michael bowden cubsAs a heads up, today’s the last day to take advantage of the free shipping promotion on BN apparel (buy at least two items, get free shipping). The code to use for the promotion is “EASTER2013.”

  • 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.
  • Believe in 2015

    Keep up the good work Brett! The regular season is only 10 days away.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks, BI2015. I can’t wait.

  • Whiteflag

    If you tear down the old score board, why not just build a new park? Say something on the lake shore (ex. current golf course property)

    • CubsFan66

      Meigs Field. I have said it before! Build the stadium so home run balls land in Lake Michigan!!

      • TWC

        Meigs Field?!

        Beware the midnight bulldozers!

    • http://ehanauer.com clark addison

      The electronic scoreboard could show a picture of the old scoreboard except when showing ads or replays. I could live with that.

      • itzscott


        That’s sooooo cheesey and absurd.

        • Patrick W.

          That’s exactly what they’ve done in Seattle. They removed the old scoreboard and replaced it with a giant video board. During the game action it will show a “picture” of the old scoreboard layout.

    • DarthHater

      Exactly, Whiteflag. Build a modern, state-of-the-art replica of Wrigley in a beautiful lakefront location. The in-stadium experience will be improved for everyone, including the traditionalists, and the team will make lots more money and be better positioned to win.

      • aCubsFan

        And where is there lakefront property available in Chicago to put a new stadium north of 35th Street on the south side?

  • hansman1982

    “Ok. I’ve talked myself down from the ledge. Mostly.”

    They may need his advice before filing an insurance claim…

    • Smitty

      The pessimist in me is thinking this is true.

  • JJ

    I agree with whiteflag — if you are completely tearing apart the park and tearing down the scoreboard (assuming Tunney okays tearing down the scoreboard) — then you might as well consider all alternatives for a new park. Otherwise “Wrigley Field” is just the 1970s-2000s Yankee Stadium, a connection only in name and location.

  • Featherstone

    I do like that should Sappelt prove to be a respectable 4th outfielder, then we got a young cost-controlled left-handed 5th starter AND our 4th outfielder for 1 year of Sean Marshall.

    Plus the end of Marlon Byrd’s career for a decent bullpen arm? Not too bad i’d say overall I’d say.

    • Grant

      Don’t forget Torreyes, who could take Barney’s job.

  • dan

    OK going back to high school my teacher said their was no such thing as a dumb question so could a jumbo tron be built ontop of the old scoreboard ?

    • gocatsgo2003

      Likely because advertisers wouldn’t pay top dollar for placement that many people would hardly notice.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        That’s a factor, as is the physical logistics – it simply might not be physically possible. I’m sure it’s been/is being explored. (And it would likely be the other way around – with the Old Scoreboard on top of the video board.)

        • MichiganGoat

          Just turn the entire bleachers into a giant jumbotron, hmmmmm that would eliminate some of the parking problems, decrease the need for extra police, and still increase the revenue dramatically. Plus the lines for the bathrooms would be shorter. Win, Win, Win. 😉

          • MichiganGoat

            oh an also allow the rooftop bleacher to expand… another win.

          • hansman1982

            tunney did say we could make the jumbotron as big as we wanted…

  • Scott

    Rogers lost me when he compared tearing down the scoreboard to putting seats on top of the Green Monster or closing Yawkey Way. One drastically changes the view of every person in the park (and is a registered monument) while the other puts seats on a wall and closes a street outside the stadium.

    He also added this line:
    “I like scoreboards that, you know, actually tell you the score of the game.” That is the only feature the scoreboard actually has, what a strange thing to say.

    • Northside Matt

      God forbid Phil has to do basic math. Phil would be best to pull his lip over his head and swallow.

  • Jono

    Glad to hear Sappelt will be on the team. He’s pretty underrated and will be an important part of this 2013 Cubs team. I bet he starts in left after Sori is traded

    • Jono

      on second thought, that’ll probably be dejesus. I expect Jackson will get called up after the soriano trade, start in center, pushing dejesus to left. Anyway, GO SAPPELT!!

  • MightyBear


    Help me out. Didn’t Sappelt come over in the Sean Marshall trade? I can’t remember.

    • hansman1982

      Yup, Travis Wood, Sappelt and Ronald Torreyes came over.

      • MichiganGoat

        Yup worse trade ever 😉

        • TheDynastyStartsIn2016

          I thought Hamilton was worst trade ever. Or was it Colvin? Oh well.

          • DarthHater

            No, no, no. Campana was the worst trade ever. Haven’t you guys been paying ANY attention?!?!?! 😛

            • TheDynastyStartsIn2016

              Didn’t we get 2 Cy Young award winners for him?

    • MightyBear

      The trade is looking better and better.

      • TWC

        Well don’t tell … wait, who was it that was all bent out of shape about that trade? Cubs1967? Crazyhorse? Silly Rabbit? Waitaminnit….

  • http://www.justinjabs.com/blog/ justinjabs

    There should be a BN day at the ballpark each year.

  • Jan Forty-Two

    Great to see the BN apparel shipping discount also applies to international shipping. Even if it’s not totally free, it’s much better than “free domestic / insanely costly international shipping” you often see on those occasions.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks, and I’m glad about that, too – I had no idea.

  • Jim

    I could see the inclusion of Takahashi in the bullpen as a “friend” for Fujikawa to help him feel comfortable. Performance wise, I think that Rusin and that 0.89 WHIP has done everything that he can possibly do to win a spot on this team. If we are looking at guys that have earned a spot in the rotation then it is hard to quantify Feldman and Villanueva beating out Rusin in Spring training. I would rather have Villanueva as a long man in the pen and use Rusin as a second lefty in the rotation.

    • Rcleven

      I’ll agree completely.
      As much as Rusin deserves to be in the rotation, I think sending him to AAA to stay stretched out is the better option.
      He will be much needed after the trade deadline. Sitting in bullpen will not give him enough work.

  • Fastball

    I don’t think any of this is good for Baker. Hope I am wrong. Question? if he is hurt and had to be shut down for the whole season for some reason. Is his contract covered by insurance? Curious about that one. I hope so.

  • Sully

    Brett by chance are you comming in for the early August weekend series with the Dodgers?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Still don’t know that far out yet. It’s fairly unlikely for that week, though. August is probably going to be somewhere in the middle of the month.

      • http://www.justinjabs.com/blog/ justinjabs

        Weekend of August 30th looks great for promotions. Future Stars Topps on Friday, and Anthony Rizzo bobblehead on Saturday. I’m looking for an excuse to go to both.

  • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

    Very nice. The roster decisions are playing out exactly like they should. Polar opposite of last spring, when you were left wondering if Iowa wouldn’t be favored over Chicago on certain days, depending on pitching matchups.

  • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

    You aren’t being paranoid about Baker. Something is very clearly seriously wrong. Let’s not forget that he was mysteriously low on velocity before he felt some pain the next day, too.

    Best-case scenario is still June, but realistically it could be anywhere from that to out for the year.

    There’s pretty much no chance we get anything for him at the deadline now, and he was a pretty big chunk of the “flippable” strategy, so it’ll be interesting to see how that scoreboard turns out.

    • hansman1982

      Very Cub-ian that we get one of the 5% that doesn’t pan out.

      Also, I question the “pretty big chunk of the “flippable” strategy”, even, best case, many people were questioning if he would have enough to show other clubs he was worth a prospect by July 31.

  • OCCubFan

    “what was the point of getting the MRI if it couldn’t be analyzed by whatever medical staff is already down there? ”

    Brett, nowadays MRI results are electronic and can be ready by any doctor anywhere in the world.

  • Daniel

    Slide the scoreboard over and put the video board right next to it…so they are both centered up

  • #1lahairfan

    What happened to stretching Bowden out in to a starter?

    • DocPeterWimsey

      He admitted where the WMDs were or repented his Calvinist beliefs or something like that, so they stopped stretching him.

  • chrisfchi

    I usually hit the park on the 28th, as a birthday gift to me. if your out there then, ill see ya in the bleachers.

  • Grant

    Ignoring the money issue, am I the only one who would prefer no jumbotron? God forbid people watch the game instead of a big screen.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      I’m no luddite, but I agree. The Nats ballpark has an incredible jumbotron. I get a better view of the game on that than I do on my overly large HD TV at home. (Of course, at least I get to watch the game at the park: at home, I have to give up games for Dinosaur Train and Project Runway…..)

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Whoops, lost the last line somehow. The problem is that the jumbotron actually distracts me from watching the game in person!

        • Patrick W.

          Do they actually show game action in real time on that jumbo-tron? I’ve been there but I don’t remember that. Only been there once.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Yeah, they do show the game live. I think that they just have the local TV cast.

            Other than that, it’s a great park. My son loves the kiddie-park they have there, and my wife likes being able to not watch baseball while at the kiddie park!

        • hansman1982

          Speaking of Dinosaur Train (which I actually do enjoy), do you know Dr. Scott the Paleontologist?

          • DarthHater

            I do find it amusing that PBS cannot resist the compulsion to make the Pteranodon family a mixed-species household. 😉

            • DocPeterWimsey

              Mixed species? It’s more like mixed orders! That would be like you living with a wombat. (For some reason, pterosaurs are not classified as dinosaurs, although they are each others closest relatives.)

              Even worse: some of those Pteranodons are (gasp) different colors! I think that there are still laws on the book forbidding that in Virginia….

              Still, my son loves it, and he is all geared up to study dinosaurs when he is big!

              • DarthHater

                If only we could have gotten that darn Big Bird off the air . . .

            • hansman1982



              The cross-spieces relationship developing with Shiney and Gilbert is disturbing. What’s next…Elmo steals Jennifer Lawrence away from me!?!?!?!?

              • DarthHater

                You do understand that you have to have something for it to be stolen from you, right?

                • hansman1982

                  Golem + Ring of whatever the hell = Me + Jennifer Lawrence.

                  • DarthHater

                    “Myyyyyyyyy Precioussssss!” 😀

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Not well, although we both know each other’s work. He has collaborated with our dinosaur guy in the past, which is I think how we’ve bumped into each other. (I was moderately amused to see him on the show the first time!) However, the paleo part of evobio is sufficiently small that basically everyone has met everyone else at one meeting or another, and if anybody has published any number of papers, then you’ve certainly read his/her work.

            And Dinosaur Train actually is great: it gets the kids really hepped up to learn stuff about extinct beasties. Hopefully he doesn’t get to much crap for doing it: we are horrible about ostracizing people who actually popularize science. (It is the single stupidest thing that we do, in my opinion.)

            • hansman1982

              I figured as much after I asked the question. Seems like every scientist says similar things: “The community is so small that you can’t help to at least somewhat know of the others”

            • hansman1982

              “we are horrible about ostracizing people who actually popularize science.”

              I wonder how much of this comes from the dumbing down of some of the stuff?

              • college_of_coaches

                What Doc said is (sadly) true across most academic disciplines, regardless of whether it is in the sciences or the humanities. Being a college professor means being a member of a fiercely guarded guild that still clings to its medieval origins. Don’t believe me, go to a college graduation and look at what we wear. I remember looking around a “hooding” reception (for Ph.Ds) and thinking that I was at some bizarre renaissance fair.

                Thus, we must remain intellectually detached, and we must cling to our esoteric ways. But to me, the fact that my son could identify major species of dinosaurs before he was 3 is yet another lesson that the accessibility of knowledge through mass media can be a beautiful thing.

                • hansman1982

                  Ya, I have always thought the robes and such were kinda weird…

              • DocPeterWimsey

                To be honest, I think that it’s more that we feel that guys like Sampson are “selling out.” Really, it’s kind of dumb: besides the fact that PBS probably pays him in leftover Masterpiece Theater coffee mugs, we really need the public to feel that science is “fun” and “interesting”: otherwise, why should they support it?

                What I really like about Dinosaur Train is that they emphasize that the real fun is not in knowing the facts, but in asking the questions: and if Sampson loses a publication a year getting kids to think like that, then he’s still ahead of the rest of us!

                • hansman1982

                  Ya, the fact that my kid (at the age of 2 1/2) once proclaimed (after other kids were doing similar things) that he was “hopping like a paleobatrachus” (pronounced very clearly) was a proud moment as a father.

          • college_of_coaches

            Ha! I was about to write the same question. (My son loves the show.)

    • Patrick W.

      I grew up going to Wrigley Field, I am a season ticket holder (though long distance). Most of the games I go to now are in Seattle. Here’s the thing about a jumbo-tron: You don’t really watch it during the game. I’ve never been to a park where they actually show anything but information about the current batter/pitcher/game in statistical form during the game action. All the jumbo-tron shenanigans you usually associate with a jumbo-tron happen between innings. It’s nice to be able to look up between pitches and see where we are in the line-up, what everybody in the line-up has done so far today, and for the season, etc. and to see an instant replay on some of the plays.

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