10/24 Extra bases

* Cubs prospect Christian Villanueva was 2-for-4 with a double, a home run and one RBIs in Yaquis de Obregon’s 8-3 loss to Los Mochis in Mexican Winter League play on Wednesday. It was Villanueva’s second homer of the winter league season.

Second baseman Arismendy Alcantara was 2-for-5 with a double and scored a run in Licey’s 7-4 win over Estrellas in Dominican Winter League play. Alcantara batted .271 this season for Double-A Tennessee.

* Rays bench coach Dave Martinez, who has interviewed for the Cubs’ job, also is a candidate for the Nationals’ managerial vacancy, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

* According to a survey of 26 music insiders by Rolling Stone magazine, Wrigley Field ranked second among rock stadiums and arenas in the U.S. Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Paul McCartney, Billy Joel, Elton John, The Police, Jimmy Buffett, Rascal Flatts and Kelly Clarkson have all performed at the ballpark. Madison Square Garden in New York ranked No. 1, and Fenway Park was No. 3. The list is part of a “Venues that Rock” series.

* Got a question about the Cubs? The Cubs mailbag is back. Send your questions to CubsInbox@gmail.com, and please include your full name and hometown. Don’t bother sending your resume if inquiring about the vacant manager’s job. I’ll leave that to Theo Epstein & Co.

— Carrie Muskat


It should be interesting to see what the Cubs do at second and third base for 2014. The easiest thing to do would be to bring back Valbuena and Barney and hope Valbuena improves on defense and Barney bounces back at the plate. However, if Mike Olt has fully recovered from his concussion symptoms, Valbuena could move to the bench and Olt could get his shot. Villanueva should get a good look this spring as well, but I would think he would most likely wind up in Iowa to start the season. Of course, Kris Bryant might be closer than people think and I could see him potentially being in the mix as a September call-up. As for second, I have a feeling Logan Watkins will get a shot at the starting spot and Alcantara should get a look this spring as well. With a Barney/Watkins platoon to start the year, Alcantara might get his chance around mid-season. And of course there’s Javier Baez, whose arrival in May or June will shift the infield depth charts as well. All of those possibilities, and that’s not even considering moves in free agency or trades. If they do make a signing, maybe Omar Infante or Kelly Johnson at second and Juan Uribe or Michael Young at third. Those players would fit in well as veterans who are around in case the Cubs take a step forward this season, but can be traded to a contender for prospects if not. I know the World Series isn’t over yet, but it’s still exciting to think the Cubs actually have some interesting options at second and third. It’s better than a few years ago when it was re-sign Jeff Baker and wonder if this was finally the year that Josh Vitters made some progress.

I agree with alot of what you say Doug. So I guess you are thinking Lake stays in the OF? The Cubs are starting to get rich at 2B, SS, not to mention 3B with Villanueva, Olt and Bryant.
SS & 2B, Castro, Watkins, Alcantrera, Baez and then you can throw in Lake, if they choose to have him play 2B this spring.
I leave out Barney, because with the talent coming up, I dont see no room for him. I think fans could see a platoon at 2B in 2014, maybe Lake and Watkins with Lake playing the OF when Watkins is in the line up.
Maybe a platoon of Barney & Watkins if they choose to keep Barney.
My guess is Baez and Villanueva will be starting at AAA in 2014 and Baez will be knocking on the ML door in AUG. If Olt comes through with a decent season with the Cubs, no reason to rush Villanueva, give him a full year at AAA.
So I guess that leaves Bryant, Soler, Almora and Alcantrera, I think they all start at AA.
Of course, depends on them & their talent how fast they move up to AAA.
Two years ago, the Cubs were desperate at 3B. If Bryant continues his progress to AAA, where does that put Villanueva? If Villanueva gets promoted to the Cubs, where does that put Olt?
Of course, that means that Rizzo should feel some pressure to perform at 1st. Olt Villanueva or Bryant could easily play 1st.
Same with Castro, he might feel some need to start concentrating with Baez knocking on the door.

I’m assuming that Lake stays in the outfield, as they’ve got a lot going on in the infield and LF or CF are open at the moment. They’ll probably sign a player who can play LF and/or CF and give Lake the other position. As for the IF, they don’t have a prospect who is ready to take over second right away, so they either bring Barney back or sign someone to a short-term deal. Either way, you want to be able to keep the position open for either Baez or Alcantara for later in the season at the earliest. Barney is easy enough to move to the bench mid-season and anyone they sign can be traded for a prospect or two at the deadline. Watkins might get a few at bats to see if he’s anything, but unless he looks like the next Chuck Knoblauch, he’ll probably be pushed aside for the more-regarded prospects when they arrive. At third, I think Mike Olt gets the nod if he’s healthy and not bad in spring training. Valbuena is the back-up option and can be moved to the bench or maybe second if Olt does make the team out of spring training. I agree that Villanueva does spend most or all of the season at AAA, but with Olt ahead of him and Byrant behind, I wonder what his long-term prospects as a Cub are? Of course, this is exactly what we were promised when Theo took over two years ago. A stronger farm system that can potentially replenish the Major League roster to some extent every season. Good teams have multiple prospects at each position and they pick the ones they want to move forward with, while the rest either find a new position or are trade bait to help fill in the holes at positions that are weaker throughout the organization. And it keeps the players at the Major League level in check too. As you said, if Rizzo or Castro have a repeat of 2013 next season, they might be on the way out sooner rather than later. And even guys like Barney and Valbuena don’t want to lose their roster spots and will either rise to the occasion or fizzle out. 2014 might be another long season, but I think we can finally start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Just FYI, Lake has said he’s “retired” as an infielder. Valbuena could move to 2B. Olt could surprise you at 3B

That is what is so great about a talented minor League system. Lake may say he is retired as a INF and probably so, but management will be looking at all options, I am sure.
As Doug stated about Watkins, I agree. Another scenerio could be; If Olt does surprise and starts at 3B, does well. Where does that put Villanueva if he is ready in AUG or SEP?
If I am not mistaken, Sandberg came up as a 3rd baseman? Could Villanueva be an option at 2B? With Baez at SS.
I am not trying to replace Castro or Rizzo, I have huge hopes for all. However, it is nice to see that management will have many options the next couple years and very hard decisions.
I cant wait for the next Draft, it is fun & exciting to watch it all unfold. lol
Well, have to catch a plane. Hope I can get to Phoenix in time. Going to my first WS game Sunday night in St Louis with my son, grandson and brother. They all ilve in MO and are Bird Brains,🙂.
Hope to have some more outstanding baseball conversation with you soon Doug.

From our conversations, I can tell you know what you’re talking about and I enjoy having an intelligent discussion just as much as I do lecturing the willfully ignorant! Enjoy, and hopefully one year soon you’ll get to attend your first Cubs WS game. WIthin the next five years, I think it’s a distinct possibility!

Yes c.villanuava can play 2b…. but I doubt he is ready for the bits next year unless its late… I expect olt to be pushed hard to make the team out of spring training … if he can’t see then there really is no reason to keep him taking up a slot for one of the others to play. I am excited to see something from vizcaino … anything … Baez should be up by all star break as long as there is no hold up at AAA or injuries…. Bryant may be able to make the jump in September and I think he gets some time then and starts the next year on the borderline of AAA and mlb … soler has a lot of work to do

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