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wrigley field from right bleachersIf Jeff Samardzija fancies himself the Cubs’ ace, today’s his day to stop the bleeding. Of course, he may have to do a little with his bat.

Junior Lake seems to be earning himself more and more playing time, regardless of the handedness of the pitcher; which will likely only accentuate for some of you the fact that Luis Valbuena starts today over Mike Olt. I have very few additional thoughts on the subject beyond what I’ve already said. We’re barely halfway through April. There will be plenty of starts to be had by Olt, and you’re going to see them steadily rise as the year goes on (so long as he does the bare minimum to justify it).

The rule of the day: keep Billy Hamilton off base, if for no other reason than he’ll be in everyone’s mind if and when he does get on base. It’s just kind of annoying, which I suppose is the point.

Game Info

Cincinnati Reds (6-9) at Chicago Cubs (4-10), 1:20 CT on WGN, MLBN.

Game Thread and Series Preview

The Game Thread lives here. And, of course, for those who aren’t into message board-style game threads, please feel free to use the comments on this post for your in-game commentary/outbursts.

The Series Preview lives here.

Starting Pitchers

Alfredo Simon (1.20 ERA, 3.18 FIP, 3.79 xFIP; 5.00 K/BB)

versus

Jeff Samardzija (1.29 ERA, 3.10 FIP, 3.59 xFIP; 3.00 K/BB)

Cincinnati Reds Lineup

1. Billy Hamilton, CF

2. Joey Votto, 1B

3. Brandon Phillips, 2B

4. Jay Bruce, RF

5. Todd Frazier, 3B

6. Ryan Ludwick, LF

7. Devin Mesoraco, C

8. Zack Cosart, SS

9. Alfredo Simon, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. Emilio Bonifacio, 2B

2. Junior Lake, LF

3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

4. Nate Schierholtz, RF

5. Starlin Castro, SS

6. Ryan Sweeney, CF

7. Welington Castillo, C

8. Luis Valbuena, 3B

9. Jeff Samardzija, P

  • Jon

    I’m curious to see how the Cubs can manage getting pwned by Cy Young candidate and future Hall of Famer Alfredo SImon. You know it’s coming.

  • Medicos

    It’s a beautiful day for a ball game. Very few people in the park so far. Fewer people on the rooftops.

    Trivia Question: Who’s the only present day MLB ball player to be on the roster of a Little League World Series Champ???

    Todd Frazier, Ciincy 3rd baseman, played for the NJ team that beat Japan in 1998.

    • Brocktoon

      Somebody reads Parade

  • notcubbiewubbie

    yippee the hall of famer is at third again.

    • Blackhawks1963

      Yeah, because Mike Olt and his 50% K rate and 3 hits on the season absolutely MUST be in the lineup. Pass the vomit bag.

      • notcubbiewubbie

        valbuena one hopper back to the mound ; just stopping by on his way to cooperstown.

  • ruby2626

    I’m really sick of these lineups that don’t include Mike Olt. Quite frankly no one knows if he is an everyday 3rd baseman, how are we ever going to find out if he plays every other or every 3rd game. Does anyone have a weaker cleanup hitter than we do? Going 0 for N.Y. really opened up a lot of eyes, heard so many people complaining, almost like we hit rock bottom. Attendance will continue to plummet, this team is just flat out boring to watch.

    • Edwin

      I’m really sick of people thinking that the only way to evaluate a player is by forcing them into the lineup for 500 or more PA.

      • Darth Ivy

        Olt has a bigger question mark over him than most guys, and they’d get a better sense of who he is with more ABs. And with a chain of 3B prospects behind him, it would be nice to find out sooner rather than later. No one is saying it’s black and white. But it will only help to know what kind of player he is with a full season 500 ABs

    • Darth Ivy

      It’s so puzzling that there must be another factor that we’re unaware of. Like, maybe they plan on trading him and are afraid that playing him full time will expose him as, well, bad (That’s not my opinion. I think he’d be productive). A productive platoon guy probably has more value than a failed everyday player. Or they plan on putting Baez at third and have Olt as bench infielder. I’m not sure how much sense that makes, but just trying to shoot ideas out there because I certainly don’t understand why they won’t put him out there everyday……oh, unless he still has a nagging injury that’s not being reported. That might makes the most sense.

      • Jon

        In the grand scheme of things, he’s just a guy now. Maybe they are bringing him around slowly but in the big picture he’s keeping the seat at 3rd warm for Bryant. (not a single bad word from AA on his defense)

        The infield is going to consist of Bryant, Castro, Baez, Rizzo and then we are going to trade for a big outfield bat and that is when it will flow.

        • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

          I’m still bullish on Villanueva at third, but you’re pretty much right on the money

        • Darth Ivy

          makes sense

      • JasonP

        Maybe he spent all spring with a sore shoulder that didn’t allow him to throw across the infield so he needs a few extra off days at this point, and coupled with Valbuena needing at bats too RR is just filling out lineup cards to play to the platoon advantage.

        As has been (repeatedly) noted by Brett, the Cubs faced a good number of pitchers with strong platoon splits, so playing to the platoon advantage was the right thing to do.

        RR has no option but to fill out the lineup in a way that is best for winning now. This season is about rebuilding, but no respectable man would manage his team that way in the first month of the season, he’d flat out lose the clubhouse.

        Arguing to only play the young guys pretty much means that Bonifacio should have never been given a start in the OF so Lake and Kalish could play and that he should split ABs at 2B primarily with Valbuena and Barney so Valbuena never has to take ABs away from Olt at 3B. I’m sure folks around here ought to be upset that Bonifacio is leading the team in plate appearances to this point, if they’re arguing it’s all about getting guys like Olt and Lake on the field.

        • Darth Ivy

          I wouldn’t argue that Valbnuena should never get ABs and Olt should never get a day off. My hope was that it would be less platoon-y and more days off-y.

          • http://bleachernation.com woody

            I think now that Bonafacio is cooling off they should be giving Valbuena some starts at second so Olt can play third more. However I concur with the speculation that Olt may have tweeked the shoulder with that head first slide on the pick off play in St. Louis.

    • CubsFaninMS

      We’ve never found out whether Ryan Sweeney was an everyday outfielder.

  • Jon

    Not only would the success of Mike Olt be great long term for the Cubs, it would help validate a major trade by this FO. So if this was RR just being obtuse on his playing time don’t you think Theo/Jed would have stepped in by now? Maybe, he’s just not very good or a fringe platoon player at best. Why are the pitchforks out over this?

    • baldtaxguy

      Maybe the trade does not need validation with Olt.

    • http://bleachernation.com woody

      Mike Olt had one good year in AAA before he got hit playing winter ball. Good numbers at that level don’t always translate to success at the MLB level. The way I see it Olt was fighting for a spot on the roster rather than being given the third base job. There are too many people here being taken in by all the prospect porn. I guess this is a by-product of having nothing to get excited about with the major league club. So now Olt is getting a chance to hit against lefties and at times as a pinch hitter against righties.. What he does in that role will determine his future playing time.

      • Drew7

        Actually, Olt had good years in ’10, ’11 and ’12. His best season was in AA, and he didn’t play in AAA until after he got hurt.

    • Blackhawks1963

      Mike Olt was a throw-in to the Garza – Edwards trade. A throw-in. His star has significantly faded the past two seasons. It just has, and the convenient excuse of him being injured, etc. doesn’t carry forever. For crying out loud, the guy his .200 at Triple A last season. At this stage, NOBODY cares about his former prospect status. At age 25 he’s a guy who appears to have significant Brett Jackson-like inability to make contact. And he’s dinged up, now with a shoulder.

      Give it a rest. Luis Valbuena is proving to be a better major league option versus Olt right now. And it’s just a matter of time before Christian Villenueva auditions for the job. Then Bryant and maybe Baez.

      This insanity over Mike Olt has got to stop. When the guy does play (always in the most favorable matchups), THEN he needs to start producing if he wants to stay on this roster and get more playing time.

  • LEO L

    I was thinking that since Olt DHd the first game instead of playing 3rd in the first game that maybe his shoulder is still sore. Isnt he supposed to be a better defensive player?

    • Darth Ivy

      excellent point

    • Jon

      Also a possibility. In the series against the Cardinals, he slid back into first on a pickoff attempt and jammed his shoulder. It didn’t seem like a big deal got made of this, but he looked like he was in pain, and came out of the game. He DH’d in the Yankees series and hasn’t played 3rd since.

      • Darth Ivy

        that’s a nice observation

  • auggie

    Now if only someone other than Rizzo or Castro could get a hit maybe we might be able to score some runs. At least Barney has not been in the lineup everyday. Only problem is Bonifacio has been cold as ice lately.

    • JasonP

      Bonifacio as cold as ice = Bonifacio hasn’t magically become 5 times the player he has always been.

  • Jed Jam Band

    I personally feel that the best thing for Olt is to ease him into more starts gradually, as Brett stated. He had a rough ML stint in 2012, a very difficult and trying 2013, and came into the season with a sore shoulder. He’s really only just starting to regain his confidence and to fail miserably due to pushing him too hard would be awful for him and for the organization. Baez and Villanueva, while doing decently at AAA, are not yet hitting well enough to say they are forcing the org’s hand here. If that does happen at some point, then we will have something to discuss, but right now the best possible way to go about this is to let Olt work his way up to that point and hope that he makes it stick.

  • Funn Dave

    Yay, no Barney!

  • cubbcard

    everything the cubs gained when traded Garza they lost when they signed jackson. if you take jackson off the books we are 50 million richer and 18 losses better . big mistake by epstien or was it? this locks in about 20 losses a year for 4 years. great draft pick. could of got atleast a good closer for 12 million a year

    • Edwin

      Nope.

    • BT

      So you are saying Jackson’s WAR was about -18?

      • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

        That’s gotta be some kind of record

        • Caleb

          No, I was called up a year early in peewee ball and played a month in right field before getting sick. Coach said I was about -10 WAR per game, and played about 8, so…

  • Cubman

    I am trying to be patient with the Olt thing, but I am lossing my patience. First it was he was sitting against difficult righties, now unless I missed something, today’s pitcher is a young righty. I’m sick of this. I know it’s been said before, but Olt may be part of our future, Valbuena will not be (except possibly as a super utility). Also, I have a bet that Olt will start 110 games this year. Not at this pace. We suck and are going to continue to suck this year, let the kids play and the sooner the better. I realize we don’t want to rush kids, like we did in the past, but Olt is on the team, let him play.

    • BT

      I can’t believe Renteria isn’t taking your bet into account when making out lineups. Yet another strike against him.

    • Edwin

      Do you think Olt will be good?

  • Cubman

    I personally think Olt will be good – .250/.340/.480 with 25 hrs. However, no one knows until he is given a chance. Even if Baez or Bryant will be our 3B of the future, you still have to play Olt to drive up his trade value. I’m on board with the whole plan, but these little things (Olt not playing) are not consistent with the plan. Some guys (I think most guys), have to play every day or close to it to be effective. Rentaria seems to be a “guys have to fight for and earn playing time” type of manager. That’s OK in some cases, but not with a guy who might be a part of our future versus one that is not.

    • Brocktoon

      A good fielding 3B with that stat like is an MVP candidate

      • Brocktoon

        Ok, overstated, but that’s an all-star

    • Drew7

      If a FO can’t, “tell what a guy can do” without giving him 500 PA at the ML-level, they probably shouldn’t have a job.

  • mjhurdle

    can we wait to see if Olt can hit a baseball first before letting him start all the time?
    Right now he can’t even hit in the situations that statistically give him the best chance. Why would putting him in worse situations somehow make him hit more?

    • Brocktoon

      Because then he’ll get 500 ABs and we’ll know. Plus it’ll help that guy win his bet

  • Medicos

    Wind is blowing in which means few HRs. It’s chilly out here. Plenty of empty seats. If you’re near Clark& Addison,they might let u for nothin. Most of the talk behind the Cincy dugout was about the Blackhawks loss in OT last nite. Plenty of playoff beards on us Cub fans.

    Let Olt play every single game. Got to give this guy an opportunity to show what he accomplish on a MLB level. How would Angel Pagan (Cub 2006-2007) look in CF for a few years???

    BA—.377
    OBP—.425
    SLG—.492
    OPs—.916

    Both the Cubs and the Mets gave him up for nothing.

    PLAY BALL

    • DarthHater

      When Pagan played for the Mets, his numbers were in line with his career averages and they gave him 1,185 plate appearances in the last two seasons in NY, so I think they pretty much knew what they were trading.

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

        Nonsense. The Giants finally taught him how to hit the baseball so that when he does strike it will fall for a hit 43% of the time.

        • DarthHater

          You just have to put the right amount of spin on the ball with the bat.

  • Drew7

    Wow – what a pitiful swing from Hamilton.

  • cubmig

    LOL….what a crazy weird swing by Hamilton……like he was chopping wood…..LOL

    • Blackhawks1963

      Billy Hamilton isn’t going to hit enough in this league. At best I see him becoming a poor man’s Gary Pettis. The Reds SEVERELY miss Sin Shoo Choo and his .400 OBP.

  • willis

    Lot of pitches for Shark. Looks great but I hate all those pitches.

  • DarthHater

    There ya go. Super Emilio’s back, baby.

    • Edwin

      Aaaaaand tootblan.

      • DarthHater

        Hey, at least he leads the league. :-D

        • JasonP

          Bonifacio is kind of like a super utility Theriot.

          Generally just an ok hitter, but gets streaky with contact/slap hitting singles AND loves to TOOTBLAN all over himself.

          • Edwin

            I feel like Theriot and Bonifacio could combine for quite the Benny Hill tribute.

            • Fishin Phil

              +1000

    • JasonP

      With the pick-offs and all

  • Lou Brown

    Maybe it is time for Bonafacio to not be allowed to lead off. Like little league: one foot on the base.

  • mjhurdle

    Im not sure i have ever seen someone get picked off so many times

  • Edwin

    Even when the Cubs get on base, they don’t.

    • Blackhawks1963

      Shit stupid play by Bonafacio. And more explanation for why he never sticks with one team for very long.

  • cubmig

    Man…..Bonifacio gave that intent to steal right at the start with his previous try and the lead he showed…..what a miscalculation.

  • KHRSS

    Castro had a HR there if it wasn’t for the wind.

  • smackafilieyo

    And the 20 inning non run scoring streak continues….smh

  • cubmig

    Shark is going to hit the 100 pitch mark very soon the way the foul-off are happening.

  • BlameHendry

    How many times does Boner have to get picked off before he learns to be a little more conservative on base?

    Shark looking pretty decent today, but loooots a pitches.

  • BlameHendry

    Cubs following their tradition of making mediocre pitchers look like Cy Young winners.

    • smackafilieyo

      +1

  • JasonP

    I love seeing Rizzo smoke the ball, I’m still in favor of him bunt singling about 50% of the time if the bases are empty though.

  • smackafilieyo

    If I’m shark, I’m asking to be traded ASAP….29 wins total for the 29 yr old. Can we muster any offense for lucky #30?

    • JasonP

      To be fair, he probably deserved about 4-6 wins after the ASB last year and got 4

  • cubmig

    No runs in what….22 innings by our guys? Maybe an incentive should be announced….like $100 a hit and $1,000 if it comes in an risp situation. Hell, the good intentions are working.

    • cubmig

      ^ aren’t

    • Sandberg

      Maybe they should have a life-size cutout of Laura Ricketts and remove a small piece of her clothing every time they win.

      • DarthHater

        “Maybe they should have a naked life-size cutout of Laura Ricketts and add a small piece of her clothing every time they win.”

        FTFY

        (Sorry, all. I know it’s mean, but it was just too easy to resist)

        • Sandberg

          The mood of this site can bring the best of us down. ;) Need to write myself a small little browser plugin to ignore certain people.

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