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cactusWere this a regular season game, it would be about as frustrating as it gets. The Cubs went up huge early, taking advantage of some Ranger mistakes, only to give up the lead late, and lose in extra innings. At least Mike Olt and Javier Baez titillated fans with back-to-back, opposite field jacks.

  • Jason Hammel had a mixed outing, working up in the zone a little too much. Ultimately, he’s healthy, and that was the story to watch with him this Spring.
  • Alberto Cabrera followed Hammel with a couple scoreless, walkless, hitless innings, striking out one. With none of the Grimm/Rondon/Parker contingent absolutely blowing the doors off of your face this Spring, it’s becoming increasingly likely that the Cubs will elect to keep Cabrera in the pen, rather than expose him to waivers (he is out of options).
  • If judging by Spring performance only, it’s gotta be very hard not to give the final outfield job to Ryan Kalish. He had another couple hits last night, including a double that would have been a single for most players. He also reached base on an error, which he’s done a lot this Spring (not that you can entirely credit him for that, but, well, whatever – I noticed). Kalish isn’t showing much pop, though that isn’t really his game. He is, however, showing versatility, a good plate approach, great baserunning, and a .433 OBP.
  • Obscured by his homer and double, Javier Baez did have one really ugly at bat in the first against Alexi Ogando. With the bases loaded, Baez seemed to be overeager, swinging at a couple down-and-away breaking pitches that weren’t particularly well-located. It looked like he simply wasn’t identifying the spin, and determined to swing no matter what. It’s something he’ll have to continue to work on, because when it isn’t Spring Training, he isn’t going to see nearly as many fastballs or hangers from fringe roster types. (Baez made a fielding error at second, too, on a ball through his legs, but we’ll cut him some slack on that.)
  • In addition to his homer, Mike Olt took a nice seven-pitch walk.
  • Brett Jackson, cut earlier in the day, had a triple and a couple strikeouts (though one was a full count strikeout looking, and it looked like ball four to me).
  • JeffR

    The cubs have some great options for 4th and 5th outfielders, unfortunately the starting outfielders don’t project to be much better.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Best collection of 4th outfielders in baseball, hands down. Which is obviously a compliment and a criticism.

      • Edwin

        Way to think positive.

  • itzscott

    Olt is going to turn out to be a monster at 3rd for the Cubs for many years. What a steal it was to be able to get him to be included in the Garza trade.

    He will force Bryant to the OF, which won’t be a bad thing since the infield will be set (and awesome) with an eventual OF of Bryant, Almora and hopefully Soler.

    Epstein now needs to do with the pitching staff what he appears to have done with position players.

    • Edwin

      I’d like to see how Olt holds up against real competition for an extended period of time.

      • JB88

        I don’t know, I was pretty pleased with what he did against Ogando last night. Sure, Ogando isn’t going to be in the conversation for a Cy Young award anytime, but he was a pretty legit pitcher for the Rangers last year.

        • Edwin

          It’s one at bat though, in a spring training setting. I’m happy when results are positive, but I don’t put much weight behind it.

          • baldtaxguy

            Yes. Good to see that there is some positive results, but he needs many more at bats in real games to prove progress from last year.

          • JB88

            For sure. You can only hit who you are in the game against. I was happy to see what he did last night, though.

    • baldtaxguy

      He will not be a monster.

  • Patrick G

    It may sound crazy, but watching Baez last night reminded me a lot of how Miguel Cabrera looked coming up with the Marlins. Not at all saying he will have the type of numbers Cabrera has, but body structure,swing, high socks and baby face reminded me a lot of him

  • JCubs79

    Kalish should make the team over Lake. Lake has shown nothing during ST. A Bonifacio-Kalish 1-2 punch could be pretty solid his year.

    • auggie

      I haven’t had the chance to see Lake this spring, so I don’t know if he has improved his defense in CF. He was lost last season when they tried him in CF, but looked good and comfortable in LF. I don’t know if that’s affecting his hitting this spring or not, but I think it might.

      On the other hand Kalish has looked very impressive at the plate, in the field and on the bases. If it were up to me Kalish would make the team and Lake just might start the season in Iowa.

      • Funn Dave

        It would be a real shame to see Lake back in AAA, but I reluctantly agree with you.

  • josh ruiter

    I really think Olt will end up in the 28% k% and 14%BB%. Those are both fairly silly numbers but set beside each other if he can hit .250-.270 he can be a mainstay on the big league club for a the next 5/6 years. If he can explode he instantly becomes the hottest 3b trade chip at the break as a young, defensive, power bat for a playoff team as well.
    JCubs79 I don’t have any desire to see Kalish make the team over Lake. I would however like to see the Cubs maximize Schierholtz value by trading him and having Kalish and Ruggiano/Sweeney play in the outfield next to Lake.

    • Elden14

      If Olt turns into the player you describe, why on earth would you trade him when he could be ours for the next 6 years, which carries well through his prime?

  • http://BN Sacko

    Am I the only one worried about Mcdonald making the team, and someone else being released like Vitters/Jackson? I just don’t get it why he is around according to what we want to accomplish in younger players with way more upside. I don’t know why I’m so hung up on getting rid of him. He just doesn’t fit in any of the Theo/Jed philosophy of rebuild. I will not watch this guy.

    • baldtaxguy

      Vitters and Jackson to Iowa.

      • auggie

        The announcers got on Vitters on the the effort he put into getting to foul ball that dropped.

    • ssckelley

      When Brett posted that the Cubs had signed McDonald I was scratching my head. Of all the dumpster dives they signed McDonald made the least amount of sense. IMO there is NO way he should make the team, which means he probably will.

      • http://BN Sacko

        If they say he is their righty against lefties from the OF I still think they are full of crap.
        I rather see lefty lefty then this BS.

        • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

          That job is Ruggiano’s, dude crushes lefties

          • http://BN Sacko

            I realize that but will there be a 5th OF and who would it be?

            • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

              If there is, my money is on Kalish

              • jp3

                That’s going to be a crowed OF situation in Iowa. Vitters, Jackson, Szczer, Kalish, just to start. Lake has hit like garbage this spring but I guess he’s going to start on the big team.

            • CubFan Paul

              “but will there be a 5th OF”

              As of now, there’s too many IFs (..see below).

              • brickhouse

                I think the 5th OF goes to Bonifacio – he is capable of playing multiple infield positions – I think he is a lock to make the team.

                • CubFan Paul

                  1B Rizzo
                  2B Valbuena, Murphy, Bonafacio, Barney
                  3B Olt
                  SS Castro
                  LF Sweeney
                  CF Lake
                  RF Schierholtz, Ruggiano
                  C Castillo, Kottaras

                  • http://BN Sacko

                    I think Olt starts in AAA but they might also start Kalish in Iowa. That leave Mc as the righty + Ruggiana. They may platoon Schierholtz and Sweeny.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “I think Olt starts in AAA”

                      He’ll be a lock for the roster after this next stretch of games.

                    • http://BN Sacko

                      Not if he cant throw to 1st and goes to Iowa until he does.

                    • http://BN Sacko

                      they have been saying for almost 2 weeks Olt will start at 3rd in ST and hasn’t yet.

  • Elden14

    That Baez at-bat was ugly. I flashed back to the days of watching Soriano flail away at low and away sliders. Made me cringe.

    I also agree on the Brett Jackson strikeout. Looked off the plate inside, but not an egregious call.

    • terencemann

      I wonder if Jackson’s discipline at the plate is also a problem for him. Maybe he’s just a little too passive when it comes to close pitches on two strikes?

      Also, is Jackson’s swing different from last season? I know he made a lot of adjustments last year but it looks like a more traditional major league swing and looks pretty natural at this point to me.

  • ssckelley

    The at bat where Jackson hit the triple was interesting. He took 2 very hittable strikes, I think one was a fastball down the middle and the other looked like a hanging curveball. Then the pitch he hits for a triple was down around his shoe tops, the catcher was setting up to field the ball in the dirt.

    Frustrating to watch him, he looks like he has all the tools to be a solid MLB player except identifying which good pitches to hit and which ones to take. I get the impression he is guessing on every pitch.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    In the very few swings I have seen from B. Jackson this spring, he does better at the plate than he did when I saw him with Tennessee late last year. Swing looks much more polished now, and less a disjointed series of somewhat connected parts.

    And if Kalish can post anything within 20% of that ridiculous spring OBP during the regular season, I want him in the lineup daily and batting lead off. I don’t care where they play him. Outfield, shortstop, pitcher… doesn’t matter. The Cubs are in such bad need of OBP as a team that I’ll take what I can get.

    • Edwin

      I always find it tough watching a player and separating the result from the process. I watch a player like Jackson, and when I see him get hit a hit, I find myself thinking “he has a nice looking swing”. When he strikes out, I find myself thinking “he has a bad looking swing”.

  • David

    The replay of Olt’s homer from the side camera angle/ from the dugout… he looked reminiscent of Steve Garvey. Not the massive forearms of Garvey, but the similar quiet stroke with short arms. Anyone else see that?

    • Danny Ballgame

      I was thinking similar to Paul Molitor. Quiet, simple, bat to ball stroke.

  • Steve

    When Baez came up with the bases loaded, I knew the outcome before it happened. Everyone and their mother knew how anxious he was, and Ogando exploited him. Imagine what a Wainright, Cain, or Halladay would do to him.
    This will be a big part of his learning process. Several have mentioned the Soriano similarities in that particular at bat, which, I certain hope doesn’t progress.
    Baez is an out of this world talent, but he needs more exposure to situations like this to help mold him into what hopefully is a future star.

    • ssckelley

      Funny you say that, I used to be able to call Soriano strike outs. Sosa was another that used to swing out of his shoes with the bases loaded.

      • Edwin

        Eh, Sosa always swung out of his shoes. his K% with bases loaded was about 25% in 193 PA compared to a career rate of about 23%.

        • ssckelley

          Oops, my bad….Sosa was awesome with the bases loaded!

          • Edwin

            No, just not demonstratably better/worse compared to most situations.

            • ssckelley

              Couple of things, the word “always” was not used in my original comment nor did I say anything about his K rate. I remember Sammy’s struggles with the bases loaded quite well. He did not hit his first grand slam until 1998, 4428 at bats. and then he turned around and hit another one the very next day. Until then every at bat Sammy had with the bases loaded he appeared to be over anxious.

              But nothing like getting bitched slapped with stats.

              • Drew7

                Sosa had 4428 AB’s with the bases loaded by 1998?

                • jp3

                  He would lead forever in grand slams in this universe and all others if he’d had that many ABs with the bases loaded by 1998.

                  • ssckelley

                    Not too mention RBIs.

                    I realize Drew was being a smartass, but every at bat he had with the bases loaded they brought up the fact he had not hit a grand slam yet. After Sosa hit it he appeared to have the monkey off his back and like I said he hit another the very next game.

          • auggie

            It seemed to me that Sosa was bad with the bases loaded early in his career and great as he got older. Maybe that was after the PEDs kicked in.

            • terencemann

              One of the most amazing things about Sosa to me was evolving from a free swinging player into a player with a lot of discipline at the plate in his prime. He took the challenge of getting to 100 walks very seriously. You don’t see a lot of players who evolve like that.

    • Isaac

      You hope he isn’t similar to Soriano? So, from our minor leaguer, you won’t take 2000+ hits, 400+ HR’s, .825 career OPS, 288 SB’s….all from a MIF type? I, for one, would gladly take that career from any prospect.

    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

      If he turns into Soriano, I will be jumping for joy and screaming from the rooftops (yes, those rooftops)

    • Edwin

      Could be a little bias involved in that, though. Baez strikes out a ton regardless of the situation, so him striking out with the bases loaded isn’t overly unique from most of his other at bats. It just sticks out more because you remeber it as being a more important situation.

  • E

    My thoughts:

    1. Baez, while displaying impressive power, has looked like a hack-happy kid most of the time. He needs some serious seasoning before coming to Chicago.

    2. Kalish has been good and deserves a spot on the roster.

    3. I’m not sure what else Olt has to do in order to be the opening day starting 3rd baseman.

    4. I’ve enjoyed listening/watching/hearing about Cabrera. Here’s hoping he sticks.

    5. I’m not sure why Wada is still being considered for a 5th starter option.

    • waittilthisyear

      3. play third

      everything else looks about right to me

    • Lou Brown

      I think the only thing holding Olt up is his shoulder. If he can’t throw from third, he can’t be the opening day third baseman. Otherwise, I think he has shown plenty to win the job over Valbuena and Murphy. Although he very well may hit .190 in April at Wrigley, while he adjusts to both MLB starters and Chicago in April at the same time. I hope everyone doesn’t start freaking out when that happens. Also not sure, is Lake out of options? Frankly I think he has played his way onto the Iowa roster, just a series of horrible flailing at bats.

    • JB88

      Not for nothing (given small sample sizes and whatnot), but Baez is hitting .306 this spring.

      If anything, though, I’m not thrilled with the hack-tastic approach he displays up there. I’d love to see a little more patience to his game and hope that is one of the things the Cubs want him to work on at AAA.

  • Steve

    No,no,no, not saying that. The Soriano that could not lay off that down and away slider…EVER, in a clutch situation.
    Why anyone ever threw Alf a fastball was beyond me.

    • Isaac

      Ok, fair enough. But remember, there are very, very, very few guys who hit a lot of HR’s that don’t also K a lot. Baez will probably always have swing-and-miss to his game.

  • Indy57

    Only watched the first three innings this morning, but here’s what stood out in my mind. Olt has a nice approach and his pitch recognition seems to be very good. In other words, his eyesight problems seem to be behind him. Baez needs a couple hundred at bats in AAA to adjust to the down and away curve/change-up (The Dunston Effect). Kahlish just gets on base and gets to his spots in the outfield. HE makes things happen. He’s a very nice addition and I think he makes the team out of ST. Ogando threw 78 pitches in 3 innings. Sure he was tired in the third, but this is exactly what we want the team to do. Force the opposing pitcher to max pitch count before 5 innings are up. Ogando had a decent year last year and has been counted on for this year, so its not like the Cubs were facing a AA/AAA pitcher.

  • CubFan Paul

    ‘it’s gotta be very hard not to give the final outfield job to Ryan Kalish’

    But who does he replace on the roster?

    1B Rizzo
    2B Valbuena, Murphy, Bonafacio, Barney
    3B Olt
    SS Castro
    LF Sweeney
    CF Lake
    RF Schierholtz, Ruggiano
    C Castillo, Kottaras

    Kalish only makes it if there’s a Barney/Schierholtz trade, is what i’m thinking.

    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

      If Olt makes the team, Murphy becomes pretty redundant, so he would probably take his spot

      • CubFan Paul

        Barney would be the (more expensive) redundant player if/when Olt makes the team.

        • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

          Agree to a point, but at least Barney could provide them with late inning defense up the middle. With their payroll, I doubt the million or so difference between Murphy and Barney would affect their decision. Plus, I think Barney would be more attractive at the deadline to a contender than Murphy.

          • CubFan Paul

            Murphy plays 3B, SS, and 2B.

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

              You also have Valbuena who is capable at third with the superior bat and a superior glove in Barney at SS/2B and unless his arm is a wet noodle, he could play 3B.

              • CubFan Paul

                “You also have Valbuena who is capable”

                It’s just a list, move them around as you please

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

                  What I was saying is that with Valbuena, Bonifacio and Barney, you have every position covered in the IF for injury/sub duty. If Olt is starting at 3B, you have no use for Murphy.

                  • CubFan Paul

                    “If Olt is starting at 3B, you have no use for Murphy”

                    Nor Barney if Murphy stays on the bench

            • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

              I know he “plays” shortstop but the difference defensively between them at short is laughable

    • JB88

      I’m thinking it is all the more reason that Olt starts the year in Iowa.

      But if Olt starts the year in the majors, I agree that Murphy is sort of a redundant piece.

      • CubFan Paul

        “I’m thinking it is all the more reason that Olt starts the year in Iowa”

        Kalish? The lineup is better with Olt & Kalish

        • JB88

          No, not Kalish, specifically, but because there is a logjam of other players that I’m sure the Cubs would rather see if they could unload before waiving them.

          • CubFan Paul

            “but because there is a logjam of other players”

            But if Olt shows he’s ready (the point).

    • Mreverything

      Murphy doesn’t make it, I’m thinking (and hoping)

  • willis

    Let’s see Olt play a few games at 3rd and see what happens. If he can show he’s healthy there and continues to have some success at the plate, I think you have to go with him in Chicago. At that point you work like hell to trade Barney or Murphy, or you just get rid of Murphy.

    As far as Kalish goes, he’s been about them most impressive (other than some Ruggiano bombs) of the OF possibilties. Why not give him a crack at it?

  • ruby2626

    Geez what’s the deal with Neal Cotts? Absolute crap with the Cubs and then he doesn’t pitch in the MLB for 3 years and comes back for Texas and has a 1.11 ERA in 57 innings last year with a WHIP under 1.0. Probably some kind of payback for us smoking them in the Dempster and Garza trades. Good for him.

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