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cactusThe Cubs won the kind of game that would have been really exciting if it wasn’t fake (or “exhibition”, for those who prefer). After jumping out to a big lead early, the bullpen scuffled, and the Cubs went down late before rallying to win. Give me a few of those in July, Cubs. With the team above .500. Wow. I just thought about it. That’s going to be so cool when that’s actually a real thing that happens.

  • The single most important thing that can happen in Spring Training happened in this game, and it’s not a good thing: an injury. Ryan Sweeney left the game early after apparently twisting his knee while chasing a ball in right field. Very preliminary reports suggest it’s not a serious knee injury, but we’ll wait for a more complete explanation/evaluation before exhaling. In a weird way, the outfield is probably the one spot where the Cubs could most easily absorb an injury – no, not because they have substantial starting-quality depth that is otherwise going unused. It’s because they have substantial fringy, platoony depth. Sweeney missing time would suck for a variety of Sweeney-related reasons (his value to the Cubs as an asset, his chance to show he can start, etc.), but in terms of the impact to the Cubs’ win-loss record, it might not be huge.
  • Kyle Hendricks started for the second time in the Spring, and he was once again uncharacteristically wild. No, two walks in three innings isn’t atrocious, but for Hendricks, it’s extremely unusual. He gave up a couple earned runs in his three innings (3 hits), but he did strike out four.
  • Most of the damage came against Armando Rivero and Frank Batista. Both are in the mold of minor league closers, but both need time in the minors for seasoning (obviously Rivero is the one with the much higher ceiling).
  • Each of Jose Veras, Pedro Strop, and Hector Rondon got in an inning of work, and none allowed much of anything. Justin Grimm also threw a scoreless inning, but it came with two hits and a walk (one of the hits was a bunt single, though).
  • Justin Ruggiano was the big bat today, with three hits, including his second homer of the Spring.
  • Kris Bryant had a nice at bat mid-game, starting a count down 0-2 and eventually working a walk. He did make an error at third and allowed a bunt single in front of himself, too.
  • Javy Baez went 1-3 with a rocket double (does he double any other way?) and a strikeout. He also made a nice play in the field, showing off that strong arm at short.
  • Oh, Baez ended up scoring off that double on a single by Junior Lake. So that was neat.
  • Brett Jackson had a two-run, pinch-hit single. That was also neat.
  • Kyle

    Probably completely crazy theory, but I wonder if Hendricks is working on nibbling more because he knows he’ll have to nibble at the big-league level.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Certainly happens to a lot of guys when they arrive in the bigs.

      • willis

        I was actually thinking that during the game as well. I’m also an idiot so maybe it is crazy, but I can absolutely see that being the case, now that he’s getting the opportunity to face major league hitters.

        • J Bounds

          I was at the game and thought he attacked the zone pretty well. Went right after Braun in the first and struck him out. He definitely moves the ball around the strike zone alot, but I didn’t think he was nibbling out there. I will say that the home plate ump didn’t exactly look like he was MLB material.

  • Patrick G

    If Sweeney’s injury is lengthy, maybe it gives Kalish a nice opportunity

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    Baez hit a towering flyout in his first at bat that might have gone if he hadn’t have got under it too much. I have to admit the trade for Ruggiano is looking better all the time. I am really encouraged with the way Rizzo is playing. I hope Castro come back and plays strong and maybe we won’t suck as bad as I thought we would.

    • J Bounds

      I was sitting right behind the on deck circle on the Cubs side (awesome seats), so I was able to get a close up look at the boys. Gotta say that Baez’s first at bat was the most impressive of the day IMO. It wasn’t how hard or how far he hit it, it was how fricking late he swung. He started his swing so late that I thought there was absolutely no way he’d make contact, but he has such quick, strong hands that he stills hit the ball hard the opposite way. Simply a tool most guys don’t have.

  • TommyK

    The nice thing about starting players that aren’t much better than the replacement player is that they are easy to replace. The bad thing is you lose a lot of games either way.

  • willis

    Lake had a good game, finally. An RBI single and then a sac fly to score another run later on. He was put in positions to come through and he did today. Nice to see.

    I’ll admit, I cheered loudly when BJax got that 2 RBI hit late in the game. I’ve been a huge fan of his and have hated to see what has happened to him. Good for him getting that big hit. I guess.

  • cubbcard

    lets keep it rolling. cubs gaining a little momentum. can’t hurt . coach says the only difference between veteran players and young kids with talent is confidence. so hope all these kids are gaining a lot of it this year. go cubs!

  • cubbcard

    brett jackson hitting would be a welcome turn around . a few less strike outs would be nice
    great clutch hit today!

  • Kyle

    Yeah. Our outfielders are such an undifferentiated mass of awful replacement-i-ness that the first five could get hurt and the next five would probably be about the same. Not much to worry about there.

    • blublud

      I disagree about our outfield. I just looked at their total stats combined, and our OF should actually be average to slightly about average. Lake (SSS), Ruggiano and Schierholtz all have a 100 or higher OPS+ for their careers, and Sweeney is just slightly below, but had a 109 OPS+ last year. Im not sure about who our 5th OF will be, but I’m assuming it will actually be Bonifacio, who has never been a good hitter, but could be valuable in the right situation as a backup. I think our OF is in no way good, but I’m will to be we are no where near the worse in the league.

      • Kyle

        Lake’s SSS and massive underlying peripheral problems have been laid out before.

        Schierholtz and to a lesser degree Ruggiano have both been platoon protected to get to that OPS+. It’s not hard to find guys who can play the corner outfield and who can OPS+ 100 while getting a disproportionate amount of their PAs against a platoon-friendly pitcher.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Tut, tut: we all know that platooning guys ruins their timings and *lowers* their OPS! :-)

          Seriously, though, given the nature of OPS+, it shouldn’t be that easy to find guys who can do substantially better than 100: after all, 100 is league average from the position.

          That written, Sweeney, Ruggiano & Schierholtz all could be a smidgen over 100 if used properly. With a K-rate over 25%, a walk rate of 5% or less, and without 25+ HR power, Lake will not provide 100+ OPS+ without some hellacious BABiP.

          • CubFan Paul

            “With a K-rate over 25%, a walk rate of 5% or less, and without 25+ HR power, Lake will not provide 100+ OPS+ without some hellacious BABiP.”

            Hellacious would be a Trout like babip. Lake will break calculators

            • blublud

              Lakes BABIP will be higher than most people due to his speed and ability to bunt.

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

                Possibly but if his K rate reaches 25% it won’t matter if his BABIP is .400. A singles hitter with a 25% K rate will make him quite meh and very frustrating, now if he hits with like Baez then that k rate is tolerable.

                • blublud

                  Correct. But no one is talking about Lake being a stud, we’re just talking about him being meh, until in my opinion, Alcatraz or Almora shows up for the starting job in CF.

                  • CubFan Paul

                    “But no one is talking about Lake being a stud”

                    Or just a singles hitter

                  • Kyle

                    He can’t be meh for a full season with a 65.8% contact rate. He’s going to have to take a very large leap forward in his ability to hit baseballs.

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

        Anyone wHo is CounTing on Lake THis year deserVes To be ran THrougH THe Hunger Games.

        Jesus, Try Typing on a keyboard were leTTers don’T work randomly.

        • blublud

          Never said I’m depending on him. I know he’s a question mark. However, only evidence I have on his MLB potential is good evidence. Since I am a fan, im going to assume and hope for the best until I have no reason to.

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

            No. ..The k not evidence we have on Lake indicates he is, probably, not going to succeed in the bigs for the same things that have haunted him forever.

            Although, I do look forward to folks blaming Rick for it.

            • CubFan Paul

              The k not evidence?

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

                The only…damn autocorrect.

                • CubFan Paul

                  I’m still confused on the ‘evidence’.

                  His 64 game, 26.8K% ?

                  • Kyle

                    His 65.8% contact percentage.

                  • Edwin

                    He’s also had a K% > 20% every single season in the minors except for 2013, when it was 19.4%. So most of the evidence points to him being in the 20-25% K range in the majors, possibly higher.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “most of the evidence points to him being in the 20-25% K range in the majors”

                      Nothing wrong with that

                    • Kyle

                      Well, there’s a bit wrong with 25%. He might be able to skate by at 20%.

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

                      Yes there is…if he doesn’t have a decent BB rate (he doesn’t and won’t) and if he doesn’t hit for enough power (he doesn’t).

                      If he can’t maintain a .340 or higher BABIP, he suddenly becomes one of the worst offensive CF in the bigs and in order to be top-half (of qualified CF) he’d need to maintain his incredibly hard to sustain .380 BABIP.

                      It’s possible he can be successful in the bigs, but that is an awfully steep mountain for him to climb.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      So there are no successful major leaguers with a 20-25K%, especially at 25%. Got it.

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

                      I guess we should just trust your eye test…

                    • Edwin

                      Nobody is saying that Paul. We’re simply pointing out that it will be tough for Lake to have much long term success with a High K%, low BB%, and lowish ISO, especially if Lake’s baserunning and defense does not improve.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      I don’t have a eye test.

                      Nor would a assume non-growth in a developing player.

                    • Kyle

                      “Nor would a assume non-growth in a developing player.”

                      Literally no one did that.

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

                      “Nor would a assume non-growth in a developing player.”

                      Even if we allow for development and growth (basically converting doubles into HR as contact ability/BB and K rates don’t radically change over a career) he still falls off pretty quickly at a high but possibly sustainable for his skill set .340 BABIP.

                      Heck, even at a 20% K rate, he’d still be below-average for CF.

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

                    260 PA is well about the threshold of when BB and K rates begin to normalize for a batter and what Edwin said.

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

                      well above…damn mondays.

                  • jh03

                    I’m not even a part of this debate, but you’re purposefully ignoring other parts of their arguments just to make an extreme point for yourself. It’s okay to not agree, but at least be logical about it.

                    • jh03

                      And this completely posted in the wrong section.

          • Kyle

            “Never said I’m depending on him. I know he’s a question mark. However, only evidence I have on his MLB potential is good evidence.”

            Then you aren’t looking hard enough.

      • brickhouse

        OF will not be average and is projected to be at the bottom by Fangraphs -
        http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/mike-trout-top-ten-outfield/

    • Jason P

      I actually have high hopes for Sweeney. For his career, he’s produced about 3.5 WAR per 600 plate appearances with a bad but not atrocious platoon split.

  • sleepy

    I’ll be glad when we get to see the enhanced box scores again.

  • cubmig

    …….good to hear the Cubs win number three. Admittedly though, I worried that the team was regressing into the “cave” mentality we’ve seen too often in the past. As many here have said, these ST games don’t mean anything, but you know……….it sure as hell is good to feel puffed-up by even wins that don’t count!!! Keep-it-up……

  • Fresno Cubs Fan

    It seemed that a large portion of those late runs by the Cub pitchers were assisted by a few pop/fly balls that were lost in the sun or mis-played.

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