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After an off-day – the only one of the Spring schedule – the Chicago Cubs head back out onto the diamond today against the Texas Rangers in Surprise, Arizona (not, like, “surprise: it’s Arizona!”, that’s the name of the city). The Rangers are using a split squad today, so we’ll see if the Cubs are better than half the Rangers.

Today’s game is at 3:05 CT and it’s on CSN, so you can actually watch some baseball action today. The game will also be broadcast on a delay on MLB Network. There will also be audio available on MLB.com. And, of course, we’ve got the Game Thread going over at the Message Board.

There was a transaction just a bit ago, as Andy Sonnanstine was outrighted off the 40-man roster, and sent to AAA. That could open up a spot on the 40-man for any number of non-roster guys who’ll soon be added (including, for example, Blake DeWitt and Joe Mather). Sonnanstine had long ceased looking like a legitimate threat to make the team. Now he’ll just be depth for the depth.

Matt Garza gets the start for the Cubs today, and the lineup is an interesting mix of bench guys and starters, playing in some interesting positions (including what the positions will probably look like when Starlin Castro gets a day off):

1. Darwin Barney, SS

2. Blake DeWitt, 2B

3. Alfonso Soriano, LF

4. Bryan LaHair, 1B

5. Geovany Soto, C

6. Ian Stewart, 3B

7. Joe Mather, CF

8. Steve Clevenger, DH

9. Dave Sappelt, RF

  • BD

    It seems that Sveum is giving guys like Sappelt and Mather extra looks in the lineup. Since Byrd and DeJesus are the starters (barring a trade), I think this is very smart. Almost un-Quade-like, which makes me like Sveum just a little more. (i am reserving judgment until I see him manage some games that matter, but I do like how he is handling himself so far)

    • Brady

      The more good stuff we can see out of Mather the better as it looks like he has a spot (and in my opinion earned it, I know it’s just ST but how do you not give a spot to a guy who crushed it like he has).

      • Kyle

        Easily.

        “Joe, that’s awesome that you had a couple of good weeks in non-competitive practices shaped like games. But your major and minor league resume do not show us that you are a major league player. Thanks for your time, and good luck.”

  • Cubbies4Life

    Good move for Sonnanstine. We bleacher bums at Sec Taylor Stadium have a lot of talent to watch this season!

    • Glenallen Hill’s One Home Run

      Yes we do! A season like this one where there is so much talent that is looking good and likely to be with the big league team by next year is pretty much a heavenly situation for anyone in or around DSM.

  • CubFan Paul

    i only want to see Barney in the lineup vs LHP ..& Cardenas vs RHP

    • Smitty

      Since Caredenas isn’t going to make the team out of Spring training, you should probbably sub in Dewitt or Baker…or Mather since Svuem really likes him.

      • Brady

        Mather is already playing. I agree it should be Dewitt or Baker though, as Mather almost makes them expendable. Give them more chances to prove why they need a spot.

      • CubFan Paul

        My bench: Barney, Clevenger, Mather, Baker, Johnson

        Cardenas costs $700K less than DeWitt & they already have cheaper options at AAA. Like Wells, I expect DeWitt traded before opening day

        Numbers game and overpaid

  • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

    Cubs related items from Keith Law chat today:

    Koz (Gilbert, AZ)
    Saw you said yesterday that Vogelbach looked overmatched. Bad day, or potential swing speed/swing plane concerns? And how’d that bacon/sausage from The Pork Shop work for you?
    Klaw(1:09 PM)
    Bat was slow, recognition of offspeed wasn’t good. Power is there and he’s lost 20-25 more pounds (still fat, though). Everything we got from the Pork Shop (in Queen Creek, AZ) was awesome, including the brats.

    Kevin (Chicago)
    Keith, you tweeted that Jeimer Candelario looked “interesting” at Fitch Park yesterday. How many times do you like to see someone at this or the amateur level before you start to think, “There might be something here”?
    Klaw(1:19 PM)
    I like his swing – it’s not great bat speed but it’s simple (esp LH) and he’s got good feel to hit. If you do this for a while you can usually pick up on things like that after a swing or two, after which I’m looking more closely for confirmation/contradiction.

    BK (Mpls)
    Is Hayden Simpson’s career over, before it even started?
    Klaw(1:59 PM)
    He threw yesterday, couldn’t reach 90. NP.

    Ralph (Johnsville)
    Have you seen the supposedly new and improved Jeff Samardzija this spring, Thoughts?
    Klaw(2:04 PM)
    Haven’t seen, hoping to catch his next outing if I’m in AZ. Have heard it’s been an unbelievable transformation – like the light bulb just went on. It’s just spring, but I’ve seen him in past springs where I wouldn’t have given him a snowball’s chance of big league value, so there’s at least something different there.

    Dale (KY)
    Can you give me some guys from the lower levels of the Cubs system to be excited about?
    Klaw(2:10 PM)
    Baez (that’s some of the easiest power I’ve ever seen, including to the opposite field), Candelario, Dunston, the Cuban outfielder whose name I won’t try to spell. Saw all those guys yesterday.

    Dale (KY)
    Do you have an explanation on Hayden Simpson? Could he have been taking PEDs, is he injured, did he just get a payday and quit caring, can a guy have a fluke 1 year spike in velocity?
    Klaw (2:12 PM)
    I think the velo spike was a fluke – he wasn’t on my predraft top 100 for a reason, since most teams never saw the big velo – but he also got a terrible case of mono right after signing, lost a bunch of weight, and never got it back. I can’t tell you that wasn’t a factor too.

    Scott (Chicago)
    As a Cub fan I am tired of hearing about Lake and the rest. Just drop it already!!! Baez, easy power yes, but what position do you see him at in the Majors?
    Klaw (2:21 PM)
    I wouldn’t rule out shortstop, but most likely third base.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      If Simpson can’t get his fastball at least into the low 90s, he’s going to have problems.  He has the breaking stuff to do well, but he’s going to need his fastball back.

      Any idea who the Cuban outfielder with a name that can’t be spelled is?

      • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

        “Any idea who the Cuban outfielder with a name that can’t be spelled is?”
        Not sure…just looking through the roster, doesn’t seem like many difficult names…

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          Rubi Silva was the first that came to mind (2B/OF, signed last winter, spent 2011 playing in Peoria and Daytona), but Rubi Silva isn’t that hard to spell.

          Edit:  Mayke Reyes, maybe?  Spent 2011 in the DSL and appears to have some power.

          Edit 2: I bet it’s Elieser Bonne.  BA has him listed as the No 8 center fielder in the Cubs system heading into 2012, and that is despite being a 24 year old in the DSL last season.

          • AB

            AZ Phil also mentioned in one of his posts a tall Cuban putting on a power display at the Peoria camp.

            There a Balaguert guy down there too.

      • Windy City Misfit

        Gerardo Conception?

        No .. Hes a pitcher .. Maybe he can’t spell Soler?

        Second thought is Jeimer Candelario.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          He mentioned Candelario elsewhere in the interview.  Besides, Candelario is from the Dominican Republic.

    • ferrets_bueller

      Keith Law is a moron. I don’t put one ounce of credence behind a word he says, positive or negative.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        To that point, I’ve seen multiple reports praising Vogelbach both for his bat speed and his pitch recognition.

        • Kyle

          My favorite part is that Law explicitly states that he makes a first impression on a player and is only interested in confirming it with further looks.

          Vogelbach went K, K, 2b, BB in the game Law saw him. The “overmatched” tweet seems to have come mid-game. I’ll bet a million internet bucks that he saw the two Ks, and has now formed his opinion on Vogelbach for all time. Expect him to be bearish and complain about him being overmatched at every level for the next four or five seasons.

          • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

            Well that’s not what he said.
            “If you do this for a while you can usually pick up on things like that after a swing or two, after which I’m looking more closely for confirmation/contradiction.”
            -

            • Kyle

              I await the next time Law decides that information contradicts something he already thought.

  • ty

    bueller-bueller-bueller–even though you are not here I give you an A for that statement!

  • Konk

    TO Jonski who asked about the Polish outfielder:

    Player hit .321 in the month of August for Peoria 2011
    Player arrived to ST 15 lbs more muscle, 6’3 215
    Player hit the ground running, and raking
    Player performed exceptionally well in squad games
    Player was notified of release, was told he did nothing wrong
    Player was told they have too many outfielders
    Player’s coaches and instructors were not aware of release until player told them

    In other words, the Player’s 2 weeks of baseball activity which was lights out were
    ignored in the decision as his coaches were not involved and asked for input

    In other words, a player that has little financial investment regardless of how well
    he is performing will not take the roster spot of a player who was invested in heavily with a large signing bonus.

    I was in Mesa for five days watching the kids at Fitch with a buddy and his wife who have a player in the system. Information gets shared. What I saw of the player was a big, strong athlete with a huge RF arm and a very nice hitting approach lacing line shots all over the field.

    This release makes me wonder what these guys are thinking. I though the kid stood out amongst most, and unfortunately, money talks. The best players don’t always play. The players with the most sunk costs, DO.

    Hope the kid catches on with another team quickly.

    The CCO has a few posts regarding this release. The kid must feel crappy experiencing the business, and politics of professional baseball. They call it unfair, and it goes against everything US born players are taught from LL thru college.

    • Kyle

      Yeah, yeah, yeah. Nobody ever got cut because they weren’t good enough. It’s all politics.

  • gratefulled

    Mather for President 2012!!!

    • TWC

      I’m sooooo happy we have Joe Mather.  I was worried that this season we wouldn’t have a 2011 Tony Campana.  Or a 2010 Tyler Colvin.  Or a 2009 Sam Fuld.  Or a 2008 Micah Hoffpauir.  Or a 2007 Matt Murton.

      • hardtop

        dude, yes.
        although i wouldnt be surprised to see colvin develop into a decent player. i dont expect him to, but it wouldnt surprise me if he, say, hit 2 homers for every 1 of stewarts over the next few years.

        • Kyle

          2 x 0 is still 0.

      • Bric

        I get what you’re saying about every year there seems to be a dark horse everybody suddenly falls in love with but in my mind he’s much more like a 2008 Jim Edmonds or a 2010 Jeff Baker. Career pretty much going nowhere until he finds the fountain of youth with the Cubs.

        Of course your comparisons are closer because neither of these guys were signed before ST. But if Mather hits two homers in one inning (hopefully against the Sox) I’m thinking the Edmonds comparison will win out.

        • Kyle

          That’s a rather bizarre comparison.

          2008 Jim Edmonds was the last hurrah for a player who had a long, long history of being a good major-league player.

          2010 Jeff Baker wasn’t anything surprising at all. It was his worst MLB season out of the last several before it.

          Joe Mather has a long history of being bad in the majors and mediocre in the minors (which projects to bad in the majors).

        • TWC

          Yeah, but the then-38-year-old Edmonds had an outstanding 15-year career of slugging (primarily, it seems, against the Cubs) before he was a mid-season pickup, where he revitalized himself a bit and sparked the Cubs on the way to the playoffs again.

          Joe Mather is a 29-year-old “prospect” (?!) with fewer than one season’s worth of ML games spread out over four years.  There’s just no comparison.

          • Bric

            That’s true but Mather is definitely not a good comparison to Campana and Fuld physically and is too old to be in the same category as Colvin. Murton kind of makes sense. After thinking I’ve got a better one: Casey McGehee (after he went to the Brewers).

            • TWC

              Bric-ster, I was just responding to your “dark horse everybody suddenly falls in love with” comment.  But as far as substance, I would not be at all surprised if Mather put up circa-2011 Casey McGehee numbers.

  • gratefulled

    Uh-uh, TWC is outta pot. Cheer up fella, the regular season is just around the corner.

    Hey Brett, can we get a picture of Mather breaking Campana over his knee???

    • TWC

      “…the regular season is just around the corner.”

      And not a moment too soon!

      • gratefulled

        Cheers! It’d be nice to make it out for the SF series and make a stop by Terrapin (Phil’s new place).

        • TWC

          I’d definitely let you buy me a beer if you make it out this summer.

          • gratefulled

            Something tells me my PO wouldn’t like that.

    • rocky8263

      I’ve got some CubbieKush for TWC. The dreams are spectacular.

      • TWC

        You’d better save it for watching those games in July when we’re looong out of contention.

  • KidCubbie

    Rizzo would have picked that ball out of the dirt. Just saying. Lahair def not a gold glover.

  • die hard

    Sveum must be reading my posts as hes got Barney at SS…let him play there for 4 games in a row and Castro will never be at SS again…at least not as a Cub

  • Eric S

    Anything on when Manny Corpas will be released or sent down? Haven’t heard anything out of him this spring which can not be a good sign. If he was lights out we’d be hearing him as talk about Marmol’s backup. But no news is bad news for Manny.

  • KidCubbie

    Injured wrist my a$$. Stewy just crushed that ball.

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