cactusAnother split squad day, another split for the Cubs. If only they could do this during the regular season, we’d be looking at a .500 team.

  • The big news came from the Cubs/A’s game, where James McDonald lasted just two pitches. You can see the more complete update here, but all we really know is that his shoulder didn’t feel right. Even if he feels great tomorrow, you’ve gotta believe this takes him out of the picture for Opening Day. Given his past shoulder issues, I’m sure the Cubs are going to proceed extremely cautiously with this one.
  • The other big story for the day was Javier Baez making his debut at second base, which was, by all accounts, a yawn of a success. That’s kind of what you’re looking for, though – Baez made the plays he was supposed to make. With the bat, he ripped a single to left (does he single any other way?). He struck out in his other two at bats.
  • Edwin Jackson finally had a good Spring outing (if the numbers matter to you), going four scoreless and allowing just three hits and a walk. He struck out six. Caveat? The Angels’ lineup was mostly bench guys, youngsters, and minor league invitees. Ian Stewart batted cleanup.
  • Ryan Kalish had yet another two hits. If Spring Training stats meant a lot, he’d have a job on the Opening Day roster. Even as it stands, there might be a spot for him (Casper Wells is apparently out with back spasms), and it could just depend on how the Cubs want to bring him back from the extended absence over the past few years.
  • Brett Jackson was 0-3 with 2 Ks, and Josh Vitters was 0-2 with a BB and 2 Ks.
  • For the most part, the pitchers who followed McDonald are not guys trying to make the roster. The exception was Jonathan Sanchez, who gave up an earned run on three hits (no walks, no strikeouts) in an inning of work. Zac Rosscup followed Sanchez with a scoreless, walkless, hitless, two-strikeout inning. They’re kind of the contenders for the “third lefty” in the bullpen, though I really don’t think the Cubs will actually carry three lefties.
  • Neil Ramirez threw another scoreless ninth inning, which makes me wonder whether the Cubs will groom him to be a late-inning guy in the minors this year. That’s probably reading too much into things, but he does have that kind of stuff, and folks have long questioned whether he was going to have to move to the pen. For my part, for now, I really hope he sticks in the rotation. He’s got middle-of-the-rotation upside, and the Cubs don’t have a ton of those guys at the AAA level right now.
  • Also throwing a scoreless frame was Chang-Yong Lim, who still has an outside shot at a bullpen job, but the numbers are really working against him. Of course, if there’s something to Blake Parker’s down Spring – he gave up another two earned runs today – maybe one of the previously presumed-to-be-filled spots will be up for grabs. Even if not, if Carlos Villanueva is in the rotation to start the year and James McDonald is on the DL, there will be another bullpen spot available.
  • waittilthisyear

    ramirez looked good, like he belongs

  • willis

    Even though it was against scrubs, glad to see Edwin Jackson have a solid outing.

  • MightyBear

    Brett, (if you know or have a theory) Blake Parker was pretty effective last year but they usually had him pitch one inning (or less). This spring he has tended to pitch more than one inning and has been ineffective in the second inning. Is it the number of pitches in ST? Are they trying to stretch him out to back up Villanueva? Is it just ST and they know he’s going to start in Iowa and just want him to get work? Do they want to see if he’s a 2 inning reliever? I’m not sure what’s going on with how they’re handling Parker.

    • Blackhawks1963

      Parker doesn’t have great stuff. Unlike Rondon for example. The league invariably catches up with guys like Michael Bowden and Parker.

  • Rebuilding

    Interesting article from Deadspin about the Cubs old sports psychologist. And a bit about Ricketts:

    • Jon

      How does it take 4 years to fire a guy?

    • Rebuilding

      I think the most interesting thing is that Hendry wanted to let him go and Ricketts said no. Why would Ricketts be involved in those kinds of decisions? It’s not the image he puts out there. And why did it take Theo so long to fire the guy? Schierholtz quote is pretty strong so this must have been the thinking in the clubhouse for awhile.

    • Brett

      Mentioned it in the Bullets this weekend. The psychologist has always been a burr in Sullivan’s side for some reason, so it’s probably worth keeping that in mind as you read. Lots of teams have sports psychologists, lots of sports psychologists try lots of ways to form relationships with players. I really don’t understand why this is the kind of story its become, other than secondary sites describing an already dressed-up piece in the most inflammatory ways possible.

      • Rebuilding

        Sorry, I missed it this weekend. No idea whether it’s dressed up or not but it does have a direct quote from a player that’s pretty damning. To me the bigger question is whether Ricketts would be that involved in what seems to be strictly a baseball matter

    • Jason Powers
  • Jon

    maybe he was kept around to write scripts for greenies ?

    • Rebuilding

      Now you are just trying to get banned

      • Jon

        I was under the impression that if you had an official diagnoses of ADD you could take adderall with a prescription ?

  • TimBeam

    So it seems like everyday I’m hearing something about Kalish getting multiple hits and stealing bases. They guy could give us a little bit of an X-factor. Something to get Wrigley Field excited and pumping. Give the man a job

  • Diehardthefirst

    Rizzo Schierholtz Lake Sweeney 3456 is not going to scare any decent pitchers – Castro Valbuena 12 are not table setters … And Castillo Barney pulling up the rear is going to clog up the base paths- if this is starting 8 then 65-97 is about right

    • Tommy

      I’m a pitcher, and I’m scared.

      • Diehardthefirst

        Operative word —decent

  • FFP

    Newer Nate Silver.

  • Jr 25

    So kinda off subject here but with the lack of catcher depth in the minors and Kottaras, and Baker not exactly lighting it up as left handed hitting catchers what are your thoughts on Cubs trying to get a young kid like Grandal from the Padres since they have depth with Hundley, Rivera and Robinson and Hedges only a yr or 2 away and Hoyer already trading for him once?

    • bbmoney

      I think you’re worrying too much about how the Cubs backup catcher has hit in his 16 spring training PAs.

    • ssckelley

      The Cubs do need organization depth at catcher but I am fine with the Cubs going in with Kottaras and Baker as backup catchers. Help is on the way, the Cubs drafted some intriguing young catchers in last years draft, Rafael Lopez is turning out to be a decent prospect, and there is a chance that the Cubs will draft Alex Jackson this coming June and let him develop as a catcher.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Perhaps Brett or someone can post it, but there is a fabulous article on the state of the cubs on grantland web site today. Required reading for any cub fan, great insight into some of the things the front office is trying to accomplish.
    I especially like the point that Theo and Jed realize the high risk that young pitching brings, and have made a strategy of investing and developing position players.

    • Funn Dave

      “In 2015, the Cubs win the World Series!”

      Fingers crossed, yo.

      Thanks for the link.

    • FFP

      Not much brand new here, but Rany Jazayerli puts Theo’s lot into perspective. Good writing, too. For any reader still playing catch-up with the current CBA and its ramifications, it’s worth the read. Thanks, cubfan.

      • Rebuilding

        I don’t think there is anything brand new to some of us, but to a few I think the article sums up quite well why the Cubs has been a longer process than the Red Sox. There are quite a few, but a few of the highlights for me were:

        * The signings of Mueller, Ortiz and Millar the offseason BEFORE Moneyball was published for a combined $6 million/year. Mueller was coming off a 370 OBP, Ortiz was coming off an 839 OPS and had been released and Millar was coming off an 875 OPS and was headed to Japan. That does not happen now.

        * From 2003-2011 the Red Sox spent more on the draft than any other team despite never picking higher than 17th

        * My favorite – actively trading prospects for players close to FA to get the compensatory picks which resulted in 23 first round picks in 9 years including Matt Murton, Jed Lowrie, Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury, Daniel Bard, and Jackie Bradley Jr. As comp picks

      • BT

        “In the past, teams could rebuild and contend at the same time, because there were shortcuts to take. Now, the shortcuts are gone, forcing teams to choose one path. The Cubs have chosen the right path, and it’s not their fault that it’s not as pretty of a route as it used to be.”

        That certainly will be the turd in the punchbowl for a lot of folks around here.

        • Lou Brown

          Shhhhh, don’t mention that! Its all Theo’s fault, and Ricketts being broke. A new CBA can’t have anything to do with it…

    • ssckelley

      It is a great article, every Cub fan should read it especially the ones who constantly complain about the FO.

      • Norm

        eh, it won’t change their thoughts.

        • ssckelley

          I hope it doesn’t. It could get boring around here if we all agreed on everything.

    • David

      can you paste the link??

      • Brett

        Coming in the Bullets.

      • ssckelley
        • Brett

          NO! You may only read things with my guidance!

          • ssckelley

            Well it is a very long article, get it read so we can talk about it when you post your bullets.

            • Jason Powers

              The only line some will or (unlikely as not) read: “The Cubs are amassing all the talent they need to contend … in 2018.”

              7 year model. Wrote that months ago. There have been very few, if any doormat franchises, that can turn stuff around any quicker than that. Baltimore late 50s. Montreal from 1969 to 1979.

              —-The biggest thing to the successful turn: finding a TOR pitcher available. I don’t think the Cubs can get Price at the right price.

              Instead, just build a hell of offense. If nothing else, the Cubs need a 800-850 run a year bashing lineup.

              Then, find a slew of FA pitchers that can be inserted for 1-2-3year deals. (Guys that might not be the very TOR, but can be a #2-3 SP most of the time.) Maybe you get lucky and develop 1 #1 SP by 2017-8. Could happen.)

  • Cornish Heat

    Does anyone want to talk about how Junior Lake has looked so poor at the plate this spring? I know it’s “just spring,” but I’m curious that no one has talked about this yet.

    30 PA, 4 H, 0 XBH, 1 BB, and 13 Ks. He’s not a veteran that would normally get a pass on a line like that. …Maybe Lake doesn’t make the team out of spring? Or if he does, maybe he’s on a short leash in April?

    • Jon

      Maybe he could go beat up on some 15 year Dominican pitchers at the facility to boost his confidence?

      • Cornish Heat

        Not a bad idea. Certainly as of now, he’s looking really bad/lost at the plate. Complete 180 from most of his 2013 campaign.

        • Jon

          He’s just not any damn good. But it’s better we find this out sooner than later.

        • Professional High A

          He looked rough at BP yesterday. A lot of ground balls compared to the others. Hit a few that went deep but those hits were the exception, not the norm.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          It isn’t a complete 180 from last year. Lake whiffed 27% of the time last year. Now, whiffing 13 times in 30 is a little high: but basically you’d expect such imbalances in such small samples sizes about one time in 15.

          Lake has a huge tool deficiency: poor pitch recognition. It is, unfortunately, an untreatable problem.

          • Cornish Heat

            Sure, “complete 180” is too strong a statement. And I fully acknowledge it’s a small sample size. But it’s not just the K-rate that is noteworthy; it’s also the 0 XBH and the simply really bad swings he’s making constantly throughout these 30 PA that has me a bit concerned.

            I never expected him to be what I expect Albert Almora to be, but I was hoping to see some progression this year. Obviously it’s way way way early, but I don’t think his troubles so far are something to ignore, either.

  • candyland07

    I love Lake ,but this young man does not need to be on the roster when the Cubs head north.He does not have the history to be on the 25 man roster. He has played poorly this spring and he should not be rewarded to be on the 25 man roster.

    If lake has options Lake Should be demoted .

    And I like lake but he has not done enough to keep his roster spot.