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scottsdale stadiumThe Cubs head to Scottsdale to take on the Giants and Matt Cain today. They’re on a mini-winning streak, which is swell. Barry Bonds is in uniform today as an instructor. Maybe he’ll come in for a few hacks.

Today’s game is another Cubs.com audio iteration. No TV.

Jeff Samardzija starts today, and he’s still likely to be in “working on stuff” mode. Reserve your criticism and/or expectations about the results.

Emilio Bonifacio draws yet another start at shortstop, further suggesting that he’s the primary backup there going forward. Ryan Kalish draws another start in center field, so he’s seeing a fair bit of time these days.

And then there’s Mike Olt, who starts at first base. He’s getting closer to playing third, but at least he’s still getting regular at bats.

Lineup, featuring the pitcher today:

  1. Emilio Bonifacio, SS
  2. Ryan Kalish, CF
  3. Nate Schierholtz, RF
  4. Mike Olt, 1B
  5. Donnie Murphy, 3B
  6. Chris Coghlan, LF
  7. Ryan Roberts, 2B
  8. Eli Whiteside, C
  9. Jeff Samardzija, P
  • ssckelley

    With that lineup I am not very upset that the game is not televised.

  • C. Steadman

    ah just seeing Pre-Gamin’ everyday now brightens my mood…plus its 50 degrees and the snow is melting!

    • Funn Dave

      This.

  • Edwin

    Kind of a “Meh” lineup. Must be a case of the Mondays.

  • Steve

    I want my Baez….and I want it NOW!

  • Cheese Chad

    Is Mike Olt a possible starter at 1st for Iowa so they can still start Villenueva? Or maybe building up value like Barney at short? As long as he can see and can hit I will be happy.

    • C. Steadman

      sore shoulder, i saw a tweet saying he’ll be back to 3B soon, but i would guess if he’s at Iowa he’s 1B/DH while Villanueva is 3B

      • willis

        Yep, exactly. They’re not going to stunt Villanueva which would then knock Bryant down a rung just to let Olt play 3rd in Iowa, when they know that his defense there is very good. Nothing to prove on that side of the ball. I don’t see him making the big club out of ST, so definitely prepare to see him starting at 1B for Iowa come April.

  • Patrick W.

    Mike Olt!

    [img]http://31.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lgs651BUAW1qh6fqvo1_400.jpg[/img]

  • cubsfan08

    While waiting for the Cubs to start, hop on mlb.com and check out the Cardinals game. Good times. Down 15-0 through 4!

  • Spoda17

    Seems to me that they are really taking a good look at Olt. It appears they are hoping he takes the 3B job. His hitting is the concern, he always had ++ defense.

  • Steve

    What happened to Ryan Roberts?? Last time I saw anything on him, he was kind of an important piece in AZ’s lineup….?

  • itzscott

    When are the first cuts so we won’t have to endure these lineups?

    • ssckelley

      On twitter I seen someone tweet (I forget who) that cuts will be made either Thursday or Friday.

      • Funn Dave

        I seen? Man, I really needa step up my game.

        -BN Grammar Douche

        • ssckelley

          DAMN YOU!!!!!!

          • Funn Dave

            Your use of multiple exclamation points is redundant. Also, only the first letter of the sentence should be capitalized.

            Kidding.

            • ssckelley

              fear my exclamation points!!!!!!

              :D

              • DarthHater

                To reiterate, the first letter of your sentence should be capitalized.

                • ssckelley

                  [img]https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRQrV_a24YOfJ_RGBJ8B9oO9LIEnP4ySngFleoAr0uUesgLTfEQ[/img]

  • The Ghost of Brett Jackson

    With Olt getting regular starting ABs at DH/1B, I have to assume the reports of a realistic shot of making the club are correct.

    • Jon

      Or it could mean they are prepping him for 1B @ Iowa. That way that can slot Villenueva at 3rd in AAA and Bryant at 3rd in AA. You know, defensively, Olt can play 3rd well. So you don’t need him there to evaluate defensively.

      • Noah_I

        The same could be said about Villanueva at 3B, though. We know he’s good there defensively. But, if Olt goes to Iowa, I’d expect him to start 2 games at 1B a week, 2 games at DH, and 2 games at 3B, with Villanueva getting all the other games at 3B, or something along those lines.

  • Edwin

    If Olt doesn’t make the MLB team, who is in consideration for the backup 1B job? One thing I’d like to see the Cubs be able to do is build a little bit better bench, so that they can rest their players more often.

    • Jon

      Murphy? Ideally your backup 1B has to be able to play 2-3 other positions as well.

      • willis

        Yeah I bet Murphy could handle it here and there.

    • willis

      I would think one of the catchers if Olt isn’t the call for the final roster spot. Or, Vitters but the kid hasn’t had near enough looks yet to think they are even considering that.

    • Noah_I

      I think Murphy would be the backup, but ideally at 1B you have Rizzo playing 150-155 games or so. It’s just not that stressful of a position on the body, and that would be an additional day off every 2 weeks (if he plays 150 games) or month (if he plays 155).

      The overall problem with wanting your bench to be better so your starters can get more rest is that you’re hoping for a fairly significant talent gap between your starters and bench players for two reasons. First, you can only afford to pay bench players so much. Second, and bigger, is that your bench players should only be bench players because they can’t land starting jobs elsewhere. The fact that they aren’t starting anywhere should, if your team is good enough, indicate the fact that your lineup with your starters out is worse.

      • Edwin

        I think you’re taking some of what I said a little too far. I’m not asking for a ton of money to be spent on the bench, or for all the bench players to be just as good as the starters. And as far as 1B goes, it makes almost no sense to have a player who could only back up 1B. But I think there is underrated value in having a 4th OF or an extra MI that can spot start for one of your “regulars” and provide decent production, whether by platoon, or just being able to provide a solid backup option in case of injury/ a player needing a day off. Last season the top 10 Cubs players in terms of PA made up 4493 of the teams 5743 non-pitcher PA, leaving around 1250 for the “bench”. Even a team like Boston still saw their “bench” have around a combined 1000 PA.

    • C. Steadman

      do we even need to carry a backup 1B on the MLB roster? Rizzo played 160 games last year, anyone can be the “emergency” 1B in case of injury, if its a lasting injury you DL Rizzo and call up the backup 1B

      • willis

        I agree here. I don’t think there needs to be a “backup 1B” but someone on the roster who can give you a start or sub in in the case of an injury or a needed day off. Rizzo has proved durable to this point (please don’t jinx it) so I don’t think it’s as much of a concern as a servicable backup at other positions.

        • willis

          Saying that, if Olt can show he’s back to beign good offensively, and he can make the team either out of ST or later in the season…it would be a nice piece to have when the Cubs face a tough lefty.

        • C. Steadman

          especially with the Cubs multiple platoons across the diamond, platoons fill the 25-man really fast

          • Funn Dave

            Good point.

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

            The Cubs are in a weird spot…their starting 2B is a capable SS and their primary 3B is a capable 2B. Their outfield is full of guys who can play all over the OF.

            Thankfully, Castro doesn’t need many days off but they have a lot of versatility that more easily allows for platoons.

            • ssckelley

              I am your echo today.

              Damn, you beat me by a good 9 minutes! I gotta stop getting distracted midway through a reply.

          • ssckelley

            The Cubs might have plenty of platoons but most of them can play multiple positions. Murphy, Valbuena, Watkins, Lake, and even starters like Barney can play multiple positions. Other than Kottaras I don’t think the Cubs will have anybody on the bench that cannot play other positions. It could be another reason why Olt is playing 1st since if he is going to make the team it might be a bench player able to back up both 3rd and 1st.

            • Edwin

              It’s one of the reasons I want Olt to do well, because I really like how much flexability he gives the Cubs in regards to their bench.

  • http://www.dylanheuer.com Dylan

    What do you think iowa’s lineup would look like on their opening day?

    C –
    1B – Olt
    2B – Alcantara
    3B – Villaneuva
    SS – Baez
    OFs – ???

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

      OF will probably feature BJax, the loser of the Coughlan/Ruggiano deathmatch and Szczur

      • willis

        Unless they waive BJax…with or without don’t you think Vitters gets the nod in the OF as well? So it would be Szczur, BJax and Vitters? If that’s the case, I would play it like this…

        1. Alcantara
        2. Szczur
        3. Baez
        4. Vitters
        5. Olt
        6. Villanueva
        7. BJax
        8. Catcher
        9. Pitcher

        That’s a fun lineup for you Iowa people.

        • ssckelley

          Damn, that is a nice looking lineup to start the season with.

          • willis

            Yeah and they come to Memphis in April and in May, so I should get a couple good looks at it early on.

        • MightyBear

          Lots of first round picks in that lineup.

          • ssckelley

            You will have 5 if Loux happens to be pitching.

      • brickhouse

        Ruggiano is a lock for the major league roster

        • ssckelley

          He might even be a lock for the starting left field spot.

  • D-Rock

    Listening to the Pirates/Orioles game right now and they were talking about the Cubs new mascot and one announcer said “what is it going to be a bartender or a goat?” the other guy said unenthusiastically “I’m assuming it’s going to be a small bear. I think his name is Clark, right?” Other guy said “I don’t know.”

    It was pretty funny. Sounded like they think our mascot is a complete joke. Can’t really blame them, I guess.

    • ssckelley

      I don’t care what other teams announcers think. We went through this the other day with Blackhawks acting all belligerent, Clark is for the kids. Not for the old farts who think Wrigley should be nothing more than brick and ivy.

      • D-Rock

        Agreed. Clark is for the kids, and I welcome it. But the timing of introducing him this year just made it look like a huge joke since our team is one of the worst in baseball. If we were a playoff competitor or had just signed a bunch of studs this off-season, it probably wouldn’t have gotten the backlash it got.

        • ssckelley

          But this is something the Cubs should have done years ago. Just because the timing is bad it does not mean a mascot is not a good thing to have. You wait once the games start the kids will swarm around Clark for pictures and stuff. People that don’t like it or question the move will have to get over it.

    • jonred

      I don’t get the fascination with the Cubs adding a mascot. It’s for the kids, and at least it looks like a bear unlike many of the made up mascots out there. Who really cares?

      • itzscott

        The thing is that the Ricketts are transforming the Cubs into Wrigleyland, seemingly using the Disneyland model (without the rides) as a sort of blueprint. The plans look pretty good and will serve as a magnet for the area.

        Many people liked the Cubs as they’ve been and can do without the glitz, caricatures and feel the Cubs are going a bit too far by doing a 180.

  • willis

    Third start of the spring for Shark, I wonder how much rope they give him today. 60 pitches?

  • cubsfan08

    Matt Cain is ready for the season – 3 IP, 19 strikes, 0 balls. Efficient…

    • Lou Brown

      Yeah that lineup against Cain, figure the first four innings of this are going to be quick and not real exciting.

      • miggy80

        Shark has thrown 13 strikes 0 balls

        • cubsfan08

          And Shark matches him going 3 IP, 18 strikes 0 balls. crazy

          • Kyle

            I think that’s just an artifact of how Gamecast reports it. I haven’t been listening close enough to be sure, but I’m fairly certain he’s thrown some balls.

            • C. Steadman

              yeah thats how Gamecast reports it during Spring Training, one walk shows up four straight balls, strikeout shows three straight strikes, any other scenario is just one pitch

              • miggy80

                Ah, oops.

              • Funn Dave

                Interesting. Thank you.

                • Edwin

                  Apparently Shark still did throw a ton of strikes in a row though. So that’s cool.

              • DarthHater

                So, does Gamecast also report all of E-Jax’s pitches as fastballs? :-P

    • ssckelley

      Agreed, seeing how well Cain is pitching I am glad the Cubs used this lineup.

      • willis

        Shark having a very good start so far too. This game is cruising by.

  • Rebuilding

    VERY interesting article by Dave Cameron at Fangraphs on the FA signings this winter and their relation to expected future WAR. Well worth the read if you have the time:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/a-basic-model-of-2014-free-agent-pricing/

    • Jon

      Wow, 10 paragraphs to tell us that Ervin Santana was asking for too much money. Thanks Dave!

      • Rebuilding

        If that’s all you got out of the article it explains a lot, Jon

    • Kyle

      Still not linear, Dave.

      • Edwin

        $/WAR might not be linear, but it’s fairly close.

        • Edwin

          Or at least, close enough that it can be used as a ballpark figure or starting point for what most people on this site use it for.

      • Rebuilding

        I agree it shouldn’t be, Kyle. I would personally line to see the Cubs never give out a contract in the $5 to $15 million per year range (outside of team friendly extensions) because I you can usually pick up similar talent in the $1-5 mil range and save your money for stars. However, the contracts to guys like Nalasco, Hughes, Feldman, Vargas and on show it is pretty linear

        • Edwin

          I guess I don’t see where you can usually get the same amount of production from a FA you sign to a $5MM-$15MM deal as a $1MM-$5MM deal, unless I’m just misreading you.

          • Rebuilding

            Well, that article just deals with expected WAR. If you have a good FO I believe you can find guys in the $1-5 mil range that are bounce back candidates, coming off an injury, haven’t gotten an opportunity, etc. that perform close enough to those $5-15 guys to not make the latter worth the money. For instance, I’m not a big believer that Nalasco, Feldman, Hughes, Vargas are going to be a whole lot better over the next 4 years than some guys off the scrap heap (hopefully Arrieta, Grimm and/or Ramirez)

            • Rebuilding

              In other words, I would rather find a guy like Feldman where you can than give him 3/30 after he has shown something. But again, that’s faith in the FO

              • Edwin

                Ahhh. Gotcha.

  • MightyBear

    Shark looking very sharp today.

  • Ballgame17

    With Clark the mascot, he will not be in the stands at any point during the game. Anyone who is sitting in their seat will NOT see “Clark”. It will greet kids outside the stadium and be used for charities/fundraisers. It won’t be dancing on the dugout like some of you are imagining. It’s all for the kids guys..

    • ssckelley

      Aw that sucks, I was hoping he would be walking around during the game.

  • Kyle

    It’s a good thing I don’t believe ST numbers mean much, because otherwise my Olt boner would be deflating rapidly.

    • Fishin Phil

      They’ve got pills for that now.

    • miggy80

      ha, I noticed I had gone a little soft on the whole idea. It wasn’t so much the numbers but when I watched some of his at bats they reminded me of what I saw last year at Iowa. Hopefully it’s just my untrained eye.

  • C. Steadman

    “To see Ryan Kalish swinging, running this way is one of the best sights of spring” -Peter Gammons showing some love

    • Jon

      Good grief :)

      • C. Steadman

        i did a double take at the name

        • ssckelley

          Gammons was very high on Kalish when he was coming up through the Red Sox system.

          • C. Steadman

            I’m a fan of Kalish as a 5th OF

            • ssckelley

              I agree. Out of the AAAA outfielders they brought in I do like Kalish a little more than the others only because if he is 100% healed from his injuries I think he has the most upside and is still only 26 (in 2 weeks). Casper Wells looked good when he first came up but that was 2 years ago. Cunningham and McDonald are not worth anyones time and I am not sold that Lake is ready, not that he ever will be. I am rooting for Vitters and Kalish to be the 4th and 5th outfielders, I think they would give you a nice lefty/righty combination off the bench or to use as a platoon.

  • Kyle

    Ground ball single for Olt! Fixed-and-all-better back on!

    • Danny Ballgame

      Resume Olt boners

  • willis

    How about that…A nice little Cubs rally.

  • cubmig

    correct me if I’m wrong……but Len’s radio partner (Mick?) pronounces Alcantara as Alcantra. I heard that before as well. Anyone else catching that? Or am I mistaken?

    • ssckelley

      Mick is the voice of the Tennessee Smokies, you would think he has the correct pronunciation.

    • Funn Dave

      Broadcasters mess up people’s names all the time. I think I’ve heard four different variations on “Joakim Noah,” for instance. It gets even worse when they’re dealing with minor leaguers.

      • ssckelley

        But that has to be the correct pronounciation of his name, Len is pronouncing it the same way.

        Back off grammar guy!!!!!

        • Funn Dave

          Haha. If so, I hope it’s because Arismendy encouraged them to pronounce it as such. Alcantara would be the “correct” Dominican prononciation, but Alcantra is probably easier for Americans to say.

          • cubmig

            I speak Spanish and for the love of language, I can’t get Alcantra from Alcantara…………Ahhh the arrogance of ——…..

        • Funn Dave

          http://www.milb.com/documents/0/4/0/56068040/Smokies_Roster_8.24.13_0c6xmxjk.pdf

          See pronunciation guide at bottom. Looks like it’s a combination of Mick’s way and my way: four syllables, but with the accent on “can.”

          • Funn Dave

            Wow, great grammar, Dave. Way to use complete sentences.

    • Funn Dave

      Also, some atheletes revert to a more Americanized version of their names once they start heading for potential renown, while others retain their native pronunciations. That might be part of it.

  • cubmig

    Nice comeback AND win.

  • T

    Can’t help it, but every time I read any excitement about Olt I am reminded of a hilarious Harvey Keitel line in “Pulp Fiction’ which goes, “Let’s not start………….just yet!”

  • T

    Sorry. Did not mean to place comment on this particular thread.

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