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chicago cubs logoNot wanting to take the feel good spotlight off of Mike Olt and Ryan Kalish in the “they made the team” post, I’m separately addressing the roster-related implications of today’s news.

First and foremost, Olt and Kalish are getting the last two 25-man roster spots for position players (in case you needed it in black and white, yes, Emilio Bonifacio is making the team). That means outfielder Chris Coghlan and utility man Ryan Roberts are out of luck. The latter was considering retirement before he came to the Cubs, and it doesn’t sound like he’s going to stick with the organization (UPDATE: Roberts has indeed requested, and been granted, his release). Coghlan will likely head to Iowa to await an opening in the big league outfield, or a possible future opt-out (if he feels like he can find a clearer path in another organization).

You’d like to see Roberts stick around at Iowa for depth, but you could also understand why he didn’t want to. Even at Iowa, starts are going to be tough to come by with Villanueva-Baez-Alcantara locking down the non-first-base spots.

Kalish technically takes up the last 40-man spot, but the Cubs will also need one for Bonifacio. He’ll likely take the one vacated by Kyuji Fujikawa when he hits the 60-day DL. Who is exactly getting which spot is largely academic. The point is: the Cubs have the space to add these guys without losing anyone else if they don’t want to.

Although the pitching staff still has a couple spots to sort out (you can lock in Samardzija, Wood, Jackson, Hammel, Villanueva, Veras, Strop, Russell, Wright, and Rondon – questions on Rusin, Grimm, Cabrera), we can now lock in the positional side:

C: Welington Castillo, John Baker
1B: Anthony Rizzo
2B: Darwin Barney (plus UTL)
SS: Starlin Castro
3B: Mike Olt (plus UTL)
UTL: Emilio Bonifacio, Luis Valbuena
OF: Nate Schierholtz, Junior Lake, Ryan Sweeney, Justin Ruggiano, Ryan Kalish

Good balance and decent depth. The lack of a couple big-time bats is what holds you back from saying this is a decent lineup, but they’ve got plenty of guys who could break right, and turn this into an above-average offense. What if Castillo adds some power? What if Rizzo’s BABIP jumps back up? What if Castro reverts to being a .300 hitter? What if Olt goes .250/.350/.475? What if Bonifacio does what he did in 2011? What if Lake puts it all together? What if the mish-mash in the outfield works fantastically in platoons (as their splits say they should)?

Not all of those things will happen in concert. It just doesn’t happen that way. But if some or most do? Technically, conceivably … this could be an average or better offense. I wouldn’t bet on it, but it’s possible. I’m just sayin’.

  • Edwin

    I like having multiple bench/utility players that can play multiple positions. I’m curious to see if Castro and Rizzo could put up better numbers if given slighty more days off.

    • MightyBear

      I do think Rent is going to give both those guys more time off and I think it will help them both.

  • https://www.facebook.com/AnotherSpaceSong Bret Epic

    There are reasons to be optimistic about their potential offensive output. The thing I worry about the most is their starting pitchers. Hopefully the positive regression occurs for Jackson and Samardzija, but Hammel worries me, Arrieta needs to put it together and Wood needs to outpitch his advanced stats again. Still, at least there are more reasons to watch this year than last year.

    • MightyBear

      The reason for optimism with the starters is the cavalry they have at Iowa. I believe all of Henricks, Jokish and Rusin (Even Neil Ramirez but I think more of bullpen for him) could help if the starters falter or get hurt (either a real injury or the “guys getting pounded so he has a bad hamstring injury”.

      • https://www.facebook.com/AnotherSpaceSong Bret Epic

        Agreed. It’s a season that will hopefully answer a lot of questions, whether it be the bullpen, rotation or position players. That’s what I’m excited for and I think they have a few guys in each of those categories that we can feel optimistic about.

    • Voice of Reason

      Are you looking at the cubs roster? The offense will be horrible. Possibly worst offensive cub team ever

      • http://bleachernation.com woody

        You are probably right, but big seasons from Lake and Olt could change that.

        • Voice of Reason

          I don’t see olt hitting for a big average. If he plays every day he could club 20-25 home runs. He will play a decent third base.

          Lake I’m not so sure about, but I hope he plays every day so we know if he will be part of the future.

          Honestly, I don’t know how someone looks at that line up and says there is potential. I love the cubs and there is some offensive talent coming, but I question your baseball intellect when you’re trying to sell me on that line up having potential.

          • ssckelley

            Funny because I question your baseball intellect when you are trying to sell me that this lineup is the worst ever.

            • https://www.facebook.com/AnotherSpaceSong Bret Epic

              It probably will end up brutal, but there are a lot of unknowns. At least 1 or 2 of them could end up a pleasant surprise, which is what i’m excited to find out.

              • ssckelley

                But worst ever? Cripes I remember some of the horrible lineups the Cubs had in the early 80s and, IMO, the past 2 years are far worse than this year.

                What makes this lineup better is the flexibility. If Renteria takes advantage of lefty-righty match ups the Cubs could do quite well.

          • Edwin

            The potential would be Olt, Castro, Rizzo, and Castillo being above average offensive players, with decent production from a Schierholtz/Ruggiano platoon and a Barney/Valbuena/Bonafacio platoon/bench situation.

            If Lake actually does defy expectations and plays as well as he did last season, you’re looking at above average production from 6 of 8 spots in the lineup, possibly.

            I don’t think it’s likely much of that happens, but that doesn’t mean the potential isn’t there.

          • itzscott

            I predict Olt will hit .270 with 25 HRs

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

              If he hits .270 with 25 HRs, that’d give him an .800 OPS.

            • Funn Dave

              I envy your optimism.

              • itzscott

                I’ve seen just about all I’ve needed to see with Olt this spring to be optimistic.

                That trade will go down as right up there with the Ramirez heist of the Pirates and stealing Lee from the Marlins for Hee Sop Choi.

                • BlueBallinSince1908

                  Maybe even better than those trades if you consider that Olt was really a throw in part of trade. Our he could salvage the trade if the 3 pitchers don’t pan out.

          • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

            What puts you in a position to question others’ baseball intellect??

            This lineup is not good, but it is young, featuring plenty of guys who have room to grow, and is in a position to take great advantage of platoon splits.

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

            Castro, Rizzo, Olt, Schierholtz and Castillo all have the potential to post an above league average OPS.

            Valbuena, Lake and Sweeney could be league average.

            Barney and Bonifacio will be below league average.

            If this breaks like this, the Cubs could be battling for .500. It won’t break that way, though.

          • Funn Dave

            Really? Did you even read the article?

      • ssckelley

        Yes and I see one of the most flexible rosters ever, especially in the outfield.

        I see potentially 50 stolen bases out of the leadoff spot between Kalish and Bonaficio. Something the Cubs have not had since Juan Pierre.

        I think Olt could be an upgrade protecting Rizzo in the 5 spot.

        There is a good possibility that both Castro and Rizzo will improve offensively over last season.

        The bullpen will be much better than last season.

        So yeah I can see why a few of us Cub fans could be optimistic, especially when you consider by mid season we might be seeing Baez upgrading the production playing 2nd base.

        • Voice of Reason

          Flexible roster? What the hell does that mean? They’re a bunch of fourth and fifth outfielders. I guess if that’s your definition of flexible…..

          Ssckelley, you’re obviously a true blue cub fan and while that’s nice, you have to be realistic.

          This team is horrible!! But, the future looks very bright. I hope to see more young talent up to replace that “flexible outfield” ASAP.

          • Funn Dave

            For a dude called Voice of Reason, you’re not being very reasonable if you don’t think the Cubs’ lineup has potential. It is not likely to realize that potential–and extremely unlikely to realize the full extent of that potential–but the potential is there.

            • Voice of Reason

              What in the world are you trying to say?

              • Funn Dave

                How in the world are you confused? Do you need me to define potential?

                • Voice of Reason

                  You’re saying the cubs have potential. It took you a paragraph to say what I said in a sentence.

                  And, every team has potential which also lead to my question of what are you trying to say. What is the cubs potential? I say their potential is losing 83 games.

                  You are so indecisive. You remind me of my mother in law.

                  • Funn Dave

                    “Honestly, I don’t know how someone looks at that line up and says there is potential. I love the cubs and there is some offensive talent coming, but I question your baseball intellect when you’re trying to sell me on that line up having potential.”

                    Mkay…so every lineup in baseball has potential…yet if someone says the Cubs’ lineup has potential you question his baseball intellect…hence my wondering if perhaps you were mistaken as to what “potential” actually means….

                    And I’m not indecisive. I’m just one of the (seemingly) few people here who don’t hold grudges or rigidly take sides. I am confident, however, that we don’t have enough information at this point to project with any sort of accuracy how this year’s final record will compare with last year’s–except that it probably won’t be too terribly different.

                    • Voice of Reason

                      Every team has potential and the cubs have the potential to lose 100 games.

                      That’s why I asked what you meant by potential. Don’t know if you’re understanding this?

                    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                      Holy hell VOR this argument in mind numbing. You knew exactly what argument that Dave was making, so quit nitpicking the crap out of the word potential and move on

                    • Voice of Reason

                      Okkkkay…..

                    • Funn Dave

                      Thank you Tommy.

                    • ssckelley

                      I don’t think last year we were quite as optimistic about the Cubs lineup. Most of us were hoping for a rebound from Ian Stewart for cripes sake!

                      Compared to last season I think the Cubs are improved at center field, left field, 3rd base, and potentially 2nd base. I think the bench is much better and so is the bullpen. The only downgrades over last year are backup catcher and possibly the starting pitchers.

                    • Brocktoon

                      We’ve got a whole lot of Ian Stewarts we’re counting as “potential” this year. Our OF is a platoon player, the last man standing of last years scrap heap, a toolsy guy who way outperformed his peripherals and a guy who hasn’t played baseball in 2 seasons. Our 3B savior was blind last year(but now he sees?) and put up an OPS of about 4 in Iowa last year, our SS broke last year, our 2B never could hit and last year hit even less. Counting on Ian Stewart in March ’13 wasn’t much crazier than any of the above sans Castro and Nate and there are obviously some huge concerns with both of them too.

                    • ssckelley

                      Holy crap, I hope you don’t own a gun! Can you tell us anything good about this years team?

                    • Brocktoon

                      I’m pretty optimistic on a Castro bounce back to at least 2012 level, leaps from Rizzo and Samardzija, and Jackson’s numbers being more in line with his peripherals.

                      I mean the team is going to be pretty damn bad, it’s hard to put a positive spin on it.

          • ssckelley

            True, this is one of the worst offensive outfields in baseball on paper. BUT if Renteria takes advantage of the lefty/righty matchups they might beat the projections, which is what I mean by flexibility.

            But that is just the outfield, by the end of the season the Cubs could have one of the most productive infields in the NL.

            • bnile1

              I think people are getting a little off focus here. in reality, if the people in this line up play the way they did last year this will be an offensively challenged lineup, because it’s mostly the same lineup as last year. the reality is thta for a young team, the primary improvement is going to come from within. IF Rizzo steps up, Olt shows he’s a viable middle of the order hitter, Lake shows the Sorianoesque potenital that he has, Catro returns to his allstar form, Barney recovers to his average form, Kalish shows the potential that made him a prospect 2 years ago, Castillo takes another step forward, the platoons work etc. IF none of those things happen then it’s going to be a long year. If they all happen this team can surprise and will contend at least for a wild card. the odds are that some will and some won’t , but that’s the nature of a developmental phase.

              For people who dont know or don’t like that, come back in a couple years, and enjoy the fruit of a talented young line up entering it’s prime(which this lineup has not reached yet(Lake, Castro, Rizzo, Olt etc)).

              • ssckelley

                If only 1/2 of what you say comes true this team will be much better offensively. Nobody is even considering how much improved the bench is this season. Last year at this time the Cubs were breaking camp with Lillibridge, Sappelt, Hairston, Navarro, Gonzalez, and Clevenger and now the bench is Lake, Valbuena, Baker, Kalish, and Bonifacio. Other than Navarro at backup catcher there is no one on last years bench I would rather have over this years.

                • Brocktoon

                  Undoubtedly the bench they’re breaking camp with this year is better(can’t believe how terrible Hairston was last year- he put up even worse numbers in Washington) but the cubs didn’t keep that bench for long. Gonzalez clevenger and lillibridge combined for 59 PAs. It’s tough to define what constitutes a bench player in the midst of a trade off, but the cubs brought in Sweeney, Bogusevic, Murphy, Ransom, and McDonald who put up great numbers as non opening day starters.

                  Not the best of measurement, but the cubs put up a 103 sOPS+ as pinch hitters last year.

                  Now I’m not saying we won’t be able to find the sweeneys and Murphy’s of the world again this year(this FO is nothing if not relentless on the waiver wire), but there’s quite a bit of luck in getting those performances from limited use guys. (Same with Navarro obviously, and Hairston in the other direction) ultimately I have the bench being a step down from last years

          • Fishin Phil

            “Ssckelley, you’re obviously a true blue cub fan and while that’s nice, you have to be realistic.”

            Says who???

            I’ve been a Cub fan for 46 years, and if I’d have been realistic that whole time, I’d have eaten a bullet many times.

            Just let us have our optimism at least until the 7th inning of the first damn game. Then you can spout your doom and gloom and “I told you so’s”.

            Thanks.

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

        I dunno. The 2010 offense wasn’t anything special.

        You’ll probably have 4 guys hovering around league average OPS, 2 that are above and 2 that are below.

        I doubt we could match the year that Soto had in 2010 but it won’t be the worst ever.

      • TK

        I think you’re making the mistake of judging the current team’s potential based on last year’s team’s results, without considering the differences. That usually elicits the “why even play the games, then” response. If you step back and actually consider the potential of THIS roster, its not as bleak as you think.

        1. Expect Rizzo to take a step forward and show noticeable improvement. If not, you have to wonder if he’s really the right guy for the job, don’t you? If he isn’t going to realize all that hyped potential, perhaps moving Bryant to 1B could be a solve-all solution for our crowded IF future.
        2. Gotta expect a rebound from Castro! He is clearly much more talented than he played last year. And he’s shown it at the MLB level, so we know its true. If he doesn’t rebound, same as above . . . Perhaps trading him is a good idea to make room for Baez AND Alcantera.

        Rizzo and Castro by them selves stand to provide a significant boost to the teams offense.

        3. I expect the Cubs to surprise us by giving Barney a VERY short leash to produce offensively, or be relegated to the bench in favor of Valbo, who would represent a considerable offense upgrade over last year’s 2B production. It wouldn’t harm anything, because he (Barney) will not start next year, has only mild trade value, and theres no reason to not keep in a utility role for the remainder of his career.
        4. On top of that improved 2B production, I expect 3B to produce better than last year as well. Olt may not take the world by storm, but he still should do more damage than last year’s 3B merry-go-round.

        I don’t think anybody can say that you cant “expect” all 4 of those (positional) offensive upgrades to happen. That would mean significant improvement in 1/2 of the batting order. Coupled with a much improved BP than this time last year, considering how many games were lost by that BP, i think its extremely reasonable to expect a middle of the pack team this year, as long as our SP and OF production doesn’t kill us. And I do not consider losing Alf to be a big hit . . . He didn’t do much last year until just before being traded. Therefore, losing him will not mean much to this years team outside of leadership. Overall, this team appears to be clearly better than last year’s.

    • cubmig

      I agree, Hammel worries me too. I offer no stat proof, just what I’ve seen. If I went out on a limb, I’d say he’ll struggle with control and under perform, but that’s just a stab at a prediction. The other guy I’d worry about is Cabrera. God, I’m glad there are paid “deciders”.

      • ssckelley

        Hammel worries me as well, hard to imagine he can produce what Feldman did last season nor do I think Arrieta will be better than Garza. But there is a little reason for optimism with the improved bullpen, but that only covers the last 2/3 innings. That bullpen will get beat up quickly if these starters cannot get past the 5th inning.

  • MightyBear

    Better than I expected, throw Baez and Alcantara (if they become ready quickly) into that team and jettison Barney and Valbuena/Bonifacio (which ever isn’t a good fit, probably Valbuena) and you have a team that can compete.

  • HislersHero

    I’m not overly optimistic about the team this year, but the line up is decent with a decent pen and rotation. It leaves room for excitement. I just hope Jackson has a better year this year and Arrieta, when he gets into the rotation lives up to his expectations.

    • MightyBear

      I agree. Arrieta is very key to this team.

  • MightyBear

    Having said all I’ve said, I can’t wait until Monday.

  • Voice of Reason

    Arrieta is the key to us losing less than 90 games?

    • Funn Dave

      Yeah, I don’t really get that sentiment, either.

  • Edwin

    If Bosio can actually get something out of Arrieta, I’ll be really impressed.

  • ArrietasUncle

    This year’s line-up and rotation has the opportunity to be much more competitive than last years. But potential does not always translate into victories. I am really excited about the improved flexibility and bullpen.

    • Voice of Reason

      Arietta’s uncle,

      What in the world are u talking about?

      On opening day last year we had sorianos bat and garza and Feldman in the rotation. I guess you could reach and say olt’s bat will replace soriano’s, but there is nobody in that rotation that you can say will replace the garza/Feldman production.

      There is no question the 2014 team is worse than the 2013 team.

      • Edwin

        I thought Garza was hurt at the beginning of the year.

      • ArrietasUncle

        Soriano’s bat and overall play never translated to much success for the Cubs. Feldman had a great first half. If you are saying Matt Garza and Soriano made that team so much better you need to prepare yourself to lose 110 games.

        • Voice of Reason

          I’m prepared for the potential of this years cub team setting the franchise record for losses.

          • Funn Dave

            And so are the rest of us. Nobody has said the Cubs will be better this year than last year–just that they could be.

            • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

              I’ll say it, the 2014 Cubs will win more games than the 2013 Cubs

              • JAllman

                I agree

          • ssckelley

            I will take that bet!

      • johnnyp

        Garza was hurt at the beginning of last year. Who looked at the rotation last year, saw Feldman and thought “there’s a good pitcher.” He over achieved. This years rotation looks about the same. Last years opening roster was not good at all.

  • Joker

    Even if the offense breaks to the extreme positive, our starting 5 will still crap the bed. There is no way that we are respectable with starters with 4 plus ERA’s across the board.

    And I wish we could search the comments because I called Olt making the team months ago. Guess I should have bought that lottery ticket, Ace.

  • Into the Basket

    It is exciting knowing the first of the crop is starting to arrive. I think seeing Lake and Olt everyday will add some excitement, and if / when Baez comes up midseason, it may be the most fun you can have still watching a losing team.

  • WernerT

    More ifs just means more chances for yes to come up.

  • Kyle

    I mean, on paper, this team suckity suck suck suck sucks suckily.

    But if this front office is really as good at the little things and player development as they claim, then one of these days we’re going to have a whole bunch more overperformers than underperformers for a given season, and maybe that’ll happen this year.

  • Smitty

    I would have to agree that this lineup is going to be weak, but the individual storylines will be fun to follow. Can Kalish and Olt bounce back from injuries and follow through on the extremely promising projections they were getting as players just a couple of years ago? Will Lake put it together and make himself a passable MLB Centerfielder? Can Rizzo and Castro return to form? If that last question comes to fruition while 1/3 other situations listed above happens, that can mean very good things about next year. Especially considering the possibilities we will see Baez/Bryant/Alcantara/villanueva later this year, or definitely next year.

  • cubmig

    ….just an aside, but I like the score right now. 3-0 Cubs. Hope it holds.

  • Rebuilding

    According to Fangraphs, based on their ZIPS projections and probable playing time (they allocate 700 plate appearances to each position and try to figure out who will get what), here are the Cubs positional ranks by overall WAR:

    C – 17th
    1b – 10th
    2b – 27th
    3b – 23rd
    SS – 17th
    LF – 26th
    CF – 24th
    RF – 25th
    SP – 21st
    RP – Worse than 15th (hasn’t come out yet)

    So basically, we are above average at 1 of the 10 “positions”…1b. Are outfield is particularly atrocious and cumulatively the worst in baseball. We also have huge holes at 2b and 3b.

    With that said, the ZIPS projections are based on career totals and don’t incorporate platoons. Effectively platooning in the OF could maybe get us in the Top 20. 2b and 3b may also improve dramatically if Alcantara, Baez and/or Bryant come up at some point

    • ssckelley

      Just curious, who are they using at third base and center/left field for these projections?

      • Edwin

        LF: Lake 385 PA, Sweeney 70 PA, Ruggiano 175 PA, and Mcdonald 70 PA.

        CF: Sweeney 385 PA, Ruggiano 105 PA, Lake 70 PA, B-Jax 70 PA, Caspe Wells and McDonald 35 PA each.

        3B: Valbuena 406 PA, Murphy 175 PA, Olt 63 PA, Vitters 35 PA, Chris Valaika 21 PA.

      • Rebuilding

        3b: PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA WAR
        Luis Valbuena 406 .240 .325 .378 .312 1.4
        Donnie Murphy 175 .235 .296 .421 .313 0.3
        Mike Olt 63 .219 .300 .380 .301 0.1
        Josh Vitters 35 .254 .303 .409 .311 0.1
        Chris Valaika 21 .237 .277 .340 .273 0.0
        Total 700 .237 .313 .390 .310 1.9

        Obviously, if Olt breaks out these numbers will change drastically

        • ssckelley

          How often does this get updated?

          Sorry for all the questions, I am not a big Fangraphs user and usually a few of you guys provide this stuff anyway.

    • Edwin

      RP come in at 22.

    • Karl Groucho

      This is sort of our problem — we have a lot of Pete Kozma types; guys who really aren’t very good but are good enough to be scrappy fan favorites. One or two of these guys is a lot of fun; when he has that once-in-a-career good year or comes through at a key moment or what have you, its a real treat. But a whole roster of them makes for a not very good situation, and shouldn’t give us much optimism.

      That said, it’s only March 27: we’re 0 games out of first, and I might as well get my optimism while I can. There’s always a chance!

    • cubbcard

      i bet ss comes in much higher if castro makes the allstar team. 3b also with olt will be higher. they could not even rank third not knowing olt was even on the team

  • Featherstone

    Man, has production fallen for 3B across the league.

    If Olt puts up that .250/.350/.475 line with average defense that would put him as a top-5 3rd baseman in baseball.

    I am just imagining a bit here, but we could have just found a 4 WAR 3rd baseman out of nowhere. That blows my mind.

  • cubmig

    Damn. Big Barney is showing plus at bats……..caching! {Are the phones ringing in the FO office—-yet?}

  • Edwin

    I love our new lefty specialist.

  • cubs2003

    I don’t think this will be a good team, but I do think they’ll be fun to watch. All hands on deck!

  • mportsch

    I saw that the A’s have placed Michael Taylor on waivers. Wouldn’t it make sense for the Cubs to claim Taylor and see if he can cut it at the big league level? He’s put up some nice numbers in AAA, and this will be his age-28 season. Taylor has never really had a legit shot in the big leagues.

    I suppose you’d have to option Junior Lake to AAA to start the season, but I’d personally make that move.

    Compare the PECOTA projections for the two guys:

    Michael Taylor: .245/.328/.395, .272 TAv, 1.3 WARP (456 PA)
    Junior Lake: .249/.290/..381, .247 TAv, 0.6 WARP (509 PA)

    Taylor is much more likely to be productive now, and it’s not like Lake couldn’t come back up to the majors later this season if he’s destroying AAA. You’d have to clear a 40-man spot for Taylor, but I think there are some decent candidates for that (Brett Jackson, James McDonald).

    This is a chance to improve the outfield depth, and it costs almost nothing.

    • ssckelley

      I like your angle on Taylor possibly being better than Lake but I think the Cubs are dedicated to see what they have in Lake, for him to either sink or swim. I know on paper this guy looks much better than Brett Jackson but there is a pretty big difference in age.

      But this guy seems to be an upgrade over some of the other dumpster dives the Cubs have signed this year. But at the end of spring training we usually see several of these types of players getting cut. A minor league deal might be all he can get and for that he probably stays with the A’s.

    • candyland07

      Micheal Taylor is a terrible player . MT belong nowhere near a minor league contract not to mention a spot on a 40 man roster . Somehow every chance he gets to hit major league pitching he walks directly back to the dug out. He is his own worse critic, he has shown nothing at a major league level of play .

      • ssckelley

        Ah yes, those 81 plate appearances he has had over the past 3 seasons are absolutely horrible! After those 25 plate appearances he had last season the A’s should have cut him on the spot and not even invited him to spring training.

        candyland, you are an awesome talent evaluator.

        • candyland07

          Actually , if the A’s cut MT they know something. Sometimes a player with a mediocrity minor league stats dont always go well with major league pitching. Sometimes a player cant hit a fast ball over 93 mph or gets his knees buckled with a good curve or a hesitation with a change up.

          Point is the Cubs already have enough failures in the outfield and for this front office to take a chance on MT is unrealistic partly due his age and a crowded trio of underachievers that the Cubs have in place in the outfield already.

          • ssckelley

            They did not cut him, they waived him there is a difference. He is out of options so the A’s had no other choice. He was one of the last cuts since they prefer another outfielder that has more speed. Other teams were already inquiring about Michael Taylor as he had a very good spring.

            The Cubs are not going after this guy anyway, there is no place to put him. But get your facts straight before spewing your crap.

            • candyland07

              Sorry to say the kid will be failure in the bigs – hopefully he can catch on with a team that will need his nonchalant walk back to the dugout.

              • ssckelley

                Right, I got that based on your expert analysis of his 81 plate appearances over the past 3 seasons.

  • 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…

  • waffle

    this team looks decent defensively, has some potential in the SP, has depth, good platoon options (we’ll see how that works out) better than average RP and a SLEW of guys who really should hit better this year than they did last.

    Hopefully the new coaching staff can be a plus not a minus.

    I wish we had a bit more pop, especially in the outfield, but this team does not looked doomed from the start.

    I am hoping to see some competent baseball played this year. Some growth. Some feeling that the coaching staff has something resembling a plan and is consistent in trying to achieve that plan. Last year was just a bit embarrassing. We looked inconsistent and clueless.

  • bobww1959

    The offens is scary, but I’m personally not as sold on the bullpen as everyone else is. I’m not crazy about Veres, Wright hasn’t shown much so far (I know, Spring trraining stats are meaningless and all that), and other youngsters all have questions. Russell is fine if used right, and Strop and Rondon showed well last year, but aside from them (and Villanueva), it’s pretty scary. Remember last year, we were optimistic about a Marmol rebound, Camp was considered a strength, and Kyuji was coming in. Are we really that much better? It looks like another 50/50 proposition to me.

    • cubfanincardinalland

      We really are much better.

  • Karl Groucho

    Btw Brett I’m getting some autoplay video ads that I didn’t used to get here. I’m sure you use a third party service for ads, but these are something of a pain. Especially when I open all your updates for the day in different tabs and then have to go hunting for which one is yelling at me.

    • D.G.Lang

      I agree, They are an annoyance. Luckily? I am retired and I don’t have a problem with something blasting while I am at work, but they are still annoying anyway.

      I also get frustrated at having to scroll down so far to stop them even though I can easily simply reach up and turn off the small audio amplifier that I am using but then I have to turn it on again after missing the beginning of something else.

      I don’t like to complain, especially over little things, and I really don’t like chronic complainers so my criticism is simply a suggestion or recommendation to make things more enjoyable by somehow lowering the volume and making it better for those who browse at work and at home.

  • farmerjon

    I must be drinking the kool-aid too, because I am pretty optimistic about this roster pushing for .500…A lot of “ifs”, but I’ll take it. The bullpen in April and May was brutal last year (heck ALL year), I could be misremembering, but iirc we blew a half dozen saves that would have had us close to .500 then. Olt > Valbuena @ 3B, Valbuena/Bonafacio/Barney> Barney @ 2B, positive regression for E-Jax n Castro, better BABIP for Rizzo, step forward for Samardzija and Arrieta, properly executed outfield platoons and defensive shifts…IF this ragtag crew of misfit toys can get off to a fast start and IF the FO mixes in the right call – ups and trades…??? Who knows?
    ::disclaimer:: I’ve been up since 4am with a sick 4yo and am currently on my second pot of coffee…oh bwuddah it’s gonna be a long day ; )

    • ssckelley

      You remember correctly, last season the Cubs under performed the first 2 months of the season and much of it was due to having a horrible bullpen. This season the bullpen appears to be much better but I am not convinced the starting rotation is as good as last year. However, at this time last year Villanueva was starting for an injured Garza and Feldman did not get hot until May. But it would have been nice for the Cubs to have been able to sign a good starter.

      The lineup has potential, but I think it is going to take a lot of mix and matching by Renteria to get the most out of it especially in that outfield. Olt also has his work cut out for him to replace the offense that the slew of third baseman provided last season.

      • farmerjon

        What was the accumulative production from 3B last year? Anyone?

        • Brocktoon

          Above average: Valbuena had a decent year, and Murphy and Ransom were quite good as the right handed portion of a platoon.

          .748 OPS as a group. (also includes 14 PAs from Lillibridge, Clevenger, and Gonzalez)

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