chris rusin cubsDon’t forget to catch the latest episode of the BN Podcast, featuring some time with the Cubs’ voice of Spring Training, Tim Sheridan. Better yet, subscribe to the podcast, and then you’ll never miss an episode, which is obviously your goal in life.

  • Game action (ish) gets underway today, with an intrasquad game at HoHoKam Park at 1pm local time, which is open to the public for you folks in the area. Chris Rusin and Nick Struck get the starts, with Rusin followed by non-roster invitee Cory Wade and Trey McNutt, and Struck followed by Rob Whitenack and Rafael Dolis. The lineups are very interesting:

White Squad:

CF DeJesus
SS Castro
1B Rizzo
LF Soriano
RF Schierholtz
C Navarro
3B Stewart
2B Barney
DH Hairston

Blue Squad:

2B Valbuena
CF Sappelt
C Castillo
1B Nelson
LF Soler
SS Baez
3B Lake
RF B. Jackson
DH Bogusevic

  • Why do I say interesting? Well, setting aside the fact that there’s some prospect goodness in the Blue lineup, there’s the fact that it looks like the projected starters on White, and then prospects/back-ups/competitors on Blue.  … except that Welington Castillo shows up on Blue, and Dioner Navarro shows up on White. What up with that? Should we read anything into it? Probably not, although there’s been a fair presumption that Castillo will be the nominal starter this year, with Navarro getting plenty of starts in the backup role (maybe a 3:2 split). This was probably just a “veterans” versus “younger players” thing.




  • Also semi-interesting? Look at the outfield configuration on Blue. You’d think it would be Sappelt-Jackson-Soler, but everyone seems to be playing “out of position.” Clearly, each is being evaluated on certain things, and the biggest is probably how Sappelt handles center field. I think we’ll probably see him in center quite a bit this Spring.
  • The Tribune, in an inspired turn, takes a look at 12 cult heroes for the Cubs over the years. For the most part, the list is absolutely spot on – from leading with Tony Campana, Mark DeRosa, and Sam Fuld, right down to the pairing of Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot at the end. I won’t spoil the fun by listing everyone, but I think you know some of the other names.
  • Speaking of which, Baseball Prospectus writers came up with their favorite moves of the offseason, and Brad Doolittle greatly enjoyed the fact that the Cubs got a couple prospects (“living homo sapiens”). A humorous portion: “This is how you know Theo Epstein is a heartless, calculating bastard. Sure, Campana can’t “hit” or ‘get on base’ or ‘play baseball’ in a major-league sense, but he was so f’n cute. Seriously, it’s as if Ollie from ‘Hoosiers’ left the farm and signed with the Cubs, and showed up at the ballpark in the back of a pickup truck. Campana has the strangest build of any ballplayer I’ve seen, even more so, and in a very different way, than Sidney Ponson, whom I had the misfortune of seeing in a towel. Campana is all arms and legs. He’d have the build of a hurdler if only the hurdles weren’t so danged high. He acted the way he looked, carrying that aw-shucks demeanor over to his oh-so-precious encounters with the media. Yet he was really fun to watch, there is no denying that. His Cubs uniform was too floppy and his hat a size too big, and when he got going, he was as fast as any player in the game. His inside-the-park homer on a grounder up the left-field line in 2011 was electric. Once then-Reds outfielder Yonder Alonso overran the ball in the corner, Campana exploded on the basepaths. He could have scored and made it back to second base. He also seemed to be able to steal bases at will, even though every pitcher and catcher in the league knew that his entire value was wrapped up in that skill.”


  • The Cubs are the second most improved team in baseball! … if you look solely at the team as it existed at the end of last season and then add projected WAR that the team added over the Winter, which is what the Wall Street Journal did. I’ve long said I don’t think that’s a fair comparison (by September, the Cubs had already torn the roster apart – of course they were going to be massively “improved” over the Winter – but what matters is how the team looked in the first few months of 2012, when they were still all together, and were still terrible), but, hey, it’s nice to see a plaudit.
  • Who knew? Carlos Villanueva and the Chicago Cubs – by way of Sammy Sosa – have a history together.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer catches up with Dontrelle Willis, who is in minor league camp with the Cubs this year. Ditto Patrick Mooney. The “catching up with Willis” part, not the “in minor league camp” part.
  • Vine Line with some unknown facts about Cubs players.

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