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cactusThe Cubs slugged out a healthy win today against the A’s. Well, three Cubs did, anyway.

  • Junior Lake, where you been all Spring? After a great game yesterday, Lake blew it out of the water today with three(!) homers in five at bats (and no strikeouts). Let’s hope he’s settling into a groove just in time for the season to start, rather than using up all of his powder now.
  • Perhaps feeling the increasing presence of Mike Olt (that’s mostly just an exaggerated narrative), Luis Valbuena had another monster game with another two homers. Sure, he struck out in all three of his other at bats, but you’ll take two homers any day of the week. As I wrote this morning, sorting out the playing time situation for Olt, Valbuena, Barney, and Bonifacio could be interesting if they’re all on the 25-man roster come March 31.
  • As for Olt, he had another homer today in his four at bats, but he did make two errors in quick succession at third base. He threw one high, and he misplayed a not-super-easy back-hander. They weren’t terrible errors, but the rust was probably showing.
  • (Although he didn’t homer, Ryan Roberts had a couple hits. Altogether, he’s had an all right Spring. It just seems that, with the emergences of Olt and Ryan Kalish, there simply won’t be a spot for Roberts absent a last minute rash of injuries and/or trades.)
  • On the pitching side, Jason Hammel got hit hard in his 4.2 innings of work (eight hits), and he also walked three and hit a guy. Not much you can say besides, “It’s just Spring Training.” I’ll evaluate Hammel in April – the key for him was staying healthy this Spring.
  • Alberto Cabrera threw yet another scoreless, walkless, hitless inning (one strikeout), and, especially considering the no-options situation, I think his bullpen job is sewn up.
  • Arodys Vizcaino got in a late scoreless inning of his own, allowing one hit and striking out one.
  • Darnell McDonald did this:

  • cubs217

    At least McDonald didnt get hit by the ball…

    • SDCUBBIES

      At least he didn’t pull a Jose Canseco!

  • mjhurdle

    the only thing worse than falling down in front of a crowd of people while back-pedaling in the outfield? having that embarrassing incident memorialized with a gif :)
    Well done McDonald, well done.

  • cub4life

    As much as I didn’t like Valbuena before this season, if he hits like he has been so far this spring (I know the HR’s won’t be this many) he deserves his chance.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sharingaspare mysterious4th

    Does anybody think the Rangers will engage the Cubs about Barney (or another infielder) since Profar will be out for an extended period of time?

    • Jr 25

      I think it all depends on what Cubs want for Barney or Valbuena. Prob will also depend on how far along they think Odor is and still they may look into a veteran, anyone Michael Young?

    • Jr 25

      Shark and Barney for Odor, Alfaro and Luke Jackson

      • jacos

        I think the Rangers are done dealing with Cubs for awhile.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Certainly possible.

      • jp3

        What happened to Profar?

        • YourResidentJag

          He tore a muscle.

          • jp3

            Wada ya know, that’s terrible

    • Patrick G

      They definitely have the offense to be able to absorb Barney’s lack thereof and great defense. I’m sure if they do trade for either, it won’t be much since Profar would be back in a couple months and whoever is traded for won’t play much after

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    I still think they should send Olt down for at lest a few weeks to get back into the flow. He has erased doubt about his eyes for sure. Lake and Valbuena (sign all the Dominicans) must have been eating their Soriano breakfast flakes this morning. The nice thing about having Olt in the lineup is that he fits in nicely between Rizzo and Schierholtz. I want Olt to be our 3rd baseman, but think he needs a tuneup at Iowa first.

    • Patrick G

      I agree and disagree at the same time. He’s definitely got the bat to plug into the MLB lineup, but perhaps his glove work at 3rd could use some tuning for a couple weeks

    • ssckelley

      I can go either way with Olt.

  • abe

    Profar was injured. Maybe the Rangers will trade for Barney.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      I wonder if they’ll be tempted to jump Odor into the majors.

      • DarthHater

        If they do that, they could end up with a major-league Odor problem. :-P

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          Sometimes those are good problems to have.

        • blublud

          Why continue to get fleeced by Theo and Jed. Anything short of Odor and Jackson for Barney would be below the prior standards set for a Cubs/Rangers trade. Plus, Odor is a possible upgrade over Pro far anyway. If he ready, and then performs, Profar becomes deadline trade bait.

      • ssckelley

        It would not surprise me if they brought up Odor. After all they brought up Profar for a September call up out of AA.

    • YourResidentJag

      I’d say Valbuena.

    • Jed Jam Band

      Seriously? Damn it. I paid decent auction cash for him in my ottoneu league.

  • VittersStartingLF

    My thoughts about roster:
    Rizzo 1b
    Barney/Valbuena 2b platoon
    Castro SS
    Olt 3b
    Lake LF
    Bonificio CF
    Shiirholtz/Ruggiano RF platoon
    Castillo C
    Bench: Kalish, Murphy, Kottaras
    5th Starter: Rusin
    Last two in pen: Cabrera, Rondon (Grimm to AAA)

    • JadeBos

      So cut Sweeney?

      • YourResidentJag

        Or Murphy??

        • Ivy Walls

          Sweeney is here, Bonafacio and Olt have made the team, along with Kalish and Roberts. more below, therefore Barney will be traded, the rest speculation and other trade(s).

  • http://www.ehanauer.com clark addison

    That’s not a bad lineup. If the pitching holds up I can see 75 wins.

    • brainiac

      i think we’re looking at more of a 57 winner than a 75 winner. it’ll take a lot for the team to ketchup with others in the division. (see what i did?)

      • DarthHater

        [img]http://empoweredrecreation.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/heinz-57.jpg[/img]

        • brainiac

          they’ll have to do something with all those tomatoes coming in september

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      That’s about where Fangraphs is projecting the Cubs now.

  • David

    That’s awesome for Lake. I knew he had it in him. Lets hope he gets significant playing time and hits .275/ .360/ ..500

    • blublud

      That’s near all-star level. He’ll never take enough walks to do this. .275/.330/.440 I would be happy with, and even that walk rate is pushing it. That would make Lake a pretty decent player.

      • ssckelley

        holy crap, write it down! We agreed on something.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Lake will have a tough time hitting 0.275 with K-rates between 25-30%: that would require over 37% of his batted balls to be hits.

        • blublud

          I was stating what I would be happy with. Although, Lake will have an elevated BABIP due to his ability to bunt(he could arguably be the best in the game right now) and his speed. Also, just from the eye test, when he does make contact, its hard contact. So if there is a guy who can do it, it’s him.

          • Jason P

            Lake’s minor league BABIP wasn’t even that high. And there are some horrible minor league fielders.

            • blublud

              .362/.335/.329/.372/.384/.307/.353/.347/.377

              These are Lake’s BABIP numbers by years and Levels. If this is not elevated, then what the hell is an elevated BABIP.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Well, let’s put it this way: Ty Cobb managed a 0.382 BABiP for his career, including a 14 year run in which his BABiP was under 0.39 only once. However, there is no way that Cobb would be able to do that today despite his great speed, bat-control and line-drive ability: fielding is much better, spray charts are infinitely better (it’s hard to be worse than non-existent!), pitching is much better overall (that is to say that the variance has decreased incredibly), and pitching tactics are much better (“LOOGY” was something you spat back then).

            Vince Coleman might be a better example as he is much closer to the recent. Coleman didn’t hit the ball as hard as Lake, but Coleman played on a very fast turf park where ground balls got through the IF very quickly. Positioning data was very weak: spray charts now existed, but many coaches didn’t understand how to use them yet. Coleman also was a decent bunter, particularly from the left-side of the plate: he was successful 47% of the time, and is in the Top 10 in lifetime Bunt Hits. And he was amazingly fast.

            Coleman’s highest BABiP was 0.358, and he had several seasons where it was below 0.300.

            So, speed and the ability to bunt are no panacea when it comes to BABiP. Even in another era that was much more conducive to high BABiP, the true greats of the era were managing BABiP greater than this: but that was about it.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              For Cobb, I should note that his BABiP is approximate: they didn’t separate “out of the park” and “inside the park” HR for the first few years of his career, and I had to use estimated frequencies for him.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                (But only the first few: they have all the data after that.)

            • blublud

              I’m not suggesting that Lake will break records, or anything. I’m just suggesting he has an advantage over another player with a similar profile as him without the bunting ability and speed.

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

                This is true. If a batter lacked any ability to tell balls from strikes, had piss-poor contact abilities, average power and played poor defense AND couldn’t bunt or run fast, they’d have a really tough time making it to AAA.

            • DarthHater

              “Ty Cobb managed a 0.382 BABiP for his career, including a 14 year run in which his BABiP was under 0.39 only once. However, there is no way that Cobb would be able to do that today …”

              Well, of course not. Ty Cobb would be 128 years old today. I’m sure he couldn’t get his BABIP over .330.

    • ssckelley

      Lake would be an all star with those numbers. I doubt Lake will ever be a .360 on base guy.

  • David

    Was the wind blowing out today?

  • CubFanBob

    Rizzo gets the out at first on Olt’s high throw

    • ssckelley

      I agree, plus the replays showed the batter was out anyway. I think Olt will be fine at 3rd, he just needs a few more spring games there and he will be ready.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Olt has always been considered to be a good fielder. As such, I wouldn’t let a couple of ST games sway my thinking. (Of course, I only let ST sway my thinking if the issue is physical, anyway!)

        • ssckelley

          I never said he was a bad fielder. I think he can use the couple of games just to knock the rust off.

  • dAn

    Why the heck would you want Bonifacio starting in CF? He’s not a good offensive player (career 320 OBP) and not really a good defensive player. He’s great off the bench due to the versatility and speed, but really weak as an everyday player. Sweeney is a much better all-around hitter and a better defender in CF, too. I could see an argument for giving Kalish a shot out there, but Bonifacio doesn’t have much value except as a bench guy IMO.

    • blublud

      Bonafacio is one of those guys who is much more valuable off the bench. He was built to be a bench guy. In fact, I can’t think of a better prototypical bench guy the Bonafacio. He has the ability to be the best non starter potential bench guy in the league. The moment he becomes an everyday starter at any position, he loses all value. Good guy to have on the team, not a good guy to have starting.

  • Eternal Pessimist

    Even though Olt can’t hit anymore, at least he is a reliable fielder…wait…I mean even though he can’t field any more, at least he can hit!

  • headscratchin

    What is the fielding equivalent of a TOOTBLAN?? LANWARP?? (Looked An Nincompoop While Attempting Routine Play)

    • headscratchin

      Messed that up. Where’s that edit button? A Nincompoop.

  • Vic

    Who is going to lead off?

    • Jr 25

      Castro!

  • Forgetting Sean Marshall

    I saw Starlin switch between the high A and Low A fields back and forth for about 6 at bats. Popped the first 4 or so out to infield/shallow outfield and then managed a hit plus one other play I didn’t see. He didn’t run much around the bases, kind of trotted. Looks like he may need some more hitting practice but didn’t show any signs of being injured.

  • Ivy Walls

    Who on the roster depends on a number of criteria’s. Let us get past the locks; Rizzo, Castillo, Castro (for now), Samardzija (again for now), Schierholtz, (again for now), Lake, Sweeney, Wood, Jackson, Hammel, Veras, Russell, Wright, Kottarus, Carlos Villaneuva.

    Okay that leaves 10 competing for positions to be earned or to be confirmed:

    Let us start with managing talent versus clubhouse attitude.

    A club in this stage at a lower level of talent needs attitude so rewarding players who have earned a spot is critical.

    Bonafacio gets that nod number one reducing the spots to 9, secondly Bonafacio fulfills a utility starter role in both the IF and OF.

    Kalish gets it second, still young he has shown that he might even start in LF in a platoon with Lake, now that is 8.

    Valbuena continues to earn his way and probably will start at 2B against RHP’ers, leaving us to 7.

    Okay that leaves 3B, Olt too has earned that spot with offense that is desperately needed, now we are down to 6.

    So who is the number one utility IF’er? Murphy, Barney or Roberts? I think Roberts has earned because he can play all four positions, so either Barney is traded or Murphy released. Now 4.

    Rusin has earned the 5th starting spot putting Villaneuva in the long relief/swing role. Therefore leaving two more relievers, Cabrera because it makes good baseball sense and finally Rondon or Grimm. Here both are close.

    • Kyle

      Lake isn’t a lock. I’d be pretty stunned if Roberts got a job, and Murphy can play all those spots too.

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

        Lake will forever be an inconsistent player. My guess is that if you could plot his OPS against tiers of pitching, it would be pretty steep towards weak.

        Add in that he is below average in most of the things that makes a hitter decent, he would be a good 5th OF that plays against crap pitching.

        • Head and Heart

          If you stretch his numbers from last season over a full season then Lake would be about a 2-2.5 WAR player. While learning a new position. He clearly has the legs and arm to play center if he can improve his reads and routes over the next few seasons his defense will improve which would make up for a BABIP regression. I would think he has a little more pop than the standard league average center fielder as well. I don’t see why he couldn’t be a 2-3 WAR player as he holds the fort for Almora. And if that’s the case he’d actually bring back a decent return if he were traded down the line to make room for a better player.

          And I have to say my guess is that almost every players OPS would be steep towards weak pitching.

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

            The interesting thing is the better hitters have a fairly flat OPS curve with respect to good, average, bad pitchers and some of them (I think Yadier Molina is one of them) do better against good pitching.

            Inconsistent/bad hitters skew towards the bad pitching.

            Lake, last year, screams UNLIKELY TO CONTINUE DOING WHAT HE DID.

            • Head and Heart

              I could believe that the Trout and Cabrera level hitters probably have a fairly flat curve but I can’t imagine that group is very large.

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

                Eh, I bet there are more hitters than you would think.

                Hell, there might not even be a set group. I imagine (I have only scratched the surface on this) that the elite hitters would skew poor heavy but start awesome on the good pitching side. A good chunk would have a flat line but the flash in the pans or the “inconsistent” types (Chris Davis, Geo Soto) would skew heavy towards poor and door poor against good pitchers.

                It might be like BABIP where no one profile determines what type of trend line a batter will have.

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

                Also, Elvis Andrus was the key one that I was failing to come up with a name on before that had a flat line.

                He is good but nowhere near Trout/Cabrera elite.

                • Head and Heart

                  Wouldn’t you also need to factor in which time through the order for starters? Even a very good pitcher is tending towards average or worse by the third time through the order.

                  I just can’t wrap my head around a flat line. Having the ability to hit good pitching and not having that ability amplified by bad pitching seems almost impossible.

  • http://BN Sacko

    Unfortunate, but watching Mcdonald above I just had a terrible feeling about this guy for a long time. I hope this will seal his fate.
    The most interesting down the stretch of ST is (to me) Barney, Valbuana, Murphy, Olt. Where will these guys be in 2nd week of April? If it take that long.
    Holy..Jr Lake Ive been pulling for ya!

  • Ballgame17

    Great game for Lake, Valbuena & Olt. I think the odd man out may be Murphy only because of the similar players on the roster if Olt makes it. If/when Barney gets traded, I’ll be a fan of his assuming he’s not playing in NL Central. Dude’s a professional and class guy on a personal level too.

    In regards to Olt, his situation is a little different than most prospects. I personally think he’s in the most fragile part (mentally) of his career and we shouldn’t really take too much into his options due to the fact I think he’s ready. Baez is basically ready, but he’s only been in the Minors and hasn’t struggled for a year like Olt did last year. If the FO thinks he’s ready, I’m just hoping he stays up….

  • http://BN Sacko

    Mentioned before Olt starts in Iowa and then sort out the other 3. However Olt doesnt seem to have the eye problems. Interesting..can anyone really say forsure on the 4?

  • Funn Dave

    I rolled my eyes so far back when that Murphy play happened, I thought they were gonna stay that way.

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