Archive for March, 2013

Count Down to 25 – Roster Roulette

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Before we begin, I’d like to say Happy Birthday to my mom. If it weren’t for her, this post would be impossible.

The Cubs released a press statement documenting some roster moves yesterday:

MESA, AZ – The Chicago Cubs today sent six players to minor league camp, reducing their spring roster from 59 to 53 players.

Right-handed pitchers Alberto Cabrera and Trey McNutt, left-handed pitcher Brooks Raley and infielder Logan Watkins were optioned to Triple-A Iowa, while right-handed pitcher Robert Whitenack was optioned to Double-A Tennessee. Right-handed pitcher Nick Struck, a non-roster invitee, has been assigned to minor league camp.

Chicago’s spring roster of 53 players consists of 25 pitchers (nine non-roster invitees), five catchers (two non-roster invitees), 13 infielders (five non-roster invitees) and 10 outfielders (three non-roster invitees).

The move leaves tons of guys to sort through so let’s take a quick look. Players highlighted are roster locks as of this point.

A quick look at the pitchers and we see that we’re basically down to 3 spots remaining, all of which are in the bullpen. Michael Bowden seems to have the inside track at the long man spot given the injuries to the rotation that have forced Villanueva out of that role. I’m not ready to mark him as a lock just yet, but it’s looking good. Also looking good is Rafael Dolis, not because he’s pitched well so far, but because he has experience. Looking at the rest of the list, it doesn’t include a lot of experience. The last spot appears to be rule 5 guy, Hector Rondon’s to lose. Reports out of camp are that he’s looked good and could move into a setup role should Marmol be dealt.

This position, barring injury, is locked up. Clevenger appears to be the odd man out, because of the fact that he still has options and the others do not, despite the fact that I feel his ceiling is higher than that of Navarro. Castillo figures to be the opening day starter behind the plate and it’s time for him to live up to the hype we’ve listened to the last few years. I’ll be honest, and I don’t know why this is, but when I see Castillo, I see Geo Soto and it makes my blood boil (sorry Liz). I don’t like Castillo and I’d rather see Clevenger as my every day catcher. Navarro will back up and lend veteran experience.

This part of the roster scares the crap out of me. I look at the four players highlighted and that’s our opening day infield unless Ian Stewart or Josh Vitters do something to change it. Stewart is about ready to return to action and has to show something or risk not even making this team. There is a good chance that the Cubs will buy out his contact for a quarter of the amount due and cut ties with Stewart. What scares me is the lack of middle infield depth. Baez and Villanueva will not make this team out of spring because of age and experience. That essentially means that Lillibridge will make this team as a non-roster invitee, which means a roster spot will need to be made for him. My fear with that is that he’s not really a natural shortstop so that seams to be where Junior Lake comes in. If camp were to break right this minute, I’d say those two would be your backup infielders.

One spot left here, unless Soriano were to suddenly get the call from Brian Cashman to come home to New York. Soler, despite a great showing so far, is not making this team. Right now, the last roster spot appears to be down to Sappelt, Jackson, and another non-roster guy in Bogusevic. Because Jackson needs to play every day, you can figure he’ll be optioned to AAA to start the season and wait for his chance. Then it comes down to if you want to open another roster spot for Bogusevic or go with Sappelt. Personally, I’d give the spot to Sappelt unless he absolutely wets the bed. I don’t like burning two roster spots to add non-roster guys.

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Go: Big Fish Little Fish

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

Imagine you’re a fringe free agent player. You have two contract offers (exact same dollar value.) One is from a probable contending playoff team who says you’ll be a part-time role player. The other is from a team that has virtually no chance for the playoffs but says you have a full-time starting position.

Which do you choose?

This Go question was submitted by Gymjok (thanks Gymjok!) Do you have a question you’d like us to feature in the Go! column? Send it to lizzie@viewfromthebleachers.com and she’ll see what she can do!

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GirlieView (03/07/2013)

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Happy Almost Weekend! The White Sox vs. Cubs game today at 2:05p.m. (CST) is being offered as a free webcast if you’d like to tune in and don’t subscribe to any of the services. Check out cubs.com for details. Carlos Villanueva is starting. He may quite possibly be my new favorite Cub. Enjoy!

GirlieView Definitions

  • Lizzie = A funny, timely quote made on the VFTB site by our writers or commenters.
  • Lizard = The best Lizzie.
  • MVL = Most Valuable Lizzie’er: The person with the most Lizzies in the period under review (usually the past two weeks.)
  • Top 10 of 2013 = The folks with the most aggregate Lizzie points YTD (1 point for every Lizzie, 3 points for every Lizard.)

As you already know, this is all completely subjective and according to my whims.

Lizzies

  • The old coxswain isn’t what it used to be.
  • Happy birthday to Jill, whose name I know not because I’m a serial killer stalker, but because I’m friends with Noah on Facebook.
  • Perhaps you can pass on your Ramen noodle cooking tip to Vogelbach. Let’s get the kid a Gold Glove.
  • I’d like to see the whole process scrapped and just see a recording of Harry played every game.
  • I am glad Barney is pushing Castro to pay more attention to defense. That is what good teammates do, make each other better.
  • In March the Cubs haven’t lost any games, they are still contenders, hope is still with the team.
  • Maybe you, Seymour, Randy’s pitching machine, and I can get a tee time.
  • I would like to discuss my lack of Lizzies this time around? It’s not you, it’s me, isn’t it?
  • I’m with you bud. Either we or Homza phoned this one in.
  • We don’t have a lot to work with here. I blame the WBC for sequestering Randy’s camp. Typically we would be teasing Raker for subtle bragging his stat line against a pitching machine. .. he would in turn make a joke about Seymour taking Trey McNutt out for a sandwich. This is difficult for all of us jackasses.
  • I got 68% of votes for fantasy camp hall of fame this past January. I should be in by 2015, maybe 2014 if the voters do their homework. Fantasy Camp Hall Of Fame (FCHOF) is in Reno Nevada kiddie corner to the Ripley’s Believe it or Not museum for those of you who want to check it out.
  • This is ‘smart post’ and you will note some of your posts will automatically disappear if they don’t reach the VFTB threshold of amusement. Buddy is running at a .018 post acceptance rate (PAR).
  • Hoarders at a ladies nylon factory are the best defensive baseball players. They save the most runs.
  • Even the Cardinals fans were cool (They paid me to say that*). *They didn’t really pay me to say that.
  • As soon as the girls saw the puppy, they flocked to him. What a sly dog, that Eric Byrnes.
  • I’m guessing you have a bunch of nerdy baseball guys with crushes on you (aside from Seymour.)
  • Truth be told it isn’t Raking at an incredible .724/ .812 / 1.289 clip that keeps bringing me back to AZ every off season, it is the camaraderie, the green grass, the sunshine and the fine dining with teammates that keeps me wanting to come back.
  • 49ers uncover Nuggets
  • Wizzards ahead of Lions and Tigers and Bears
  • Saints lead Cardinals
  • To be fair, Hollywood is basically propping up thriving gown-commenting and nip-slip-reporting industries.
  • I’ve seen Matt Murton naked
  • Murton may not be a major leaguer but he has been blessed by becoming a star in the Japanese league and starring in the Japanese TV sitcom with Bryan LaHair.
  • I loved the episode where they dressed up like gals for ladies night at the karaoke bar…coach sure was upset for romancing them with sake bombs before noticing Murton’s cleats sticking out from under his dress.
  • Matt and Brian could use a whacky neighbor
  • Maybe Mike Quade could go to Japan and be a Mr. Furley for Matt and Brian.
  • Until Scott Baker can pitch he will DH for Jeff Baker in what is considered an offensive Baker upgrade.
  • But will he bat clean-up?
  • If Hector Rondon makes it in the Bigs, his nickname will be HeRo. Everyone needs a hero.
  • Chauvinists dig the long ball. My boy Sappelt is gonna make the entire outfield expendable.
  • As he gleefully explains his victory (I think) on the latest race, I ask him what he disliked the most about his time in Chicago. “They gelded me.” (I look it up later, it seems unlikely he means that literally.)
  • You missed a perfect chance to write about the vagaries of line drives in the third to last paragraph.
  • Curiously, ‘Vagaries Of Line Drives’ was one of the greyhounds that ran in an earlier race.
  • Get to the point…did you or did you not see Mike Quade naked?
  • And if so, does alopecia really, uh, make, uh, “things”, uh look bigger?
  • Did today’s morning post get cut in the sequester?
  • Jedi is still writing up the details of his interview with Jim Riggleman at Denny’s.
  • It was more of a confrontation than an interview…I said sunny-side up, he brought me scrambled. Chaos ensued.
  • Mike and Molly gets credit for the character Vince, who is the most authentic Chicago character I’ve ever seen.
  • If you told any Cubs fan 12 months ago that Jeff Samardzija would be your 2013 Opening Day starter, no one other than Jeff’s mother would expect that to be a good sign.
  • I’m shocked that your house in Boston doesn’t have Deportes. I had to stay at this hotel in Tulsa one time and they didn’t get Radio Egypt OR Al-Jazeera and I was like, what kind of establishment is this?
  • Honestly, is anyone at all surprised that Garza is not ready to pitch?
  • If you get a double-play (don’t care how) coach buys the team ice cream.
  • I did have a six year old complete an unassisted triple play once. It was unassisted if you do not count the coach telling him to step on third and then telling him to tag the runner who did not stop running to third base after the fly ball was caught.
  • Chuck – I look out my window and it’s a blizzard outside. I look at your post on View From and you put me on a baseball diamond with an enthusiastic team of brightly-colored uniformed kids shouting Arrrgh! Way to go.
  • Good job Joe but you have to drop some VFTB references in order to drive people to the blog. You mentioned Trey McNutt instead of calling him his VFTB name of Three Nut or at least saying, “Trey McNutt commonly referred to as Three Nut at the View.”
  • I always figured I would be the first to invoke fellatio here, not the Raker.
  • I think a number of us had our money on you.
  • It ain’t Jackson’s swing that is the problem, he has to have an idea where the ball is before the swing matters.
  • Step 1: locate balls?
  • Korey Patterson actually had a great swing. It was his approach and pitch selection that turned him into an Oriole/Red/National/Brewer/Mariner/Oriole/BlueJay/Cardinal/Brewer/Met.
  • Apparently you didn’t have much use for math either.
  • I typically tune in to the 6th quarter of Dateline NBC, and Bing the first five quarters if there is anything I missed.
  • My health hopes that Marmol is more tradeable than Soriano.
  • We just need to find a GM that disregards both sabermetrics and traditional baseball stats, without knowledge of the internet, who hasn’t seen Marmol throw eleven consecutive balls to start off a 9th. He’ll fetch plenty.
  • So what you’re saying is we need Jim Hendry hired as a GM again.

Lizard

  • Ah, spring training. The time when hope abounds around Major League Baseball, and every team but the Astros and Marlins can claim contender status.

Shout Outs

A big shout out to the following readers who submitted their first 2013 Lizzie. We’re so happy to have you here!

  • Hugh Hefner
  • Just Curious

MVL

  • Congratulations to jswanson the Most Valuable Lizzie’er this time around!

Top Ten of 2013 (one point for each Lizzie, three points for the Lizard)

1. jswanson
2. Doc Raker
3. Seymour Butts
4. Jedi Johnson
5. Eddie von White
6. Gymjok
6. Joe Aiello
8. Buddy
8. cap’n obvious
8. Chuck
8. Katie
8. Noah

Chit Chat

I mentioned above one of my favorite Cubs this year is Carlos Villanueva. Do you have any new favorites? And by “new” I mean among those players who were not Cubs last year.

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Morning News: Marmol the Tiger?

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

The Cubs lost a spring training game to the Rangers, 3-2. The game featured very few Cubs regulars, with Hisanori Takashi giving up 3 runs over 3 innings as the “starter.” Considering Takashi was expected to be competing for the job of second left handed pitcher out of the pen, it’s a little surprising to see him pitching more than one inning. But with Matt Garza and Scott Baker both starting the season on the DL, the Cubs could be giving nearly everyone a shot to be the sixth starter for the first few weeks of the season.

In regards to players who are on the active roster bubble, Dave Sappelt continued to struggle in spring training, while relief pitchers Michael Bowden and Rule 5 draft pick Hector Rondon both pitched scoreless innings. But since I don’t think players should be able to win active roster spots based on spring training results, I find that a little irrelevant. With that said, I think Sappelt should make the team because both Nate Schierholtz and David DeJesus need right handed platoon mates, and Rondon is talented enough that the Cubs should work to keep him this season.

Rumor has it that the Detroit Tigers are looking for a veteran closer. Leaving aside the fact that they are doing this because their young closer in waiting, Bruce Rondon, has struggled in spring training (and you know how I feel about spring training results), does this mean the Tigers may be interested in Carlos Marmol? Bruce Levine nearly immediately linked Marmol to the Tigers, but pretty much everyone else said it would be unlikely for the Cubs’ closer to be moving to a new team before Opening Day. Other rumors have said the Tigers might be looking to bring Jose Valverde back on a one year deal. Despite the fact that Valverde is not a good pitcher anymore, if I were the Tigers I would be looking for any option that could be had on the cheap before trading prospects for a closer.

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Discussion: More Tradeable – Alfonso Soriano or Carlos Marmol?

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Recently we’ve seen rumors pop up that the Tigers have interest in dealing for Carlos Marmol with their closer, Bruce Rondon struggling in spring training. Then there was the deal early in the off-season that had Marmol basically on a plane to LA in return for Dan Haren. There is no question there is interest in Marmol, however tepid it may be.

Then there is Alfonso Soriano, who just a year or so ago looked to be the albatross around the Cubs neck that would be playing baseball in Chicago till the end of time. Now, with a resurgent year at the plate, in the field, and in his body, teams suddenly have begun kicking the tires on the aging veteran in hopes that 2012 was not a mirage. The Yankees, in particular, have been linked to Soriano most recently with the injury to Curtis Granderson this spring training.

That leads us to our discussion question topic for today. Who is more tradable: Soriano or Marmol?

With that question comes a followup concept of not only who is easier to move, but who can you get more for in return. Personally, I think the answers to the two questions are different.

I’m in the camp that Marmol is easier to deal because of his age and the strange fascination with a Save stat that is completely useless. People will throw tons and tons of money at proven “closers” just to pitch in the 9th inning and just in certain situations. People don’t spend money like that on aging left fielders playing on a spare tire.

On the flip side, Soriano seems to have more value right now because of the fact that he looked good all year last year and Marmol did not. That coupled with the fact that Team Thed is willing to eat a huge amount of the two years of salary left on Soriano’s contract seems to make the package coming back in return for him greater than the one we can get for Marmol.

Let’s discuss these two guys in a comparative way today with these questions in mind:

Who is more likely to be tradable?
Who is easier to trade?

Who brings more value back?

Will either or both of these guys be moved before opening day?

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Cubs Sign 21 Players

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Just a couple notes to report from  Spring Training today:

I joined Marty Tirrell on his radio show Monday afternoon and talked about Cubs. You can listen to my appearance here.

The Cubs came to terms with a host of non-arbitration eligible players and the signings were announced by the Cubs PR Staff

Right-handed pitchers Michael Bowden, Alberto Cabrera, Rafael Dolis, Trey McNutt, Hector Rondon, Arodys Vizcaino and Robert Whitenack.

Left-handed pitchers Brooks Raley, Chris Rusin and Travis Wood.

Catchers Welington Castillo and Steve Clevenger.

Infielders Darwin Barney, Junior Lake, Anthony Rizzo, Christian Villanueva, Josh Vitters and Logan Watkins.

Outfielders Brett Jackson, Dave Sappelt and Matt Szczur.

Keith Law had an article on ESPN.com in which he discussed Jackson’s new swing adjustments. It’s subscription only, but here was a quote that stood out. “I saw a little bit of Jackson’s swing Sunday afternoon, and while it is different, I’m not sure how it’s going to be better, especially for making contact.” (Source)

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Morning News: Samardzija To Start April 1

Monday, March 4th, 2013

Matt Prior Garza On The DL
I’ll be honest, I hate the news today. The Cubs put Garza on the DL. Garza says, “it’s not a setback.” Really? How is that possible, because I would say that missing the season’s first month when you’re a free agent at season’s end is kind of a big setback. And that’s what I like about this least; even if you accept the optimistic ‘he’s not really that hurt’ storyline that the Cubs and Garza are pimping, it means he’ll make maybe 10-15 starts before the trade deadline rolls around. So no matter what the Cubs choose, it will be based on very little current information.

Jeff Samardzija Starts
It also means your Opening Day starter (unsurprisingly) is Jeff Samardzija. If you told any Cubs fan 12 months ago that Jeff Samardzija would be your 2013 Opening Day starter, no one other than Jeff’s mother would expect that to be a good sign. Thankfully, it’s not as crazy a proposition as it would’ve been 12 months ago-but still. Also, it’s just the Pirates and probably AJ Burnett…so the game isn’t lost…yet.

For Doc
The Blackhawks still haven’t lost.

NY HS Basketball Game Miracle Finish
Can’t really describe this video in its fullness.

Dennis Rodman Fancies Himself A Modern-Day Dalai Lama
Predictable friends. A crazy person and Kim Jong-Un.

If This News Is Correct…
Conan O’Brien and David Letterman should retire on the same day as Jay Leno so as to guarantee great ratings for Jimmy Fallon (and/or Jimmy Kimmel) and preempt another Leno coup attempt at NBC in 18 months.

New Pope Soon, New Royal Sooner?
Conclave of pederast protectors in Rome, the British monarch is sick in the hospital.

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Go: Make Me Laugh

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

Name your top three favorite sitcoms, past or present.

Do you have a question you’d like us to feature in the Go! column? Send it to lizzie@viewfromthebleachers.com and she’ll see what she can do!

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