View From The Bleachers

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Friday

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March 2014

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COMMENTS

Cubs Roster Taking Shape

Written by , Posted in General

Cubs GM Jed Hoyer announced yesterday that Mike Olt and Ryan Kalish have made the Cubs MLB roster (making my early roster predictions look AMAZING – and making Joe’s predictions look TERRIBLE). So, with George Kottaras and Donnie Murphy gone, the positional roster looks like this:

C – Welington Castillo / John Baker

1B – Anthony Rizzo

SS – Starlin Castro

…and here’s where it gets interesting:

2B – Darwin Barney / Emilio Bonifacio / Luis Valbuena

3B – Olt / Valbuena

OF – Junior Lake / Nate Schierholtz / Ryan Sweeney / Justin Ruggiano / Ryan Kalish / Bonifacio

The challenge for Rick Renteria is going to be shuffling around players enough to give everyone enough at-bats to stay productive, while also not shuffling so much that the younger guys don’t get consistent at-bats. As you can see, I think Bonifacio will play in both the infield and the outfield, while Valbuena will likely see time at both 2B and 3B. However, I don’t think you have Olt on the roster to sit on the bench – given his upside – so finding time for all these guys is going to be quite difficult. There is, of course, a chance that a trade or two could still happen – but opening day is just around the corner (yay!), so those moves are becoming less likely. The Barney and Schierholtz trade rumors are still hanging around…

To me, Barney has to be the odd man out. He’s pretty much a glove-only guy at this point (even with the expected positive regression at the plate) – so you don’t want him to be taking at-bats away from guys who hit better (and have more developmental upside). Of course, he’s also not a good pinch-hit option coming off the bench. I just have a hard time finding a reason to have him on this team at this point (aside from the intangibles like “leadership”). Every time he’s in the lineup, I can see myself wishing that someone else was playing instead.

The only roster questions that remain involve the 5th starter (Carlos Villanueva or Chris Rusin) and the last bullpen spot (Rusin / Alberto Cabrera / Justin Grimm). My money is on Villanueva to grab the 5th starter spot (until Jake Arrieta comes back) and for Cabrera to take the bullpen gig (out of options). I’d rather have Rusin remain a starter in AAA anyway – I’m sure we’ll need him at some point later in the season for a spot start or two.

How Renteria handles these playing-time issues will be a huge test for the first-year manager. If he pulls this off, we may have found ourselves a keeper.

I’ll be in Chicago next weekend for opening day at Wrigley Field. I’ll be in the bleachers on Friday and Saturday. If you’re around, and you happen to see me, feel free to say “hi.” Since I’ve been living in Georgia the last 6 years, I’ve become quite the wimp, so I’ll probably be so bundled-up you won’t recognize me anyway.

In the meantime, please head over to iTunes to subscribe to, rate, and review the VFTB podcast.

  • PLCB3

    I’ll be in the bleachers on Friday and Saturday too! I like to sit in section 304, but I haven’t been to wrigley since 2011, so I don’t know if that’s still the party zone in the bleachers. I’ll probably be bundled up too. It’s been much warmer here in Boston than Chicago this past winter.

  • AC0000000

    I’ll be in the bleachers on Friday and Saturday too! I like to sit in section 304, but I haven’t been to wrigley since 2011, so I don’t know if that’s still the party zone in the bleachers. I’ll probably be bundled up too. It’s been much warmer here in Boston than Chicago this past winter.

  • Doug S.

    ESPN’s schedule has Rusin down as the game 5 starter next Sat. against Philly.

    Of the teams that have gone from worst to first in their divisions in a year, I wonder if they were all completely unexpected and took the fans by surprise. A guy can dream, right?

    • Sean Powell

      I still think Carlos get that spot. Nothing has been announced. ESPN is just using a placeholder.

      If the Cubs go from worst to first this year, it will probably be the biggest surprise in baseball history.

    • Doc Raker

      How can anyone ever expect a worst to first turn around? The 84 and 89 Cubs might not have been worst to first but pretty darn lousy to first is my memory.

      • Doug S.

        I doubt that anybody’s expecting it. I certainly am not. Doesn’t mean that it cannot happen. (the dream bit)

      • Doc Raker

        Yes it can and these Cubs will do it! I love Spring Training, we are always in contention in March. It’s the most wonderful time of the year…………..bats will be cracking and gloves will be smacking and don’t you know……………The Cubs will do it this Year…… It’s the most wonderful time of the year……….

  • Doug S.

    ESPN’s schedule has Rusin down as the game 5 starter next Sat. against Philly.

    Of the teams that have gone from worst to first in their divisions in a year, I wonder if they were all completely unexpected and took the fans by surprise. A guy can dream, right?

    • Sean Powell

      I still think Carlos gets that spot. Nothing has been announced. ESPN is just using a placeholder.

      If the Cubs go from worst to first this year, it will probably be the biggest surprise in baseball history.

    • Doc Raker

      How can anyone ever expect a worst to first turn around? The 84 and 89 Cubs might not have been worst to first but pretty darn lousy to first is my memory.

      • Doug S.

        I doubt that anybody’s expecting it. I certainly am not. Doesn’t mean that it cannot happen. (the dream bit)

      • Doc Raker

        Yes it can and these Cubs will do it! I love Spring Training, we are always in contention in March. It’s the most wonderful time of the year…………..bats will be cracking and gloves will be smacking and don’t you know……………The Cubs will do it this Year…… It’s the most wonderful time of the year……….

  • PLCB3

    Anyone see the contract Cabrera got? 10 years 292M, with 2 options that could make it worth 352M. I’m calling it now, as long as Cabrera stays healthy, which he has to this point, he will break the all-time HR record. Look at his numbers vs. Hank Aaron’s and tell me otherwise.

    • Don’t forget about vagaries.

      • PLCB3

        What vagaries are we talking about? It’s useless without context

      • Exactly.

      • PLCB3

        Compare their season by season numbers for their first 10 years. Walks, hits, strikeouts, home runs, triple slash, they’re both very similar.

    • Doc Raker

      How old is he? He has been in the league 11 years already, that’s a lot of dough for someone in years 12-22 of their career.

      • PLCB3

        He came up when he was 20. He’ll be 31 next month. His current contract was 8/150M, this deal is 8/250M in new money. So 400M over 16 seasons. Plus another 60 if the options vest.

  • AC0000000

    Anyone see the contract Cabrera got? 10 years 292M, with 2 options that could make it worth 352M. I’m calling it now, as long as Cabrera stays healthy, which he has to this point, he will break the all-time HR record. Look at his numbers vs. Hank Aaron’s and tell me otherwise.

    • Don’t forget about vagaries.

      • AC0000000

        What vagaries are we talking about? It’s useless without context

      • Exactly.

      • AC0000000

        Compare their season by season numbers for their first 10 years. Walks, hits, strikeouts, home runs, triple slash, they’re both very similar.

    • Doc Raker

      How old is he? He has been in the league 11 years already, that’s a lot of dough for someone in years 12-22 of their career.

      • AC0000000

        He came up when he was 20. He’ll be 31 next month. His current contract was 8/150M, this deal is 8/250M in new money. So 400M over 16 seasons. Plus another 60 if the options vest.

  • Doc Raker

    I agree with you on Barney- I am expecting Barney to get dealt in the near future. I like section 305 in the bleachers, it just seems to have a more knowledgable crowd than its neighboring 304 section.

    • PLCB3

      Plenty of intelligent people in section 304.

      • Doc Raker

        I sat in 304 once. To many people babbling on and on about the luck of the BABIP and when I explained there is a difference between a line drive and a hanging flyable they looked at me like I was a Martian, turned away and continued chatting about the vagaries of the luck of hitting. Plus, they all had marinara and ranch dressing stains on their Cubs jerseys. Section 305 pays more attention to the players playing the game and they eat over at Al’s Beef.

      • PLCB3

        What if I had said my favorite section was 305? Have you ever sat in section 303?

      • Doc Raker

        Section 303- historic- it’s where the Shawon-O-Meter was. That was a special section during a special season. Section 304 is no 303 I can tell you that.

      • Doug S.

        What’s the book on sections 33 and 120?

      • PLCB3

        I never sit there.

      • Well section 33 must be a good one because it’s a number made up of a duplicate instance of a prime number 3. And, get this, if you divide 33 by 3 you get 11, yet another prime number made up of a duplicate instance of the number 1. I believe this means it’s the best section in the ballpark. I’m sure 120 is the second best, by virtue of the 2.

      • Doug S.

        Makes perfect sense. Now could you please explain UBR and FIP for me?
        Thanks.

      • Are they prime numbers? 😉

      • PLCB3

        This is something I would expect from Jswan.

      • Lizzie was nerding out on primes when I was learning my times tables…

      • Eddie Von White

        Give yourself a Lizzie!

      • Doc Raker

        Plus 33 is really close to the field. CAPS was able to wipe his ranch dressing off his hands with Candy Maldonado’s jersey once- special times in section 33.

  • Doc Raker

    I agree with you on Barney- I am expecting Barney to get dealt in the near future. I like section 305 in the bleachers, it just seems to have a more knowledgable crowd than its neighboring 304 section.

    • AC0000000

      Plenty of intelligent people in section 304.

      • Doc Raker

        I sat in 304 once. To many people babbling on and on about the luck of the BABIP and when I explained there is a difference between a line drive and a hanging flyable they looked at me like I was a Martian, turned away and continued chatting about the vagaries of the luck of hitting. Plus, they all had marinara and ranch dressing stains on their Cubs jerseys. Section 305 pays more attention to the players playing the game and they eat over at Al’s Beef.

      • AC0000000

        What if I had said my favorite section was 305? Have you ever sat in section 303?

      • Doc Raker

        Section 303- historic- it’s where the Shawon-O-Meter was. That was a special section during a special season. Section 304 is no 303 I can tell you that.

      • Doug S.

        What’s the book on sections 33 and 120?

      • AC0000000

        I haven’t been to a Cubs game that wasn’t in the bleachers since 2008.

      • Well section 33 must be a good one because it’s a number made up of a duplicate instance of a prime number 3. And, get this, if you divide 33 by 3 you get 11, yet another prime number made up of a duplicate instance of the number 1. I believe this means it’s the best section in the ballpark. I’m sure 120 is the second best, by virtue of the 2.

      • Doug S.

        Makes perfect sense. Now could you please explain UBR and FIP for me?
        Thanks.

      • Are they prime numbers? 😉

      • AC0000000

        This is something I would expect from Jswan.

      • Lizzie was nerding out on primes when I was learning my times tables…

      • Eddie Von White

        Give yourself a Lizzie!

      • Doc Raker

        Plus 33 is really close to the field. CAPS was able to wipe his ranch dressing off his hands with Candy Maldonado’s jersey once- special times in section 33.

  • Tomas Checkosky

    I’ll be making pizzas Friday and Saturday, feel free to drop in at Pepicelli’s (www.pepicellis.com) and say hi! I’ll be the guy with the Cubs hat on and MLB Gameday in his ear…

    • PLCB3

      I won’t be anywhere near Ashland, Virginia. Otherwise I would.

  • Tomas Checkosky

    I’ll be making pizzas Friday and Saturday, feel free to drop in at Pepicelli’s (www.pepicellis.com) and say hi! I’ll be the guy with the Cubs hat on and MLB Gameday in his ear…

    • AC0000000

      I won’t be anywhere near Ashland, Virginia. Otherwise I would.

  • mixtoquente

    Why is everyone so quick to dismiss Barney as an all-glove, no-hit guy? Yes, he had a terrible 2013. Castro and Rizzo also had down years, but everyone predicts them to rebound. Why not Barney. Stats from this spring, which admittedly is a small sample, tell an interesting story. Guess who has the most walks on the Cubs? Barney. Guess who has the 2nd best OBP? Barney again. Guess who is the only Cub who strikes out less than 10% of his plate appearances? That’s right. Barney. Of the players that will be on the opening day roster, during spring training Barney has the 4th best batting average.
    I get that Barney is coming off a horrible year, but why can’t he rebound? Especially given how he’s performed in the spring? Other players consistently get the benefit of the doubt. Why not him? I have a hard time understanding the widespread villification of Barney.

    • Sean Powell

      Even if Barney rebounds to his career averages, he’s still way below average offensively, and he offers none of the upside potential of some of the younger guys – or the power potential of Valbuena or the stolen base potential of Bonifacio. As for spring training – you hit the nail on the head when you said “small sample.” ST stats have almost no correlation with regular season production, unless someone is just absolutely killing it, and then it only explains a very small amount of the variance.

    • Doc Raker

      Barney would have to hit from second base to have a chance at a 20 homer season. Guys like Barney who have no power have to have a high OBP plus steal bases or else they aren’t valued very high. Castro and Rizzo can hit the ball out of the yard from home plate. I question if Rizzo will ever be a consistent hitter but he can at least run into one every now and then and knock it out of the yard. I expect Castro to hit better once the Cubs have a batter line up surrounding him, hopefully that will help Rizzo also. If pitchers only have to worry about 1 or 2 guys in a line up it makes it a lot easier to get them out. Barney just isn’t that kind of hitter pitchers fear therefore it ‘es OK’ if the Cubs trade him.

  • mixtoquente

    Why is everyone so quick to dismiss Barney as an all-glove, no-hit guy? Yes, he had a terrible 2013. Castro and Rizzo also had down years, but everyone predicts them to rebound. Why not Barney. Stats from this spring, which admittedly is a small sample, tell an interesting story. Guess who has the most walks on the Cubs? Barney. Guess who has the 2nd best OBP? Barney again. Guess who is the only Cub who strikes out less than 10% of his plate appearances? That’s right. Barney. Of the players that will be on the opening day roster, during spring training Barney has the 4th best batting average.
    I get that Barney is coming off a horrible year, but why can’t he rebound? Especially given how he’s performed in the spring? Other players consistently get the benefit of the doubt. Why not him? I have a hard time understanding the widespread villification of Barney.

    • Sean Powell

      Even if Barney rebounds to his career averages, he’s still way below average offensively, and he offers none of the upside potential of some of the younger guys – or the power potential of Valbuena or the stolen base potential of Bonifacio. As for spring training – you hit the nail on the head when you said “small sample.” ST stats have almost no correlation with regular season production, unless someone is just absolutely killing it, and then it only explains a very small amount of the variance.

    • Doc Raker

      Barney would have to hit from second base to have a chance at a 20 homer season. Guys like Barney who have no power have to have a high OBP plus steal bases or else they aren’t valued very high. Castro and Rizzo can hit the ball out of the yard from home plate. I question if Rizzo will ever be a consistent hitter but he can at least run into one every now and then and knock it out of the yard. I expect Castro to hit better once the Cubs have a batter line up surrounding him, hopefully that will help Rizzo also. If pitchers only have to worry about 1 or 2 guys in a line up it makes it a lot easier to get them out. Barney just isn’t that kind of hitter pitchers fear therefore it ‘es OK’ if the Cubs trade him.

  • Sean Powell

    As predicted, Villanueva wins 5th starter job, Rusin to AAA. This is the right move. Villanueva holds down the fort until Arrieta is back, then slides back to the pen. Rusin stays stretched-out for when he’ll be needed later in the year due to trades or injury.

  • Sean Powell

    As predicted, Villanueva wins 5th starter job, Rusin to AAA. This is the right move. Villanueva holds down the fort until Arrieta is back, then slides back to the pen. Rusin stays stretched-out for when he’ll be needed later in the year due to trades or injury.