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mike olt!Allow yourself a moment of excitement. You’re probably going to have to savor them when you get them this year.

Chicago Cubs GM Jed Hoyer today told the media that the final two roster spots will be going to perhaps the two biggest stories in camp (at least among the guys who had a shot to make the team): Mike Olt and Ryan Kalish.

Both guys are coming back from down 2013 seasons (and more for Kalish), so this is a swell story in that regard, alone. But both are also young players with decent upside who could inject a little bit of hope into the equation early on this year for the Cubs. I make the “cookies” joke in the headline, but, in all seriousness, this is not just about appeasing the fans with a little something. These are two players who could make an actual difference for the team in the near and short-term.

Olt, 25, battled now well-known eye issues all last season, and was an enormous wild card entering Spring Training. If anyone told you they thought he had even a 50/50 shot of making the team back in February, that person should buy some lottery tickets. As it is, Olt is something of a lottery ticket himself, and the Cubs now get to see how things play out for him over the first few months. If he keeps performing as he has in Spring Training, the trickle-down effect could be incredible. A productive, cost-controlled, glove/bat combo at third base? With Kris Bryant and Javier Baez knocking on the door? With Starlin Castro already at short and Anthony Rizzo already at first? Stay calm, Brett. Remind yourself that Olt is, right now, still just a very nice prospect. It’s up to him now to put it all together.

Olt may sit against some tough righties (giving Luis Valbuena some starts), but I’m going to assume he’ll be pretty regular over there at third. I doubt the Cubs would carry Olt just to sit him or use him as the weak half of a platoon.

Kalish, also 25 (until tomorrow, when he turns 26 – happy freaking birthday, eh?), is coming back from a myriad of neck and shoulder injuries that have cost him the better part of the last three seasons. He was on our radar as a legit possibility for the team all the way back in early February. And he was getting love from Theo Epstein as recently as yesterday. That he made the team is not a huge surprise. How he’ll be used will certainly be interesting. The Cubs have five outfielders on the roster – Nate Schierholtz, Junior Lake, Justin Ruggiano, Ryan Sweeney and Kalish – and they’ve also got a utility guy (Emilio Bonifacio) who will have to occasionally rotate through the outfield if his bat is going to stay in the lineup regularly. Schierholtz is a lock to start against all righties, and Junior Lake will probably start most days, too. Otherwise, there’s a fairly wide opening for Kalish, a lefty, to grab some starts. Hell, the Cubs could now go all lefty in the outfield against a righty starter if they wanted.

Adding Olt and Kalish to the roster doesn’t make this team a competitive one, and both players may struggle this year. But, for today, it’s fun to see them make the team.

I’m smiling.

  • CubFan Paul

    “Adding Olt and Kalish to the roster doesn’t make this team a competitive one”

    But it does make them more competitive day to day. More bullets, maybe not enough to win 75 games but at least they’ll look good

  • willis

    This is great (and expected) news. Glad that it’s confirmed. I think they both earned it this Spring and they both are going to get a nice opportunity to show what they have.

    Question now is, where does Olt go in the lineup? I’m thinking 5 or 6?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      If I were the king of the lineups for a day (a day when the following guys were playing), I’d probably do this:

      Bonifacio
      Rizzo
      Castro
      Schierholtz
      Olt
      Lake
      Sweeney
      Castillo
      P

      • Edwin

        A king sounds outdated. President of lineups?

        • CubChymyst

          I’d prefer the title “Supreme Overlord of Lineups”

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Pontiff of Lineups and Desserts

            • Edwin

              Grand Poobah of strategic batter placement.

        • willis

          I think I would go against RH:

          Valbuena
          Castro
          Rizzo
          Olt
          Schierholtz
          Castillo
          Lake
          Sweeney

          And lefties:

          Bonafacio
          Castro
          Rizzo
          Olt
          Castillo
          Lake
          Ruggiano
          Sweeney/Kalish

          • CubFan Paul

            Yeah, that 2-3-4 shouldn’t change until proven ineffective.

      • jp3

        That’s interesting batting Rizzo 2nd…. I guess it’s doing the left righ left combo but dang that’s a big swing and misser in the 2hole.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Best hitter on the team. That’s what does it for me.

          • On The Farm

            Although Rizzo has pubically stated he doesn’t like batting second.

            • Sandberg

              That’s because he hasn’t had someone he respects sit him down and explain to him why he should.

              • willis

                Jesus, isn’t that the truth. Maybe with Renteria that can be drilled into his head a little better than whatever the hell Sveum was doing.

                • CubFan Paul

                  I doubt Renteria buys into the best hitter batting 2nd theory.

                  • https://twitter.com/dwoytek dw8

                    Contact in 2nd spot in a batting lineup is incredibly overrated. This is especially true if a particular 2nd spot hitter hits many ground balls.

      • CubChymyst

        Why the choice of Lake over Ruggiano or Kalish?

        • CubFan Paul

          Upside. Which is why Kalish will steal starts from Sweeney.

          • http://bleachernation.com woody

            I think that maybe the FO will regret giving Sweeny a two year deal in the end. I know it’s ST, but he hasn’t much to date.

            • CubFan Paul

              Nah. If the younger Kalish develops and steals time, Sweeney will make an excellent 4th OF or Schierholtz replacement post trade deadline.

          • CubChymyst

            I could see an upside argument, but I think Kalish or Ruggiano will give a better chance to win long run. I just don’t think Lake will develop into that consistent player.

            • CubFan Paul

              “I just don’t think Lake will develop into that consistent player”

              There’s only one way to find out, hence the above lineup you questioned.

              • Edwin

                Couldn’t you find out by playing Lake at AAA, and evaluating him from there?

                • CubFan Paul

                  “Couldn’t you find out by playing Lake at AAA”

                  You could, meaning you as a fan could, but Theo&Co clearly see something you don’t.

                  • Edwin

                    Clearly.

              • CubChymyst

                Guess I have more faith in Kalish or Ruggiano being a better player then Lake and rather see starts going to them. They might not have the upside, but I think you’d get more out of them on a day to day basis. I don’t like Lake’s chances of reaching his upside. Like Edwin said above, Lake can look at breaking balls in AAA a little while.

  • Pingback: Roster Issues: Bonifacio, Kalish, Coghlan, Roberts, Final Positional Configuration | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary

  • Leo the Lip

    And just yesterday I had Olt and Kalish shipped off to Iowa. Welcome to Chicago Mike and Ryan. As the Chicago version of the saying goes: “If you can’t make it in Chicago, you can’t make it anywhere.” Here’s to The Plan.

  • Pingback: Report: Ryan Kalish, Mike Olt make Cubs Opening Day roster « OutsidePitchMLB LLC

  • Pingback: Spring Training Miscellany: White Sox 3, Cubs 4 – March 27, 2014 | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary

  • Ballgame17

    Good for Olt and Kalish. They both earned it and the lineup doesn’t look as weak as it did a few weeks ago. The most intriguing part of the Olt/Kalish situations is their youth. Kalish looks like Kipnis to me at the plate. Olt, like you said Brett, the implications are gi-normous if Olt proves to be an everyday above-average MLB player. Now, not to add to the excitement, but imagine Baez in that lineup. Oh wait, then Bryant by Sept (IMO). It’s starting to get exciting…

  • Diehardthefirst

    It’s encouraging to hear Mgr Rick say he plans to platoon at 3B – picking up Emilio was also good in that gives Mgr Rick lots of options that a NL mgr needs — look for platoons elsewhere – can see lineups on days following night games with Olt at 1B and Emilio at 2B with Barney SS and Valbuena at 3B.. OF platoons likely too .. Cubs should be exciting and with luck win 76 games

    • sklucke

      They are not platooning rizzo and castro.

    • DarthHater

      [img]farm8.staticflickr.com/7374/10349067436_65eedfa35c.jpg[/img]

      • DarthHater

        Bah

      • mjhurdle

        [img]http://s28.postimg.org/ty5nxo331/frabz_I_feel_a_disturbance_in_the_force_80b67d.jpg[/img]

        • DarthHater

          I know. :-P

  • cubbcard

    i like kalish coming off the bench for any out fielder who gets on late in a one run game. also bonafacio can come off bench for any infielder in same situation , we have real speed and base stealing threats and even lake with more seasoning can steal bases . more speed than a cub team has had in a while. play aggressive , what have they got to lose . hit and run , double steal , squeeze plays . i would love to see a cub team burn up the bases . in the past we were alway too careful afraid the next batter would hit a homer. play to win ! go after it go cubs!!

  • cubbcard

    baez has got speed tooo!!!!!

  • waittilthisyear

    there was an article about olt making the team on espn. i read it. then i read the comments. i shuddered, thought about what i did and why i did it, and came here to get it off my shoulders

  • Medicos

    Four days till the opener in Pittsburgh.

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