I got in last night just after midnight, so I didn’t have a chance to talk to the family before this morning. At 5am, The Wife wakes me to alert me that The Little Girl started throwing up. Home!
- Darwin Barney, who played shortstop on Thursday in the absence of Starlin Castro, is saying some very smart things about his time out there. To Cubs.com: “There was a time when going back to shortstop felt more comfortable than playing second base …. After a few innings, I felt really comfortable and you find out how much you miss that position …. I think I have value [at shortstop]. I’m pretty good over there, and I like it over there, too.” I find it particularly interesting that Barney, a very smart dude, dropped the “value” word when discussing his ability at shortstop.
- Is Barney planning for the future? As a preliminary matter, Barney isn’t going to see much time at shortstop with the Cubs – even a long-term Castro injury wouldn’t guarantee a move over to short for Barney, particularly when the roster already figures to feature Emilio Bonifacio and Donnie Murphy (with Javy Baez waiting in the wings). But, long-term for Barney’s career, demonstrating that he can play effective shortstop could help him find his next job. Giving the impending influx of infield talent, together with Barney’s escalating arbitration salary, I think we’re very likely to see Barney non-tendered (or traded) by the Cubs next offseason, assuming he’s still on the team by the tender deadline. From there, Barney would be a free agent who may have to market himself as a utility infielder to find a reasonably wage. Playing some shortstop now could help (in addition to helping the Cubs showcase him a little bit if there’s a team out there right now desperate for a middle infielder).
- Speaking of Castro, he’s still intent on playing 162 games this year, and could resume baseball activities (hamstring) this coming week. Castro says he was locked in at the plate before the injury, and he plans to keep things that way.
- As I guessed yesterday, Edwin Jackson was just throwing fastballs in his recent Spring outing, which netted some less than desirable results.
- Patrick Mooney with a profile on Kris Bryant. Carrie Muskat with a profile on Justin Ruggiano.
- Josh Vitters is healthy and Cubs officials were very pleased with his attitude and shape upon entering Spring Training. Odds remain strong that Vitters will start the season at Iowa as the starting left fielder, but he could easily make an appearance in the big leagues at some point if he hits as well as he has the last two years, and if he shows he can handle the position. With Junior Lake increasingly seeing time in center field, maybe the Cubs are dreaming on the possibility of a Vitters/Lake/Schierholtz outfield by midseason, with Ryan Sweeney and Justin Ruggiano being exceptional 4th and 5th outfielders.
- Joe Maddon and the Rays, naturally, are working on ways to take advantage of the new instant replay rules. I suppose it’s likely that all teams are thinking about these things (read: the Cubs better be), but since the Rays are what they are, the questions are asked and the news is reported.