Samardzija Set for Spring Opener, Baez Bashes a Window and News from Day Nine of Cubs Camp

The Cubs wrapped up the first full week of practice Friday, the Cactus League games begin in five days and Rick Renteria named his starter for the spring opener.

CubsMesaLogo-pubJeff Samardzija will be the first pitcher to take the hill at brand new Cubs Park in a Cactus League contest Thursday when the Cubs open their spring slate against the Diamondbacks. Samardzija also figures to start the regular season opener in Pittsburgh on March 31. But Renteria has not announced which pitcher will receive the honor of starting on Opening Day.

Rick Renteria did not announce yet which pitchers would follow Samardzija in his spring rotation.

Hector Rondon, Brian Schlitter, James McDonald, Tommy Hottovy, Jose Veras, Zac Rosscup and Tsuyoshi Wada were among the pitchers that threw live batting practice on Friday.

And speaking of batting practice, Javier Baez did some real damage in BP on Friday. Baez launched a ball out of Field 5 that broke a car window. The vehicle was parked too close to the field on ‘Cubs Way’.

The sound of the glass breaking reportedly became quite the buzz for the rest of the afternoon. Baez was asked about breaking the car window after practice and said, “It sucks for the person who parked there. They’re parking too close to the field.” Baez offered to pay for the window if he had to but asked for that person not to park there again.

Javier Baez reportedly hit several balls Friday that cleared the 40-foot netting behind the wall in left field.

According to a report from Carrie Muskat, Baez was not the only player to hit the ball out of the park Friday. Jorge Soler “launched a ball out of Field 5″ and Mike Olt hit a couple out of the park as well. Logan Watkins said the group that included Baez and Olt were making the “field look real small.”

Jake Arrieta

Jake Arrieta did not throw off a mound Friday, as he was expecting to do. Arrieta remains optimistic he will be in the Cubs Opening Day rotation. But with another delay on him throwing off a mound, the chances of him breaking camp in the Cubs rotation are becoming slimmer by the day.

Arrieta is supposed to throw off flat ground Saturday and if all goes well he could throw off a mound at some point next week.

Jake Arrieta is already behind schedule, and the Cubs are handling Arrieta the right way. The team has slowed his preparation down simply due to the fact there is no reason whatsoever to rush him back. Arrieta has not ruled out being ready by Opening Day according to Mark Gonzales.

Junior Lake

Junior Lake took Starlin Castro’s advice and learned English during the off-season. Lake no longer needs an interpreter. Lake worked on being an outfielder all winter and according to a report from ESPN Chicago, Lake took fly balls everyday then spent time with his grandmother learning English.

The Cubs plan to give Junior Lake a lot of playing time this season. Lake should be in left field on Opening Day but said Friday he prefers centerfield to left.

Jed Hoyer spoke highly of Lake to ESPN Chicago. Hoyer said, “He’s really grown into himself as a player. His trajectory has been straight up the last two years. You really hope that continues in the big leagues. The tool set has always been there. He’s so athletic. He can run, throw, show power. I was pleasantly surprised that he bunted so well for hits. He did a good job laying off sliders and showing some plate discipline against righties as well.”

Nate Schierholtz

Nate Schierholtz was sent home early from practice Friday after he collided with Junior Lake during outfield drills. Schierholtz was checked out and is expected to be back on the field for Saturday’s practice.

Tyler Beede

One of the pitchers the Cubs could take with the fourth pick in June’s Draft had a very good outing Friday afternoon. Tyler Beede set a career-high with 11 strikeouts in six innings for the Vanderbilt Commodores. Beede allowed one run on one hit with one walk. Beede is a 6-foot-4, 215 pound right hander from Auburn, Mass.

News, Notes and Rumors

53 players are participating in Minor League mini-camp at Cubs Park.

James McDonald is thankful for the opportunity the Cubs have given him. McDonald said he learned a lot last season and admitted he wasn’t prepared the way he should have been.

Jesse Rogers posted video of Mike Olt swinging in the cage.

According to a report from Comcast SportsNet, Ryan Kalish is not playing what-if games.

Liam Hendriks has a new team. The former-Cub-for-a-minute was claimed by the Blue Jays off waivers from the Orioles. The Cubs claimed Hendriks off waivers from the Twins on Dec. 13 and Baltimore claimed him off waivers from the Cubs on Dec. 23 when the Cubs opened a spot on the 40-man roster for RHP Brett Marshall. Marshall has since been claimed off waivers by the Reds.

Jon Paul Morosi reported SS Aledmys Diaz worked out for the Yankees on Friday. The Yankees and Cardinals are thought to be very interested in signing the free agent middle infielder.

FanGraphs posted its annual report on the worst transactions of the off-season.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

Quote of the Day

"You try to get that game out of your mind, but it never leaves you." - Cool Papa Bell
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  • paulcatanese

    So Baez broke a window in the parking lot? C’mon guys, what kid hasn’t?:) When he starts the engine and the windshield wipers get cranking, call me:)
    Totally in jest:) Couldn’t lay off that one:)

    • RynoTiger

      Baez didn’t really break that windshield. It’s a smoke screen by Ricketts and Theo. They had that windshield strategically broken last week and placed the car in that spot before batting practice. All these smoke screens this off-season.

  • cubtex

    Lake should play CF. He is athletic enough . Easier transition from the IF and he will have more value there in a future deal if they decide to trade him.

    • Tom U

      All I can say is, remember Alfonzo Soriano in centerfield? Not pretty. Let Lake learn the outfield first (something he should have been doing in the minors), then see if he can move over.

      • cubtex

        Most former middle infielders making the transition to the outfield feel much more comfortable in CF. Lake feels the same. No left field or right field walls to deal with and the ball doesn’t slice or hook as much. Right now you have Sweeney/Rugiano penciled in at CF. Really??? Now is the time to see if he could do it.

        • Tom U

          Right now, the best place to do that is spring training, where the games don’t count.

          • cubtex

            Here is my thought. Almora is at least 2 years away. BJax is a huge ?. If Bryant is moved to OF he is a corner. CF is open right now. This team is not going anywhere. We all know that. Put him in CF everyday. Robin Yount didn’t have a problem moving straight to CF and so have countless others. It is the easiest and most comfortable transition for a former SS.

          • Tony_Hall

            Tex I agree with you on Lake being in CF. Not because it is easier to play (obvioulsy LF is easier :) and don’t want to debate that again) but because he has the athletiscm to play CF and as you point out increases his value to the team and in the event of a trade.

            I can see them doing like they did last year and giving him time in both LF and CF, which I am fine with as well.

          • Chris K.

            Not that it matters, but Lake also hit better in CF than LF.

            LF
            .239/.305/.385 3 HR 9 RBI

            CF
            .339/.368/.491 3 HR 7 RBI

          • Zonk

            I agree, and I would add one more thing: Lake doesn’t hit enough to stay in LF. If he is a ML starter, it will be in CF. For LF, you like more power and OBP

          • Tony_Hall

            I think you might want to relook at that thought. In the past LF was more power and OBP, but CF has taken over.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Get Brett jackson out there as your starting CF for 2014. Sveum is gone; Theo ought to stop stuffing his theories about hitting down the throats of those who actually play the game, and let’s get on with ST>

      • cubtex

        Soriano also played almost 250 games in LF first before they tried him in CF for 12 games.

  • cubtex

    So here are the top 4 pitchers as of right ranked for the mlb draft.

    Carlos Rodon NC State
    Jeff Hoffman East Carolina
    Tyler Kolek Big Texas High School kid
    Tyler Beede Vanderbilt

    One of those 4 will be there at pick #4. I imagine it will be either Kolek or Beede. They need to take one of those 2 kids. Beede will be on the fast track and Kolek throws high 90’s and has a big projectable frame.

    • Tony_Hall

      So let’s say that a position player has a Kris Bryant type season and jumps out to the top of the position players. You would want them to take the 4th best pitcher rather than take the best position player and lets’ just assume it is Kris Bryant?

      • cubtex

        Yes no doubt. They need pitching. Look at the system. It is very difficult to keep drafting pitching late and find TOR starters. Just imagine if they would have drafted Jose Fernandez, kept Cashner,extended Shark and Appel fell to them last year. Would they be closer to winning with those 4 leading your staff? They have bats. They have Baez,Bryant,Almora,Soler. Draft a pitcher the next 2 drafts.

        • TheWrongGuy

          “If” they would have drafted Jose Fernandez and Appel as you said they wouldn’t have Baez or Bryant right now.

          • cubtex

            of course.

          • Tony_Hall

            Then they would need hitters and be trying to find a hitter in this draft you just labeled as a pitcher draft in the Top 4. Maybe this FO is smarter than you think.

          • cubtex

            what? Do you believe they were going to draft Appel last year? I do 100%. When he was taken by the Astros they went with plan B. Look at the minors dude. There are zero clear cut potential aces in the minors.

          • Tony_Hall

            What? didn’t you get on my post.

            LOL, they had 2 players on their draft board at the 2nd pick. It is not plan B, if Appel was 1 on their board they went with 2 since he was gone. That is how a draft works.

            We will never know for sure who they would have taken if they had the 1st pick and I was all for Appel, but Bryant is looking like he should have been the 1st pick in the draft.

          • cubtex

            What didn’t you get on my post? You implied they took a hitter in last years draft since this year there is pitching. Appel was their target(a pitcher) plan B Bryant(a hitter) That makes no sense what you implied.

          • Tony_Hall

            It was sarcasm my friend, tongue in cheek, a joke that if they had done what you implied they would be short on hitters and be looking for one in the 1st round this year.

            LOL!

          • cubtex

            Sarcasm? Is that what that was??? Don’t quit your day job :)

          • Tony_Hall

            Any post where I imply the FO is smarter than you think has to be sarcasm.

            We both know they are smarter than you think :)

          • TheWrongGuy

            Hahahaha!

            Now thats funny right there!

          • cubtex

            you implied that they took a hitter last year because the FO knew they could get one of the top 4 pitchers this year. That is not true. Smart or not. They wanted Appel and went with plan B. Draft Bryant and then concentrate on pitching the rest of the draft. What is there do disagree on? As you said. 2 scenarios. Appel 1st and they could draft some position players in the top 5 rounds or draft Bryant and concentrate on college pitching in the top 5.

          • Tony_Hall

            It was sarcasm, that they were planning ahead to this year….oh never mind.

          • BigJonLilJon

            your premise is wrong… they had a big board like all teams do. Regardless of whether they were at 2 or12. They drafted the best player available on there board at the time of there pick. Not a plan “B”

          • cubtex

            You have a 1A and 1B with different scenarios laid out. They had the 2nd pick. You have a favorite player that you hope will fall to you. Agree? Plan A and Plan B. One is a pitcher and one is a hitter. You have 2 different plans for the rest of your draft if you take a pitcher 1 or a hitter 1. Plan A and Plan B. Plan A was their #1 preference and went with plan B. What is to argue?

          • Tony_Hall

            LOL! So if you pick 4th like the Cubs this year, they could end up with Plan D?

          • cubtex

            dude. grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the day. It is 75 here today and going to watch my daughter run track in a little bit. Do you think that Theo would have drafted differently if they picked Appel last year with some of their picks? If you don’t…I got some real estate to sell you in South Texas. LOL!!!!!!!!!!

          • Tony_Hall

            You take everything, far too seriously.

            Every pick can affect the next pick. But from rounds 2-10, Theo is trying to load up on pitching, unless a position player falls to them.

          • cubtex

            They were focussed on college pitching. Hoyer even acknowledged it. Were they the highest rated players on the board at the time? You know better than that but you want to argue just to argue.

          • Tony_Hall

            LOL! I just wrote that they have focused on pitching after the 1st round and you are arguing the same thing back. Talk about arguing just to argue.

          • cubtex

            One last question before I run. Do you believe they would have drafted differently and not drafted as much college pitching if they would have drafted Appel instead of Bryant?

          • Tony_Hall

            NO! That is what I just said a few times. After the 1st round they were going to concentrate on pitching, unless a position player fell in their lap.

          • cubtex

            and on that note….have a good weekend :))

          • BigJonLilJon

            Enjoy watching your daughter dude!!! But yes it MAY have been different only because the pick changed what was available on all the other teams boards… a ripple effect

          • cubtex

            yep. and the Cubs need to grab a starting pitcher would have changed as well.

          • BigJonLilJon

            Tex… I don’t think you get how a draft works!!!!!Most teams do not target a position. They target best available at that time, regardless of position.

          • Tony_Hall

            You hit the nail on the head with that one!!

          • cubtex

            I was drafted my man and know how drafts work. This is not a fantasy baseball draft. When you have a top 5 pick….If you draft a pitcher with that pick, you will look for position players later and vice versa. Do you think the Cubs drafted all those college pitchers last year because ALL the teams had them rated that high? Cmon man. Understand the process. Look at any sport how the draft works.

          • Tony_Hall

            So everyone who has been drafted understands how the draft works? I doubt it.

            With the 1st round, especially at the top, BPA is how most teams do it. The Cubs have focused on pitching after that.

          • John_CC

            Were you the best available player or the “Plan _”? Assuming you were not #1 that is.

          • cubtex

            I talked to the GM and draft guys at the time. They told me their draft strategy. They needed middle infield depth and that is what they were looking for at the spot in the draft. Didn’t necessarily draft the best player available(although I will argue I was :) And by the way…the team I was drafted by won a WS and the GM was in the game a long time. Teams absolutely draft according to need and now alot has to depend on the $ pool. Like the Stros drafting Correa at under slot money and getting McCullers later. They felt the 2 players one a pitcher and the other a SS was better for them than just Appel and a much lesser player later due to the $ restrictions.

          • Tony_Hall

            No one has said that every single team drafts every single player based on BPA. Most teams have a need to build up some part of their organization (like the Cubs are doing with pitching right now) and will use it as the focus of the draft, but not at the top of the draft. At the top of the draft, unless a team is going cheap like the Astros did in 2012, most teams will take the BPA approach. Some teams may do it for the first so many rounds, but at some point all teams go to building up their organizational depth in some area and spend many picks doing just that.

          • cubtex

            The Stros did it last year with Appel. Had position depth but no TOR arms in minors. Drafted a NEED at #1

          • Tony_Hall

            OMG you have got to be kidding me! They drafted what most people had as the best player in the draft. BPA.

          • John_CC

            Dude. Appel was ranked #1 or #2 by EVERYBODY. The Stros did not reach to fill a need. You must understand this. Why must you keep arguing about it.

            The Cubs took the best player available in Bryant over the best available pitcher.

            But in round 2 and after they went with a plan of filling need. But you will deny this again.

          • cubtex

            Deny what? Hoyer even said they drafted college pitching and that was their plan? BPA? No. Drafted a need. Yes. No deny. IF they had drafted Appel instead of Bryant…they would have drafted differently last year.

            Stros didn’t necessarily draft the #1 player they had on their board. They drafted the #1 player on their board to fill a NEED. Do you think it is possible that if they had a farm system stocked with pitching they might have drafted Bryant or another position player? Of course they would have! They passed on Appel the year before. Dude!!!

          • Tony_Hall

            You are delusional at this point. Step away from the computer and go enjoy your day.

          • cubtex

            I am. 75 degrees. daughter won the 800 with a 2:18. Not bad for first race. Apple doesn’t fall too far from tree and heading back to see her run the mile. Try and not focus so much on fantasy baseball. This is a real business. The draft has a lot more inside the ropes going on that you have no clue about.

          • Tony_Hall

            LOL! No reason to counterpoint you, you have won our points for us.

          • TheWrongGuy

            I agree Hoyer almost said that Appel was their pick to Dan Rohn on a WGN interview after the draft. Sorry I don’t have a link to this interview.

          • cubtex

            no doubt. He was their target. I think when the Gray adderol stuff came out that is when they decided to go with Bryant.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            I believe the would have taken Appel. Probably should have taken Gray though. Many think he is better and the ridalin thing was such a non-issue I don’t think it scared them off. I think their plan all along was Appel-Bryant. Gray looks like a future Cy young candidate. Lots of blurred lines with the ridalin .

          • cubtex

            Here is why the Stros took Appel. Loaded up system with position players and the need frontline starter. Drafted for a need at #1. Same thing the Cubs need.

            WIth Correa, Jonathan Singleton and George Springer
            all in the fold, the Astros have the making of a solid core of major
            league position players. Primarily through trades, they’ve done an
            excellent job of rebuilding their pitching depth as an organization.
            What they lack is a potential front-of-the-rotation starter.

            Mark Appel is that guy.

            The Astros passed on Appel last year in an effort to build to their
            overall organizational depth in a strategy that I can’t argue with. It
            was needed at the time, and early indications suggest that they were
            able to add depth while also drafting their franchise shortstop. That’s
            solid execution.
            But front-line starters who are only a year or so away from the major leagues don’t come around too often

          • Tony_Hall

            So if you are complimenting the Astros for this strategy and it seems the Cubs are following the same strategy of securing their position players first, why do you complain about the Cubs doing the same thing?

            FYI – This year Scott Feldman may get the nod on Opening Day!

          • cubtex

            I have said the Cubs are following their exact plan and that is why they will draft a pitcher this year. Who’s complaining about the Cubs doing the same thing? Stros drafted pitching out of a strong need last year and the Cubs should do the same since we are following the same plan and 1 year behind. Theo should have the cliff notes.

            FYI- The Cubs have Travis Wood and EJax as their #2 and #3 this year.

          • Tony_Hall

            I did not know that Wood and EJAX were 2 and 3. Thanks!

          • cubtex

            I thought you wrote the book on sarcasm? You didn’t get the sarcastic nature of that FYI? lol

          • Tony_Hall

            I thought maybe you pointing out how much deeper our rotation was then the Astros.

          • cubtex

            hahahaha. now that was funny!

          • John_CC

            And just plain smarter! :)

        • TheWrongGuy

          I do agree on the need to draft pitching in this years draft though as there are a lot of nice arms.

          • cubtex

            All 4 of those guys can be TOR starters. All 4. It is not like this is a 2 pitcher draft.

        • Tony_Hall

          They will take the best player available. We have debated this far too many times already and I am not changing your opinion and you are not changing mine.
          If it ends up a hitter you can trade them for a James Shield type pitcher just like the Royals did with the Rays.

      • BigJonLilJon

        While that certainly makes sense… as of right now- projection wise, there isn’t a Kris Bryant type out there. That could change by June but since we are talking about what we know today…. I like Beede

        • Tony_Hall

          I am fine with them taking a pitcher with the pick, I was fine with Appel. But I am glad they took Bryant now.

    • BigJonLilJon

      Agree with the assessment on availability… Am hoping Beede is the one. He is closer age wise. Kolek still young and raw. We need the more mature arm and fast track him.

      • cubtex

        I’ve seen some mock drafts where they have White Sox drafting Alex Jackson at 3 so they could have a choice of either.

        • BigJonLilJon

          Am afraid its way to early to figure

    • Tom U

      I’m sorry that I won’t be available to respond to any comments on this for quite some time, as I will be indisposed. But I thought I would put my 2 cents in here while I could.

      After following the NFL Draft for the past 40 years, I know that it is unwise to confuse football draft strategies with baseball draft strategies.

      The NFL has a shorter developmental arc, so a team can debate whether to go for need or the best player available. Because the development process in baseball is different, teams should be wary of addressing needs over the best player available.

      Besides, the MLB has a better history of trading between teams. Trading from strength is always preferable to trading out of necessity.

      • paulcatanese

        Tom by saying you will be indisposed, I would hope it is not you’re health or ?

        • paulcatanese

          I apologize Tom, that was a dumb question, not a good day here.

  • cubtex

    No more down arrow voting? Can some people quit cold turkey? Is there a down voters anonymous group anywhere? Hi, my name is ##### and I am a down voter. Maybe a patch you can buy? A down voting app you can buy and put on your I phone so you can hit it anytime you feel the need???

    Just kidding. Neil, I think it is a good thing. It will lead to more constructive debate and discussion.

    • Tony_Hall

      LOL, it is a disqus thing.

      • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

        I never understand why anyone really cares about the arrows.

        • BosephHeyden

          It’s not so useful here, but it is very useful on some of those news sites where you accidentally scroll down to the comments and the first post you see is some idiot going on about how some other country has a plot to take over the world when the story is “Hulk Hogan is back with the WWF” or “DMX is going to fight George Zimmerman”.

          • John_CC

            BINGO. LOL!!

          • Eugene Debs

            Hulk is back! What are you gonna do, brother!?

  • cubtex

    1 year 8 mil deal. Nelson Cruz to the O’s. Very good pickup for the O’s.

    • daverj

      O’s made out well this offseason.

      • Eugene Debs

        Yes, they have improved their team. The AL East has spent a ton of money this offseason.

        Will they regret losing draft picks and not “rolling forward the savings?”

        • cubtex

          It was pick 55 for Cruz. No big loss.

    • jtrain23

      Seems like a bargain. There is very little risk here. They did not go after him early and did not commit extra years. I see no way this is truly a “loss” for the O’s. This is a guy that I thought might provide some middle of the lineup protection for Rizzo if his asking price dropped. I guess it wasn’t meant to be.

  • daverj

    Tony – I assume the fantasy baseball league is full at this point, but if you have an opening, I would be interested.

    • Tony_Hall

      Sorry, it is full.

  • John_CC

    You gotta love spring training!

    I really like the report on Junior, practicing OF drills everyday and English at night…with his grandmother. Really cool, my grandma was a great teacher too.

    On the other hand I have a very low expectation for Arrieta this spring.
    Lingering injuries are bad.

    • Tony_Hall

      Are you there?

      • John_CC

        Not yet. Leaving on Monday, I intend on going to the practice fields Tuesday and taking the family to the game Thursday!

    • paulcatanese

      Tell me about it:)