First and foremost, again, there has been some growing popularity with the number of page views. That’s awesome. Thank you to everyone who takes some time to check out some of the nonsense that I spew out here. It’s always great to know that people are actually looking at this!
Now, on to business. It appears that Starlin Castro and the team have worked out an extension for 7 years/ $60M dollars, which includes a $1M buyout for the 2020 season, if a $16M option is not exercised. Starlin is one of the key pieces of the rebuilding project and there is no doubt at all that the team wants him around now. I see this as a great move by the team, to lock up Castro before he goes to arbitration and avoid it altogether. With the leaps and bounds Starlin has made over the course of the last 2+ seasons in the majors, this deal could turn out to be an absolute bargain.
With the Castro deal getting done, the whispers of a Jeff Samardzija extension have begun. I think it is premature to extend him at this point. Jeff was very good in the second half of last season in a setup role, and he has been up and down as a starter this season. He appears to have figured it out a little bit more as the season has worn on, putting together some very good starts, but extending him right now carries a ton of risk. Personally, I would wait, and if at this time next season, Samardzija is putting up good outing after good outing, then I would go ahead and talk long term extension. Anything before that, in my mind, is premature. Whether Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer see it the same way remains to be seen. The starting pitcher I would be focusing on this off-season would be Matt Garza. There is no indication that his elbow has undergone significant damage, and it would be nice to have a starter with Garza’s stuff anchoring the staff for years (4-5) to come.
The Cubs have claimed LHP Alex Hinshaw off waivers from the Padres. To make room on the 40 man roster, Arodys Vizcaino was moved to the 60 day DL. The team has not announced a move to make room on the 25 man roster, but that will be done before tonight’s game at Milwaukee. I would anticipate that it is Jeff Beliveau, because he is a left handed reliever with options remaining. He would seem to be the most likely candidate at this point. Brooks Raley, who notched his first ML win on Saturday evening was sent back to Iowa, but he was the 26th man on the roster for the doubleheader, so he was not the corresponding move to make room on the roster. Hinshaw is 29 years old and has spent time with the Padres and Giants. This season, he is 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in 31 outings, making his first MLB appearance since 2009 on May 9.
The Cubs have finished signing every player on their 40 man roster with 0-3 years of service time, according to ESPN.com’s Doug Padilla. The list of players is as follows:
Right-handed pitchers: Alberto Cabrera, Lendy Castillo, Casey Coleman, Rafael Dolis, Marcos Mateo, Samardzija and Casey Weathers.
Left-handed pitchers: Jeff Beliveau, John Gaub, Scott Maine, Russell and T. Wood.
Catchers: Welington Castillo and Steve Clevenger.
Infielders: Barney, Adrian Cardenas, Castro, Bryan LaHair, Junior Lake, Anthony Rizzo and Josh Vitters.
Outfielders: Tony Campana, Dave Sappelt and Matt Szczur.
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.