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- Dale Sveum suggested yesterday that outfielder Dave Sappelt would make the Cubs’ bench, and that pitcher Michael Bowden would make the bullpen. On Sappelt, the decision boils down to his ability to hit left-handed pitching, his versatility in the outfield, his spot on the 40-man roster, and the fact that the Cubs have two lefty regulars in the outfield right now. Brian Bogusevic has had a good Spring, but Sappelt is the better fit for the roster as it is constructed. He probably also has more upside, too.
- “He’s had a good spring, he has a track record, he pitched very well the last two or three months he was up last year,” Sveum said of Bowden, per Cubs.com. “He’s basically the one guy in the bullpen who can go multiple innings, and that’s a huge asset to have.” After being called back up to the big team in early August, Bowden put up a 1.33 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP, and a near 2:1 K/BB ratio in 27 innings of work. And in 8 of his 20 appearances during that stretch, he went more than an inning. He was good.
- With Bowden in the pen, joining Carlos Marmol, Kyuji Fujikawa, James Russell, Shawn Camp, and Hector Rondon, there’s one spot left, and a whole lot of guys to choose from: Chris Rusin, Hisanori Takahashi, Jaye Chapman, Rafael Dolis, Jensen Lewis, Blake Parker, Casey Coleman, Drew Carpenter, Zach Putnam and Cory Wade. If Sveum wants another lefty, Rusin or Takahashi could be a LOOGY/long-man hybrid. If it’s not going to be a lefty, none of the righty non-roster guys (or rostered guy Dolis, who has an option left) has really separated himself from the pack. Wade and Putnam probably have the best pedigree, but it’s very, very close. My pick would be Takahashi, assuming finding a 40-man spot isn’t going to be a problem. I wouldn’t hate Rusin, either – I don’t think his development, such as there is more left to do, would be stunted as a starter by being a long man in the big league pen (as opposed to starting in a very crowded AAA rotation). That might be his best future role anyway. He’d also still be relatively able to step into the rotation should a need emerge. That all said, I think Rusin’s going to start at AAA.
- Speaking of Bowden, Carrie Muskat profiles the Cubs reliever.
- Phil Rogers wrote a hey-look-at-me column on tearing down the Old Scoreboard at Wrigley … but I actually think he did a pretty good job of making the argument that, if necessary, it’s time to replace the Old Scoreboard with a new video board. I don’t agree – largely because I am hopeful that a video board can be accommodated without losing the Old Scoreboard – but I don’t think I can fight Phil too aggressively on this one. If a JumboTron (and the associated tens of millions of dollars in advertising revenue) is impossible without displacing the scoreboard, then I could be convinced that it’s time to make a change. But if there’s any way to accommodate both – a board in left, or the JumboTron somehow below the Old Scoreboard, which would have to be raised – that’s what I’ll keep pushing for.
- Think Wrigley needs an updating? A ranking of ballparks from TripAdvisor based on the experience for the average ballpark-goer ranked Wrigley just 10th.
- Scott Feldman, who has struggled on the results side this Spring, says he’s still working on his pitches. “I feel pretty good with three out of four of my pitches but the changeup is one I haven’t thrown enough in spring, and the ones I have thrown, they’re not game ready,” Feldman said, per Carrie Muskat. “It’s something I need to hammer out the last 10 days or however long I have to pitch. It’s something I have to work on a lot and get it straightened out.”
- Len Kasper talks to Bruce Miles about Len’s new partner for the season, Jim Deshaies.
- Paul Sullivan answers some questions, including renovation stuff.
- The paranoia is getting the best of me: the Cubs are waiting for the team orthopaedist (Cubs’ spelling) to come down to Mesa tomorrow to check out Scott Baker’s elbow and his MRI after he felt some soreness earlier this week … but what was the point of getting the MRI if it couldn’t be analyzed by whatever medical staff is already down there? The answer, I fear, is that it could. And was. And what they saw was sufficiently bad that not only did they have to shut Baker down immediately (because, recall, whoever is already down there has been able to make evaluative decisions for every other player who’s received an MRI this Spring), but they also had to call for the special joint/ligament doctor to come take a look at Baker in person. Like … before making a serious declaration? As I said, it’s probably just paranoia running wild. Maybe the orthopaedist was just on Spring Break. Or in surgery all week. Actually, that’s pretty plausible – the Cubs can’t be his *only* client. And you’re not going to let the guy recovering from ligament surgery start throwing again until he’s blessed by the ligament doctor. Ok. I’ve talked myself down from the ledge. Mostly.
- For your early planning purposes, to the extent you want to hang – my first trip into Chicago this season will be Friday, May 3 through that weekend. I’ll be going to those games, and getting together with anyone who wants to grab a beer. If enough folks are going to be around, we can plan a more formal-type get-together that Friday evening after the game.
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