By Paul Schmidt and David K.
(PS) I know that it’s a little bit of a cliché, but I always love the beginning of Spring Training. It excites me. Makes me giddy. Puts a little hop in my step.
The funny thing is, for me, I swore it was going to take me a while to get over last season’s playoff defeat. I swore that I wouldn’t recover until at LEAST the end of spring training, that I wouldn’t try to get tickets, etc.
As it was, I went to get my bracelet for tickets, I got up and called all morning and got on the internet all morning last Friday for tickets, and I’m getting that insane feeling that always occurs leading up to the season.
I guess my question is….is this normal?
(DK) Absolutely. It’s a rite of passage for any baseball fan to get jacked up for the start of Spring Training, even though I have always felt the whole excitement of pitchers and catchers reporting has been massively overrated. Right now, my interest in the start of the baseball season is at an all-time low.
It is partially because I am so obsessed with college basketball that I don’t have the time or energy to start thinking about the start of the baseball season. The other part is I am still suffering the hangover of the Cubs being swept out of the first round of the post-season for a second straight year.
(PS) It’s that hangover that you speak of that I thought I wouldn’t be able to shake. And I guess in some ways I haven’t – I won’t be watching any spring training this year, and I usually check some out. I am excited for BASEBALL –and I think that’s the distinction – but not quite as excited about the Cubs, necessarily. Good to know, however, that I’m normal. I can’t wait to tell my wife!
I thought this might be a fun exercise – give me the rotation and the lineup as you see it.
(DK) I enjoy fun exercises.
Rotation: Los, Dempster, Lilly, Harden, Marshall
Marshall is believed to have a leg up in the race for the 5th spot, ahead of Jeff Samardzija. Hopefully Marshall ends up back in the bullpen when the Cubs acquire, oh, I don’t know… Jake Peavy? Lilly gets the number three spot over Harden so that the Cubs don’t start lefties in back-to-back games. Expect another short leash on Harden to keep him healthy throughout the season and rested for potential-October baseball. I would not be surprised to see Samardzija replace Marshall at some point during the season, or for him to get a few spot starts when Lou wants to give Harden a rest.
CF Fukudome/ Reed Johnson
I would really love to see The Riot in the lead-off spot instead of Soriano. The Riot hits for average, uses all fields, and does not swing out of his shoes every other pitch. Plus, he actually takes pitches and doesn’t whiff on every sweeping curve ball low and away when he is down in the count. Lou has made comments this Spring Training that he is contemplating moving Fonsie down in the line-up, but I guess we will have to wait and see if he pulls the trigger.
The other question I have is- do you put Bradley in the clean-up spot and move A-Ram to the five hole so you break up the four right-handed hitters you have at the top of the order? It will also be interesting to see how Fukudome bounces back after an abysmal end to last season and if he will end up in a true platoon with Reed Johnson based on lefty/righty match-ups.
(PS) I actually would throw Milton into the cleanup spot, I like the idea of splitting up our big righty bats a little bit. I’d love to find a way to get Soto higher in the lineup too, but I can’t figure out exactly how we’ll do it. I think that you pretty much nailed everything, but I’m predicting a bigger rebound from Fukudome this season, after a year of adjusting to American life, and the possibility of him leading off is pretty good. I hope.
I also do agree with the rotation, but I hope that one point is wrong – For now, I want to see Szmardjizjaijajiazjia in the bullpen. He still only has two pitches, and I know that that can be a detriment to any starter (you really have to have at least a third pitch to be effective). Plus, the bullpen is already depleted and there’s a ton of question marks there. Jeff S. is a little bit more of a sure thing as an end of game option. And I do like that option.
Do we have any options in the minor leagues that you like for that spot, or for bullpen spots (a la Kevin Hart)?
I figure that now is NOT the time for regular season predictions, too much can happen in Spring Training. And since so much can happen….how about five predictions for Spring Training?
(DK) 1. Micah Hoffpauir KILLS the ball.
2. We constantly hear about how great of a teammate Milton Bradley is, as he puts on his “good guy” persona to get people behind him..
3. Carlos Marmol wins the closer job as your boy Kevin Gregg struggles to find his groove.
4. 41 year old Mike Stanton makes the roster as a situational lefty out of the bullpen.
5. I don’t watch a single Spring Training game.
(PS) And we’ll definitely agree on 5….Follow paulmbanks