Spring Training 2014: Five Burning Questions
I rarely watch Spring Training games. I usually watch one to get my baseball fix and read the box scores from there. However, this year has been a bit different as I have watched every game televised, which up tip now has been about three, but I digress…
I am attributing this new-found viewing interest to the prospects. I actually don’t even look at the stats linked to the regular MLB level guys. Some of these guys are keeping a seat warm and I find it difficult to get too involved. Plus, it’s hard to get attached to guys like Luis Valbuena and Darnell McDonald. Valbuena is a fine third baseman but not the spiciest option for the fan base. McDonald is, well, not that fine.
My recent viewings have generated a few questions and I was wondering what the VFTB faithful think……
1) Will Brett Jackson or Josh Vitters ever see extended time in the majors again?
– I am going with no on both counts, at least not in a Cubs uniform. Unless something amazing happens for Vitters then Brett Jackson has the better chance, if any at all. A rather sad story for two guys who were once the pride of the Cubs farm system for multiple seasons in a row. These guys locked up the top spot from 2007 through 2011, or something like that. Pretty sure both were top 50 prospects on somebody’s list somewhere. Injuries have taken their toll but it is just another reminder that sometimes, even the highly touted ones don’t pan out.
2) Who will get the majority of starts for the Cubs at Third Base in 2014?
-Kevin Orie. Whoops, speaking of highly touted prospects that didn’t pan out, wrong decade. I am going with Mike Olt. Something tells me he may just hit about .245 this season. Actually, lets go further and say 13 HR’s , 43 RBI’s and a .241 average. Here is the best part, if Valbuena gets his starts instead, the stat line won’t be much different.
3) While everybody is wetting their collective pants over Javier Baez, I want to know when we will see Kris Byrant?
-Does Bryant make it to the big club in 2014? Every bit of me wants to say yes, in September, but there is a part of me that thinks he spends the whole year in the minors at one level or another. It’s the smart part of me, the part that is usually right, and it is a small part. I feel as though Theo and Jed go out of their way to make sure these guys are not brought up to the big club one day before they are beyond ready. I respect that, I am okay with that. Drives me crazy as a fan because the product on the field is, in a wishful world, a .500 team. Will these guys make the team better this year? maybe not. Will it destroy them as ball players? It could. Would it still make things more interesting? Yes.
4) If you had to choose from one of the following prospects, which one is most likely to not make a Big League appearance in their career?
(A) Jorge Soler
(B) Albert Almora
(C) Arismendy Alcantara
(D) Kyle Hendricks
You don’t even have to have a reason, just let your gut speak.
5) How many wins do the Cubs get this year?
I am going to sit right around 70. If Shark is dealt then it could go lower. Couple in the fact that we may assemble one of the worst outfields in the history of baseball and the 2014 high point could very well be spring training and the prospect talk. That being said, on a more positive note, this could be the season we start to see the team turn a corner. Some young pitching pans out and a few young position players start to pick it up and we could be in for .500 plus with a lot to look forward too down the road.
So, turning point or another lost season?