Yesterday was an interesting day at Wrigley Field. There was a celebration and a devastating loss, but let’s start out with a topic other than that.
As I watch this team more and more, I become more convinced that perhaps the platoon at third base is not the way to go, but for reasons different than the way I felt at the beginning of the season. Coming into the season, I was a big Mike Olt for third base backer. I felt like going to Luis Valbuena or Donnie Murphy as the starter would be taking the safe option with a low ceiling. We know what those guys brought to the table and what they were capable of doing. Olt, on the other hand, has a much higher ceiling, but is more of a crap shoot. I could see the argument from people who were Olt bashers. After all, what had he proved? However, now that we’re almost a month in, my feeling on the position has changed. I would like to propose using Olt almost full time at third base with Valbuena moving to second base and Emilio Bonifacio moving to CF, and I have reasons why.
The Outfield is Quite Underwhelming – Normally, I would not advocate moving someone like Bonifacio to the OF, when he’s a natural infielder, but are we really losing any value defensively. What little we may lose, we’re gaining offensively. Looking at the current crop of outfielders on the team, you have Junior Lake, who could play CF but would really be better served playing LF. You have Nate Schierholtz who has played RF and then you have Ryan Kalish who slots in as a corner guy. Essentially, by moving Bonifacio to CF, you take the bat out of Ryan Sweeney or Justin Ruggiano‘s hands, and I’m OK with that. Ruggiano is 32 years old and we know what he is. Sweeney is nearing 30, hitting like garbage in 2014, and really not hitting all that well in a platoon role in his career. What are you really losing in the OF? I say nothing. Run out their with an OF of Lake, Bonifacio and Schierholtz for now and see what happens.
Mike Olt Needs To Be Given A Shot to Fail (or succeed) – I say it pessimistically because that’s the way a lot of Cub fans view prospects. They look at them as guys who are just that until they prove otherwise. I believe in Olt. I believe in his power and I believe in his defense. I think he can be a key piece to this puzzle going forward, but he has to get the chance to see every day at bats so he has the chance to get in the groove. Young guys don’t tend to be successful when they’re constantly worried about losing their job. Give him the job and let him play himself into it permanently or play himself out of it. Either way, you have to know what you have before Kris Bryant pushes himself up to the Majors.
Valbuena adds OBP – If we’re set on moving Bonifacio to CF, it opens the 2B spot. Common sense would say to put Darwin Barney back in that spot because of his defense, but I’d argue that what you lose defensively with Valbuena at second, you make up for with plate discipline and offensive production. Valbuena has more power, which is something this lineup sorely needs, and he’s show the ability to get on base via the walk much more consistently than Barney. Offense has been the biggest weakness of this team. At this point, Valbuena brings more to the table offensively, so he should get the nod.
MVP – Aaron Hill (.504 WPA)
Look at the shift in the win probability on that graph. These are the type of graphs you hate to look at, but they really show you how it went down. The Cubs basically lulled the Diamondbacks to sleep until the 9th when the wheels fell off. In fact, I missed the 9th inning live because I was at work, figured the game was over when it was 5-2 going into the 9th so I turned the game off on my iPad. It wasn’t until I got home that evening and checked Twitter and found this tweet that I found out what happened.
@vftb how are you feeling about that Strop-as-closer wish?
— Sean Powell (@powell_sean) April 23, 2014
On the surface you’d look at the loss and be pissed, but remember, this is a team that is a work in progress. Stuff like this is going to happen. Is it acceptable? Heck no, but is it expected? Of course, it’s a young team. When it comes down to it, this series could end with a win if we close it out tomorrow. Move on and focus there.
- Really liked the throwback uniforms worn today. I love very plain uniforms that they used to wear when baseball was in it’s infancy. I love the baggy pants and high socks and I loved the plain hats and dark blue colors. Wonderful.
- Jeff Samardzija continues to make himself more and more valuable with each and every start. Most figure that the Cubs have all but cut ties with him, but if the success continues, at what point do they rethink that and invest the money in him? It’s a tough call. I would have said that he wasn’t worth # 1 starter money prior to this season, but he’s been really really good so far. If he keeps it up, I think you have to consider it.
- Please don’t comment bomb with all the comments that Pedro Strop is garbage. Just know that I’m sticking to my assertion that this bullpen, when all is said and done, will be top 5 in bullpen ERA in the NL. Mark it down and watch it happen.
- Anyone at the game today? How were the cupcakes they were given out? Were they Jewel brand or did they spring for some higher quality cakes?
Bolsinger made his first Major League start Saturday against the Dodgers. He cruised through the first three innings but allowed a three-run homer in the fourth and was chased from the game in the fifth.