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goodyear ballparkThe Cubs head out to Goodyear to take on the Indians (while I head to Cubs Park to try and catch some prospects, for whom minor league camp opens today), and Travis Wood will make his official Spring Training debut. He was scheduled to start this past weekend, but was rained out, and threw on the side instead.

As you can see, Albert Almora is getting the start in center field today, which could be kind of a “thanks for coming to big league camp” send-off. We’ll see if Almora heads to minor league camp soon after today’s game, given that he’s not actually under consideration for making the big league team right now.

Darwin Barney starts at shortstop, as Rick Renteria suggested he might, being that Starlin Castro is out with a hamstring issue. As I wrote previously, it’s very interesting to see Barney getting starts at shortstop right now. With Emilio Bonifacio and Donnie Murphy among the guys probably making the Opening Day roster, it’s not as if the Cubs don’t have plenty of options to cover at shortstop if Castro were to go down or need a day off. Barney doesn’t have to be that guy, given that he’s the starting second baseman. Heck, even today, Arismendy Alcantara is starting at second base (maybe also a send-off start), and he could have played short. So, why give Barney some time there in Spring Training? Well, it could be partly an effort to show the baseball world that, yes, Barney can still play above average defensive shortstop, in case another team out there is looking for a middle infielder.

There’s audio for the game on Cubs.com, and the starter for the Indians is scheduled to be Justin Masterson, he of the absurdly reasonable extension demands.

Lineup:

  1. Emilio Bonifacio, LF
  2. Donnie Murphy, 3B
  3. Nate Schierholtz, RF
  4. Anthony Rizzo, DH
  5. Welington Castillo, C
  6. Mike Olt, 1B
  7. Darwin Barney, SS
  8. Albert Almora, CF
  9. Arismendy Alcantara, 2B
  • http://www.w2wn.net Cerambam

    Give me Olt, Alcantara, Baez, and Bryant out of camp, or give me Death!!!

    • http://www.w2wn.net Cerambam

      hmmm.. I guess that was vague. I mean I wish that they would just make the big league team

      • DarthHater

        Nothing at all vague about it. “Give me Death” is about as specific as it gets.

    • blublud

      It been nice knowing you. I’ll send your family a flower arrangement.

    • Edwin

      When I was growing up, I was in a parks and rec play about the revolutionary war, set to a baseball game. It was pretty corny (middle school aged play), with characters like Nathan Hale performing a sac bunt and then wishing he had more than one out to give for his country, or other characters like that. For some reason, your comment made me think of it.

      I played Benedict Arnold.

      • Boogens

        Ah, the pieces are beginning to fall in place now. ;-)

        • frank

          Aghh–just had a Dave Wannstedt flashback . . .

  • Spoda17

    Not sure why RR won’t start at least one game with the “potential” line up… just to give us half a cookie to drool over… come on RR!!!

    • CubChymyst

      Give a hungry man half a cookie and he is still hungry. Give him a feast and he will be full. :)

      • DarthHater

        Teach him to fish and he will waste most of his free time for the rest of his life.

        • CubChymyst

          Not sure I’d call it a waste.

        • Edwin

          “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Don’t teach a man to fish, and you feed yourself. He’s a grown man. Fishing’s not that hard”

          -Ron F Swanson

          • Fishin Phil

            “Teach a man to fish, and he’ll spend the whole weekend fishing and drinking beer.”

            – Fishin Phil

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

              “Teach everyone to fish. More hamburgers for me then.”

              Me.

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

              I skip the fishing and just do the drinking, I’m a great drinking buddy if anyone wants to fish. Just don’t ask me to help… unless it’s to pass you a beer.

              • farmerjon

                Me too goat ; ) …I mean, I’ll go “fishing” with my buddies, heck, i might even throw a pole in the water. But most likely you’d find me in the shade catching a buzz ;-)

              • papa dunks

                A damn fine fishin’ trip on a beautiful day with a cooler of beer is easily ruined by catching something!

                • C. Steadman

                  unless its a 5lb largemouth

                  • cavemancubbie

                    Or an 18 inch Rainbow or Brownie, in a Colorado stream.

        • ssckelley

          Screw that, to damn cold to fish. Besides MickyDs has fish filets 2 for $3.50.

          • blublud

            I prefer Benihana’s, but whatever.

  • willis

    Almora, Olt and Alcantara against Masterson…this should be interesting.

  • jp3

    Great almora and Barney in the pregame headlines

    • blublud

      Oh the irony.

      • Edwin

        Is it, though?

        • http://www.w2wn.net Cerambam

          No. It is not.

    • DarthHater

      Darwin Barney
      Positions: Second Baseman and Shortstop
      Bats: Right, Throws: Right
      Height: 5′ 10″, Weight: 185 lb.

      Similarity Scores
      Similar Batters
      1. Albert Almora (975)
      2. Ken Aspromonte (969)
      3. Luis Lopez (962)
      4. Carlos Febles (961)
      5. Bobby Reeves (960)
      6. Ken Hubbs (960)
      7. Roberto Pena (959)
      8. Enrique Wilson (959)
      9. Whitey Alperman (959)
      10. Rod Gilbreath (959)

      (insert sarcasm flag here)

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

        It’s obvious sarcasm…the score should be 1000 for Almora and 0 for everyone else.

      • blublud

        Wow, I knew it. Now everyone here please admit you all were wrong. Should know I was right, I did play baseball in college.

        • ssckelley

          AND your that one dudes uncle or whatever.

  • ssckelley

    Omg….Almora is hitting after Barney!

    • blublud

      This proves my point, Almora is worse than Barney.

      Case Closed. :O

      • ssckelley

        Fu fu fu fu fu!

    • half_full_beer_mug

      RR is an idiot, he fails at making out a lineup card, he’s pulling all the pitchers way too early, pinch hits way too much; fire this bum already.

      Think that should just about handle the majority of today’s over reactions in regards to management.

      • ssckelley

        Hey we are playing for the Cactus League title here!

  • Steve

    I sure wish Barney would just kill it this year…yeah, he may not be the “sexy” choice, but dangit, he’s great with the glove, has a .998 BF %, and he ‘s not a duchenozzle.
    If any of our prospects approach the game the same as Barney, we’ll be good.

    • ssckelley

      If Barney could return to hitting like he did in 2011 and 2012 I would be happy. Might even get a decent low level prospect out of him at the deadline.

  • YourResidentJag
  • Mike Moody

    Alcantara is a really odd guy, because he isn’t the hitter Almora is and the power isn’t even in the same stratosphere of Baez, Bryant, and Soler, but he brings a couple things to the table those guys don’t: he’s a switch hitter with excellent speed. I like his odds to break into this lineup even as better prospects are moved going forward.

    • JB88

      Alcantara is a guy that would really help the Cubs be a better team if he succeeds. He is a switch hitter, with his better hitting side being left handed, and has speed. If he keeps showing the OBP numbers he put up in AA (or even improved those somewhat), he’d give the Cubs a top of the order hitter that they currently lack either in the majors or in the minors.

      If he and Olt emerged, it would give the Cubs a ton of roster flexibility.

      • Chad

        Alcantara is one of those guys you love to have on your team. I think he can be very versatile. The issue becomes what happens if Castro sticks at SS, Baez at 2B, Olt/Bryant/Villanueva at 3B? Do you move him to the OF where he would likely best be utilized in CF? Then you can move Lake to a corner (or another team), but he blocks Almora? He could be trade bait as well. All good problems to have and we assume every prospect makes it. His versatility to play 2B, SS, possibly OF are good for the cubs. It will be interesting to see what the next season, season and half bring in that front.

        • JB88

          You are going to have to trade someone eventually. There just aren’t enough roster spots if the Cubs are exceptionally lucky and all of Olt, Baez, Alcantara, Almora, Bryant, and Soler emerge. The likelihood, though, is that someone fails, someone falls off, or something else.

          That’s really the whole point of this exercise for the Cubs though. You want to build positional redundancy throughout the system so you have more and more chances of hitting it big, which is either a boon for your club on the field or gives you additional resources to trade to fit other needs.

          I was surprised we didn’t see more trades this off season, but I would be literally shocked if we don’t see some of our prospects moved by next offseason for the parts the Cubs need. I still wouldn’t be surprised if the Cubs don’t make a run at Price this upcoming off-season.

          • Chad

            I agree with you but I would rather trade guys that have done well in the majors (Lake or Alcantara if he gets a chance like in my example until Almora is ready) than several prospects. Those guys are just much more valuable. Like I said it is a very good problem to have.

            • JB88

              My actual hope is that you have guys emerge at A, A+, and AA this year so you can trade those types versus trading proven ML guys like Lake or, hypothetically, Alcantara. It is probably all academic as with the rise of some players will the be the attrition of others (see, Jackson, Brett & McNutt, Trey, for example), but in the best case world of the Cubs, you start trading away lower level parts for ML talent and keeping your frontline talent because you need it on the ML roster.

              • Chad

                That is not bad. I hope they can be in both positions honestly. Think like the braves used to be. They would trade a veteran catcher with a ton of value with a year or two of control because they had someone behind him they liked more. Think Javy Lopez and Saltalamachia getting traded. That’s how I would see that. Lake moves to corner spot or traded and Alcantara traded to make room for Almora. It would be fantastic, but I doubt it works out that way.

                • Chad

                  The only reason you trade a ML caliber player is because you have too many for the space is all I’m trying to say. It would be a good thing. I wouldn’t want to trade Lake or Alcantara if there was nothing pushing them out of the way. That is just an example btw.

      • Mike Moody

        My dream 1-2 is Cubs take Turner in June and Turner leads off with Alcantara hitting behind him. That’s a lot of speed and OBP for a pitcher to worry about with the big bashers coming up.

        • C. Steadman

          yo blublud how’s Turner looking this year? i havent checked and your the resident NC State fan

          • cubbiekoolaid2015

            Not blu, but checking his stats… He looks like he’s holding his status as a top 5-10 pick. 7 walks to 2 Ks in 46 ABs.(that makes me salivate) He has 17 hits and 1 XBH witch was a double.(who needs pop when you got Baez, Bryant, ect..) Turner is also 7-9 in stolen bases and has had 2 errors so far. His OBP is .436

            • C. Steadman

              gotcha thanks!

          • D-Rock

            Just noticed that NC St. has 2 guys projected to go in the top 5 of this summer’s draft. Impressive.

        • NorthSideIrish

          You heart Trea Turner! I’m still hoping Beede or Hoffman falls to 1.4…Turner is my ridiculously happy consolation prize.

          • cubbiekoolaid2015

            I’d be perfectly happy with any one of those three. I also like Kolek even though he would take a little longer to develop then the others.

          • ssckelley

            Noooo, keep cornering the market on power. Alex Jackson please!

            • D-Rock

              The projected draft orders I’ve been reading have the Cubs selecting High School pitcher Tyler Kolek. Sounds like the kid throws some serious heat. I’d be fine with that pick.

  • Ballgame17

    Any clue when Alcantara is comin to big leagues?? This is assuming health and progress…

    • Kyle

      The front office keeps saying, and I think they’re right, that they don’t do timetables. They bring guys up when they are dominating the level they’re at now.

      When Alcantara is dominating AAA, he’ll have a shot at being called up. Could be May, could be next May, could be anytime in between.

      • C. Steadman

        i do like a little AAA seasoning before the bigs, the only reason the prospects should jump over AAA is if we’re contending and theres a need for them

        • ssckelley

          Yes, especially in Alcantara’s case. Before last year I had barely heard of the guy and he exploded last season in Tennessee. Defensively it was a smart move to put him at 2nd as short or 3rd was not working out too well. But offensively he came on real strong with a nice surge of power. I would like to see that continue in Des Moines this season. He is only 22 years old so there is no reason to rush him. If he has a good season in Des Moines then bring him up when the rosters expand.

          • C. Steadman

            if he’s having a good season, i could see him up after a trade of a 2B(Barney &/or Emilio)

            • ssckelley

              True, I had not thought about the trade deadline. Although I still have my mind wrapped around the idea Baez ends up at 2nd. But anything can happen and odds are not in our favor all these prospects pan out. Heck I remember just 2 years ago Watkins had a terrific season at Tennessee (.805 OPS) and now he has turned into an after thought (along with the butt of our jokes).

              • C. Steadman

                yeah it’ll be Baez or Alcantara…i dont think watkins is at the end of his road in terms of his career, but it may be coming to an end here in the Chicago organization…too many better prospects

              • blublud

                Remember, Alcantara could also be called up and play CF. He has the natural ability. The problem is, if he is called up to play center and become a very leadoff hitter, what happens between him and Almora.

                • http://bleachernation.com woody

                  I can guarantee you that Almora takes priority over Alcantara. There is no rush to do anything with Alcantara at the moment. I have no doubt that Baez is going to dominate at AAA so I think they are waiting to to see how Olt works out before giving Baez the 3rd base job. I think it is 50/50 whether Baez plays second or third base, but have no doubt he will have one or the other. And finally I doubt that Castro will ever get traded.

                  • blublud

                    I can guarantee you neither Almora or Alcantara has priority over each other. If Alcantara comes up first, and is forced into CF because Baez is at 2nd, Castro at SS and Olt is at 3rd, plays a good CF and hits the ball well as a very good leadoff type, then one can be traded for pitching. There is no guarantee it’ll be Alcantara.

      • Mike Moody

        To add to that, Alcantara has always been a one-level-a-year kind of guy (similar to Hendricks) and I think he’ll be in the minors until September at the earliest.

        • Jason P

          He’s also been injured a lot throughout his minor league career, which has slowed his ascent through the system. If he stays healthy and dominates (big if), I could see him up as early as late May.

  • Seth

    I’m currently down the right field line, first row.

    • mjhurdle

      im currently sitting at my desk, 4th floor. and I am jealous, so very jealous.

    • ssckelley

      Start waving your arms so I can tell who you are.

      • blublud

        Who, Seth or Hurdle?

        • ssckelley

          Both, especially if Hurdle is sitting in a cubicle.

          • mjhurdle

            i have a cubicle fort. there were no offices available, so I commandeered 4 cubicles and made one giant cube fort out of it.

            They made me take down the draw-bridge and moat, but i still have the archer holes, so i call it a draw.

            • ssckelley

              Ohhhhhh that sounds soooo kewl! You throw blankets over it so you can hide?

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

              Can you throw hot oil and trash any invading armies? Because that’s the dream right there.

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

              How do you “take down” a moat?

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                It’s like putting up a moat, but in reverse.

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

                  Ahhhhh, I understand now.

              • mjhurdle

                finding homes for the alligators and electric eels was the hardest part. The rest was pretty straight forward.

              • ssckelley

                Maybe he borrowed the log ride from Adventureland.

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

                  The water is scummy enough for a moat.

                • farmerjon

                  You in iowa too ssc? I live about 20 min north of Davenport : )

                  • C. Steadman

                    I grew up near Pella, but i’m now living in the burbs of Chicago

                  • ssckelley

                    Yeah, I live about 30 min NE of Waterloo. My brother in law lives in Parkview so we go down to your area a couple times a year. I might come down this summer to camp in Scott County Park.

                    • farmerjon

                      SCP is Less than 10 min from my farm : )

                    • ssckelley

                      If I make my way down there you will have to stop over for a beer and talk some Cubbies.

            • JB88

              The people on the floor below you must have been super pissed to be doused in a river of water …

    • itzscott

      Oh man, I see you!!!

      I’m like a couple rows behind you.

      Lady next to me wants me to stop playing with my phone. She said her husband has a gun and will shoot me if I don’t stop now.

      See ya.

      • ssckelley

        What the hell you doing to your phone to have some lady threaten to shoot you?

        Get Seth’s attention!

        • blublud

          That comment wasn’t cool. He playing off the Movie theatre shooting where a retired cop, who was with his wife, shot a man because he was on his phone. They believe he shot the guy because he was black. Not cool.

          • blublud

            And of course, like all “racially motivated” shootings, it happened in Florida.

          • ssckelley

            You are right, that is stupid!

  • Ivy Walls

    Question: What do you think would the price be to acquire a $13M-$18M (through 2017) .780-.870 OPS *(av .832) left handed hitting CF’er who is now being relegated to a reserve/back up if the starters are injured role, 31 yr old (7 year vet)?

    Because Andre Ethier is definitely going to be available for the right package. The next few years he would fit in this club.

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

      I’d have to explore his trends, is he showing continuos downward trends?

      • Ivy Walls

        Thanks, I heard this at friends through the AAA Rockies organization that they think Ethier is on the market. Dodgers would like to reduce payroll and fill some holes that are not apparent. Wonder if Olt (or Villaneuva, probably not unless Olt is taken off the market), Russell and another Villaneuva would do the deal, the thing is then I think Ethier plays LF and Sweeney/Lake moves to CF.

        All this would be connected to Bryant’s continued accent and or a decision to move Baez to 3B.

    • Chad

      he’s not a CF

      • C. Steadman

        he has more games there than Lake

        • ssckelley

          True but going forward he will probably be better in either left or right.

          • C. Steadman

            i’d say LF, he wasnt a great defensive RF but i guess could switch over if we need him to(Vitters/Bryant/???)

    • C. Steadman

      they could use a young 3B…Uribe probably wont hit as well as he did last year…2B for them is a ? depending how guerrero does…otherwise i don’t see a weakness that the Cubs can fill

    • ssckelley

      I would consider it if the Dodgers are kicking in some cash. The Dodgers need bullpen help?

    • Blackhawks1963

      Can’t see TheoJed being interested to be honest. Eithier has been slipping the last two years and is not CF material. Plus Puig is a ticking time bomb while Kemp and Crawford have battled constant injury issues.

      • ssckelley

        Not so fast, if the Dodgers called inquiring on a young third basemen and/or bullpen help and was offering cash along with Ethier they would be stupid not to listen. Even with Ethier’s struggles he is still a 2.5 to 3 WAR player and the Cubs will need a left handed bat after this season unless they resign Schierholtz. So what he is not a center fielder, I would take that production in right field.

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

    Reading through any of the comments just makes me realize… WE NEED REAL BASEBALL NOW. It’s be a long winter and more is still coming. FML all I see is snow.

    • ssckelley

      The comments get better during the season?

      • Funn Dave

        No, it just gets us that much closer to 2015.

      • C. Steadman

        give me “Logan Watkins should be starting” comments anyday over comments about the construction of ST lineups

        • mjhurdle

          no, please no.
          no more endless “Babe Watkins should start” threads. I can’t take anymore of those.
          give me ‘OMG why is random ST invitee batting 5th instead of 6th?!?!” comments any day of the week.

          • C. Steadman

            well i’d rather have neither, but at least watkins comments mean regular season

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

              Watkins won’t be on the team for long.

              • C. Steadman

                true, he’ll be backup at AAA or gone

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

                  Not sure if he options left if he’s on the 40 man he’s spot might be needed. Which will lead to the “WTF did we cut Watkins for another scrap heap player” comments.

                  • C. Steadman

                    according to AZ Phil, Watkins has two years of options remaining! we can dodge those “WTF did we cut Watkins for another scrap heap player” comments for a couple more years yet

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

                      And there was much rejoicing… YEAH!!!!

              • ssckelley

                You think the Cubs DFA Watkins? The guy is still only 24 years old and really has not gotten much of a chance at the big leagues.

                But these rosters spots are becoming very tight.

                • C. Steadman

                  i think its too early yet…once baez/alcantara come up(trade or just mashing it) then logan shifts right back into a starting role at Iowa or if theres an early injury and dont want the clock to start on baez or alcantara…if Baez is brought up someone has to get DFA’d though…40’s full

                  • C. Steadman

                    oh and if Emilio makes the team then someone needs to DFA….or a trade which i think is more likely

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

          Well this year I predict the frustrating comments for 2014 will be:

          1-Why haven’t we called Baez up !
          2-Why isn’t Lake starting more! (as he struggles due to everything that has been pointed out)
          3-Scrappy Love for either Barney, Sweeny, and I’m expecting a lot of Ruggiano Scrappy love- he fits the scrappy model perfectly.
          4-continued FO complaining

          But yes I prefer them to debating about ST lineups and performances.

          • C. Steadman

            i’m a Ruggiano fan…i like the power/speed combo he has… doesn’t embarrass himself defensively either, he’s my pick for the best performance out of the OF(not saying much though)

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

              And that’s why he’s perfect for scrappy love.

              • C. Steadman

                true, but power isnt under the scrappy category

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

                  Sure it is Scrappy Love has no restrictions. All you have to do is ask:
                  1-is he gritty?
                  2-does he play the game the right way?
                  3-does he show the hustle of BellyFire?
                  4-is he not an everyday starter?
                  5-did he have a couple amazing plays and therefore is clutch?

                  • C. Steadman

                    haha fair enough

  • Kyle

    Olt is 0-for-2. Abandon ship!

  • willis

    Wood with a solid three innings and Rizzo is now 2-2…he’s been hitting well thus far.

    • JB88

      We’ll see how Rizzo does when he doesn’t have the line up protection of Baez, Olt, Bryant, Almora, and others …

      • BlameHendry

        I’m not sure “line-up protection” exists in spring training games…

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

          “I’m not sure “line-up protection” exists.”

          FTFY

          • bbmoney

            “I’m quite sure “line-up protection” does not exist”

            FTFY

            • Patrick W.

              “RFTFY”

              FTFY

            • ssckelley

              “line-up protection” does not exist”

              RRFTFY

              • bbmoney

                Thanks. I knew I was missing something.

        • JB88

          It was sarcasm.

    • Forlines

      T. Wood seems to really want to show the world that he’s not a flash in the pan. I like that.

  • BlameHendry

    Travis Wood at it again. I have no idea how he does it, every time I watch him pitch he looks so hittable, but very solid today.

    Oh and Olt sucks today.

  • Medicos

    Woody possible Cy Young winner in 2014. Just like Lirianio for the Pirates last year.

  • Kyle

    Olt up to 1-for-3.

    Back on the bandwagon.

  • ssckelley

    omg, Barney gets a hit to load the bases and then Almora grounds into a double play. The Barney – Almora comparisons was not fair to Barney!

  • C. Steadman

    Eloy Jimenez is in Minor League camp with Kane County!!!…….

    • ssckelley

      Holy crap……seriously? Jimenez can’t possibly make the KC team this early could he?

      • Kyle

        No. We go through this every spring.

        Minor league camp rosters are the same as MLB spring camp: They have way more guys early on than will actually end up assigned there. When the cuts start coming, almost everyone will move down a couple levels from where they are now.

        • C. Steadman

          sorry i was being sarcastic…Boise and Mesa rosters will be populated the week of March 10 and those are still far from official even though i do think Eloy will be in Mesa for 2014

          • C. Steadman

            dodgers did have a 16/17 yr old Urias pitch at Low A…averaged 3 IP per start but still had a 2.48 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP

          • ssckelley

            I think Mesa would be a good place for him to start. Honestly I am amazed they even brought him to the states this early.

            • C. Steadman

              Eloy was listed on KC’s roster today though, Gleybar is stateside too

      • JB88

        Well, it wouldn’t be unprecedented for a kid as young as Jimenez to play in the Midwest League. The Dodgers had a 16 year old on its Midwest League team last year.

        That said, I would be pretty surprised if this FO advanced a 17 year old to Kane County to start the season at this point in time.

  • bobdawg78

    Sad news for ex-cub Rich Hill, his infant son born on Dec. 26th 2013,has passed away. Prayers go out to him and his family.

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