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cubs park shoesALL the split squad games.

Today the Cubs host the Angels at Cubs Park, and also head to Phoenix Municipal Stadium to take on the A’s. That latter game will feature Javier Baez making his debut at second base, which means, of course, that game is not the one that is televised. Instead, the Angels game will be on CSN, which is better than nothing. But, you know, I’d like to see Baez at second.

You can listen to that A’s game on Cubs.com, though, at least.

James McDonald, still trying to win the temporary fifth starter job, will start in Phoenix, while Edwin Jackson continues to tune up in Mesa.

Seriously, that A’s game features tons of stuff I wish I could watch: Darwin Barney makes another start at shortstop (Tigers, eh hem), and he’ll do so opposite Baez at second, which would be a little awkward if these guys weren’t all professionals. Christian Villanueva gets another start at third base in that game. I know these are all split squad days, but still, he’s getting a lot of starts over there. Ryan Kalish starts again in that game, too, together with Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters. Mike Olt was supposed to start at first, but he was scratched. So at least you aren’t missing that on TV.

The irony? That Angels game, which looks much less intriguing to watch, features a lineup with mostly regulars. If that doesn’t sum up the mindset of hardcore Cubs fans in 2014, I don’t know what does.

Lineup against the A’s:

  1. Junior Lake, CF
  2. Darwin Barney, SS
  3. Ryan Kalish, RF
  4. Chris Valaika, 1B
  5. Javier Baez, 2B
  6. Christian Villanueva, 3B
  7. Josh Vitters, DH
  8. Brett Jackson, LF
  9. Eli Whiteside, C

Lineup against the Angels:

  1. Emilio Bonifacio, SS
  2. Ryan Roberts, 2B
  3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
  4. Justin Ruggiano, CF
  5. Nate Schierholtz, RF
  6. Welington Castillo, C
  7. Ryan Sweeney, DH
  8. Darnell McDonald, LF
  9. Luis Valbuena, 3B
  • Funn Dave

    Brett’s pining for a new TV contract :P

  • Jim

    “Darwin Barney makes another start at shortstop (Tigers, eh hem), and he’ll do so opposite Barney at second”

    What am I missing Brett?

    • J. L.

      He meant “Baez at second”.

    • gocatsgo2003

      Would be quite the trick.

      • Jim

        He has the range…

        • willis

          Trying to pump up his value. He can play two positions at once.

  • Cubsin

    Actually. Baez will be at 2B, but the thought of Barney covering both positions to demonstrate his defensive prowess is intriguing.

    • itzscott

      I remember an old Bugs Bunny cartoon where the PA announcer said he was playing all positions:

      “Playing 1st base, Bugs Bunny…. Playing 2nd base, Bugs Bunny…. Playing shortstop, Bugs Bunny…… Pitching, Bugs Bunny…. Catching, Bugs Bunny…..”

  • SenorGato

    Baez at 2B is music to my ears.

  • Lou Brown

    Man could someone tell CSN nobody cares about the Angels game? The A’s is where the action is at, unless your excitement for spring is how well Ryan Sweeney DH’s. More Baez all the time!

    • Funn Dave

      Emilio Bonifacio, SS
      Ryan Roberts, 2B
      Anthony Rizzo, 1B
      Justin Ruggiano, CF
      Nate Schierholtz, RF
      Welington Castillo, C
      Ryan Sweeney, DH
      Darnell McDonald, LF
      Luis Valbuena, 3B

      Nobody wants to see how any of these players are progressing? Or Edwin Jackson?

      • Lou Brown

        Does anyone outside of Rizzo really get you going?

      • terencemann

        The only person playing in either game that the casual fan will know is Rizzo. He’s on the “big league” roster in the ss. That’s 4 or 5 players who will play opening day.

  • ssckelley

    They must not consider ratings when making these lineups. The one everyone wants to watch is not being televised.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I assume it’s because the game is at Cubs Park, which would be a lot easier for CSN to broadcast from (and this was probably set up long, long before the lineups were set).

      • ssckelley

        I assume that as well, but why not flip flop the lineups? Send the more MLB one to play the A’s.

        • half_full_beer_mug

          Because they don’t want to travel

          • terencemann

            Yeah, it’s a dirty secret of spring training that veterans sometimes get to pick if they are willing to travel for a split squad game.

            • terencemann

              In the Cub’s case, that means guys with 2+ years of major league service time, I guess.

  • JakeMac

    Anyone else noticing that Ryan Roberts is still getting a decent amount of playing time? Does he have a realistic shot at making the team? I don’t see it, but logged nearly as many ABs this spring as Junior Lake.

    • Q-Ball

      Not only that, I wonder if he’s better than Junior Lake. Junior is too hacktastic for my tastes.

      • Jon

        Junior Lake probably will be the worst OF that makes the 25 man roster.

        • Kyle

          He’ll be the worst OF to make any 25-man roster

          • Jon

            I was peddling around a Starling Marte possibility for Lake this year. No Chance?

            • terencemann

              I think Marte for Lake would be like saying “Give me your shiny red apple for my apple with worms in it”.

              • Jon

                I meant a player comp. Both players strike out about the same rate, neither can take a walk and rely on high BABIP. Lake would have to learn the art of IHB and steal some bases, but it’s possible…or maybe not.

          • Norm

            LAD and their $225M roster will have Chone Figgins on their roster.

            I’ll take Junior.

          • C. Steadman

            I’ll take Junior over Aaron Hicks or Chris Herrmann from the Twins

  • D-Rock

    Ok, MacDonald is already out…hurt something…not sure what. I think it’s safe to say the James MacDonald experiment is done.

    • willis

      Always a curious signinig, now it is probably over.

      Mercifully I might add. He’s terrible.

      I would say this locks up the 5th spot for Villanueva until Arrieta returns.

      • D-Rock

        Agreed. Sad to see it end like that for him, but I think we all kind of saw this coming at some point.

      • NorthSideIrish

        The curious thing was him getting a major league deal…I did not see that coming. As a flyer on a Minor League deal, I wouldn’t have had a problem with seeing what he had left.

        But I’m mostly in the “Anyone but Wada” camp for the 5th spot.

        • Fishin Phil

          Hey! That’s my camp too!

          • NorthSideIrish

            I thought you looked familiar, but I didn’t want to be accused of saying all puppets look alike.

            • DarthHater

              Cellulose bigotry. smh

        • willis

          Agree, the major league deal was the curious part.

  • D-Rock

    Wang in now to replace McDonald in the 1st inning.

  • ruby2626

    Does Kyle Hendricks have zero chance for the 5th starter? He looked pretty good the other day. I don’t care about his first 2 starts, seeing how many guys he walked when he normally walks no one tells me he had a large case of the jitters which will eventually go away. Let him get a few starts under his belt with the understanding he’ll more than likely get sent down when Arrieta is ready. Anything for some excitement, please. I still say Junior Lake better start playing ball or he’ll be calling Iowa City home, he has looked terrible and is not guaranteed a roster spot. He was one of our few sources of excitement last year.

    • terencemann

      I suspect the Cubs want to give Arrieta a shot in the rotation and Hammel is almost a lock which means Hendricks would be on the outside looking in.

    • D-Rock

      I would be all for Hendricks getting a shot at the 5th spot too, but they will probably start him in AAA. He’s already been sent to the minors camp. No need to rush him at all this year, so they’ll probably go with Villaneuva to bridge to Arrieta.

      • JakeMac

        Right. Lots of things working against him. Already sent to minor league camp, not on the 40-man roster. He’s not starting the year in the bigs.

        Rusin, on the other hand, has a slim chance.

        • half_full_beer_mug

          I’d rather see Rusin for the 2 or 3 starts that will be needed and leave CV in the pen.

          • terencemann

            I completely missed that Arrieta is starting the season on the DL. I’m a bad fan.

            • Fishin Phil

              True, but at least you have a nice mustache.

    • C. Steadman

      Iowa Cubs are in Des Moines…and Hendricks was sent to minor league camp already so I’d say 2% chance he makes it as a 5th starter.

  • YourResidentJag

    An interesting interview with Scott Simkus on the outside historical lineage of baseball: http://wgnradio.com/2014/03/17/outsider-baseball-the-weird-world-of-hardball-on-the-fringe/

    The guy apparently also worked for the Stratomatic Baseball company.

  • ThatCubsGuy

    Welp…Lake continued scuffle is definitely leading him to start the year in AAA……Kalish on the other hand, man is he on a roll

    • Jason P

      Lake’s roster spot still isn’t in question. Spring stats don’t matter.

      Kalish may well play himself into the 5th outfielder role, but if 2014’s like the past 2 years, there’ll probably be 5-7 guys who occupy that spot at some point throughout the year.

      • Kyle

        Lake’s roster spot should have been in question from before ST, but regardless, this organization has proven that they absolutely will give and take away roster spots based on spring training.

        The vast majority of the stats are worthless, but spring strikeout rates do have a bit of predictive value for the season. Lake’s 45% spring k-rate is an extension of the problem we already know he has: He swings and misses more often than many pitchers.

        • Jason P

          I think Lake’s upside is vastly overrated because of the swing-and-miss in his game that isn’t going away any time soon, but it’s still higher than that of some of the other outfield roster candidates.

          I think he at least deserves a chance to show his defense in center has improved to the point where he can be a 1.5-2 win player even if his offense regresses.

      • ThatCubsGuy

        Not about the stats. It his poor ABs that is keeping him down.. I could see if he had couple of loud outs or is having a solid approach but continually to swing at pitches that is nowhere near the strike zone is alarming. Pitchers can afford to nibble with the guy because he is making it easy on them by constantly chasing…

        No need to set the guy up for failure by putting him out if he hasn’t made the adjustments yet

  • cubbiekoolaid2015

    Neil Ramirez definitely looks the part. Big body and nasty stuff.

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