ANAHEIM, Calif. -- With Opening Day upon us it's time to empty the Chicago Cubs mailbag one last time this preseason:
Jesse Rogers: He'll rest them more than most managers. Anthony Rizzo will play the most, but I think the bulk of them will get a considerable amount, especially later in the season. I think Joe Maddon will have some sort of rotation in mind. assuming everyone stays healthy. I know he believes players benefit from days off more than they realize, so don't expect anyone to play more than 155 games -- save Rizzo, perhaps. But I don't even think Rizzo plays every night. Maddon often says he doesn't care what it says on "their birth certificates"; young or old, you're going to rest.
#CubsChat will Rizzo Bryant Heyward Russell and other regulars play everyday or will Joe rest them more than in the past?— Curt Lindaas (@CLindaas) April 2, 2016
JR: I don't know -- easier said than done. When it is all done Warren could very well be an important piece, and remember the Cubs view the trade as Starlin Castro for Adam Warren and Ben Zobrist. Zobrist filled a specific need, and Castro's value fluctuated so much over the past year or two who knows what they would have gotten had they waited. We can always second guess, but the Cubs feel like they came out better for it. It's hard to argue against that after watching Zobrist all spring. I know Castro is younger, but I don't have a problem with the two deals being viewed together. Jake Arrieta will start Sunday. They wouldn't hold him back just because it's the home opener. They might do it for other reasons, such as matchups or extra rest, but not because of something like that. Tyson Ross of San Diego or one of the Cleveland pitchers. Maybe this is the year the White Sox move some pitching if they fall out of contention. There will obviously be some rentals available but none are more intriguing in my opinion than former Cubs top pick Andrew Cashner. Wouldn't getting him back be interesting? And this could be the year the Cubs put a big package of prospects together to get that final piece. Maybe Sonny Gray from Oakland, or possibly James Shields. Padres pitchers will be intriguing to a lot of teams. Andrelton Simmons is in the American League Addison Russell has as good a chance as anyone. He'll make the spectacular plays, but he also needs to make all the routine ones. That's how you win a Gold Glove. Heck, it could happen as soon as this season. I think he's that good, but he's still learning. Give him some time. John Lackey, but I don't know when that would be. Maybe the workload catches up with Arrieta, but I'm not betting on that either. Obviously the easy answers here are Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks. I guess I have a few more concerns about Hammel due to his second half last season. Hendricks seemed to figure a few things out at the end of the season, and we kind of know what he is. I don't so much worry about Hammel but want to see a full year from him. At least he addressed some concerns this past offseason, getting himself in better shape and recognizing he needed to make changes for a better finish.
In hindsight do you think the Cubs would have been better of keeping Castro or trading him for a more valuable piece than Warren? #CubsChat— Mason Hublar (@MasonHublar) April 2, 2016
JR: I think there was a moment or two which looked worrisome, but Hector Rondon finished strong and his stuff looked pretty good. He had some location issues early on but seems to have righted the ship. Good question on the backup plan. It probably be a committee with Justin Grimm, Trevor Cahill and obviously Pedro Strop being your best bets there, but I'm pretty sure Joe Maddon wouldn't stick with the same guy every night. He'd play the matchup game. Rondon should be fine, but let's see how it looks starting next week. Travis Wood, Warren, etc., out there for a couple innings each. Eventually Warren could emerge as the top swing man, but right now it's Cahill. Jason Heyward, and Maddon has made a point of discussing it with his hitters, but we'll need to see it to believe it. Other than that I don't see much of a weakness on this team as long as those middle innings are taken care of.
Should we be concerned about Rondon's rough spring? What's the backup plan if he falters as closer? #cubschat— Ed Lorenzen (@CaptainPAYGO) April 2, 2016
JR: I guess Grimm worries me the least. He'll have his moments where he walks a few too many guys, but his stuff is really good and he'll get strikeouts when he needs them. I suppose Neil Ramirez worries me in terms of injury concerns, and I'm not sure I liked how Wood pitched in the spring. He seemed to give up some hard contact. I can't tell much about Strop from the preseason since he didn't pitch all that much. I've always liked Rondon's stuff, so I'm willing to dismiss any spring issues. He was great last year and is healthy. That's good enough for me.
As far as the Bullpen goes, Which pitcher worries you the least, and which one worries you the most going into this season? #CubsChat— Patrick Derrico (@sportsjuncky) April 1, 2016
JR: From the starting staff it would have to be pitchers such as Williams, or Pierce Johnson if he's throwing well. The Cubs are stacked with position players, so it would take more than one injury for Albert Almora or Billy McKinney or similar players to have a big impact. I suppose Willson Contreras could be up if Miguel Montero or David Ross got injured, but those starting pitchers and Spencer Patton out of the bullpen are your best bets. Patton is probably first up, as there's always use for a reliever early in the season and he looked great this spring. Aaron Brooks is a candidate as well.
Which Cubs minor leaguer will make the biggest impact with the big club this year #cubschat— Ed Lorenzen (@CaptainPAYGO) April 1, 2016
JR: Matt Szczur. He's looked great lately but Maddon has already said Javier Baez has a job when he's healthy. I don't know if Szczur will be traded or put on waivers at that point, but I don't think he stays over anyone else on the current roster.
#cubschat Who will be sent down when Javier Baez comes off the DL?— william Harrison (@gochicagoubs) April 1, 2016