Welcome to the Thursday Cubs webchat. Let's begin.
Brett Jackson has looked great so far in Spring Training. What are the chances the Cubs look to move either Byrd or Soriano to make a spot for him to play every day?
B. Jackson has looked outstanding indeed. Gonna be tough to move Soriano or Byrd, though unless the Cubs want to eat some money on contracts. Odds are great B Jax opens in Triple-A and is on call in case of an early injury.
Who's more likely the 3rd baseman of the future for the cubs? Vitters or Lake?
Seems like the wait for Vitters has taken forever. He finally had some good health this year and if he can stay healthy again he can get back on track. But Lake looks like he can move over from SS and handle the job. I didn't see him last year but everybody is saying he grew considerably taller over the offseason.
Doug,With Samardzija's strong start so far this spring, what are his chances at making the starting rotation?
Everybody likes his ability there and he hasn't hurt his chances with the way he is throwing. But there are a lot of starting options and he is a known quantity in the bullpen. Any slip this spring would hurt him more than the others who are regular starters. Probably not fair, but that's how it works sometimes.
How's the 2B battle shaping up between Barney, DeWitt, and Cardenas?
I'm going with Barney so far, but a guy like Cardenas will still get plenty of playing time. DeWitt has shown he wants a roster spot with the way he's played. Relaxed and easy. DeWitt's probably headed for a utility role, though.
With the news that the backup catcher position is down to clevenger and castillo, isn't the team worried about slowing the production of the guy that makes the team? Or do you think they would use more of a platoon with soto to keep him fresh and get the other guy ABs? Thanks
Yeah, it really is a tough call to ask a young guy to play once (maybe twice a week). You have to think that if they go with a kid, like it looks now, that he will play more than just your average regular.
Hey Doug, I saw that Bruce posted just the other day that Theo and Hoyer met with Oswalt's agent, could we see him with the Cubs this season? If we do, how will he help solidify this team?
Theo and Jed are always going to kick the tires on a lot of options. If they can get a good deal thy'll take it but they won't be after the guy for top $$$. Theo and Jed want to have a group of guys under control, which is why they made the moves they did in the winter. This wouldn't quite fit in with that.
Yo, Doug. Soriano puts up pretty decent numbers on offense. The $18mm/yr he makes is spent and gone. Any chance people stop crying about trading him, and appreciating his 25HR and 90RBI? (Those are verging on Konerko numbers!)
I don't think it ever goes away. And it probably shouldn't. Even if Soriano went 35-115 this year it doesn't change what he didn't accomplish in the early part of the contract. But it sure would be nice to see. He looks good so far, but spring has a way of lying to you. He needs to, at the very least, repeat what he did last season.
Doug, I am an optimist. The Cubs looks really good this spring. I think they are flying under the radar and thats when teams do the best. Am I crazy to say they can contend in this weak divsion?
Ryan, I'll admit that when you are a beat guy you tend to see the hard work and the talent and come up with scenarios on how a team you cover can actually put it together. But there are just too many question marks for these guys to push much over 80 victories. The weak division doesn't hurt, though.
Doug, we've HEARD a lot about the team's attempt to improve fundamentals, is there anything you've SEEN that makes you believe they will improve?
Nothing on the field so far that makes you say "That's fixed." But the fact that they have embraced the plan and are working hard at it is a sign that things can be better in the near future. It's hard to see a change in four games. Ask me again at the end of spirng.
Is Ian Stewart looking like the everyday starter at Third? Are the Cubs going to rotate a few players at that position?
Not only is Ian Stewart the guy, but Dale Sveum will have patience with him if he gets off to a slow start. His defense will be an improvement. If he can drive in runs he will help. But remember he never was much of an average guy. His track record is defense and RBIs.
Hi Doug, Prospect junkie here. Any idea as to how the Cubs plan on approaching the draft? Know any players who they have graded highly on their early draft boards or at least who they've been scouting? Thanks!
Albert, you're going to love Theo and Jed then. With the way baseball rules are changing, having good drafts is paramount for building toward the future. Put it this way, Theo thinks of draft day as one of the biggest days of the year. Expect them to put a lot of time, effort and resources into amateur scouting.
It seems like the cubs seem more excited about the team and the idea of playing meaningful baseball? Is this normal spring training talk? or do you think Theo and company have already changed the attitude and culture at Wrigley?
Realistically they have to go with the idea of playing baseball the right way. It's not like thet can show you the roster and say this team will dominate. But starting an ideal culture or attitude and then building around it isn't the worst thing ever. If it doesn't create winning in a few years, though, not sure the fans will continue to buy it.
Looking at the Cubs prospects, which player do you see having the better career Brett Jackson or Anthony Rizzo?
I thnk Brett Jackson can do more so his value will be higher. He's further along than Rizzo as well. But as far as run producers that can mash, the sky's the limit for Rizzo. It's the kind of duo that can split votes when kids try to pick their favorite player. Everybody loves the heavy hitter, but Jackson has a way of winning you over because of all the things he does.
How is the 4th and 5th outfielder battle looking?
Reed Johnson is the fourth outfielder. But the battle between Joe Mather and Tony Campana for the fifth OF spot could get interesting. Mather has looked good so far. But it's going to be hard to not take Campana's speed to Chicago in April.
Will it be Garza or Demp on the mound opening day?
Grarza is perfectly lined up for the honor if he pitches every fifth day. But the call here is that it goes to Depmster. Just too much experience and history with the club to deny it.
Is Geo healthy to carry the load this season ?? or do we need another catcher?
Not a good sign that he has been dealing with a groin issue for most of the spring. They say the long wait is because they are being cautious with an extremely minor issue, but a bad groin on a catcher is never a good thing. But Geo will get his chance. It's his job.
I saw a lot Rizzo's games when he was on the Padres. He seemed to lose confidence down the stretch. How's he looking this spring?
Too early to tell. Confidence really is a roller coaster for power guys, who tend to get extremely streaky. Talking to him, though, he sounds like a cool, calm and collected kid. He'll have plenty of ups and downs but he really does look to have the talent to have success for a long time at the big-league level.
What kind of season do you think is in store for Castro? His defense has got to be better this year, but could you see his batting average slip like fukedome and soto's did?
Don't see much of a slip with somebody that has so much talent. If he can have steady focus and pick up his defense a bit he will be able to take the next step in his development. If he slides any, you have to think it's mental.
Thanks for the questions. Finishing up a short break here in California. Be back tomorrow for more coverage on ESPNChicago.com.