Hi folks. Welcome to our weekly, now in-season Cubs chat...Excited to be talking to you all season long. Normally we do these on Tuesdays. Anyway, Game 1 is in the books. Game 2 is tonight here in Pitt where its a bit warmer than Chicago but not much. Fire away with questions!
Is Banafacio one of those guys who has talent but is a problem in the clubhouse? Seems like he goes from team to team-Arizona, Toronto, Florida, Toronto, KC and the Cubs?
I don't know that about him, all I can tell is what I've seen. He's very quiet, minds his own business and does his job as far as I can tell. What he's like behind closed doors I don't know yet but I'd be surprised if he was an issue.
When do you believe is the earliest we could see the likes of Baez, Alcantara, Etc. In the big leagues
Earliest? June...more likely July or later if they're ready
Why didn't Kalish start in AAA? Hasn't played in a couple years, doesn't it make more sense to get him AB's every day rather than forcing him into a bench role?
Not a bad thought but I think they like him in that role in the majors right now...If he plays himself into something more so be it...Someone had to make the team and this isn't some 22 year old that still needs seasoning...I would have been fine either way...He won a job
In a world where E-Jax gets his stuff together this season, could he also be a deadline trade piece?
These days anything is possible with pitchers..They're going down like flies while making a boatload of money...Do I think it will happen? No, but 2.5 years at that price isn't the worst thing in the world. Likely? No, but possible.
Since Javier Baez is being held down from joining the team for what most of us feel is the extra year of control theory, are there other players that may face this situation where we know their ready to be on the team but they will be held down for more contract control?
You would think the answer to that question is with guys like CJ Edwards and Kris Bryant around but I think it's a fluid situation. As the Cubs become a better, winning team I think those considerations won't be as big. But you have to go case by case. This wasn't Mike Trout being held back -- and even he didnt start his first year with his team -- you CAN make the case he needs more time...Anyway, it'll come up but we can't know for sure who and when
I meant the answer to that questions is YES in last response
With the versatility of Bonny, doesn't he have to be your everyday leadoff hitter?There is not another leadoff hitter on this team, and with his speed and if he can get is OBS to .340, he can really set the tempo for the guys behind him. With Lake and Castro, there is not enough pitches seen and too much swing and miss.
The simple answer is yes. Until further notice he bascially needs to be...Let's let it play out..I would be shocked if he wasn't leading off and playing 2nd or center tonight
What is behind the Cubs signing Pinero? He's not a young arm, why invest any time in a 35 year old when they have prospects that need the attention?
I haven't asked anyone about him yet. That will come later today but you have to imagine it's just for depth. He takes the place of James McDonald in that manner...so pretend he's McDonald who's hurt
I know it was only 1 game, but I already look at this team and say here we go again with the lack of clutch hitting. It felt like every time we faced a premiere starting pitcher last year we never seemed to get the big hit. Do you see this being a problem again this year? We really need guys like Castro, Rizzo & Olt to driver in some runs if they are going to be in the heart of the lineup every day.
Until further notice, it is a problem for sure. This is what Bill Muelllar is getting paid to do.. Get guys to relax and take advantage of te situation. I joked (sort of) that even Baez never had even a hit in spring with a man on base. It's contagious!
I really liked our outfield defense and infield defense from Monday. Can we say that a strength of this team is defense? We knew going into the game offense was a weakness, but even after one game, I love our defense. I'd like to say pitching will be a strength too, but we'll see how that plays out.
Yeah, it's def a strength in the infield. Let's wait and see in the OF. Lake covers a lot of ground but he's still learning and it's not like it's Bonifacio's best position out there but he was good Monday. If Castro can be good to great then they really have something in the infield.
Why was Bonifacio running from 3rd on Castro's easy grounder to the 2nd baseman in the ~8th inning? Seems like too much of a gamble late in a 0-0 game (and he lost).
With one out I can live with it a little more than with no outs but with infield in, he was dead to rights. Obviously, the guy likes to be aggressive on the basepaths...that one a little less an issue than getting picked off later because he's obviously trying to get that run home without a hit and by Castro getting to 2nd you really don't lose much because with 2 outs he's going to score more than likely just like Bonifacio would have..so not the worst move in the world..force them to make a play..as long as your rundown is long enough for batter to get to 2nd, which it was.
Will the Cubs trade Travis Wood?
Would be surprised. He's young enough, cost efficent and a lefty...no reason to.
Jesse, the Cubs were just named the 4th or 5th richest baseball team yet our payroll is 14th which is $45M below the 4th highest payroll and even $15M below the White Sox. as a fan who has been patient, I appreciate everything Theo/Jeb are doing but please explain why I shouldnt be revolting against the ricketts?
It's pretty simple. When you rebuild a team you don't do it with 30 year old, $100 million ballplayers. When the rebuild is "over" and they still aren't spending or aren't locking up their own players then complain. In fact they are paying castro and rizzo more than they needed to but they did so to lock them up. To me, that makes sense but you have to be on board with the rebuilding plan to accept that, I suppose.
Does it annoy you that a lot of fans, and writers, just don't understand the concept of the rebuilding process taking place? For example the fact that the money not spent this offseason, can be used next offseason as well as revenue earned from this coming season.
Kind of why I just answered the last one with "pretty simple." This is the irony of it all, you DON'T want them spending right now. Would screw it all up in my opinion. Would take too long to go through but as I've been saying it's too late to go back and too early to move forward, if that makes sense. For better or worse, they are stuck in the middle of the rebuild and to change diretions would be a monumental mistake.
Alot of questions.....but you are a talented reporter....you can handle them! I know we can't expect what Bonifacio did day 1 to be an everyday thing....but what can we expect from him on a regular basis? Do you think has a chance to be better than we thought he would? If so would he be trade bait or a player we keep? He is only 29 or so!
What's interesting is the "pressure" game. He has none. At least not yet. Came in as a minor league signee. I think it's been easy for him to just come in and play. Guys like Rizzo and Castro can feel it I believe even if they don't show it. It doesn't matter because all starters, etc are going to eventually feel that pressure. After Monday we're going to expect a lot out of Bonifacio so all have to eventually perform with that pressure on. Let's see how he does.
Why is Vizciano starting the season Daytona instead of Iowa?
I mentioned in my rapid reaction blog so make sure you read everything in there, every day. They want him on a specific program and in warm weather they said. Still taking it slow coming back form injury. As hard as he throws they want him to be able to loosen up easily. Made Daytona an easy choice.
I was thinking of the Stewart Colvin trade today and really do not think it is as one sided as people make it seemed. Colvin and Steward both have been released from their teams. Therefore, for the long term, I think it was just a trade that did not pan out for either team. Thoughts?
Yeah, pretty much. Colvin wasn't going to be anything here I don't think. Most people just don't like the re-signing of Stewart the next yr. But it goes to show you how far this org has come in one yr at third base. They had no one so they signed him..since then, Olt, Bryant, etc. And even Valbuena proved himself to be better than Stewart in 2013..
Was Villanueva really the right choice in the 10th?
I don't look at the names when I post a question but 2nd one for you Henry..I also addressed this in my blog yesterday..In hindsight, prob not. He's not used to that shut down, 1 inning, no runs type of role. Not to say he couldn't have gotten it done or the other guys would have but push comes to shove I'd rather not have my long man/5th starter out there in the 10th when 3 other relievers are avail.
Chances the Cubs resign Shark, and sign Scherzer this offseason? 5%? A rotation of Scherzer, Samardizja, Wood, Arietta, and Ejax or Hendricks is playoff caliber right?
Might be a better chance at Scherzer than Samardzija at this point. Just don't see it happening with Jeff. The ONLY way it does is if the Cubs change their minds but they will have to pay him near Scherzer type money. I think that's the point with them. If they are going to spend $100 million they want it on a true ace, that's proven it. They will spend on a pitcher, I still think it might be after 2015 not 2014.
One game against Liriano not-withstanding, Rizzo has had a hard time hitting lefties in the majors. If he doesn't improve his splits, does that leave an opening for him to be replaced by Olt or Vogelbach in the future?
I said on the radio this morn, now that Olt is here and played first base in spring, if he's hitting lefties well that at least once in a while against the better ones in the league you can spell Rizzo with Olt at first..Bonifacio can play third so you still get a righty there. But let's see how it goes. The only way you get better is by seeing them and this is the year for him to do it. The year for platoons and the such and matchups, etc. is when they are a good team. Like 2016
*Personal question: which rebuild did/are you enjoy covering more, Blackhawks or Cubs?
It's a good one. I think if this ends in a World Series win, this one. One, I like many, was a Cubs fan first and formeost growing up so to see it happen up close would be crazy. But just as important is this was a BIGGER rebuild. The Hawks never really stripped it down, etc. They were just bad and got to draft Toews and Kane. Here, they've been really bad by design and all those trades they've made are the foundation along with the draft picks. I just think this is a biggeer project,etc.
Do you believe the front office will speak with Renteria if he continues to bunt (give up outs) throughout the early part of the season? I realize the weather is cold and 1 run can mean the difference between a Win and Loss, but it's been proven that bunting over runners in the vast majority of circumstances is not the most ideal strategy from a statistical standpoint.
No, I think it's the weather and frankly look at this team they can't hit with men in scoring position. Maybe a squeeze or a lazy fly ball will get it done. Plus, one of the bunts was with the pitcher and the other was with Lake right? He's a good bunter.
Was kinda shocked that Shark was maxing out at 94. What's the deal? Where's the heat?
First off, the weather can be a little issue coming from Az and he wants to pitch to contact more. 94 isn't bad. I have no problem with his velocity. He's not trying to blow hitters away, that's a good thing.
I have to respectfully disagree with you. We're not really saying that the Cubs should've signed Cano or Pujols. I wouldn't want them to have a $100 million payroll this year. But look at what Houston did with Scott Feldman. He's there to make the losing go down a little easier and mentor the younger players. Come on. Arroyo signed for 2yr/$21m and didn't cost a draft pick. What say you?
I would rather have Hammel for one year than Feldman for 3 at 30 mil. What's the difference. They're all the same to me, Arroyo as well but the less you invest and the fewer years, the better. More flexibility.
What is the difference what the Cubs are doing than the White doing with the youth movement ?
In short, the White Sox re-tooled the Cubs rebuilt. I think you know the difference. One time in our life they can try to do this right on the n.side. I have no problem with that. Don't care the market size. That only comes into play after the foundation is set.
Jesse, do the Cubs really like Lake in the #2 spot? Seems like they need to find someone who makes a little more contact there.
Work in progress. In 2016 when they have a more complete lineup I doubt he'll be at No.2 but I don't think it's bad for this year. He'll move around I'm sure.
Do you feel there's an anti-Cub sentiment in the media (Sullivan, Wittenburg, Rosenberg, Mully & Hanley(if he's a Cub's fan, who needs enemies?) )?
I don't know. What I do know is if you're not on board with the rebuild then everything they've been doing is going to look bad to you. So again, if you think a big market team shouldn't be doing this it's going to skew your coverage.
If you look at the stats, Liriano is crazy good vs. lefties. So why start Rizzo on Monday? Couldn't they have put Olt at 1B and a sub at 3B?
Cmon, it's opening day, he's one of your mainstays, he just went like 6 for 11 or whatever it was against lefties in the spring. No, start him and see where we're at. He can only get better by playing against them. If he doesn't then eventually he sits but not yet and not on opening day.
The Cubs contend for five years then rebuild for ten years. That's nothing new. But why are we to believe that this rebuilding process will be different than the countless others in franchise history?
Because I really don't ever think they've done a rebuild. It's always been a re-tool. There is a big difference.
My only concern with this front office is that they still don't seem to know when to jump into the FA market on the so-called "big names". As your site highlights.today, Jackson continues the string of "oops" signings on that end. What do you guys who cover Epstein and Hoyer daily think of their ability to access when they think a FA is "big money" worthy?
Well, based on Jackson's one year, they are 0 for 1 so its' not like the sample size is huge but it's a legit thought. I guess we'll find out over time here but they did make samller signings that worked like Feldman last year. Story is till unfolding on this one..
Neil Walker has a career .316 OBP with only 4 hr?s in 536 PA?s versus LHP and could only manage a .281 OBP with zero hr?s last season vs lefties and yet Wesley Wright sat in the bullpen Monday during the 10th inning who by the way has allowed a .313 OBP/.342 SLG and 7 hr in 506 PA?s lifetime. I know its way too early to judge Renteria but what do you think?
I agree though I wasn't going crazy at the time. Of course I didn't know those Walker numbers but the Cubs better have!
If the Cubs sign Scherzer in the offseason, would that in itself elevate them to contender status for 2015? Okay, it's not a 2014 question. We need something to be optimistic about.
No. It starts in 2016
I heard in paper that Ricky has his nicknames flowing: Bonny (Bonifacio), Rizzi (Rizzo). Have you heard other nicknames as of yet and will the beat writers kill Renty (my nickname for Ricky) for being so folksy and cheesy with these player names like they killed me?
I don't know. I was around hockey for a long time and everyone down to the equipment guy had a nickname.
What is it going to take to get negotiations with the rooftop owners completed so Wrigley renovations can begin?
If I knew I would be consulting for big $$
Do you think that Cubs fans are realistic in our expectations? Adding Scherzer or Price will still not make this a playoff team. Even with them we are still miles away from St. Louis for the next few years and that is if all of our prospects pan out, which history tells us they all won't.
Cover your ears but I've intimated this before, the Cubs PEAK is probably 2018 or 2019..so that coincides with what you're saying. Yikes. But that doesn't mean things can't happen before that. I think winning starts to be a major priority in 2016.
Kind of confused what people mean when they say teams like the 'Stros and Cubs are "tanking". I mean, I understand the definition. But do they really believe that the manager, general manager and owner sat down all the players on the team to lose as often as possible? Do they simply believe that winning isn't encouraged? I don't believe that players on both teams - young, potentially superstar players - aren't going 110% every game.
No, it mostly means they are not going to spend money in the offseason to earn a few extra wins AND they will trade any tradeable veteran as the deadline approaches. That's tanking. Has nothing to do with the players or manager. They'll keep trying. They just aren't good enough.
Hey Jesse.Do you think Rick Renteria will keep platooning players from the start or will he keep the same players for a few games and go from there.What are your thoughts? Thanks
I think it's mostly a platoon especially considering they'll try and get Bonifacio in there as much as they can. Will be interesting tonight. Does Barney sit? Ruggiano? We'll see.
It is disappointing to have the season start off the same way last season went, with poor hitting ruining really solid starting pitching efforts. Is it out of the question for Renteria to look at pinch-hittting options late in games for front-line guys like Castro and Rizzo, based on their continued failures to advance runners and drive in runs?
I doubt they will pinch hit for those guy for no other reason than who would be better? Barney off the bench? Sweeney? That's who pinch hits for the pitcher. This is the time for them to learn how to handle those moments.
I know it was just one game, but the Cubs did a great job being patient and getting deep into counts. How much of that did you see in spring training?
A good amount. That's Bill Muellar having some affect.
How do you see the cubs using Piniero if he comes back and is pitching well?
Excited for this season and the future, but do we have enough bats on the left side of the plate? Seems like the major league club and most of our top prospects are right handed hitters.
Baseball is always looking for lefties but righties with power aren't exactly growing on trees. You want balance but you rarely get it..It's why Rizzo is so important in the middle there.
Will Villanueva's short stint on Monday have any impact on him making his first start?
Ha, no. I think it will have an impact on him pitching late in the game in relief.
It seems to me that the decision that could have the biggest long-term impact on the Cubs success is whether they trade Samardzija this year, or keep him to be part of the staff for the "winning" years. Do you see any clues for which way the Cubs are leaning going into the season?
I'll end on this one as it's been stated a lot in my Cubs blog ,etc. ALL signs point to him being traded. He won't budge, pretty sure of that. It will be the Cubs that have to up the ante to keep him and I don't think these next couple months will make a difference. Always a chance I'm wrong but you asked for clues. They lead to a trade.
Thanks folks. We'll be back at it on Tuesday next week. READ THE BLOG EVERYDAY and tell your friends. Follow me on twitter @espnchicubs. Headed over to beautiful PNC park for pregame coverage. Thanks for the questions. Game 2 of 162 coming up!