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Series Preview #2: Talking Cubs With View From The Bleachers

1-2 (T-3rd place, NL Central)
1-2 (T-3rd place, NL Central)

GAME 1: April 9, 2012 @ 6:05 p.m. CDT
(TV: FS-Wisconsin and ESPN; Radio: 620 WTMJ)

: April 10, 2012 @ 7:05 p.m. CDT
(TV: FS-Wisconsin; Radio: 620 WTMJ)

GAME 3: April 11, 2012 @ 1:20 p.m. CDT
(TV: FS-Wisconsin and WGN; Radio: 620 WTMJ)

GAME 4: April 12, 2012 @ 1:20 p.m. CDT
(TV: FS-Wisconsin; Radio: 620 WTMJ)

Wrigley Field Chicago, Illinois

SBN Coverage: Brewers vs Cubs coverage

A View from the Other Dugout: Bleed Cubbie Blue

Game 1 Shaun Marcum (0-0, ---) vs. Chris Volstad (0-0, ---)
vs. Cubs (0-0, ---) vs. Brewers (0-0, ---)
Game 2 Chris Narveson (0-0, ---) vs. Paul Maholm (0-0, ---)
vs. Cubs (0-0, ---) vs. Brewers (0-0, ---)
Game 3 Yovani Gallardo (0-1, 14.73) vs. Ryan Dempster (0-0, 1.17)
vs. Cubs (0-0, ---) vs. Brewers (0-0, ---)
Game 4 Zack Greinke (1-0, 0.00) vs. Matt Garza (0-0, 3.00)
vs. Cubs (0-0, ---) vs. Brewers (0-0, ---)

As the Brewers and Cubs get ready to open a four game set on the north side of Chicago, we traded a few questions with Jeremiah of View From The Bleachers. Head over there to see what I told him (before Corey Hart got hot), and check out his answers to our questions below.

BCB: Chris Volstad makes his Cubs debut Monday after four seasons with the Marlins. What have you learned about him this spring, and what are your expectations for his season?

VFTB: While he is a four-year veteran, Volstad is only 25, so there's at least some reason to hope that his best days are still in front of him. So far in his young career he's proven to be fairly durable (making at least 29 starts in each of his last three seasons), and he doesn't walk many batters (right around 3 BB/9). However he does give up a lot of hits, and many Cubs fans are understandably concerned about how that trend will translate to the hitter-friendly conditions of Wrigley Field--especially when the wind is blowing out.

But frankly none of that matters much to plenty of Cubs fans, who will judge Volstad more on who he isn't than who he is. In replacing Carlos Zambrano, he might be able to please fans simply by not fighting with, showing up, or publicly criticizing his teammates, imploding on the mound in response to an error or a missed call, threatening to retire, sparring with the media, and generally being a firestorm of controversy and a wellspring of discontent. I'm part of the very small group of Cubs fans who still like Zambrano, and even I will admit that Volstad won't have to do much to replace Big Z. The bar for success is pretty low--just stay healthy and don't blow the game. If he can find a way to live up to the potential that made him a first round draft pick, it will be a bonus.

Follow the jump for more!

BCB: What can you tell us about the situation at first base? Between Bryan LaHair, Jeff Baker and Anthony Rizzo, who should we expect to see this week? Will that answer change as the season goes along?

VFTB: As long as his back holds out, you can expect to see Bryan LaHair at 1B for most of the series. Dale Sveum may want to rest him Tuesday and let Jeff Baker start against the lefty Narveson, but other than the occasional platoon, LaHair has been tabbed as our starter at first. During his short stint with the team at the end of last season, he was one of the Cubs' most productive hitters. It was a very small sample, but he played well enough in garbage time to merit a closer look. And I think it makes sense in a rebuilding year to see what he can do over the course of the season.

Especially since our front office is in no hurry to promote our 1B prospect Anthony Rizzo. New GM Jed Hoyer has been very direct about the fact that he thinks they rushed Rizzo to the majors last year in San Diego, and he's determined to not make the same mistake this year. Barring an injury or a complete nosedive for LaHair, I think the Cubs are content to give Rizzo another full season in AAA. Even if he's tearing the cover off the ball, I wouldn't expect to see him before the All Star break.

BCB: What's your early read on Dale Sveum as manager?

VFTB: Every new manager talks about stressing fundamentals and doing the little things the right way. So far, it appears Sveum actually means it. And while the makeover hasn't been dramatic, I think most Cubs fans have already noticed a difference with this team. Look no further than professional lollygagger Alfonso Soriano taking improved routes to fly balls in the outfield, or advancing from first to third on a single as indicators that Dale's making a dent.

Now it hasn't all been balloons and confetti--I don't care if we're preaching aggressive baserunning, Joe Mather shouldn't have been sent on contact with the infield drawn in and only one out on Opening Day. But so far I like his instructive/constructive approach, and I like the limited results I've seen. And I know it will be valuable--and ought to bear even further results--as the team gets younger in the coming years.

Thanks again to Jeremiah and View From The Bleachers for taking the time.