In what can only be described as the first spring training game today, the Cubs made their debut in the Theo Epstein/ Dale Sveum era. Statistical measures do not mean much in these games, but here are some of my takeaways:
- 1. If Rodrigo Lopez throws the ball like he did today, my prediction that he would not be on the roster out of camp will turn out to be woefully wrong. He was impressive and efficient, throwing two perfect innings.
- 2. Jeff Beliveau, who is in line to compete for a spot on the roster, just couldn’t find the strike zone, allowing a hit and three walks, without recording an out. He has a steep uphill climb to make the roster.
- 3. The base running was a lot more aggressive…and it was smarter. The Cubs have been a bad base running team for a few years now, and if today was any indication, that should improve dramatically under Sveum. Again, it was the first game, but the improvements were obvious. And yes, I am aware that guys got picked off.
- 4. So far, so good for the defense. Again, with the date being March 4, there is nothing to get worked up about.
- 5. The regular hitters made good contact against A’s starter Brandon McCarthy. Even though it is early, and it is Arizona, the bats looked like they had life.
- 6. This is the most important point of the post…they competed. The youth and the talent on this team is going to need to compete every single day, from now until October 3, to be in it this season. They did that today, rallying in the 6th and staying competitive.
To be honest, it’s hard to analyze the first game of the spring. And to be fair, analyzing the first game of spring is unnecessary. Today is not a microcosm of anything upcoming for the next seven months. There are a lot of new faces and today was a chance to see (or hear, for those of us that were not fortunate enough to watch the game, myself included) them in live action against another team. If today were the last day of spring, there would be more to say. As it is, baseball is back, the Cubs have played the first of 35 spring exhibitions, and there were some ups and downs. Let’s leave it at that.
Tomorrow: A’s @ Cubs. Ryan Dempster makes his first spring start.