cubs park springPitchers and catchers have reported for the Arizona Diamondbacks, so I guess we can say Spring Training is officially underway. It’s next Thursday for the Cubs, and I can’t wait.

  • Speaking of that Cubs reporting date, Carrie Muskat confirms something a lot of folks have been wondering about: can fans watch the workouts before the games begin? Yes! The first workout is a week from today, so folks in Mesa can head out to the new facilities and check out some stretching and running and throwing! (I’m only kind of joking!)
  • Carrie Muskat notes in that piece that Travis Wood, Darwin Barney, Logan Watkins, Donnie Murphy, Nate Schierholtz, James Russell, Blake Parker, Edwin Jackson, Josh Vitters, Matt Szczur, Chris Rusin, and Ryan Kalish are among the early arrivers at Spring Training.
  • Tony Andracki with a swoon-worthy profile of Albert Almora. I get a little fluttery reading the final quote from the uncommonly mature 19-year-old: “You always think about how it’s going to be [when the Cubs win it all]. But as much as I want it to happen, when it happens, it’s going to be nothing like I thought. Everything is going to be completely different. The fans are going to be 10 times crazier than what I’m even thinking right now. You can’t put it into words.” You are correct, sir.
  • Lights, activated: If you’re already thinking about 2014 World Cup betting action, that there link should set you up swell.
  • You don’t see too many reasonable national takes on the Cubs these days, but this piece on the rotation from Jonathan Bernhardt at Sports on Earth is pretty good.
  • Jon Greenberg profiles former Cub, and current student, Adrian Cardenas.
  • Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner has passed away. The 10-year MLB vet put up incredible numbers for such a short run (two of those years with the Cubs), and then became a fantastic broadcaster for the Mets. Seriously, man, check out his 1949 and 1951 seasons, in particular. He had nearly as many homers (54 and 42) as he had strikeouts (61 and 57). And he had twice as many walks as strikeouts in those seasons!
  • Obligatory Joe Posnanski on Kiner.
  • Vine Line on the Cubs’ prospect situation, overall, and the impending wave of talent.
  • The Marlins have reportedly agreed to a deal with Carlos Marmol, who gets $1.25 million. For all the (appropriate) guff Marmol gets about his erratic performance and control issues, he can still strike guys out. Maybe in a lower leverage role, and out of Chicago, he can have some more success.
  • Who wins a ring (or another ring) sooner: Jeff Samardzija or LeBron James?
  • For the lulz: Cespedes Family BBQ looks at Barry Bonds homers, annotated.
  • Eternal Pessimist

    Who wins a ring (or another ring) sooner: Jeff Samardzija or LeBron James?

    Ughh….Lebron of course (is this a trick question?)

    • Jim

      Nope. You assume Samardzija will be on the Cubs for his ring.

      • ari gold

        I truly believe Samardzija wins a world series before Lebron wins a world series.

        • Eternal Pessimist

          Maybe a better question is who is more likely to win a championship FOR CHICAGO Shark or Lebron?

          • Funn Dave

            Your initial question didn’t specifically address the world series, anyway.

    • DarthHater

      The answer depends on how many boxes of Cracker Jack Samardzija is capable of eating and how fast he can eat them.

  • ari gold

    I love spring training as much as anyone. But seriously, almost 2 months before opening day is a bit soon for pitchers and catchers. It should only be 5 weeks at the most to get ready for opening day.

    • http://BN Sacko

      Our team needs to be there 3 months early.

  • El Paso Cubs Fan

    Living a short, six hr drive from Mesa, I am eager for pitchers & catchers (& then position players) to report. I plan to go watch workouts on the 22nd (15 days from now). Even with NO expectations for the Cubs this year (except “earning” the #1 draft pick in the 2015 draft), I am eager for baseball to be here.

  • JakeMac

    Did anyone else read this line in the Cubs rotation piece and throw up in their mouth a little?

    Re: Jason Hammel – “Now, the second highest-paid player on the 2014 Chicago Cubs by annual contract value, edging out Starlin Castro by a bit more than $100,000, is Hammel, who came over in free agency”

    Free agency, man. Lines like that make it all the more important to finish this rebuild the right way.

    • Edwin

      Huh. Strange but true.

    • Jim

      Price of business. FA’s just dont give you the WAR/$ like a young cost controlled player.

    • brainiac

      the interesting thing is to look at the free agent classes over the next two years. there’s one or two good free agents per YEAR, and they’ll be in their (guess what, you’re right) early 30s.

      does anyone expect the cubs to ever sign a free agent again? none of them will meet the right criteria as dictated by the new theo. it’s going to be a long, long, long time before the cubs even try to compete guys.

      • Jon

        There is certainly not a position player worth a damn out there. Pitching is interesting, specifically Homer Bailey(age wise). Let’s hope he makes it to FA.

        • hansman

          Colby Rasmus could be interesting if he puts up another .800+ OPS season.

          However, considering our prospect pool, I think position players won’t be a huge concern.

          • Jon

            Yeah, I like Rasmus, but I think a ton of his value comes from playing GG caliber D in CF(with pretty good bad supplementing it). And I’m not sure if they block Almora at this point.

      • ari gold

        Wrong brainiac. Theo will sign guys over the age of 30 when we’re close to competing. Like after this season.

      • hansman

        “does anyone expect the cubs to ever sign a free agent again? none of them will meet the right criteria as dictated by the new theo.”

        He signed Edwin Jackson last year.

        Folks like to get their knickers in a twist about how the Cubs didn’t sign anyone of merit this year so now we will never sign another free agent again. This offseason was clearly about Tanaka. They failed to do that but that doesn’t mean that Theo won’t go out and pursue someone next year.

        • MichiganGoat

          WRONG, the Cubs will never sign anyone ever again. Because Brainaic said so!

        • Edwin

          Nope. Jason Hammel was the last free agent ever.

      • El Paso Cubs Fan

        Love the Cubs, but am starting to think I will never see them GO TO a World Series, let alone win one. I hope I’m wrong, but I’m seeing nothing to make me think being COMPETITIVE will happen before 2018. I can easily see the Cubs winning fewer games in ’14 than they won in ’13 (and fewer still in ’15). There’s not enough quality pitching in the system and none of the potential free agents in the next several years seem to “fit” the Theo plan. I WANT to see the Cubs winning, but see nothing to make me BELIEVE they will.

        • brainiac

          the pessimistic pragmatist in me says the same. the cubs wont try to win until the ricketts are satisfied with a certain revenue stream, of which they’ll use a large portion for profits and not infrastructure. i’ve come to terms with that part of the business plan.

          but all things considered – minor league talent, impending lawsuits or building purchases, city permits, paying themselves back for their own loan, buying time to keep large profit overheads before the pitchforks come out, i have them pegged at 2018-2020, and without theo as president. he’ll be working for the yankees by then.

          • BT

            So you’ve come to terms with a part of the business plan that doesn’t exist.


          • Edwin

            But it’s Friday today. Can’t the optimistic rays of sunshine peak through the clouds of pessimistic pragmastism just once?

            • brainiac

              how about instead, can’t the cubs give us reason to be optimistic just ice? let’s focus on the people who actually matter here. i just evaluate to counterbalance the PR messages of “the plan”. it’s admittedly tone deaf, but so are the lap dogs who will believe and fight for whatever they’re told to believe.

              • brainiac

                ice=once, autocorrect. though “just ice” sounds like a very expensive low overhead drink the FO is brainstorming for the new stadium in rosemont.

                • BT

                  everyone who doesn’t crap on everything= LAPDOG!

                  The brave and oh so rare internet poster who thinks the front office of the local sports team is doing a poor job. We’re lucky to have you. Paul Revere had nothing on you brother.

                  • brainiac

                    another caricature. i’m absolutely bullish about mcleod, who i think should be GM. and i agree with everyone that the minors are going to be a strong well for the next few years, which will help a continuous flow of new talent to the mlb level.

                    but that’s only about 1/3 of what it takes to make an mlb team work. the rest is deliberately being neglected. and the next guy who cites edwin jackson as a major free agent hire should force himself to drink three st. louis beers in 3 minutes in shame.

                    • BT

                      Oh, sorry for the caricature. I know something like that is beneath you. It was awful lapdoggy of me.

              • Edwin

                True hope is swift, and flies with swallow’s wings;
                Kings it makes gods, and meaner creatures kings.

  • CubsFaninMS

    No one is discussing Logan Watkins. Is he an afterthought? Clearly not the same upside as Alcantara and quite possibly a Darwin Barney 2.0, but it would’ve been nice last season to see what he was capable of. The guy has a higher upside than Barney in terms of OBP and contact and, although Barney is clearly an elite defender at second, Watkins is very capable of being league average or better. One of the biggest mistakes Sveum made was not allowing Watkins to MLB service time during 2013 September call-ups.

    • Edwin

      Yes. He’s an afterthought.

  • CubFanBob

    As a fellow philosophy major I love keeping up with Cardenas. Thank’s to him being at the right place and right time the Cub’s 7,664 no hit streak lives. I am sure Greenberg was disappointed Cardenas didnt rip the Cubs in anyway.

    • ced landrum

      It was actually a very good article. I got to watch Cardenas in AAA and the kid could hit. He had a really good plan at the plate. I think he could have become a really good utility player. Glad he is happy though.

  • Funn Dave

    Knowing how awful our team is, how am I this excited for spring training to start up?

  • cubbiekoolaid2015

    Does anyone know how the spring training roster cuts go, or if the top prospects will still be on the roster into mid-March? I just got my tickets for the two games in Vegas(mid-March) and would be a bit disappointed if I didn’t get to see one of Baez, Bryant, Almora, or Soler.

    • hansman

      My guess is that Almora and Soler will be quick to be sent to minor league camp. Baez and Bryant will probably stick around for a while.

      • ssckelley

        I think Soler will stick around for a while.

        • hansman

          Quick was the wrong choice of word there. First would have been better.

    • CubbieBubba

      I believe I saw Soler hit one out at a game 2nd-3rd week of March last year.

    • GRCubs

      Bryant is from Vegas so I think there is a good chance you’ll see him there.

    • Spriggs

      The NV games are always split squad games. They will have games in AZ that weekend too. That means plenty of prospects. Even after players get sent down to minor league camp, they still often play in ST games.

  • Diehardthefirst

    Saw 42 again and second time around see more details- Rickey was not afraid to take risk on good minor leaguers- when is it right time to bring kid up? Maybe Theo should be willing to risk his legacy vs reward to team of adding a few good minor leaguers now?

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Talking about what FO’s did in Branch Rickey’s day is a little like talking about how people travelled in the 19th century. (“But Branch, aren’t you worried about sacrificing a year of control?” “What, is he going to die a year earlier?”)

      • Diehardthefirst

        Control is worthless if stuck in minors- myopic thinking by GMs not willing to forego control for WS win now- more net reward

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Well, people have accused the Rays of this: in a couple of recent seasons, they have probably cost the team a couple of wins by keeping superior players in the minors long enough that it probably cost the team 1-3 victories. In both cases, the Rays just barely made the playoffs.

          However, the Rays also offer the flip-side. In truth, the superior rookies in question would have added all of 1-3 victories. With those superior rookies on the post-season roster, they still lost both post-seasons in question (2011 and 2013) in the first series. The players in question (Desmond and Myers) now will be with the Rays for one more year each: and that means that they will contribute to TB’s hope of winning a WS one more time. They didn’t fail to win the WS because they left those guys in the minors, after all: they failed because the Rays were playing only pretty good baseball in September and they faced opponents who had been playing excellent baseball in September.

          This in itself also shows what the GM really can try to do: not go for a WS, but go for post-season. In both 2011 and 2013, the Rays were playing only good and not great baseball in September, and they got bounced in the first round as a result. There is not much that a GM can do about that except try to get a team to post-season as often as possible: that maximizes the chance that you send a team that currently is playing really well.

          And, of course, the other issue is that the Rays were contenders without the rookies in question. The Cubs are nowhere near being a contender, and they have not fielded a contending team since 2009. They at least two holes in the starting rotation, and holes at 2nd, 3rd and the entire OF. Adding one Myers or Desmond would (as with the Rays) add 1-4 wins over an entire season. The Cubs need to add 3 or 4 of those guys and then hope that all of them add on the high side in order to get within shouting distance of contending.

          • Diesel

            Is it selfish that I want Baez to be in Iowa through father’s day?