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.

  • WernerT

    Cookies are delicious and, if I use my imagination, also good for you.

    • terencemann

      They can be good for your mental health. Therefore, cookies are good for you.

  • MightyBear

    H’ordeuvres to the feast that is coming per Theo.

    • Edwin

      I hope it’s better than that feast from Hook.

      • Cizzle

        Hahaha. You have to BELIEVE!

      • mjhurdle

        Bangarang Ruffio!!!

  • ssckelley

    Damn, I just wet all over myself. How embarrassing!

    • http://bleachernation.com woody

      That’s more information than we needed to know. LOL

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    Great news! I hope Sweeny gets it in gear soon, he’s had a poor spring. Olt is the DH in todays lineup.


    I hope Olt is given a chance to be an everyday starter at 3rd base this year.
    Any news on Castro?

  • Eric

    Yay! (that is all).

  • CubFanBob

    Boom !!! Who is going to star in the Ryan Kalish movie ?

    • C. Steadman

      Lucas Black?

      • Fishin Phil

        I thought maybe I could land the job. I’ve been on TV plenty of times with that schmuck Dunham. I think I’m ready for the Big Screen!

        • C. Steadman

          You would need some major cosmetic surgery, but it’s doable.

          • Fishin Phil

            A belt sander and some wood putty, anything is possible.

      • J. L.

        And if Kalish is a bust, Jack Black.

  • ssckelley

    I should mention I am almost as excited Kalish made the team as I am Olt. Kalish really impressed me this spring (and evidently the FO) and I’d like to give props to that guy who was saying “game changing speed” after he was signed. I did not think much of it at that time since he looked like another dumpster dive.

  • lnfihDeL

    Awesome news.

    Here’s to seeing Baez and Bryant in July/August, possibly.

    At that point, the lineup could look kind of good.

  • Wilburthefirst

    ” … and both players may struggle this year.”

    That’s what rookies often do so now with this roster is the time to do it.

  • ssckelley

    I suppose my email, facebook, and twitter will start getting hit from the Cubs marketing department pimping tickets with Mike Olt pumping his fist.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      If I were the Cubs … I would.

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

    Olt is a great spring story, but so was Gary Scott.

    Just sayin’

    • ssckelley


      • 1ski

        A picture is worth a thousand words right there….lol

  • LEO L

    I didn’t predict this but I am glad I was wrong. It will be fun to see what he does and also what Lake does. hopefully some guys rebound and we look like a .500 team

  • ssckelley

    3. Rizzo
    4. Olt
    5. Schierholtz

    gettin there!

    • Demarrer

      2. Castro
      3. Rizzo
      4. Olt
      5. Shierholtz
      6. Castillo

      Left Out. Hopefully Barney.

  • J. L.

    “Hell, the Cubs could now go all lefty in the outfield against a righty starter if they wanted.”

    As well as all righty against a lefty starter if they wanted. I hope they actually do that fairly often.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That was true before the Kalish move, but you’re right. I would also kind of love to see some platoon madness out there.

      • J. L.

        “That was true before the Kalish move”

        Well, yeah, if we thought of Bonifacio as a lock before Murphy’s departure. (I’m actually only now confident that Bonifacio is on the team, since Roberts has reportedly been informed that he isn’t.)

        • ssckelley

          whoa…Roberts did not make the team? My day keeps on getting better. Send Barney packing for a bag of balls and my day will be complete.

          • J. L.
          • C. Steadman

            “Send Barney packing for a bag of balls and my day will be complete.”

            Then Roberts probably makes the team…haha

            • ssckelley

              Fine, Barney can stay until June.

          • Funn Dave

            Haha yeah no kidding.

  • cub4life

    I’m cool with that. Now that mean that the only thing left to figure out is

    How long will Arrietta be out? That to me will decide everything, if only going to miss the first 2 weeks, maybe keep him active, since you don’t need a fifth starter the first go around and not use Rusin just yet (Villenueva to start the second go around).

    that would leave the Pen and I say Rondon and Cabrera get those slots, and send Grimm down to get streched out.

    Now if Arrietta will be out for more then 2 weeks keep Grimm up for that time and then send him down.

  • lnfihDeL

    I hope the lineup looks like this.

    1. Bonifacio
    2. Castro
    3. Rizzo
    4. Olt
    5. Schier
    6. Castillo
    7. Kalish
    8. Sweeney/Other outfield
    9. Pitcher

    Trade Barney, Valbuena or keep them as bench players.

    • ssckelley

      Hate to say it but pencil (not ink) Barney into that 8 hole. Hopefully we will get to see a few lineups with Kalish or Bonaficio at leadoff.

      • cub4life

        The other thing that I’m not sure about is, isn’t Lake prob going to start before Kalish?

        • ssckelley

          Yeah, and perhaps over Sweeney. I think it will all depend on the matchups, that outfield has a ton of flexibility. Between outfield and 2nd base I would think Renteria has enough flexibility to keep either Kalish or Bonifacio at the top of the order. At least that is what I am hoping for.

          • KHRSS

            Lake should start over Sweeney. This is a lost year already might as well see if Lake has a future with the team.

  • Napercal

    It’s nice to see guys with upside make the team (and hopefully play). If “Ther Plan” works, Lake, Olt and Kalish are all guys who might be components of a winning tradition or trade chips for components. No more of the Darnell McDonalds and Casper Wells of the world.

    • Dustin S

      Add Dave Sappelt and future trivia question Julio Borbon to that list. Most of last year’s outfield was a hot mess that I’ll be glad to forget. It’s a big difference to this year where we can watch more guys that actually have a chance of being part of the long-term plan. So win or lose it will be a lot better season from a fan standpoint IMO.

      • Fishin Phil

        I agree that this year should be much more fun to watch than last year.

  • Bric

    Brett, that pic made my day. I thought I was the only one who thought “Steve Holt!” any time I heard or read Olt’s name. “Mike Olt!”

  • Funn Dave

    “These are two players who could make an actual difference for the team in the near and short-term.”

    Just to be clear: you mean near and long-term, right? Or near and medium-term?

  • J. L.

    Carrie Muskat ‏@CarrieMuskat 2 min
    #Cubs position players: Castillo, Baker, Rizzo, Barney, Castro, Valbuena, Olt, Schierholtz, Sweeney, Lake, Ruggiano, Kalish, Bonifacio

    • J. L.

      Just some confirmation that Bonifacio also made the team (and Roberts didn’t), if we needed any.

    • CubsFaninMS

      Lot’s of “o’s” on that lineup: Castillo, Rizzo, Castro, Ruggiano, Bonfacio. I see what they’re doing there.

  • CubChymyst

    Tons of line up flexibility as the Cubs currently stand.

    • FFP

      I am going to enjoy studying splits, tendencies, playing time, etc. and trying to guess R.R.’s moves as he does the same. He could manage some extra wins this year. Anyone for mWAR? (m could=manager or iMagined)

  • JAllman

    it will be interesting to see how Olt and Rizzo compare in major statistical categories after a full season. My prediction is they end up very similar.

  • Chad

    So when will the pitching be set?

  • candyland07

    I do not share the same excitement. Kalish has been injured for the last 3 seasons . Kalish usually only hits singles and because of his above average speed, he is able to adjust and make awesome routine catches in the outfield.

    What i do like about Kalish is his speed when healthy and IF he can remain healthy without hitting the brick wall behind the Ivy at Wrigley Field. . Kalish will bring many things to the Cubs lineup. He should lead off and provide a better OBP than any Cub currently on the roster, His speed should help decrease Double play balls that Rizzo finds himself hitting into when he is not hitting or waiting for a walk. Kalish should be able to swipe a few bases .

    He should be an exciting small scrappy player or by July a Veteran of a Rookie on the disabled list.

    • ssckelley

      Weird post, your first sentence you are down on it and then you proceed to tell us everything great about him.

      I admit I did not think much of Kalish when they first signed him, it looked like nothing more than a dumpster dive with potential AAA filler. But after watching him play this spring I am impressed. I know a bunch of people loved Campana, scrappy, bellyfire, ect ect but this guy is even more than that as you pointed out looks great in the outfield defensively and will take a walk. Spring training stats do not matter but .370 OBP this spring and a career .366 in the minors if he can come close to that in the regular season he will easily lead the team.

      • candyland07

        I just do not share the same excitement. . Kalish comes with big question marks but also has speed which the Cubs lack overall. He lacks power but his OBP should help the Cubs if he hits lead-off . I think Kalish will be an exciting scrappy player when healthy but i also feel that Kalish should have started in the minors.
        He had a good spring – no doubt – hopefully he can continue this production at the next level. .

        • Voice of Reason

          I get excited about girls with big boobs, a freshly poured glass of bourbon and dropping a deuce after a great meal at The Clubhouse.

          What I don’t get excited about is Ryan Kalish. A 5th outfielder on a good team, but will play a ton for our cubbies.

          That doesn’t excite me because it means we’ll kiss triple digits in the loss column again.

          At least olt is breaking camp with the team. Let the kid play everyday. It will give the fans a little idea of the future, something to get excited about.

  • miggy80

    Just wondering, What will happen to Chris Coghlan?

    • ssckelley

      Muskat mentioned he is heading to Iowa, Roberts has the option to go to Iowa.

      • miggy80

        Ah, okay Thanks,.+%^/*

      • bigCEE

        something has got to give w/ some of these guys…seems like Iowa is going to be packed to the gills with real prospects (Baez, Alcantara, Villanueva)…kind of prospects (Szczur, Ha, Silva)…guys that still have potential to be big leaguers at some point/former prospects/barely-clinging to prospect status (B-Jax, Vitters, Watkins) and a bunch of guys that prob could fill out a major league teams bench as a 25th guy..(Ryan Roberts, Chris Coghlan, Darnell McDonald, Casper Wells)….there are a lot of guys knocking down the AA door as well…some of these guys get released IMO.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Somewhere Ron Santo is smiling today.

  • FFP

    Love this. Best news for both of these guys and us.
    I think we will see a few lineups (rather than one group we think of as the ‘regular’ starters or the usual batting order.) Third base in particular will be a rotation of two (or three?) guys IMO. (Even more variations of line-up and batting order are likely if Castro is still finding his game legs in the first few weeks.) R/L will be just one of the variables R.R. will be calculating daily and even by the inning–especially earlier in the season while OLT!’s shoulder gets stronger; and 30 teams of MLB infields shake out.

  • bigCEE

    Happy that Bonifacio, Olt & Kalish made the team and that Coghlan & Roberts didn’t…

    Roberts seemed redundant with Barney, Valbuena & Bonifacio all on the roster & capable of playing 2B…All of those guys could handle 3B too and we have Olt…

    Obviously Roberts would’ve been buried…

    does he go to AAA or released to find another organization?

  • CubsFaninMS

    It appears as if we are setting ourselves up for an outfield garage sale before the trade deadline.

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