coach. At his very best, Jeff Samardzija will be about the same as what we can expect from Travis Wood.

    • rcleven

      If you looked at the all Cub starter’s MLB collective ERA it was somewhere in .450 range. I say play the hot hand.

    • Wilbur

      If neither Wood or Torreyes turns out to be a major leaguer it won’t hurt the Cubs, as Marshall wouldn’t have made a difference in the Cubs making the playoffs this year. The downside would be could they have gotten someone who would have been better.

      But’s the nature of trades, you gamble that you’ll be better off than if you didn’t trade. You win some and you lose some. I suggest having this conversation two years from now when a reliable verdict can be given.

      The one thing I know though, the Cubs had no chance to improve in 2013 or 2014 with Marshall, but they gave themselves a chance by moving him.

  • Chris

    Oh, I see what you’re saying. That’s a good point. I guess they’re also considering players who “may” play in 2012, such as a Rizzo, B-Jax, Teheran, B Harper, et al. I’m guessing those guys arer the ones pushing down these other players – not to mention top closers and relievers, as well

  • Papi

    ESPN article stating the Marmol hand flare-up is the same he’s experienced in past Spring Trainings http://espn.go.com/chicago/mlb/story/_/id/7715381/chicago-cubs-closer-carlos-marmol-removed-game-trainer-visits-mound

  • Sparks

    Norm,
    5SP X 30= 180??? I get 150.

  • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

    Yeah, I was a bit off….

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