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Monday, February 20, 2017

Spring Training Open Thread

We’ve gotten some sporadic threads going over the first week of ST, but nothing has really taken off.  I’m putting this up now, and will be adding any news/updates to the comments as they pop up.  It’s going to be a relatively quiet spring, I’d expect, and I’m heading to Phoenix for a few games in a couple of week (so if anyone is going to be there, let me know).

Here’s how I see the roster today, feel free to comment, laugh, etc:

LOCKS:
Hitters (10) - Rizzo, Bryant, Zobrist, Russell, Heyward, Schwarber, Baez, Jay, Contreras, Montero
Pitchers (11) - Lester, Arrieta, Hendricks, Lackey, Anderson, Montgomery, Davis, Rondon, Strop, Grimm, Uehara

MOST LIKELY, BUT…
Edwards: Only because I believe he still has options.  I have to think he’s as close of a lock as possible, and he has the least chance of not being on the roster of anyone in this group. 
Almora: Everyone talks as if he’ll be splitting time with Jay in CF, but we’ve mentioned a couple of times in these threads that it wouldn’t be crazy if he started in AAA.  I think he’d have to have a disastrous spring, but weirder things have happened.  Remember, he didn’t come up for good until after the rosters expanded in September. 

LAST 2 SPOTS:
LaStella: I think he has the inside track, as the Cubs only have 5 guys that can play the IF right now, and both Zobrist and Bryant can play the OF.  He wasn’t great as a PH, but is a good hitter and can play multiple positions.  However, he does have another option, and in a roster crunch where the Cubs don’t want to lose someone, he could get squeezed.
Szczur: Out of options.  If Almora makes the team, I really don’t see how he fits unless the Cubs went with a smaller bullpen.  If Almora has a bad spring, then he’s on.
Duensing: I probably should put him in the next grouping up, but he really isn’t that good.  Cubs are quick to cut bait with guys not named Clayton Richard when they just aren’t cutting it. 
Zastryzny: If the Cubs stick with a 6 man rotation for an extended period and Duensing bombs out, he’d be the lefty in the pen.  I know that isn’t a huge concern since there are other guys who can get lefties out.  Likely rides the AAA shuttle and makes the trip back and forth several times this season.
Pena: Probably the other guy on the AAA shuttle.

LONG SHOTS:
Butler, Mills: Both of these guys are in the same boat.  I expect them to be in the AAA rotation, but have a shot as a replacement or spot starter if needed.  In case of an injury, they could move up a group earlier than expected.
Kawasaki: I guess as another SS, he could fill the 25th man spot.  A bunch else would have to happen for them to get down to him though.

Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: February 20, 2017 at 11:48 AM | 17 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: February 20, 2017 at 12:07 PM (#5404996)
From Cubs Den:
Speaking of Montgomery, Sahadev Sharma reports that the 5th starter spot will be a competition between Montgomery and Brett Anderson. There was some speculation that they'd share that role but it appears the Cubs want one of them to win the job outright.


---

And in case anyone missed it before:

Patrick Mooney ‏@CSNMooney
Joe Maddon says #Cubs plan to use Willson Contreras as Jon Lester's personal catcher this year.
   2. Spahn Insane, stimulus-funded BurlyMan™ Posted: February 20, 2017 at 01:21 PM (#5405072)
Joe Maddon says #Cubs plan to use Willson Contreras as Jon Lester's personal catcher this year.

This makes sense (assuming Contreras also catches another few times a week). Lester's gotta live without Ross anyway, might as well have him pitch to the remaining C with the (much) better arm. Mitigate Lester's running game issues a bit.

Sahadev Sharma reports that the 5th starter spot will be a competition between Montgomery and Brett Anderson.

I take it that means Anderson's healthy this week. Well, if he's both that and effective, might as well enjoy the flexibility to use Montgomery as a swing guy/main lefty reliever while they can.
   3. Spahn Insane, stimulus-funded BurlyMan™ Posted: February 20, 2017 at 01:23 PM (#5405073)
Montgomery aside, am I nuts for thinking Davis/Uehara/Rondon/Strop/Grimm/Edwards looks like a pretty nice pen, dearth of lefties notwithstanding?

For me the biggest issue with that bunch is Rondon's health/effectiveness; he seemed not to have been over his injury when he returned from the DL last year, because he was consistently awful after 2.5 mostly excellent seasons.
   4. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 20, 2017 at 01:26 PM (#5405077)
Listing Heyward as a "hitter" is part of your unwavering optimism, right?
   5. Spahn Insane, stimulus-funded BurlyMan™ Posted: February 20, 2017 at 01:28 PM (#5405080)
Listing Heyward as a "hitter" is part of your unwavering optimism, right?

He has bold aspirations of out-OPSing Arrieta this year.
   6. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: February 20, 2017 at 01:54 PM (#5405104)
Heyward could make a decent LOOGY, if given enough time to adjust.

For me the biggest issue with that bunch is Rondon's health/effectiveness; he seemed not to have been over his injury when he returned from the DL last year, because he was consistently awful after 2.5 mostly excellent seasons.

There's some quotes in here from Maddon about Rondon and Strop. (side note: Joe, Ronnie? Really? You're on thin ice after that g7 shenanigans, don't push your luck.) I want to write up their issues late to their injuries, but at least in Rondon's case, he seemed to have his velocity but not control.

I like the pen, too, but Davis has some of those injury concerns as well. There's enough options to get them through the early part of the season and let them figure out what more they need to add.
   7. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: February 20, 2017 at 02:01 PM (#5405113)
It's all jokes and stuff during early ST, but it probably couldn't go worse for J-Hey, right?
   8. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: February 20, 2017 at 03:04 PM (#5405162)

I like the pen, too, but Davis has some of those injury concerns as well. There's enough options to get them through the early part of the season and let them figure out what more they need to add.


I will try not to get too attached to Eloy Jimenez.
   9. Cabbage Posted: February 20, 2017 at 04:42 PM (#5405256)
Even when Heyward was hitting, he was never much one for the month of April -- he's 60 points off his career OPS. He got an unbelievable pass from the home crowds, who were too excited to see all the winning to care. But I doubt that'll happen again.
   10. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: February 21, 2017 at 10:27 AM (#5405540)
I will try not to get too attached to Eloy Jimenez.

Yeah, I guess I hope it doesn't come to that. At least not for another closer rental.
   11. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: February 22, 2017 at 05:33 PM (#5406997)
Ken RosenthalVerified account‏@Ken_Rosenthal 13s14 seconds ago
FWIW: #Cubs had brief conversations with Utley about a pinch-hitting role, per sources. Talks did not grow serious. Team never made offer.


Interesting, but obviously irrelevant now. I guess perhaps it means something about how they feel about TLS.
   12. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: February 23, 2017 at 01:32 PM (#5407427)
Patrick MooneyVerified account‏@CSNMooney 6m6 minutes ago
Joe Maddon identifies Kyle Schwarber as the clear frontrunner to hit leadoff in #Cubs lineup this season.

Patrick MooneyVerified account‏@CSNMooney 4m4 minutes ago
Maddon is still waiting on more info. from Geek Dept., but Cubs are considering hitting the pitcher 8th again in front of Almora/Jay combo.


We talked about this a little before, and it makes a lot of sense.
   13. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: February 24, 2017 at 01:05 PM (#5408150)
Sahadev Sharma ‏@sahadevsharma 23m23 minutes ago
Cubs agree to extension with Pedro Strop through 2018 with option for 2019

Sahadev Sharma ‏@sahadevsharma 20m20 minutes ago
Extension is $5.85 million for 2018 and $6.25 million club option for 2019 with a $500K buyout


He was gonna be a FA, so this seems like a nice deal.
   14. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: February 24, 2017 at 02:39 PM (#5408253)
   15. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: February 28, 2017 at 04:55 PM (#5410340)
Some early ST highlights:

Nice Almora running catch (today)
Russell huge bomb (yesterday)
Another Russell HR (today, to RCF).

I'm going this weekend, and will be at the Cubs games Sun/Mon/Tue. Can't wait.
   16. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: March 02, 2017 at 03:04 PM (#5411734)
Lester named Opening Day starter.
   17. Walt Davis Posted: March 08, 2017 at 02:15 AM (#5414153)
Everything in the intro sounds right to me. One of us is obviously doing something wrong!

Montgomery aside, am I nuts for thinking Davis/Uehara/Rondon/Strop/Grimm/Edwards looks like a pretty nice pen, dearth of lefties notwithstanding?

If they're all close to the top of their game (or most are close, whatever) then that's plenty fine. But Davis coming off injury, Uehara being 42 and Rondon getting wonky there's still plenty to worry about. Or not since there's not much we can do about it for another 4 months.

We talked about this a little before, and it makes a lot of sense.

Yeah, if Schwarber is #1 then I don't want the pitcher #9.

I guess perhaps it means something about how they feel about TLS.

Also maybe something about how TLS feels about baseball. Maybe he's more enthusiastic or worked through whatever issues he had but it's not clear to me that he wouldn't rather go home than accept a trip to the minors ... heck he might prefer home to a 25-man spot. That's not meant as a dig at him nor at the Cubs, it's just the reality of the situation.

Javy is awesome.

Here's hoping he runs out of tattoo space before his career is finished.

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