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Today the Chicago Cubs head out to gorgeous Salt River Fields to take on the Arizona Diamondbacks. It’s the second-to-last Spring game of the year for the Cubs, who are a game below .500 right now. To the extent you care about the Spring record, let’s hope for a couple more wins to end the Cactus League schedule.

The game is at 3:10 CT, and is available as a freebie audio broadcast on Cubs.com.

Jay Jackson starts for the Cubs, and he’s likely to be a starter at AAA Iowa, in a rotation that will feature Randy Wells, Travis Wood, Casey Coleman and Chris Rusin.

The lineup has the look of an “against lefty-starter” game, which I actually like:

1. Darwin Barney, 2B

2. Reed Johnson, RF

3. Starlin Castro, SS

4. Alfonso Soriano, LF

5. Jeff Baker, 1B

6. Geovany Soto, C

7. Marlon Byrd, CF

8. Joe Mather, 3B

9. Jay Jackson, P

  • Andrewmoore4isu

    Dejesus Stewart and lahair can’t hit
    Lefties? I feel like this
    Lineup will most likely have a hard time cracking two runs. We need someone in our lineup that really puts pressure on pitchers. Castro doesn’t do that yet as he’s a double singles hitter. Not saying we should have hot fielder but fielder helps out an entire lineup. I hope one day bjax rizzo and Castro can do that

    • Andrew

      If I were a lefty pitcher, Jeff baker would strike fear in me. I like this lineup against lefties if lahair Stewart and dejesus are slumping. At worst this is a good way of giving starters abreak without losing a ton of production, although in the regular season I’m guessing he won’t take them all out if one of them is particularly hot at the time.

      • SirCub

        I think that is a dang good lineup against lefties actually. And then considering that you have all those guys coming off the bench in the later innings… I think the Cubs could have a winning record against LHP’s this year, IF they stick to their guns with lineups like this.

        • Pat

          Here’s the problem with multi platoon switches like that. Your bench then becomes almost entirely single handed. If you bring those hitters in to pinch hit, all the other tem has to do to is put in a lefty reliever after the pinch hitter is announced and your advantage is negated.

  • Kyle

    Matt Cain extends with Giants, 5 years, $112.5 million.

    Baseball must be in fantastic financial health, because the cost of players is going through the roof.

    • Andrewmoore4isu

      Or the dollar is super inflated. You decide.

      • DocWimsey

        The dollar hasn’t done much lately, and salaries didn’t change much when it tanked in the middle of last decade. So, that suggests that Kyle’s comment is closer to the mark. My question would be, did the new CBA influence this? I remember what it meant for signing prospects, but I’m drawing blanks about what it meant for extending players, luxury taxes, etc.

    • http://www.BleacherNation.com Luke

      If Cole Hamels does hit the free agent market this winter (and after that Cain deal, why wouldn’t he?), I wonder how much he can expect to get. 6 years, $150 million?

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Maybe more. The dynamics are changing so rapidly, I think he could probably get eight years.

        • MichiganGoat

          Yup, the Soriano deal may not be as absurd as it looks the way things are going.

        • http://www.BleacherNation.com Luke

          It’ll be interesting to see if this deal has any impact on the Garza trade talks.

          • MichiganGoat

            It definately just increased his aking price for an extendtion.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Yup. As I Tweeted, I could see a couple big market teams shifting in their seats a bit, wondering if maybe they should grab Garza while they have a chance. I’m thinking Garza’s asking price on an extension – which I’m told was quite high – feels a little more reasonable today than it did yesterday.

            • http://www.BleacherNation.com Luke

              And the Cubs’ asking price in prospects probably doesn’t look quite so steep, either.

              • MichiganGoat

                And it may have just increased our asking price

            • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

              Saw your tweet, but disagree with it being related to the CBA…teams have been spending $22M/year on starting pitchers for years. With it being *only* 5 years, it’s actually better for the Giants that Cain didn’t become a free agent, because he likely could have gotten the same dollars over longer years.

              • http://www.BleacherNation.com Luke

                This is the second highest average annual value for a right handed pitcher in history (per Buster Olney). And the deal is in addition to his current contract which apparently includes a vesting option. Total length of the combined deal could reach 7 years and a total of $141 million (per Jim Bowden).

                That means a guy who has never finished higher than 8th in the Cy Young voting is now the best paid right hander in the game today. To me, that suggests there is a stronger than usual inflationary effect. It may not be due to the CBA entirely, but for now I think that’s as likely an explanation as any.

                • MichiganGoat

                  Makes me wonder if this means the Giants to not plan to extend Tim Lincecum. If that was the case they would have to consider trading him before he reaches FA.

        • Andrew

          My guess is dodgers pay 500 mill for twenty years haha. In reality I do think the dodgers will inflate free agent values by a ton in the next year.

      • terencem

        This is a contract on which Sabean was on the other end so it’s not necessarily indicative of baseball as a whole.

    • Andrew

      Seems like the big prizes for The cubs next offseason will be Brandon Phillips and cole hamels. Getting one or both of those two would bring us into contention pretty quickly I think.

      • MichiganGoat

        Yes to Cole but not that high on Phillips

        • Andrew

          He’s gold glove caliber with some pop I would like him as a bridge to our lower prospects like zeke. For three to four years plus g
          Taking him from Cincy I like him.

          • MichiganGoat

            He will want double that price

            • Andrew

              I didn’t name a price but on mlbtr he is demanding 4-5 years from concy

      • http://www.BleacherNation.com Luke

        I’d pass on Philips. I think the Cubs can fill second base from within the system. They don’t need to shell out the big bucks on free agents at that position.

        Pitching is a completely different story. The more front of the rotation starters they can sign, the better.

        • When the Music’s Over

          Agreed. Philips will turn 32 mid-way through the 2013 season and will be a number of years on the wrong side of his peak. With the money he will require/get, he won’t be worth it.

          • terencem

            Phillips might be one of the more elite free agents next season, but his value comes from fielding, then base-running, then offensive scarcity at the position. He’s managed a.330 wOBA (right around MLB average for all players) the last several seasons so his bat isn’t really elite, it’s just elite for the position.

        • Andrew

          But aren’t the better 2b prospects still a few years away from the bigs? Id love hamels too but it seems like front line pitchers are a much bigger gamble. Seems like a zito kinda thing waiting to happen.

          • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

            Zito wasn’t an ace when he signed that albatross with the Giants.

            • Andrew

              The comparison isn’t completely out pf question. In zitos first six seasons he had 24.1 war in hamels first six he had 22.5 war. Obviously war has its limitations and hamels had injuries which lowered it, but to say zito was nowhere near his level of production isn’t true.

              • DocWimsey

                Zito had a very low GB:FB ratio and really benefited from a park where flyballs went to die. Combine that with a declining K rate and a high BB rate relative to guys like Hamels, and putting him in different parks was a disaster.

                Hamels has been pitching well in one where flyballs carry quite well. Last year, Hamels saw a huge increase in his GB:FB ratio. Part of that probably was luck, but it probably also reflects a shift in how he pitched. Hamels did this without changing his (excellent) walk rate or his (very good) K rate.

          • http://www.BleacherNation.com Luke

            DeVoss is at least two years away, but Watkins could be just fine as a transitional player from Barney to DeVoss as soon as next year.

            I’m not sure the difference between Watkins (and then DeVoss) and Phillips would be worth the amount Phillips will demand as a free agent. When the Cubs do spend mega-dollars, I’d prefer it be spent on areas where the farm system options are much more limited, primarily ace-quality pitching and slugging corner outfielders.

            • daveyrosello

              Moot point, no way DeVoss sticks in the infield. Ronald Torreyes is probably the best 2B prospect in the system right now. I agree that Logan Watkins could be an OK bridge prospect. Of course, that’s what I figured LeMahieu was for the Cubs….

              • hansman1982

                What makes you so adamant that DeVoss will not stick at 2nd? Seems like most prognasticators are divided on him.

          • DocWimsey

            Hamel has little in common with Zito. Zito was a flyball pitcher who got away with walking twice but K’ing no more guys than Hamels because of his home ballpark. Many people warned based on his peripherals that he was not as good as his ERA.

            Now, it could be just one year, but Hamels also shifted to a GB pitcher last year. I’d give it another season just to make sure that it wasn’t luck, but if he keeps up the good GB:FB with low walk work, then he’s worth signing.

  • ramin

    It all depends how barney plays this year if we want philips

  • When the Music’s Over

    Baseball contracts are out of control. Guaranteed money at incredible amounts. if this continues, I fear another implosion after the recently agreed to collective bargaining agreement ends. I guess I feel like players have quite the upper hand right now.

    As for how this impacts the Cubs, a quick rebuild is looking more difficult. Unless they are planning on paying Hamels or Grienke (assuming they do hit free agency) about $25M/year, they should probably draft heavy on college arms this year. Also, I wonder how the Cain contract impacts Garza. Suddenly two years of him at an average salary of around $12M must look very sexy.

    • Dave

      I would think Cain’s contract has raised the cost of resigning Garza.
      As far a quick rebuild goes, sad to say I don’t think that is what they ever had planned.
      It seems they are going to take their time fans be damned.

  • DocWimsey

    “I guess I feel like players have quite the upper hand right now.” Well, it is the players that you are paying (in one way or another) to see play, after all. It’s not like the owners are going to give the excess money to charity……

    • When the Music’s Over

      I appreciate the lesson on supply and demand, but if things were as simple as that, no sport would ever have a lock-out/strike. Since both of these do happen every so often, there is undeniable proof that owners get fed up with the imbalance of power. What I was trying to say was that I have a feeling we are close enough to that invisible breaking out that we might see some serious problems when this collective bargaining agreement ends.

      • DocWimsey

        The owners consider letting the players have any power to be an “imbalance.” I take them about as seriously as I take my 3-year old complaining that things are not fair….. :cool:

        At any rate, the latest CBA swung things seriously into the favor of owners like Jerry Reinsdorf, and many people think that this will be very much to the detriment of the game at large. This won’t affect the current players so much as future ones, which is why the players went for it.

  • Andrewmoore4isu

    This contract lowers garza trade value. Teams will want to hold onto top prospects more than ever if they can’t afford free agents.

    • Andrew

      It could work that way but it Could work the other way. Paying 150 mill for 6 years is probably as detrimental to the future as losing a few good prospects, so if youre trying to win this year or next I think taking garza is a safer bet than hamels.

      • Andrewmoore4isu

        Do teams in position to win usually have the prospects to get a deal done? Logistics of baseball=fun

        • http://www.BleacherNation.com Luke

          ‘Usually’ can be debated, but in this particular case it’s all good. Toronto and Detroit have both been linked to Garza in trade rumors and both definitely have the prospects to get the deal done.

  • bret epic

    How do I listen to the free audio?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Should be able to access it directly from the Cubs.com home page (click on “listen to webcast” under the main story).

      • MaxM1908

        I actually had trouble for the first time this Spring Training. It says I need to sign up for Gameday Audio to listen (never had any trouble with previous games). I think they are not offering today’s game for free. They’re transitioning to the pay system just in time for the season. Given my past experiences with MLB Advanced Media, I wouldn’t put it past them to act in a shady manner.

  • Nick LaFave

    People are being too critical of our starters through the spring. The only true disappointment so far has been DeJesus. Everyone else has been doing fine or better than fine. Look at total runs and RBI for the spring. The Cubs’ ranking may surprise you.

  • MaxM1908

    I know, I know, spring training, small sample size, and all that, but it at least has to be encouraging that these are the slash lines for two players not many on here respect as assets to the team:

    Barney (51 AB): .392/.418/.647
    Mather (62 AB): .387/.433/.694

    I don’t want to get my hopes up, but how awesome would it be if those two players surprised everyone and had OPS’s north of .750?

    • BeyondFukudome

      You mean .750 combined, right?

      • MaxM1908

        Pretty funny…I know that’s what the naysayers on here expect from them, but I can’t help but be optimistic that these two are poised to surprise this year. At the very least, their ST numbers should give them some confidence heading north. I won’t expect more from either than what they’ve shown in the past, but I’m hopeful they haven’t shown us their best baseball just yet.

      • BeyondFukudome

        I don’t disagree with you. But there’s going to be enough suffering in being a Cubs fan this season that I think we’re all entitled to blow off some steam with a few smart-alecky quips here and there. I’m neither a doom-and-gloomer nor a rainbow chaser.

  • drew

    Look, I understand optimism, and I can even buy the slight possibility of Barney having having an average season at second. However, I dont consider it to be “hating” when i say there is no possible way Mather puts together a season like that.
    Look, I respect what hes done and im sure hes a great guy, but lets not make him out to be anything more than he is; a fringe major-leaguer worthy of a spot start. Almost every team has/needs a guy likethis and if he can get it done out of that role, thats awesome.

    But all this talk about him being our starting 1st basemen if Lahair’s back troubles continue and him playing a big part in the success of this season is crazy. I hope he does well, but lets remember this guys career minor and major league numbers point to a role that should be limited.

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