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cubs park springHooray for more in-person baseball! I’ll be at Cubs Park today to watch the Cubs take on the Rockies, and I hope to see a few of you there. I’ll once again be in a blue BN shirt and the blue/yellow shoes, but one lesson I learned yesterday is that Cubs Park is so easy to just walk around in, you might not find me in any one particular spot at any one particular time. I will exist in quantum superposition all around Cubs Park.

You can expect heavy updates on Twitter once again, and then here at the site later today.

As for the game, Jeff Samardzija gets his second Spring start, and Chris Rusin will follow with a couple innings. Among the other pitchers scheduled to appear: Jose Veras, Pedro Strop, and Armando Rivero (whom I will watch with *great* interest). There will be audio for the game on Cubs.com.

Lineup (Baez!):

  1. Ryan Kalish, LF
  2. Luis Valbuena, 3B
  3. Junior Lake, CF
  4. Ryan Roberts, 1B
  5. Javier Baez, SS
  6. George Kottaras, C
  7. Brett Jackson, RF
  8. Chris Valaika, 2B
  9. Darnell McDonald, DH

Most of the prospects are available to play later in the game, too. I find that lineup pretty darn interesting, especially the outfield. There can be no doubt that the Cubs are looking at Junior Lake as a true center fielder at this point – he has yet to play a corner outfield spot in a Spring game, and obviously Brett Jackson is a more natural center fielder than a right fielder. Ryan Kalish, too, can play center. And yet it’s Lake who gets the spot, while the other two guys are being considered as reserve outfielders who can play all over.

  • CubFanBob

    my boy Kalish out to shock the world !!!!

    • C. Steadman

      you know him?

      • CubFanBob

        lighten up Francis

        • C. Steadman

          what? i was just wondering if you knew him, since you called him your boy…

          • CubFanBob

            my mistake, yes I am his father

            • C. Steadman

              geez, didnt think you would get so defensive, i merely asked if you knew him bc that wouldve be kinda sweet

            • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

              Darth Kalish

          • TimBeam

            Yeah I got the same impression that he knew the guy too

            • CubFanBob

              whatever gave you the impression I personally new him due to rooting for him to succeed ?

              • C. Steadman

                when guys refer to someone as “my boy” it usually means they are friends or they’ve met/know the person they’re talking about…in this case thats a no..but usually

                • CubFanBob

                  ok sure but in this case “my boy” refers to a player I personally am rooting for and believe can make an impact on the Cubs. As in Ryan “fire in the belly” Kalish is “my boy”. My apologizes for being defensive.

                  • Jon

                    aka “Game Changer”

                • http://bleachernation.com woody

                  Clearly we have run out of relevent topics! Somebody help me please.

                  • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                    I think we have hit on all of them in the past 24 hours. Shall we start again?

                    BAEZ IS A BUM HE STRIKES OUT TOO MUCH!!!!

                    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                      BARNEY HAS GRIT, BELLYFIRE, AND A SCRAPPINESS FEW WILL EVER ACHIEVE.

                    • mjhurdle

                      ALMOND JOYS ARE A DELICIOUS TREAT AND ARE BY FAR SUPERIOR TO A TWIX!!!!

                    • blublud

                      Campania can be an everyday player!!!!!!

                    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                      ALMOND JOYS ARE AA ROSTER FILLER!!!! AT BEST!!!!!!!!!! THEY HAVE A TERRIBLE BATTING AVERAGE

                      “BARNEY HAS GRIT, BELLYFIRE, AND A SCRAPPINESS FEW WILL EVER ACHIEVE.”

                      Except Albert Almora…his twin brother.

                • D-Rock

                  Sorry, Bob, but I tend to agree with Chet Steadman. I really was hoping that Kalish was your son or at least an acquaintance of yours.

              • TimBeam

                The way you “spoke” about him as “my by, kalish” made it seem like you had some personal connection to him.
                But hell you were spot on about him. Infield single, two stolen bases and scored on the error. What an inning for him

    • jp3

      Why I else would you talk about him otherwise. He must

  • Funn Dave

    That’s probably the approach I’d take with Lake.

  • David

    Really glad Lake is in center, he’ll handle it and have success.. I hope he embraces it and is there all year. I think he can be an offensive force if we give him significant time at a position. Most athletic dude on the cubs this year????

  • candyland07

    George Kottaras, C.

    This is one player that I feel the Cubs have wasted money and effort to give him a roster.spot on the 25 man roster it is a mind boggle that he is on the 40 man roster.Although I hope he has a strong spring – which is no success of having a good 162 season i am still interested enough to see how he fairs in spring games.

    • Blake Z

      Who else do they have as a backup catcher?

      • Funn Dave

        That dude with the long hair.

        • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

          We signed Aaroyo to catch?

        • Eternal Pessimist

          Shark?

    • another JP

      Kottaras actually makes more sense as a backup than Navarro did when the Cubs signed him last year. And given the money he’ll be making, much better than Suzuki.

      • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

        Exactly I thought we already covered the “but but but LOOK at his batting average” argument. He’s a cheap backup catcher that provides good defense and has a good OBP.

        • another JP

          Ah, but the bashers of this FO don’t care how many times they have to argue mundane subjects like who the backup catcher is. It’s been said only 7% of all people have basic common sense, looks like about the same ratio posts on this site.

          • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

            Exactly

            • C. Steadman

              heck he just threw out CarGo

  • BlameHendry

    Come on I wanna see more Olt. We all know Baez is awesome and he’s starting the year at AAA. Olt is the guy that could start the year in the majors, why are we not seeing more of him?

    • Jon

      “why are we not seeing more of him?”

      Because he can’t see you! Heyyyoooooo

    • Sandberg

      The Cubs aren’t here to hand out cookies.

      • ssckelley

        Right, spring training is just an appetizer.

        • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

          It’s not even that ST is the BYOB party and the games are that bag of chips you’ve had for too long.

        • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

          Maybe the free popcorn some supermarkets hand out.

    • JacqueJones

      I think partially because he has that sore shoulder so cant play third for a little while

    • Noah_I

      Olt will get plenty of playing time in spring training. Everyone one plays about every other day in spring training, and the Cubs will start sending players to minor league camp shortly. I expect Olt to remain in Major League camp until the Cubs head off to Chase Field for the games against Arizona, if he doesn’t make the team out of spring training.

  • ssckelley

    How much more Ryan Roberts do we need to see?

    • itzscott

      ….. or Chris Valaika

      or Darnell McDonald…..

      They’re torturing us on purpose.

  • Jon

    I can’t recall a Cubs outfield situation more dire than this current group. The one I’m most high on is Justin Ruggiano…Justin Ruggiano!!!!!

    • ssckelley

      No way, we need to see more of Old McDonald.

      • Jon

        I am trying to figure out why in the blue hell McDonald is getting player time over Vitters. Vitters hasn’t really got anything this spring.

        • Patrick W.

          I honestly think he’s going to be released in the next week or so and he’s being given a chance to show he belongs in baseball. If Vitters, Jackson, Sczur all start in Iowa’s OF he isn’t going to play there or in Chicago. Get him some early at bats he can catch on with another team.

          • Rudy N

            Vitters could play 1B and DH at Iowa too,

            • Patrick W.

              Yeah but they have explicitly said he’s an outfielder now. I don’t doubt he will get some time at 1b.

            • http://bleachernation.com woody

              That is assuming that Olt doesn’t do that. Many think that he will do just that for a month or so untill he is really hitting his stride at AAA. They must not be seeing much positive in Vitters batting practices or he would be getting some playing time.

        • another JP

          And Vitters doesn’t deserve anything more than what the other OF have gotten for PT. Dude is way down on the depth chart.

          • Jon

            He’s 24 and has hit well in AAA. There is a chance of him being a productive major leaguer. Small yes, but there is still an upside some of these career retreads don’t have.

            • another JP

              Kalish is better and only 25. If Vitters has a future it won’t be in Chicago. If Vitters puts up more than a 3 WAR total career it’ll be as a DH… and we still don’t know if he can hit major league pitching yet. I doubt it.

              • mjhurdle

                I’m not sure that you can judge either Vitters (99 ABs) or Kalish (259 ABS) as far as what they can/will contribute to the MLB squad.
                Both are young, have good numbers in the minor leagues, both seem to be below average fielders, and both are currently sporting negative bWARs in the time accumulated on the MLB level.

                I’m not sure there is a big enough difference between them yet to say one is better or has a better future than the other.

                I hope to see them both get action in ST, because there is upside left in both.

                • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                  Yeah the odds of either of them making the 25 man roster is very thin unless a trade happens before that.

            • MightyBear

              You know Jon I don’t say this often but I agree with you.

  • Diehardthefirst

    In ST games they should allow unlimited substitutions so for instance Valbuena 2 innings then Olt then Valbuena then Baez then Olt etc

    • ssckelley

      Post moar ideas plz!

    • JCubs79

      I actually wouldn’t mind that. Maybe for the first couple weeks of ST to get guys more looks. Might increase the injury risk though.

    • C. Steadman

      the reason for substitutions is so players can go condition and leave early and get some family time…if you sit by the exit, players substituted out almost always leave before the games are done…also that would increase the risk of injury since they would sit in the dugout for a few innings and then quick get inserted back into a pro baseball game, not some beer league slowpitch softball game

      • DarthHater

        I disagree about the injury thing. Players in other sports sub in and out of games all the time and it’s not big deal. Baseball players would just have to adjust to the possibility of substitutions during ST and get properly stretched out before going back into a game.

    • DarthHater

      And with this truly great suggestion, Diehard’s unparalleled streak of 10,486 consecutive PAICOABLANs comes to an end!

      • C. Steadman

        i’m gonna have to ask…whats a PAICOABLAN?…

        • Billy

          Posted An Idiotic Comment On A Blog Like A Nincampoop

          • C. Steadman

            hahaha sounds like diehard

          • DarthHater

            It’s catching on! YES!!! :-D

            • farmerjon

              Might I suggest PICOBLAN? Post Idiotic Comment On Blog Like A Ninkompoop…little less wordy AND less confusion (internally) on how to pronounce it. ; )

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    It looks like our two game win streak is over with that lineup. Maybe Baez crushes a couple of homers and goes 4 for 4. Theo would shit a brick if that happened. Remember the soup nazi on seinfeld? Theo is now the official cookie nazi; “no cookies for you”.

    • itzscott

      He certainly is intent on holding these guys back as much as possible.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    I guess this roster is due to the fact that the Rockies are playing their split squad group. I guess it wouldn’t be nice to put our good guys in for that.

    • C. Steadman

      it mightve been a split squad but looks like the Rockies brought their A team…maybe we shouldve put our good guys in…

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    Too bad Bryant didn’t get the start beside Baez today. It would be fun to see what kind of damage those two could do together.

  • Blackhawks1963

    It’s interesting to contemplate what the Iowa lineup will look like….

    LF – Andreoli
    CF – Szczur
    RF – Kalish
    3rd – Villenueva
    SS – Baez
    2nd – Alcantara
    1st – Olt (if he doesn’t make the big club right away)
    Cat – ?

    Vitters and Jackson might be S.O.L. Reserves at Iowa. Or whacked.

    • C. Steadman

      I believe Vitters will be given priority over Andreoli and he will either start in AA(he has repeated a level before) or be the 4th OF(its not like hes a huge time prospect so he can sit, Vitters is more valuable in my opinion)

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      C- Lopez.

    • King Jeff

      Andreoli only played half a year in Tennessee, wouldn’t be surprised if he’s back there to start the year.

    • ssckelley

      and this Iowa lineup is brought to you by Grandmas Cookies…..they taste great in between meals!!!!

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    Shark loads the bases and walks in a run. He has also hit a batter. Not helping his prospects to be the opening day starter.

    • Voice of Reason

      It’s one freaking outing for God sake.

      You guys need a hobby.

      • http://bleachernation.com woody

        I had a hobby making home brew, but unfortunately that landed me in rehab.

        • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

          Umm that makes less sense the your pitcher evaluation.

        • Voice of Reason

          If you made the brew like some of the trades you want the Cubs to make it’s a wonder you’re still alive!

      • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

        Yeah evaluating pitchers by ST performances is foolish. Shsrk could be working on one pitch and threw it over and over, or working on location, or still isn’t 100% and was throwing batting practice, or any other reasons that do not equal how he will look when the season starts. I don’t know why anyone takes the outcome of these games seriously.

      • Funn Dave

        Well, if there are scouts there today, his performance would have something of an impact. But I really don’t think there’s any question as to who the opening day starter is at this point.

    • DarthHater

      And when he gets home tonight, his dog will probably bite him and he won’t get lucky with his girlfriend. Things aren’t looking good.

    • King Jeff

      I’ve seen at least 3 tweets wondering if he had thrown a breaking ball yet, so yeah, he’s probably just getting work in without putting too much stress on his arm.

      • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

        Nah King he’s obviously toast and will be cut before opening day.

        • King Jeff

          Yeah, sorry. I forgot the schtick for a minute and actually thought someone was curious.

          • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

            I don’t think it started as a schtick. It just ended up there because worrying about this start is a joke.

  • Jon

    Not the crispiest outing for Shark. Better clean this up by opening day.

    • Diehardthefirst

      You don’t get it- that’s his MO- he’s barely a 5th starter on most teams- better off middle reliever for 3-4 innings tops

      • Voice of Reason

        what’s his MO?

        • Voice of Reason

          you think he is tanking games on purpose so he can become a middle reliever?

          • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

            The FO tank jobs are getting in his head…

        • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

          You just had to ask didn’t you VoR?

          • Voice of Reason

            He is like McFly… so gullable!

      • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

        Well the new streak begins. That’s 1.

        • DarthHater

          [img]http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2873/12908841474_b7f4f165cf_n.jpg[/img]

          • Chad

            Phenomenal.

  • DarthHater

    And the countdown to God’s Wrath Watch on Baez begins …

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      What happened?

      • King Jeff

        Fouled one off his foot, and was still in visible pain the next half inning. Then he hit a dinger and all was ok.

        • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

          Ah well obviously he hit the pain out

  • http://BN Sacko

    So mcDonald gets AB’s so we really know he will get cut/released.. whatever?
    Or some other team he will play for. He’s not going to play for anyone! Maybe some English Cricket team. Give somebody else those AB’s!

  • willis

    The Junior Lake non believers are going to be gaining members soon.

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      Why? Because he’s looking good in ST?

    • candyland07

      Junior lake is young he will be fair to a good ball player . He will produce and i doubt he will ever have a low batting Average (Rizzo castro) . He is not great at any given position but he can play multiple positions He has speed and his power will gradually appear. The kid has not done poorly. Is he a Superstar? no, that type of press is reserve for castro and Rizzo . Lake will play well ,if given the chance ,nothing in his past -tells us he wont.

      • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

        It’s his BABIP and swinging strikes that should concern everybody. They do not really instill confidence.

        • candyland07

          No, should not concern anyone. HE is 23 years old and he will improve. HE hit alot of line drives for a half a season of baseball. he played 59 games in the outfield and made three 3 errors learning a new position, He played 3b in the minor league system and in a pinch he can play every position except pitcher but that is just a smoke screen cause will wont have to play catcher.

          Lake for his age is a good young player that will develop power and maintain speed for the next 10 years . He is a line drive hitter and is aggressive at the plate but will take a walk more than castro and alot less than Rizzo. Lake is a decent Cub that has been given a chance to succeed

          • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

            Not saying he doesn’t have promise but sustaining that high a BABIP and swinging and missing as often as he did should be concerning. I agree that when hits the ball he hits it well but he misses a lot.

            • candyland07

              Rizzo misses lot as well – but Rizzo has power and is slow footed as all 1b and can only play two positions. Lake who is unproven can play many positions and is fast, capable of 30 to 40 SB and power upward to 15 to 20 hrs. if he can gain plate discipline those numbers will rise. But the Cubs need to give him a chance. I dont really see anything wrong with his game that confidence and experience will not help add the new coaching staff- verbal communication will also be better and precisly given to this youngster.. .

              • Kyle

                2014 contact percentage when swinging:

                Anthony Rizzo: 80.1%
                Junior Lake: 65.5%

                • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                  Thank you Kyle swinging and missing at over 30% does not bode well for sustained success.

              • ssckelley

                Lake never produced at those levels in the minors, what makes you think he can do it in a full season in the majors? I know Lake is super talented and all that but I do not see Lake as a long term answer in the outfield. He strikes out way to much, does not walk much, and has made some bad decisions in the outfield.

                • candyland07

                  Once again , Lake was at scouted at 15 and 16 and signed with the Cubs at 17. He wasa man child . He can play almost any position . I think on the low end his avg will be 250 to 270 and on a high note he will hit between 290 and 300. Thats a difference of 25 hits in 500 Ab. His speed will cut down on double plays and if the Cubs let him run he will let Rizzo hit into less double play balls if lake bats second.

                  The Cubs already have Ruggiano almost the same player as lake but older. I think the Cubs will showcase Lake and hope for a good first halve. then they will trade him, to keep the team stagnate as well as trade any pitcher that show promise.

                  Lake will be a good player , he is not a bust . he is not in the Cubs future plans – the Cubs are trying to get him some AB so will he becomes a center fielder that will improve his trade value.

                  • Drew7

                    So were just supposed to ignore his *entire* professional career, just because he was “a man-child” at 15?

                  • candyland07

                    once again . the kid is not a bust based on one season . which incidentally Rizzo contact rate was 68.1 his first taste in the big leagues.

                    Lake will hit and do well, he will play all outfield positions and emergency sub at 3b – his babip has trended up ward the last three years and after a half season His babip should continue to improve.

                    Who and what the Cubs have now – you get a bargain in lake.

                    • blublud

                      I’m a big Lake supporter, and I think his high BABIP can be sustained. He bunts a lot, and has very good speed. He has enough power to keep teams from playing in on him, keeping the bunt alive in most at-bats.

                      However, he is no sure thing. With the team we have, he should be given every chance to succeed or fail, and he should be given that chance in CF oven anyone on the roster. I high on him, but he is definitely no sure thing.

                    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                      I really am not follow you candy, because you think he will succeed he will succeed because Rizzo also had a bad 1st call up?im not seeing any facts support your claims, outside of “man-child” and I’m not sure what do with that.

                  • ssckelley

                    Again provide me with some kind of evidence that supports your beliefs that Lake is going to be a good player. At no point in his minor league career has he hit 15-20 home runs, the most he ever hit was 12. The most stolen bases he ever had was 38 back in 2011, he has had 35 combined since, and he has a career OBP of .322. Right now he is a defensive liability in the outfield, the only plus tool he has is his arm and he cannot even control that.

                    I would love to see Lake succeed, he will get his chance. But about the only way I can see Lake approaching even a .270 BA is if he bunts his way on base.

          • Kyle

            When a player has a ton of swing-and-miss and a ton of line drives in a small sample, unfortunately it is usually the line drives that he can’t maintain.

            But nobody’s opinion of Lake should change on ST. If you liked him before, don’t let faux-game warmups change your mind.

        • willis

          That’s what I mean, so many cubs fans are very concerned with those things and do not believe in his game to be good enough to succeed in the major leagues consistently. He has warning signs, and I think he’s struck out 4 times out of 6 or 7 ABs so far this Spring. Which obviously is ridiculous to draw from, but I was tongue and cheeking with that comment…just thinking that the people that don’t think he will succeed are seeing the red flags already this spring.

      • Edwin

        Almost everything he’s done in the past is exactly what leads people to think he won’t do well.

  • D-Rock

    Baez bomb. Can I please have a Baez cookie?

    • mjhurdle

      i saw it on Gameday, desperately waiting for them to upload the video.

      • Funn Dave

        Haha, same here.

      • D-Rock

        I haven’t wanted to watch a player hit a home run as much as this since Slammin’ Sammy. His bat speed is ridiculous.

  • D-Rock

    Now, Kattaras goes yard. Tie game. Wow.

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      Hmmm I thought signing him was a waste of money ;)

      • D-Rock

        Exactly. Our FO sucks! Fire Theo and Jed!

        • Diehardthefirst

          Best idea yet

          • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

            And hire Dick Tidrow and only Dick his stashe hairs can do the rest of the work.

      • Kyle

        I was a huge fan of that signing. If only we filled all our holes as well as we fill backup catcher.

        • another JP

          Heh… so what other holes need to be filled and with exactly which FAs?

          • Kyle

            As compared with actually good baseball teams, we’re short an entire outfield, a couple of starting pitchers and probably an infielder.

            • Edwin

              I’d like to see at least 1 or 2 more decent bullpen arms.

            • ssckelley

              Schierholtz would start on a couple of good teams. The Cubs outfield might not be that bad if Ruggiano keeps hitting lefties and Lake and Sweeney can hit that OPS they hit last season for an entire season (although unlikely).

  • Funn Dave

    And Baez hits a flurry of cookies that shower the fans in the stands of the stadium!

  • NorthSideIrish

    Another opposite field bomb for Baez…unreal…

  • Diehardthefirst

    Don’t think Baez would want to be linked to Slamming Sammy Steroid

    • another JP

      So true diehard. And watch for pitchers to start throwing off-speed junk and jamming Baez so he can’t get his arms extended. Anything out over the plate is easy pickens for a guy like Javy.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    I’m impressed that Baez has the juice to take the ball the other way with authority. His opposite field homer today and the his first one to right center makes me think that pitching him away isn’t going to work. Imagine what he can do if he turns on one.

  • half_full_beer_mug

    Did Rusin just run out of gas? Just clicked on Game Cast to see the 4 spot.

    • King Jeff

      Sounds like there was some Cubes-type defense. A couple of bad throws led to the runs.

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