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salt river fieldI suppose I’ve rested on today’s financial piece long enough.

Tonight’s game – another night game, how about that? – sees Carlos Villanueva, probably the inside favorite for the temporary fifth starter’s job when the season opens, take on the Rockies at Salt River Fields. I’m not sure if you’ll be able to tell on TV, but it’s the nicest facility in Arizona, outside of Cubs Park.

Speaking of which: TV. This game is on it. It’s on MLB Network, and MLB.tv for those of you who use it.

As for tonight’s lineup, it does not feature Mike Olt at third base, which was the hope. But apparently the Cubs are saying Olt will play third tomorrow, so there’s no real additional concern here. Just would have liked to have seen him tonight is all. At least tomorrow’s game is also televised.

It’s a lineup of regulars tonight (which is to say starters and backups). I guess they’ve got to play sometimes, too.

Lineup:

  1. Emilio Bonifacio, SS
  2. Darwin Barney, 2B
  3. Justin Ruggiano, LF
  4. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
  5. Nate Schierholtz, RF
  6. Ryan Sweeney, CF
  7. Luis Valbuena, 3B
  8. George Kottaras, C
  9. Carlos Villanueva, P
  • http://www.w2wn.net Cerambam

    Man I really would like to see Castro get in there soon. Also Brett, it’s a little crowded in the comment section of the financial piece so here’s my “great job, it really was a fantastic read.”

  • blublud

    No Castro, Olt, Lake or Castillo. Other than Rizzo, there is zero reason to watch this game.

    • itzscott

      More than halfway thru spring training and Happy’s still leaning on the guys that’ll ride the bench!

      • BT

        It’s almost like he’s trying to see what the guys who aren’t guaranteed a spot can do. Why would he use exhibition games to do that?

    • another JP

      I hear you loud and clear blu… maybe this game will be watchable after the 5th inning when the prospects come in.

  • MightyBear

    Schierholtz and Barney may be auditioning for the Tigers.

    • ame1908

      I think it’s safe to safe that half the team is auditioning for the next 4 months.

  • Bill

    What’s depressing is this is very close to what the opening day lineup could look like. Awful would be an understatement. Your lineup is really bad when Justin Ruggiano is hitting 3rd.

    I’m not sure I wouldn’t rather have CSN and WGN televise the AAA games this year, rather than the major league games.

    • http://bleachernation.com woody

      My sentiments exactly. Even with Beef and Castro and the rest of those guys it’s looking pretty grim. Is it just me or have others noticed that some of the unknowns in those split have been erforming better that the regulars.

    • blublud

      This lineup is missing half of the starting position players, and I really am starting to believe that Baez will be on this roster before the end of April. I think the FO knows it. They’ll get their extra year and then promote him. They can’t come out and say that, because technically, holding a player back just for service issues only can lead to a grievance, though it happens all the time. It’s just not publicly discussed.

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

        It could be before the end of April but not by much.

        An April 10th callup would get the extra year of control but that won’t even happen and I wouldn’t be surprised if they found a reason to keep him down longer. If history is any guide he’s going to be striking out around 30% of the time through April. I’m pegging a May 12th callup.

        • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

          Agreed they going to see how he starts and then adjust to
          AAA. If he mashes like he did at the end if last year he will be up quickly but if the K rate is 30%+ then they wait to see if he readjusts and bring it down like he did in AA. The K rate is key to everything and worries the af out of me.

  • MightyBear

    Opening Day lineup

    Castro
    Lake
    Rizzo
    Olt
    Castillo
    Sweeney
    Ruggiano
    Barney
    Shark

    Second Game
    Bonifacio
    Castro
    Rizzo
    Schierholtz
    Sweeney
    Valbuena
    Kalish
    Kottaras
    Wood

    Better than people think.

    • http://bleachernation.com woody

      From what I read the Tigers sent one of their top scouts to look at Barney and Schierholtz. Still a chance those guys aren’t there on opening day. Also with all of the injuries to pitchers I wouldn’t be surprised if Villanueva’s not moved. Just depends on how bad they want him.

  • http://BN Sacko

    Olt was to be playing 3rd last week already everyday he is somewhere else. He’s our NL DH for now. Or He starts in Iowa.

  • Spoda17

    Is it just me, or does anyone else think there is no chance Lake breaks camp with the Cubs..?

    • Jason P

      I think there’s no chance he doesn’t break camp with the Cubs.

      • blublud

        Hah. This is hilarious.

    • blublud

      I think there’s no chance he doesn’t break camp with the Cubs.

    • Rich H

      I think that Lake is a guy that is going to get a short leash real soon especially with the way that Kalish is playing. But if I had to choose between the 2 I would say that Lake is staying with the big club.

      • willis

        Both could and probably should make it. The infielders on the team, with the exception of Rizzo, are super utility types that can play all over, so carrying 5 true outfielders is fine by me. And Kalish gives me hope that he may have rediscovered something now that he’s healthy. May as well see if that is the case.

  • https://twitter.com/dwoytek dw8

    Rockies broadcast just referred to the “Matt Garza Deal”. Hoping it enters the baseball vernacular in the same way as the “Mark Texeira Deal” has.

  • willis

    First time I’ve watched Villanueva this spring…is he throwing harder than I’m used to, and attacking hitters more aggressively? Or am I imagining things?

    PS-Colorado’s spring stadium looks pretty awesome.

  • blublud

    Solid 11 pitch at-bat there by Barney who is quietly having a solid spring.

    • blublud

      Barney continues to impress.

  • Diehardthefirst

    Barney would be a better anchor as SS of IF than any infielder on team now … If Rizzo Baez and Olt play to potential the team can carry good field take charge light hitting SS

    • scorecardpaul

      diehard 99% of the time I read an article and say WTF, I look up and it is from you. keep up the stupid ass shit, you keep me on my toes

    • blublud

      If he could just hit consistently over the next 10-12 years like he has this preseason, he would be a Hall of Fame SS.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        heh, the list of players for whom that is true is a long, long one. (I’m sure that Chris Pittaro’s speech would have been quite moving….)

  • mjhurdle

    Villenueva has looked really good (except for the bad pitch to CarGo). 8 Ks in 4 innings and 40 pitches. He was absolutely pounding the strike zone as well.

  • ThatCubsGuy

    Tell you what. Been impressed with Barney’s approach this spring.. Hopefully it carries over

  • kridertr

    How much does bonifacio bring to this team!! I was happy we signed him but didn’t expect him to have this big of an impact on the team!!

  • Drew7

    Anyone else hear these guys salivating over Lemehieu and his 72% SB-rate?

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Did you confuse choking noises with salivating noises?

      :-)

      • ThatCubsGuy

        Lmfao

  • ssckelley

    Baez another bomb to dead center.

    • DrReiCow

      That was HUGE blast. This kid is exciting.

      Moo.

      • willis

        That was…Holy shit.

    • blublud

      Damnit, I had just change the TV to watch baggage.

      • ssckelley

        Haha, I DVR that show. I don’t get why they don’t make more of them, even my kids love the show.

  • ssckelley

    The Iowa Cubs should try peddling their TV rights. I would watch them over the MLB one.

  • willis

    Re-watching it, the reaction of the crowd was priceless. Loud as shit in an “OHHHH” voice. I don’t think they could believe it.

    • half_full_beer_mug

      I think you might have been hearing me from over in Little Rock

      • willis

        I think I did. Your reaction carried the river. Very impressive.

    • ssckelley

      I would think those balls would have a flat spot where Baez hit it.

  • willis

    The sound the bat makes on the ball when Baez connects…oh my. It’s beautiful.

  • ssckelley

    Tell me that isn’t Baez!

    • Jason P

      It looks like he’s alright. Dodged a bullet there.

    • Teigh Cubs Teigh

      I didn’t breathe for a whole three minutes there.

      • ssckelley

        Me neither, especially when they started looking at the wrist.

  • ThatCubsGuy

    Oh god………..

  • solomo11

    I think I just had a heart attack

  • half_full_beer_mug

    Well there’s one thing he needs to work on

  • ssckelley

    Whew, he appears to be ok

  • Chef Brian

    Excellent article Brett, this is certainly your magnum opus. Solid research and well written. I can hear the wind coming out of the sails of a few of the “critics” around here. The less “brainy” ones will continue to rage against the dying of their arguments. Hopefully some of the whining around here will die down for a bit. Way to go Brett!

  • willis

    Amazing both dude didn’t go down, looked like they banged knee/legs pretty hard. Glad he’s ok.

    • ssckelley

      Yes, not sure who the LF was but he was lucky to still have his leg attached after that play.

      • willis

        Giansanti I think.

        • ssckelley

          Dammit, I just closed my BR tab!

        • half_full_beer_mug

          Thought it was #7, that would be Jackson right?

          • ssckelley

            No, I know what he looks like.

            • half_full_beer_mug

              I didn’t think it looked like him either, that’s why the number confused me.

            • willis

              Me too, that’s when I knew it wasn’t him. Thought so at first, then is slow mo I knew it wasn’t the dreamy Mr. Jackson.

          • willis

            It was #7, but Giansanti wearing it tonight.

            • half_full_beer_mug

              gotcha

  • half_full_beer_mug

    There’s the bat flip

    • willis

      Valbuenabomb

      Not as cool as Baezbomb and Vogelbomb. But its ok.

  • ssckelley

    Nice rally here in the 9th.

  • ssckelley

    So you think Olt was lobbying for this at bat since Baez hit one?

  • ThatCubsGuy

    Fantastic AB. Atta boy Olt!!

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