I am here. A little late I admit, but here we go.
Is Randy Wells going to be traded in the upcoming days?
There certainly is interest in Wells, but he also has value to the Cubs as the sixth starter down in Iowa. As Jed Hoyer said this morning, you never go through a season with just five starters.
What are the Odds that the Cubs trade Marlon Byrd before opening day?
Byrd is another guy with some interest from other clubs. The Braves have been mentioned. While Brett Jackson could take over in center, the Cubs don't want to rush him. They wouldn't mind if he got at least another half season down in the minor leagues.
I'm not expecting playoffs this year, but I'd like to see a 500 season. Do you think that is a reality?
I think a .500 season is possible. It's not the best rotation in baseball, but it has its potential. The bullpen could give them problems in their .500 quest, though. Ian Stewart and Bryan LaHair also have to produce otherwise that offense will be sleepy.
How much patience do you think that the Cubs will have with Samardzija in a starting role? If he struggles in his first 3 or 4 starts, do the Cubs bring Wells back and move Samardzija back to the bullpen?
It's an interesting question Kevin. I think by nature a guy making this kind of jump is on a short leash. If Samardzija was coming in as a regular rotation guy you'd think he wouldn't have had to go down to yesterday's start to make the rotation. He figures to be watched closely, but four starts might be a bit too short of a leash.
was the backup catcher job just a coin flip or does the fact that clevenger hits left handed help make that decision
It really was a pretty equal battle between Clevenger and Castillo, but yes, the fact that Clevenger bats lefty was a huge factor while they were trying to split hairs.
Which Cubs team should I pay to see? Chicago or Iowa?
I wouldn't mind seeing Iowa play a few games. There is some nice talent down there. I'll make them my favorite for the PCL title.
Hi Doug, as we're getting closer and closer to opening day has Sveum tipped his cards to the starting nine? My main concern is where he's batting Castro, any definitive idea yet?
Plenty of lineup decisions need to be made but Castro seems aimed toward the No. 3 spot. They really don't have a No. 2 hitter, though, not that he is necessarily ideal there. Expect the lineup to be a work in progress all season.
Who do you see filling the final spots in the bullpen?
Assuming Rodrigo Lopez is in as long man, the final two spots will go to this group: De La Rosa, Camp, Lendy Castillo (the Rule 5 guy) and Corpas, who has really come on of late.
Speaking of leashes, how short do you think Bryan LaHair's will be? Rizzo seemed to have the better spring.
Dale Sveum said he would have patience with LaHair and there is no reason to think that will change. He started out slow this spring, but has really come on during the last week. Still no power, which isn't a big concern but it has been noticed. If he starts slow and is still struggling into June then the heat could be on.
I know the current leadership is not going at this with a win-now mentality, but it doesn't really feel like there's anything to be really excited about. No power, no speed, mediocre pitching; what can I look to in order to keep hope alive?
Well Evan, sometimes you have to take a little step back to take a big one forward. Maybe Castro emerges as an MVP candidate or Barney takes the next step in his development. Maybe LaHair starts crushing bombs. But hey, it's baseball and it's summer and that has to have some value too, doesn't it?
Anything on the Soler front?
Still nothing. Still has not been granted free agent status. But all indications are that the Cubs will be a huge player when he does.
Doug, I see Jeff baker providing a lot more upside than Barney at 2nd. I know he hits left handers poorly, but he is still a bigger threat. Am I missing something?
Barney has earned the right to start. Baker will get plenty of time though. It's not like Barney will be a 162-game guy. He probably shouldn't be a 110-game guy with the way he faded down the stretch last year. Barney will get the bulk of the time early and his spring says he could end up getting off to a hot start.
Does having Castro as their star help the Cubs lure Cuban ex-pats? But seriously, is there a draw they have, as they seem to be picking up more than their fair share of Cuban players.
Theo has talked about the new restrictions put on acquiring young talent. The opportunities aren't what they once were. So when you can get somebody with talent you take that shot. It just so happens that some Cuban players are available. This new front office is all about building the system and getting players from there instead of throwing a ton of cash at free agents into thier 30s.
Just what has Manny Corpas done to have NOT secured a roster spot as of yet? His numbers are very strong - are they concerned with his health? The guys still young and had success as closer for a recent WS team in Colorado
He certainly has looked good but there are the injury concerns from last year. I think without those, he's already looing for an apartment on the North Side. I'd say he'll still be in Chicago on April 5.
Assuming we are sub-.500 pretty early on, how likely is it that we deal Garza? I imagine several contending teams would be interested, and we could get back some pretty good players.
Don't look now but this new front office has been impressed with Garza and how great of a team guy he is. An extension is something they are probaly moe interested in now than they were in say January. That said, he would have interest on the open market so if he can land some big time talent he could go if the team struggles by the deadline.
How is having Clevenger as the backup catcher going to help him out in the long run? Wouldn't it be better for him to play everyday at AA or AAA? Are the Cubs looking to trade Soto?
Yeah, it's tough to have a kid ride the bench. It tends to stunt development. Sveum did say that he could get Clevenger into three games some weeks. But when you don't go out and get a veteran backup type then you have to be prepared to do something like this. Kinda puts the heat on Geo a little bit, which isn't a bad thing.
Looking past this year do you see the cubs going after cain, hamels, or grienke?
Kind of funny to read now that because the Dodgers sold for $2 billion that they would just go out and get all of these guys. That won't happen, of course. Not sure the Cubs will exactly race to get whoever is available though. Theo and Co. are making a big effort to spend wisely. Big money free agent pitchers have their own risk.
Can we ever expect Theo to make that big acquisition? You know, that big splash that gets everyone on the North side fired up? If so, who do you think would be the top candidate? Gotta be an OF, right?
Theo/Jed will make a splash at some point, no doubt. This winter was all about getting the farm system in order and acquiring pitchers under contract control. We'll see how that turns out this year. If that area is settled by the winter then the next step would be making a splash. An outfielder is a possibility, but Brett Jackson could be that impact guy too.
I live in Wrigleyville, and I can tell that the right field bleacher project does not look close to being finished. Any word from the Cubs on whether it will actually be done by Opening Day?
Thanks for the update. There are some things we aren't told about and that is one of them. My guess is that even if it's still a construction zone by Opening Day, the seating area will be complete. You can bank on that.
will the Cubs make any deals before the opener???
Possibly for a left-handed reliever. Stay tuned.
Thanks for the questions. Nice day here in Peoria. Time to watch the Cubs and Padres. The Cubs just put up four runs in the second inning and lead 4-0. Talk to y'all here again on Opening Day.