Hail, Szczur! We who are about to cheer salute you!

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There were Final Four games today, but I just couldn’t tear myself away from an otherwise meaningless Chicago Cubs spring training broadcast on WGN.  There’s something to be said for a relaxing game of baseball, especially one in which your favorite team wins.  While there were a few errors in this game early, the defense (and Edwin Jackson, too!) held up enough to twice prevent the tying run from scoring and preserve the eventual shutout.

The Cubs have also been smacking the baseball all over the place (when they make contact, but whatever, strikeouts will happen), with another three homers on the day.


The final touch came off the suddenly-powerful bat of Matt Szczur:

These weren’t cheap home runs either, as the ones late in the game came off superb relievers Wade Davis and Greg Holland, but again, spring training.

With exactly one week to the hour until Opening Night at a Wrigley Field that’s going to look very interesting on national television, we can check out the roster yet again.  The rotation may be in some pseudo-flux due to not knowing if Jon Lester is going to be 100%, but we can reasonably pencil him in for the Sunday night start to kick off the 2015 season.

…Cubs won’t confirm Lester is pitching Sunday and line up the rest of the rotation until after he throws on Tuesday. So that alone makes it a little noteworthy.

“If Jon is ‘yes, I’m good,’” then we can fill in the blanks quickly,” Maddon said Sunday before the Cubs played the Kansas City Royals.

I think they’re just being cautious.  Anyway, I took the previous roster check and put the “locks” in bold while putting asterisks on the guys who are on the bubble, with a double asterisk on guys who are likely to make the team if not traded or broken…

Pitchers:
Arrieta
Britton* (second LOOGY, depending on what they do with Edwin Jackson)
Coke
Grimm
Hammel
Hendricks
Jackson** (options are not kind)
Lester
Motte** (he’s probably a lock but has looked like crap this spring)
Ramirez
Rondon
Rosscup* (I’d put him on the roster if not for the fact that he has an option remaining)
Strop
Wood

Catchers:

Castillo** (he’s a lock if not traded)
Montero
Ross

Infielders:

Alcantara
Baez** (he’s probably on, but the bat is going to need a ton of adjustment)
Castro
La Stella
Olt
Rizzo
Bryant* (wait for it)

Outfielders

Coghlan
Fowler
Lake* (option remaining, toolsy but may end up being primary depth in Iowa)
Soler
Sweeney* (cheap contract, could get rid of him easily and inexpensively but he’s lefty)
Szczur** (option remaining, but the best option for bench guy in my opinion)

I omitted guys like Jacob Turner, Tsuyoshi Wada and Chris Denorfia who are currently injured and will need some time to get ready for the season.  This is still just the Opening Night roster.  But once Lester checks out okay on Tuesday and everyone can get through this final week with a clean bill of health, I think this permutation of players is what you’ll most likely see.

So, you guys ready for this?  Literally…ONE MORE WEEK.

 

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About Rice Cube

Rice Cube is the executive vice president of snark at World Series Dreaming. He loves all things Cubs, with notable exceptions (specifically, the part of Cubs fandom that pisses him off). Follow on Twitter at cubicsnarkonia

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