The Cubs have been busy so far today, mostly off the field. The club has announced that Brian Schlitter, Junior Lake, and Zac Rosscup have all been optioned to Iowa. The news was expected for the most part as all three guys have options left, there was an outside chance that Lake would make the team. What this does mean is that Matt Szczur is all but a lock for the opening night roster, as Cubs beat writers pointed out on twitter, it’s down to three guys for two spots (Szczur, Sweeney, and Herrera). I think Szczur and Jonathan Herrera have the edge right now, Szczur can play all over the outfield with a tremendous glove, and Hererra would be the only the second guy off the bench that can play the infield. This leaves Sweeney as the odd man out, the only thing that he really brings to the table is the left handed bat, but I don’t think that is enough to keep him around. The Cubs also made it clear today that they will be starting the season with three catchers, so Miguel Montero, David Ross, and Welington Castillo will all be in Chicago.
The bullpen is also starting to come together, but the question of what do with Edwin Jackson remains. Jackson will not be a member of the five man staff, and will not act in some sort of piggyback role with Travis Wood, so what to do? The Cubs have already made a huge financial commitment to Jackson so cutting him doesn’t seem to be an option, but the Cubs could admit the mistake and move on. If I had to guess, I think that Drake Britton will be waived, and the bullpen will have Jackson as a long guy which means the Cubs will carry only one left-handed arm in the pen, Phil Coke. Still a lot to figure out as we are now only four days from the start of the season, tingly feeling.
The Cubs made it official today, Javier Baez, Addison Russell, and Kris Bryant have all been sent down. Technically Baez has been assigned to Iowa, Bryant and Russell have been assigned to minor league camp. Not surprised by the moves except for Baez being sent to Iowa, I really thought he would break camp with the team given his skill set but obviously the Cubs want him to work on a few things in the batters box. The Cubs have said all along that Bryant would not break camp with them, and I’m glad they stuck to THEIR plan, and not anyone else’s. Six days until real baseball.
It’s been a productive couple days for the Cubs lineup, yesterday they scored 14 runs, and they added seven more to their spring total today. Once again the long ball played a large role in the victory as Miguel Montero, Junior Lake, and Matt Szczur all had a dinger. Edwin Jackson turned in a good outing, and the Cubs defense threw the ball around the field with a purpose, things are coming together nicely.
Miguel Montero Dinger
Cubs Gun Down Gordon
Baez With a Solid Throw
The Cubs aren’t doing so well tonight, but there has been a few bright spots. One of them is this Mike Olt blast, Olt has been impressive so far this spring as he has his sights set on an opening day roster spot.
Bright lights for the Cubs tonight as they battle the Angels on ESPN tonight, first pitch is at 6:05 PM CST. The lineup the Cubs are trotting out tonight is worthy of the National media, and I’m sure there will be endless talk about how the Cubs are handling Kris Bryant, so tune in… Eric Jokisch gets the ball for the Cubs, he will face off against veteran right-hander Jered Weaver, and a pretty regular season looking Angels lineup. The Cubs made cuts earlier today, no surprises really (Almora, and Schwarber included), the roster now stands at 40.
1. Baez – 2B
2. Russell – SS
3. Bryant – LF
4. Soler – RF
5. Rizzo – 1B
6. Olt – 3B
7. Castillo – C
8. Jokisch – SP
9. Szczur – CF
Impressions? Kris Bryant is getting his first start in LF this spring, and Joe Maddon is once again hitting the pitcher 8th, obviously something he likes to do. Also of note, Chris Denorfia is battling a hamstring issue that will most likely keep him off the opening day roster, so Matt Szczur has another great opportunity to get noticed tonight.
I’m not even mad. Taijuan Walker put on a pitching clinic last night in what had to be the fastest spring training game in the History of ever. The Cubs couldn’t do much of anything against the young right-hander, and they could only manage six hits in the 3-2 loss. Travis Wood wasn’t terrible, he just couldn’t keep up in the five innings he worked. Wood gave up three runs on five hits, while walking two, and striking out three, his spring ERA sits at 4.19 which is fine. The pen did some work last night, Pedro Strop, Phil Coke, and Hector Rondon combined to work three scoreless innings, giving up one hit while walking two, and striking out four.