Chicago Cubs: Spring training position battles

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Left field:  Chris Coghlan vs Matt Szczur vs Junior Lake vs Mike Olt vs Chris Denorfia 

Personally, I like Chris Coghlan.  I liked the move when the Cubs signed him last year – the former National League Rookie of the Year just needed a new home and a new vote of confidence.  He got both with the Chicago Cubs.  He played very well last year and really caught on when he was the lead-off hitter for the Cubs.  I think he’s right now the lead favorite to take the job. He does have a few options sitting behind him waiting to take his spot if he lets up.

First option may be Matt Szczur for the Cubs after Coghlan. Szczur is a great athlete with the speed you want in an outfielder.  Szczur still hasn’t shown the bat that scouts had thought he’d bring to the big leagues but that could come around. His athletic ability is an advantage that he does have but it’s probably not enough to win him the job over Coghlan.  Szczur could find himself as a valuable option to fill in for Dexter Fowler to give him a break.

The same probably can be said about Chris Denorfia as Szczur.  While Denorfia hasn’t had a lot of consistent playing time over the past few years, his value will be as a fill-in and also a veteran leader on the bench. Olt has an outside chance at sneaking in because of his bat.  If Olt plays well in spring training and Kris Bryant forces the front office to call him up to start the season, Olt could be the wild card in this battle.

The player I’d like to see step up and take the job is Junior Lake.  Two years ago, Lake showed signs of being a future outfield star for the Cubs.  Good power, great speed, a good throwing arm – Lake seemed to be destined for a future all-star.  Last year, Lake showed very little of what we liked in 2013.  Too many strikeouts really cut down the amount of playing time Lake could have had – thus giving other players a chance to step up and claim his spot.  It’s time for Lake to take his spot back.

Winter ball reports showed that Lake had improved on his patience. He increased his walk rate and cut down on the strikeouts.  Lake was also stealing bases with consistency.  Two things that if Lake goes into spring training continuing to do, he can take that job back.  Lake is who I am cheering for but I’m still expecting Coghlan to claim his job in left field.

Next: So many arms - so few spots