Villanueva Has Strong Start for Cubs

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The Cubs deserve a much needed day off today after an 8-3 dismantling of the woeful Phillies. Everything went right for the Cubs in the victory. Ryan Kalish collected three RBI’s, Emilio Bonifacio continued his quest to represent the Cubs at the All Star game and Carlos Villanueva had a stellar day on the mound for the Northsiders.

Now the bad news. Starlin Castro. He’s slowly playing a better game but his error on a chance for a double play, but bobbled the ball and the Phillies loaded the bases. These are things that can be fixed. If Rick Renteria hasn’t started pulling his hair out yet, he might start to.

Emilio Bonifacio made a nice grab and leap proving he’s no slouch on defence.

“That went from a moment of head down to a very excited, ‘I can’t believe we had somebody play there,'” Villanueva said of Bonifacio’s play in the fifth. “The inning before, we make an error, and the next inning, we have somebody there. It’s a crazy game. Today it worked for us. Sometimes you’re upset at the shift, sometimes nobody complains.”

In fact, it was hugs all around when Rick Renteria hugged Villanueva after his performance. I believe this is the right attitude the Cubs have to have in the dugout. Maybe not so much a huggy feely type, I mean C’mon, those, “Lovable losers” is going way too far, but maybe a positive feeling might help with player’s morale this season because as we know, this one’s going to be a very long one for sure.

“He’s a big hugger,” Villanueva said of the rookie manager. “He worked his magic on me.”

Jose Veras struggled in the closer role and almost cost it for the Cubs. It happens, at least this early in the season, but I’d prefer Pedro Strop in that role.

—Mark

The Cubs Hoping For The Best But…

MLB: Spring Training-Chicago White Sox at Chicago Cubs

We’re into the home stretch before Opening Day 2014 and the Cubs didn’t disappoint. Ryan Sweeney let loose and crushed the ball to get his first home run of the Cactus League season. Travis Wood looked good and Wellington Castillo, Justin Ruggiano and even Darwin Barney. Yes, old Golden Glove Barney managed to get a hit.

So, are the Cubs ready for the season? I think they’re as ready as they can be for this year. The Cubs made the announcement that Mike Olt and Ryan Kalish made the cut.

This is great news. Let’s see more of Mike Olt this season. More than likely he’ll be at third.

“Olt had a great spring with the bat, his at-bats were very good, patient, aggressive, his swings were aggressive and he did a lot of damage and drove in a lot of runs,” Jed Hoyer said. “It was pretty clear if he was able to play third and get enough innings in and get enough reps, it was clear we wanted his bat in Wrigley.”

I think Javier Baez wanted his bat at Wrigley. Don’t worry Javy, we’ll be seeing you soon enough.

After this weekend the fate of the Chicago Cubs rests in Rick Rentiera’s capable hands. He’s going to be a great manager for the team and unlike some in the past like Lou Pinella who was in the twilight of his career and Mike Quade who was given the unenviable task of taking over a team that was falling apart. Was he a good coach? Somebody give Mike a second chance. Then there was Dale Sveum who in hindsight maybe wasn’t the right coach for a team in transition. Notice I didn’t use the term, “rebuilding”?

This is Rick’s team. He’s personable, capable and likes to laugh a lot which is probably the most important skill to have this year. Will he lose his job if the Cubs don’t live up to expectations? They’ve got nowhere else to go. Please Theo and Jed, this is the guy.

“Every time we came into Chicago, I felt this would be the place I would want to be a part of,” Renteria said. “I feel very comfortable here. I feel I’ve been welcomed by everyone. It’s a tremendously joyous spring and a very productive spring, and I’m looking forward to being part of the Chicago Cubs organization.”

Believe it.

Mark