cactusSure, it’s just Spring Training, and sure, it’s the first really convincing win the Cubs have had in a while, but … TAKE THAT, WHITE SOX!

  • So, Chris Rusin really wants to make this fifth starter decision difficult. He put together yet another lights out performance (against a weak, but pretty regular White Sox lineup), allowing just two hits (no walks) over five scoreless innings. He struck out three. I could see the merit in letting Rusin get the job and run with it, but I still tend to think it should go to Carlos Villanueva (who is also pitching quite well of late). Villanueva cannot be optioned out like Rusin, and leaves an opening in the bullpen if he’s in the rotation (an opening that might be needed to carry a guy like Alberto Cabrera for a while, rather than exposing him to waivers). Also, Villanueva is a swing guy, so it’s pretty easy to swing him right back into the bullpen when Jake Arrieta returns, even if he’s pitching well. If Rusin has thrown two dominant starts at that point? Another tough decision (albeit one you’d love to have). I’m not sure there’s a clearly wrong answer here, because I’m certainly not complaining if Rusin gets a shot.
  • Speaking of Cabrera, he threw another scoreless frame, walking one and striking one out. I think he’s going to wind up in this bullpen.
  • Brian Schlitter and Jonathan Sanchez also threw scoreless (hitless and walkless, too) frames, striking out one and two, respectively. I don’t see either landing a job in the pen out of Spring Training without an injury or a trade, but, hey, the more good performances the merrier.
  • The positional side of the day was full of stories. There was the Javy Baez injury, which we’ve already discussed.
  • Then you had Luis Valbuena going off to the tune of two homers in three at bats (and a sparkling play over at third, too). I’ve carried the banner for Valbuena before, and I’m not going to stop now – he’s a great player to have on the team, and I think he could actually be an above average starter at third base (or at least in a platoon). But, he’s running into a buzz saw …
  • And buzz saw, thy name is Mike Olt. Another day and another couple hits for Olt, including a double. He also walked once in his four plate appearances. It’s a small sample and it’s just the Spring and all that, but the guy is locked in right now. If he can play good defense at third base (shoulder issue), then he’s gotta be the guy at this point, right? I’ll still fall back on my thought that a month at Iowa to continue getting his footing wouldn’t be a terrible idea, but this is a guy who’s winning a job. It’s rare in Spring Training, but it’s happening right now.
  • How about this: Junior Lake had two hits, including a double, and took a walk. No strikeouts. That’s the day we’ve been waiting for for a long time from him (and the kind of day that will make me look a little stupid for saying some things I did in a podcast episode recorded earlier in the day and not yet published). It’s just one day, but here’s hoping it’s the start.
  • willis

    Lake’s approach seemed more patient today. Very good to see.

    And Olt, yeah, if he can show somewhat healthy defensively I think the job will be his.

  • Chef Brian

    Hey, all streaks start with a first game.

  • jeff1969

    Watching Olt hit now and looking at YouTube video from his disaster last year and then before what he looked like before last year, in those prospect games, it appears he is back seeing the ball again, maybe even better & more powerfully. Here’s hopin!

    • Rebuilding

      A fan watching old YouTube videos to see differences in a player is a good fan

      • jeff1969

        Thanks bro.

      • K0ng


  • Spoda17

    Love Olt… Bryant in left… Almora in center… Soler in right… WOOT!

    • itzscott

      Drooling over that possibility with an infield in front of them being:

      Rizzo, Baez, Castro, Olt and Wellington Castillo

  • itzscott

    Prediction…. You’re reading it here first:

    Mike Olt will win Rookie of the Year

    • Spoda17

      hahaha… I’m wijja bratha

  • JCubs79

    At this point Olt is going to be the opening day 3B. There is no way he isn’t with the way he’s been playing. I don’t think sending him to AAA would do much for him.

    Lake looked a lot better today. Now he needs to be consistent with that type of approach.

  • NorthSideIrish

    Some nice quotes in here from John Hart and some other front office types from around the league…

    David Kaplan ‏@thekapman 8m
    The perception of the Cubs rebuild outside of Chicago is very different than it is in the Chicago area. Please… http://fb.me/1e3dXYva2

    • Rebuilding

      That is absolutely must reading for any Cubs fan. Interesting, I’ve never seen Theo’s quotes about the Jackson signing. It actually makes me more impressed as they are self aware

      • Diehardthefirst

        Agree- good article asking fans to hang in for 2-4 more years which in dog years is up to 28 yrs but in terms of earths age is only a nano second

      • half_full_beer_mug

        Good read. I slightly disagree that hiring Dale should be held against them as a negative. Anyone that got the job then was set up to fail, and the “development” of young players seemed a bit of a stretch to me. Pretty much all of his players had already been “developed” too much by other organizations and people for him to have much success with them in one or two years.

    • blublud

      “They will tell us when they are ready to play in the major leagues.”

      This quote is my favorite. Throw that 600 at-bat AAA mess out the windows. If they are ready, they’ll promote them. Makes me believe Baez won’t be in AAA for long.

  • another JP

    If Olt can make the roster and have a good year it would be the start of a rebound for this team. By midseason, the Cubs could have a lineup of Castro, Lake, Rizzo, Baez, Olt, Sweeney, Beef, and Kalish, with Ruggiano/Bonifacio as super subs. There’s a good mixture of power, speed, and some athleticism in that batting order. I’m assuming Schierholtz and Barney will be gone by then.

  • dumbledoresacubsfan

    Valbuena continuing to show out just makes Barney more expendable, in my eyes. Either that, or he makes himself a piece multiple teams start wanting–i.e. I’d much rather have Valbuena than Barney.

    • Diehardthefirst

      Without Barney Cub pitchers may go out on strike July 1 due to the porous infield

      • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

        Man die hard is on a roll today

        • DarthHater

          “Diehard: Stops your brain when other commenters won’t.”

  • E

    I’ll admit, I don’t get this persistent drumbeat to send Olt down. What ever happened to a man doing what it took to win the job in Spring Training? Rusin is sailing on the same ship Olt is. Options or no, he deserves the job. I understand that this is a business, but right is right.

    • Rebuilding

      I think the concern is that Olt struggles at the start and the thoughts from last year start to creep back in to his psyche. Contrary to what certain robots and people here will tell you, confidence and/or lack of doubt in your abilities is extremely important to a professional athlete. I think some just want him to go down and beat up on AAA pitching before subjecting him to the meat grinder of the MLB

    • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

      Well 99% of the roster is determined before spring training starts and these games are meaningless stat wise. If Olt starts the season at AAA that was most likely the plan all along same if he starts. If he goes to AAA hopefully it’s only for a month or less (which means he back to top prospect form) and maybe he comes up with Baez so all the media pressure isn’t on Baez. Regardless the FO has always had a plan for him fiche looked good and how good he looks right now isn’t changing that.

      • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

        Or simply he could play himself out if starting but he wasn’t playing is way into starting.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Sending Olt down (if it happens) will have little to do with Olt’s ability, and much more to do with one (or both) of two factors. First, the FO might well want to showcase both Barney and Valbuena for trades. That cannot be done if they are not starting. Second, there is the issue of whether Olt can throw properly yet. If his shoulder is balky, then they might want Olt in in AAA to play 1st and get PAs, too. (And if both happen, well, then it wouldn’t be the first time.)

      • Bill

        Whether Barney and/or Valbuena start will mean nothing to their trade value. These are known commodities and the Cubs aren’t getting back much of anything for either of these guys. FO’s aren’t going to say, “oh, look, Barney’s starting, so let’s give up X for him”. They already know what they are willing to give up for him.

        Your second point is valid and the only reason they should send Olt down. If his shoulder is still questionable they may want to send him down to get everyday AB’s, even if it’s DH.

        “Showcasing” Barney and Valbuena, shouldn’t, and won’t, be a reason to send Olt down.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          You are correct that it shouldn’t make a difference. However, it seems that it still does make a difference! The new tech that will track each player’s actions on every play will probably make showcasing obsolete: but what that will do is basically provide “we are seriously checking this dude out” data for each and every player.

          Moreover, I was (and am) not suggesting that the Cubs FO thinks that this will greatly increase the trade value for these guys so much as it will increase the interest in them, and thus make a trade more probable.

          For my part, I’d be happy to see Olt start. It seems that his vision problems are behind him (although I would worry greatly about another beaning ending his career: but, then, all batters are a beaning away from their careers being over all the time, anyway). I think that he’ll be a 3 true outcome guy providing good D. In a way, it might be a good platform for showcasing *him*: between Baez, Alcantara and Bryant, there is a decent shot that the Cubs will have a 2Bman and a 3Bman, and a 3TO Olt could be a big down-payment on a quality SP.

  • Diehardthefirst

    If Olt and Baez on final 25 then Theo needs to get that pitcher from Tigers and let’s have some fun this year

  • Diehardthefirst

    The lineup has to be pitch around proof so each batter has a decent chance to hit…sending Olt or Baez to minors simply because that was original plan is ridiculous.. Flexibility is built into every successful plan

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Fangraphs had shortstop rankings today. The author says of Castro last season, “he clashed with management and had attitude issues.”
    Did I miss something? He changed his style after being asked by the club, and played every inning except one game. Only time he said anything was when sveum batted him 8th, and the front office told dale to cut the crap.
    Media is always on the kids ass.

    • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

      Thank you Bobby V… smh

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

      Everyone is always on his ass….fans/media.

      The kid has special talent and his defense has taken a step forward every year. What chaps my ass is when fans say “If Castro rebounds you can trade him.”

      Seriously. You want to trade away a 3-5 win SS who is 24 years old? IDIOTS!

      • Rich H

        I am sending you a hamburger Hans because you are already in rare form and it is not even Opening Day yet. It might be a long year for you my friend.

  • Ivy Walls

    Week out from roster, what is seen:
    Rusin has earned two to three MLB starts, (but I think that allows the Cubs to trade Samardzija to Toronto who will overpay) as Villlaneuva holds the fort till Arietta joins the club.

    Olt has made the club because they club needs offense.

    Bonafacio has made the club because he is a spark who can play everywhere but Valbuena will play at 2B because the Cubs need offense)

    Kalish has made the club as has Lake.

    So now you have the following position players: Schierholtz (barring trade), Sweeney, Lake, Ruggiano, Kalish, Rizzo, Castro, Bonafacio, Barney, Valbuena, Olt, Castillo, Kottaras, Rusin, Wood, Jackson, Hammel, Villanueava, Veras, Strop, Russell, Wright, Rondon, (leaving decisions on 3 more spots, one reliever a position players).

    So as I see it if Samardzija and Schierholtz is traded the Cubs will sport this kind of lower risk roster. If Olt sticks it allows the Cubs to explore the situation at 2B. Yet that would move Bryant to the OF where Cubs have two other prospects.

  • 5412


    Olt,Valbuena, Barney and Murphy. If Olt makes the cut it looks like a trade would happen.


  • Funn Dave

    Man is it a tough call between Villanueva and Rusin. The one thing making me almost lean towards Rusin (besides his performance) is, it seems like he has been right on the cusp of the majors for a couple years now. That’s gotta be frustrating for him. Not something to base the decision off of, of course, but I think it influences my thought process just a bit.

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