Two more days. Today won’t be as hard as tomorrow, since there’s a baseball game. But tomorrow, while we wait for Opening Day, is going to be torture.
- As noted last night when Carlos Villanueva was named the fifth starter, and again this morning in the post-D-Backs game writeup, the bullpen isn’t quite set yet. There are only enough relievers left in camp to fill out the bullpen, but the Cubs are leaving open the possibility that someone already bounced from big league camp could be brought back to break with the big team. It’s a fairly strong statement about at least one of the Alberto Cabrera/Justin Grimm/Hector Rondon trio that the Cubs are even considering sending one of them out at this point. Blake Parker, who was fantastic with the Cubs last year, would seem to be an option to come back, as would Marco Mateo, whom the Cubs didn’t have for most of the Spring (he was the D-Backs’ Rule 5 pick). Lefty Zac Rosscup got two innings last night, so that’s noteworthy. And then you’ve got Brian Schlitter, who’s always had good stuff when healthy, and he was one of the last cuts. If you were going solely for the guy who looked best in the Spring, it might be Neil Ramirez (who is also already on the 40-man roster), but I can’t help but wonder if the Cubs don’t want to give him one more shot at starting, which he could do at AAA Iowa. Of course, if Ramirez displaces someone like Grimm, then maybe Grimm could go to AAA Iowa and resume starting (like Ramirez, Grimm has some really intriguing upside as a starter).
- In the end, the safe bet still has the three expected guys (Cabrera, Grimm, and Rondon) making the bullpen, but if one is sent out, it’s probably Cabrera or Grimm. Of those two, Cabrera is out of options, so if he doesn’t make the team, he could be lost on waivers when the Cubs try to send him to Iowa. As for who would take that spot, I think it’s really too hard to say. Even someone like Armando Rivero has an outside shot. Parker seems the most logical, given his stint last year, though.
- Praise for Opening Day starter Jeff Samardzija, whom I think is going to have a fine year. He knows what’s on the line. But will he have an ace year? Or, perhaps more importantly, an ace first three months?
- A little Rick Renteria profile/preparation for the season. The fish bowl starts on Monday.
- By all accounts, Starlin Castro is fully healthy, and he’ll play this afternoon against the D-Backs. The question, though, is whether his timing and readiness to face big league pitching will be where it needs to be. If Castro takes a couple weeks, we’ll have to be a little patient.
- The Cubs travel the fewest miles during the 2014 season. Competitive advantage!
- The nice thing about having spent so many hours putting together a really comprehensive take on the Cubs’ financial situation and how it syncs with the baseball plan, is that when commenters spew mindless bile, or when people write silly, predictable things like this, I can just post a link to the financial piece, and then throw up something like this: