3/18 Two weeks to go

The Cubs have a night game Tuesday in Surprise against the Rangers. There are 13 games remaining in Spring Training. Is it crunch time?

“I think some people are slow Spring Training guys, and a lot of us are like, ‘OK, let’s get going,’ so they’re hitting their stride when the season starts,” Donnie Murphy said. “I wouldn’t say it’s ‘crunch time.’ It’s more getting more hits, having more solid at-bats the closer you get to the season more than anything.”

What do the Cubs still have to do? Here’s a list:

1. Complete the rotation

Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood, Edwin Jackson and Jason Hammel are set. James McDonald threw two pitches on Monday, and was pulled because of shoulder stiffness. That leaves Chris Rusin, who has looked really good, and Tsuyoshi Wada as options for the fifth spot. Carlos Villanueva also could step in if needed, although Rick Renteria says they like the right-hander more as a swing man. Villanueva will start Wednesday.

2. Finalize the bullpen spots

Jose Veras is set at closer. Who sets him up? James Russell should be fine after being slowed with a tired arm. The Cubs have to decide what to do with Jonathan Sanchez, Neil Ramirez, Justin Grimm and Blake Parker. Alberto Cabrera has given up one run on three hits in five innings over five games, and he’s out of options. The surprise this spring has been Arodys Vizcaino, who has served up two hits and one walk over three innings in three games. He’s throwing 98 mph.

3. Third base

Do the Cubs go with a combo of Luis Valbuena and Donnie Murphy, or do they give the job to Mike Olt? Olt has been unable to play third because of a tender right shoulder, but will get time there this week. He’s batting .241 with 11 strikeouts, but also shares the team lead with three home runs.

4. Figure out the bench

Junior Lake has struggled this spring. Is he ready for full work? Or is Ryan Kalish a better option for the outfield, even though he’s another left-handed bat. Chris Valaika can play anywhere but is batting .207 this spring. They like Emilio Bonifacio as a leadoff option.

5. Enjoy the kid

Javier Baez started at second base on Monday, and the Cubs want him to play third base as well before Cactus League games finish. The front office has repeated over and over that Baez will open as Iowa’s shortstop. These last two weeks will give Renteria and others one last look at their top prospect.

— Carrie Muskat


Most people will say, there are too many question marks on this team? I feel like there are not any, because it dont matter really. Reason being is they will once again, not compete. In my mind, this is the transition year.
With so many prospects going to AAA this year, it will tell Management and fans if these prospects will be ready to take that next step.
This year will also be putting more prospects in the system, with the Draft & trades. Dont forget, the Cubs Draft 4th this year. Will Samadizja, Hammel, Vera, Russell, Barney be traded for prospects?
If Olt is still having arm issues at the end of Spring, put him at AAA 1B until he is ready, play Murphy & Valbuena at 3B.
This year is about position players getting better, get that OBP up, feel and enjoy the success of a two out hit, scoring a run. Learn the joy of a Bunt hit. Know how to advance a runner.
This will bring them together as a unit and win games.
Need to get a feel for the Bullpen this year, thats on Renteria and I am sure he will get r dun.
It will be a good year, win or lose, it will be interesting.

Also, to give Management and Olt something to think about; The Astros are looking for a 1st baseman. Would they be more interested in Ike Davis and paying huge dollars for??
Or trading for a prospect like Olt? Either way, they are not going to know what they are getting?
So if Olt dont get over his tired arm or? It would give him a great chance and maybe the Cubs get another prospect or two at the same time.
Anything at this stage is possible.

Time running out?…..oh no !…..that can’t be……we have plenty of time left…..

People at Cubs Den says BJax deserve a 25 man roster spot as 5th OF……that had to be a joke or someone is still celebrating St Patricks Day………….

Vizcaino needs to throw innings in Iowa……he will be a May call up……

When trading time comes around, Villanueva will be our 5th guy so we can show him off to the scouts………..

Prospects for Barney?……that made me giggle………..

I sure did miss the Bunting Contest this year…….so does the Cubs video guy……

Mark June 30th on your calendar……the day Baez makes it to the big leagues…..against Boston Red Sox in Boston.

Cabrera makes the team….and Parker does not……….

if Olt is hurting, put him on the DL and let him get some bats in iowa before recalling him…..

We have Barney…no need for Valaika at this time……

Don’t be surprise if a trade(s) is made before Opening Day ….not Shark……but others could go !

if Rusin shows another good game or two, give him the #5 spot……if he crash and burns…….then make it Villanueva until Arietta returns.

CubsTalk, joey, whoever you are, then again, who cares. Barney in a trade combo might bring a prospect. Barney might be the Cubs 2nd baseman, it really dont matter the 1st couple of months.
Sending Olt to AAA until he can throw, why not? Can he throw before opening day? We will see.
Vizcaino to Iowa? I certainly would not entertain the idea of him pitching in IA or Chicago until the end of May. Somewhere warm, until it warms up in the North. The guy has great stuff, I hope they give him one more year before pitching him in the early Spring up North.
Why do you miss the bunting contest?
Why would anyone be suprised if a trade was made before Opening Day? Samardizja or anyone else?
Rusin in the 5 slot until Arrietta returns, why not? Makes sense if he has a couple more good outings.
On Jackson and Vitters, my opinion, they should both go back to AAA.

Not going to get much for Barney straight up……in a large trade package, Barney will be a “throw in” …………
This will be Rusin’s last chance for the Cubs rotation spot…………….if Rusin fails, no big deal……Iowa is filled with a bunch of #5 starting pitchers…….
Bjax & Vitters will be career minor leaguers……their time has pass to be on this team………lets hope Soler & Almora don’t go the same way.

You must work for the front office and know all the answers? There have been several players that have finally got it and produced in later years. You can give up on Vitters & Jackson, I may give up on both of them, but in reality, they are still pretty young.
We may both may give up on Rusin, again sometimes it takes until a Pitcher is 27, 28 or 29 to get it. Rusin is almost to the 28 point. Does he have options? I honestly dont know.
On Almora only 19 y/o, even if he has a bad year ot two, he will only be 21. How long before you give up on him?
You make some rash statements, sure am happy you dont work in the front office.

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