cactusA few Spring Training-related notes …

  • The Cubs will play an intrasquad game tomorrow at Cubs Park at 1pm Arizona time. Kyle Hendricks will face Eric Jokisch in something of a AAA prospect, back-end-starter, high-polish-low-ceiling starting pitcher match up. The game will go six innings, and the doors open at 12:30pm. It’s open to the public, some someone out there: go, enjoy, and report back to us.
  • The actual Spring Training slate gets underway the next day, on Thursday, with the opening game at Cubs Park. Jeff Samardzija gets the start against new Diamondback righty Bronson Arroyo. It’s hair versus hair!
  • After Samardzija, the rotation will go Chris Rusin, Travis Wood, Edwin Jackson, and then Jason Hammel, per You’re going to anyway, but I wouldn’t read much into the order or the names. Chris Rusin, together with James McDonald and Carlos Villanueva, is believed to be among the competitors for the currently Jake Arrieta-less fifth spot in the rotation. But the fact that Rusin gets the ball in game two doesn’t necessarily mean he’s the favorite. McDonald dealt with shoulder issues last year, and could be brought along slowly. Villanueva is a swing guy, who needn’t necessarily start Spring games to be ready to start if he gets the call. Plus, with Spring piggybacking, the “starter” of a game doesn’t last more than a couple innings.
  • The best stuff among all of the lefty relievers in camp, at least the ones behind James Russell and Wesley Wright? Pitching Coach Chris Bosio says it’s Jonathan Sanchez, the former starter for the Giants, who’s struggled with injuries (and resulting command issues) for the last few years. It’s hard to see the Cubs carrying three lefties in the bullpen, but Sanchez has always been an interesting conversion guy. Bosio calls Sanchez’s stuff “explosive.”
  • Rick Renteria is pleased with the new park in Mesa. As referenced in the earlier Samardzija piece, RR wouldn’t say for sure that he’s the Opening Day starter just yet, referencing the who-knows-what-could-happen nature of the next few weeks. Suffice it to say, if Samardzija is healthy and a Cub, he’ll be taking the ball on Opening Day.
  • YourResidentJag

    If you’re up at 3 am the day after the first spring training game, you can watch on MLBNetwork.

    • Cerambam

      How? Are they only airing it at 3am? And are you required to be subscribed to anything?

      • YourResidentJag

        Yep, only airing in the middle of the night. No subscription necessary–other than a cable provider that gets MLBNetwork. MLBNetwork is replaying the FoxSportsAZ feed. One thing I will say about FoxSports Regional Networks is that they start to show spring training games ASAP unlike Comcast.

  • CubFan Paul

    Bosio calls Sanchez’s stuff “explosive.”

    Him making the bullpen, absent injuries would be huge for certain guys (Parker, Cabrera, Lim)

    • J. L.


      • CubFan Paul

        Cabrera is out of options. Parker only makes it if Lim doesn’t which is unlikely. & Lim is slated to make it if non of the non roster guys like Sanchez out-shine him.

        • FullCountTommy

          After his performance last year, Parker is a near lock for the pen

          • CubFan Paul

            “Parker is a near lock for the pen”

            Without a 2nd lefty, sure. But with Wright, Cabrera out of options, and the late inning/setup repertoire of Lim, it’s not a lock in my opinion (because Parker has options also.

            • C. Steadman

              options is a huge part of it, i agree with Paul, Parker still needs a strong spring to be a lock in the pen, if he struggles while others do better, FO might send him down to AAA despite the good 2013 bc of the options

              • FullCountTommy

                Agreed, didn’t think of the options, but the fact that he threw almost 50 very successful big league innings last year gives him a huge edge, even if he struggles a bit in the spring. Remember Takahashi last year? He made the team with a strong Spring and we all know how that ended up

                • CubFan Paul

                  Takahashi did not have a strong spring.

                  • FullCountTommy

                    You’re right, I don’t know what the hell I was remembering. My point simply is, they’re going to look at a lot more than just a strong spring to pick the last couple bullpen spots and Parker’s success last year puts him at the front of the line

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “Parker’s success last year puts him at the front of the line”

                      and I still disagree. We have different definitions on ‘success’. Despite his stat line, Parker has very average stuff (6th/7th inning only stuff).

                    • FullCountTommy

                      So you are talking about Parker’s “ability” not Parker’s “success.” His stuff has absolutely no bearing on his success, which is solely stats based. If we were ranking prospects, then some of those other guys would rank ahead of Parker, but this isn’t solely about stuff.

                      Also, his stuff must not be that bad if it resulted in a 28% K rate and sub 8% walk rate

                    • C. Steadman

                      its really one spot to choose among Parker, Grimm, Vizcaino, Lim, and Rondon(unless you dont care about losing Cabrera) and the safe bet is Parker, but i could see Lim or Rondon beating him out, Grimm is in camp as a RP but think he still gets sent down to start in Iowa and Vizzy is coming off injury and likely bet is minors(maybe Daytona as Brett has mentioned bc of the warmer weather than the other Northern affiliates)

                  • CubFan Paul

                    “His stuff has absolutely no bearing on his success”

                    It does when building a bullpen. Position redundancy matters in the pen too.

                    • FullCountTommy

                      Stuff means nothing without command, Parker has both. You have a habit of picking out and quoting the least important part of everyone’s comments and it adds nothing to the argument

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “You have a habit of picking out and quoting the least important part of everyone’s comments”

                      Because that’s the topic

                    • FullCountTommy

                      The topic is you quoting the least important part of other’s comments?? Man, you are way off topic from where we started

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “The topic is”

                      Sanchez making the bullpen, absent injuries would be huge for certain guys (Parker, Cabrera, Lim)

                    • FullCountTommy

                      You love to ignore the fact that arguments evolve, not every single post is in regard to the OP. My argument is that Parker has the edge because of his past success at the big league level and you said that he was not successful because his of his stuff. While he might not have the ability, which is what stuff is, you can’t argue that he hasn’t had success

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “and you said that he was not successful because his of his stuff”

                      No, I didn’t.

                    • FullCountTommy

                      “We have different definitions on ‘success’. Despite his stat line, Parker has very average stuff (6th/7th inning only stuff)”

                      This statement implies that you think his success is determined by his stuff

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “This statement implies that you think his success is determined by his stuff”

                      Stop implying/ASSuming and the conversation can move forward

                    • FullCountTommy

                      So please explain what your definition of success is??

                      I would say a 28% K rate, 8% walk rate with a 2.72 ERA and 2.90 FIP is incredibly successful for a rookie reliever.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “So please explain what your definition of success is??”

                      Why? As stated above/below, I like Cabrera & Lim in the seven man bullpen over Parker. I don’t care to go into specifics as to why you disagree with me all double question mark style.

                      Especially not after you already went all e-jerk lecturer on how i’m evil.

                    • C. Steadman

                      look Tommy, you obviously are more stats-orientated when it comes to evaluations while Paul is more old-school scout type guy that likes to observe with his eyes/radar gun…both types are needed in baseball, agree to disagree…stats-orientated will tend to favor Parker at this point while old-school will tend to be more bearish on his 2013

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “stats-orientated will tend to favor Parker at this point while old-school will tend to be more bearish on his 2013”

                      Thank you Steadman.

                    • mjhurdle

                      hmm, lets review the checklist.

                      – accuse someone of changing topic? check
                      – call someone else an e-jerk? check
                      – refuse to defend the position? check.

                      looks like we are all good here.

                    • FullCountTommy

                      I am definitely both, and I loved what I saw from Parker last year. He kept hitters off balance, he hit spots, it was a wonderful thing to watch. Maybe it’s because as a pitcher in college, I was very successful despite not throwing very hard, but overlooking a guy who has had big league success because he doesn’t throw 100 mph is silly.

                    • FullCountTommy

                      Hahahaha mjhurdle that was classic, touche sir

                    • Chad

                      @mjhurdle. Day would not be complete if CFP did not accomplish all three of those things.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “but overlooking a guy who has had big league success because he doesn’t throw 100 mph is silly”

                      If you’re referring to me, that’s a lot more implying & ASSuming.

                    • FullCountTommy

                      It was more a general statement and an exaggeration. Well, as mjhurdle pointed out, we’ve checked all the boxes on the CFP checklist so time to move on

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “we’ve checked all the boxes on the CFP checklist so time to move on”

                      I win.

                    • C. Steadman

                      I’m both too, and I agree with Parker being slotted in the 7th spot right now…i also was a college pitcher while topping out at 84 so I’m in the same boat in that i appreciate finesse guys…Lim is also a sinker baller/side armer like Parker and if he regains his fastball velocity(93-95) will be very filthy, more than Parker in my opinion…Lim didnt get the nickname “Mr. Zero”(era reference) for nothing

                    • FullCountTommy

                      Ha nice, I topped out at like 82 from the side. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Lim’s stuff, but he needs to show that he’s completely healthy before I put him in the bullpen. If Arietta misses any time, Villanueva likely slides in the rotation, opening up another spot, so it’ll be interesting to see how it shakes out. Too much bullpen depth is never a bad thing

                  • CubFan Paul

                    “its really one spot to choose among Parker, Grimm, Vizcaino, Lim, and Rondon(unless you dont care about losing Cabrera)”

                    Steadman i see the pen now as

                    RHP Alberto Cabrera (out of options)
                    RHP Jose Veras
                    RHP Carlos Villanueva
                    LHP Wesley Wright
                    LHP James Russell
                    RHP Pedro Strop
                    RHP Lim

                    • C. Steadman

                      if Lim can get back to 93-95 then he’ll be filthy, otherwise if he’s sitting 89-91 like we saw in Sep I’d just rather go Parker or Rondon…but I agree with 1-6 spots, 7th spot is a wildcard and i personally would pencil Parker in there now, but could see Lim or Rondon catching him

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “if Lim can get back to 93-95 then he’ll be filthy”

                      I’m anxious for more Spring stats/info

                    • Chad

                      I’d like to see Russel get moved during ST, but I don’t think he is enough to bring back anything of worth on his own. Maybe an add in with Shark at the deadline.

                    • C. Steadman

                      agreed cant wait for Thursday! I like watching Lim pitch, if he can get that sinking fastball up to 95 like he used to then he’ll be a great replacement with runners on base less than 2 out to try and either get a grounder/strikeout

            • FullCountTommy

              Veras, Strop, Wright, Villanueva, Russell, Parker, Cabrera. Don’t see it being different than that if the Cubs carry 12 pitchers. If they carry 13, then that 13th spot is WIDE open with Rondon (probably the favorite), Rusin, Rosscup, Lim, Grimm, Sanchez, Rivero, and Vizcaino (longshot) all having a chance.

              All of this is assuming no injuries of course, which isn’t likely, especially because Arietta’s injury already creates an extra spot

              • Chad

                Arrieta’s injury only affects the bullpen if Villanueva is slotted for that spot in the rotation. There are a lot of options in the bullpen, which is a good thing if you can send guys down and bring them back up.

                • FullCountTommy

                  At this point, it would be Villanueva or Rusin, so it does affect the bullpen, but yes I agree, you can never have too much bullpen depth

                  • Chad

                    I don’t see Rusin as a bullpen arm. Like mentioned, I doubt they carry 3 lefties. If Rusin does not make the rotation he will be at Iowa starting for potential injuries or trades. Also, Villanueva’s value is best as a swing man, and I doubt he gets out of the pen. There are just so many hard throwing guys I like in the pen more than Rusin that I don’t see it happening for him. Grimm could also get a look at starting (I know he is in camp as a reliever) and I think he goes to Iowa as well to start.

                    I would like to think Rondon can continue where he left off last year, but if not he would be really good depth to have at Iowa.

                    It would be interesting to know if Sanchez could get stretched out or is strictly a relief guy now.

  • brickhouse

    You have a lot of exhibition games to sort out the bullpen. Lets see how the players actually perform before speculating.

  • kridertr

    There are a lot of cubs games on mlb network this year. A total of 19 games I think on wgn, csn, and mlb network. There are only a couple live on mlb network but are aired at all various times throughout the spring. You need to have mlbnetwork tho and I believe it is standard on most packages

  • Edwin

    I’m pretty sure Bosio raved about Chris Volstad’s stuff too. I’m going to chalk it up to typical coach speak. It could mean something, or it could just be that Sanchez had a good throwing session.

  • section233

    I’m going to sign up for this year – is it worth it to sign up during spring training?

    • CubbieBubba

      in years past it was free in the spring, but i’m not sure how they sort those games out now. I’ve had it the past few years and during the gaps in spring coverage I usually get my baseball fix from watching the previous years september games with a renewed focus on the younger up and comers.

  • Blackhawks1963

    A possible interesting development toward the end of Spring Training might be a trade or two of relief pitchers. Contenders are forever looking to improve their bullpen situations, plus pitchers invariably get hurt during training camp. If Jonathan Sanchez looks good in camp then maybe a rebuilding club like the Cubs can flip Russell to a contender the last week of camp??? The Cubs might also be able to flip Villenueva.

  • bnile1

    Do not be surprised if Villanueva is traded at the tend of spring training. Especially if Mcdonald or sanches make the team as that would likely be the role they would be given. Also a guy like Villanueva would be more valuable at the beginning of the season(say texas??) ten at the deadline where teams are basically looking for “put us over the top” starters or late inning bullpen arms. It’s also a goood place to save 5 mil on a guy who won’t net you anything if he walks at the end of the year. Better to save the money and give the innings to one of the other developmental arms(say parker or cabrera). the need for a 6th starter is less this year with the success Rusin showed last year. While not conclusive for a future rotation guy, certainly good enough to make them feel good about an injury fill in role.

    I also agree that if a team is willing to give value at the end of spring training then Russell is available.

  • Austin8466

    Does this make James Russell expendable in a trade before the season?

    Maybe a Samardzija and Russell package?

  • FFP

    I can’t see Shark’s name next to Bronson’s without thinking those boys might have a short chat about Bronson’s old guitar jammin’ buddy, Theo and contract extensions.
    In Jan. 2006 Bronson signed a three year deal against the advice of his own agent (partly) because he really loved Boston and wanted to stay. His hometown discount turned him into trade bait and he was gone in a flash (it felt like days, not weeks to me back then) to the Reds. Ouch.

    The insult to that injury was that he was traded for Willy Mo Pena, who remains the most inept baseball player I have ever seen take the field; professional, college, or little league.;

  • Javier Bryant

    Hopefully we can keep Sanchez in Triple A in case of injury or trade

  • Diehardthefirst

    Wonder how much Seattles Franklin would be improvement over current infielders?

  • The one who knocks

    I’ll be at the intra-squad game tomorrow and will try to give you some info and pictures. You have my email address if you want to send a request.