"His voice is warm and husky like dark melted chocolate fudge caramel... or something." THAT'S AN ACTUAL LINE FROM 50 SHADES OF GREY.

“His voice is warm and husky like dark melted chocolate fudge caramel… or something.”

The Muskbox is here to solve all of the Cubs’ third-base problems… or something. What that solution is, is hard to define. But if there’s one thing our resident librarian knows how to do, it’s define words. And phrases. And idioms. And shush people. And hand out detentions. And stamp books. And keep Ed Hartig fed and watered.

But most importantly, bringing your stupid questions to the world.

With Mike Olt and Kris Bryant coming up, the future at third base looks bright for the Cubs.

With TWO third basemen playing at once, we’ll be unstoppable! MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

In the immediate future, though, wouldn’t it be smart to sign a veteran like Michael Young to mentor the younger players and to provide stability at third while Olt and Bryant develop? Young seems like he would be a good fit for the Cubs. Any chance of that happening?
— Joel A., Florence, Ala.

“The future looks bright at third base. Can we please sign someone for insurance when our bright future at third base turns out to be a dull turd?”

CARRIE: Not likely, and not necessary. First, there are reports that Young is considering retirement.

“Wait, playing for the Cubs isn’t a form of retirement?”
-Fred McGriff

CARRIE: Second, if the Cubs did sign Young, he’d only be mentoring the young players for a few weeks in Spring Training, not during the season. The Cubs want the kids to play, not watch from the bench. Also, you forgot Luis Valbuena, who could be the Opening Day starter.

Remember, Cubs fans, Opening Day tickets are still somehow available!

CARRIE: That said, Olt is the player to watch this spring. During the Cubs Convention, director of player development and scouting Jason McLeod…

…whose business cards are fucking HUGE…

CARRIE: …reminded fans that Olt was untouchable when the team tried to acquire the third baseman from the Rangers in 2012 in the Ryan Dempster trade. Olt’s vision problems appear to have been resolved, and the Cubs will have a good idea of where he is once he faces live pitching in Mesa, Ariz.

The smart money is on, “In Mesa, Arizona.”

CARRIE: Position players report Feb. 18, but Olt has already been working out at the team’s new facility. Olt, 25, took part in the Cubs’ rookie development camp earlier this month.


CARRIE: “I don’t have anything I feel I have to prove,” he said.

…batting .152 with zero MLB home runs.

CARRIE: “I know I put in a lot of hard work. I think last year was good for me to deal with a lot of adversity to make me a better player. I know I’m going to get better.”

Bryant, who played at high Class A Daytona last season, most likely will open 2014 at Double-A Tennessee.

Now that Carrie has made predictions, is it safe to say that Bryant will be the starter, the Cubs will sign Young to back him up, Olt is completely blind, and Valbuena is going to be traded for a Motorola Razr?

What role can we expect Justin Ruggiano to fill this season with the Cubs? Is he the everyday center fielder or will he platoon with Ryan Sweeney and Nate Schierholtz?
— Matthew W., St. Peters, Mo.

When was the last time the Cub outfield wasn’t at least partially terrible? The end of the 2003 season? Someone get me Ed Hartig on the phone.

CARRIE: Ruggiano, acquired from the Marlins on Dec. 12 for Brian Bogusevic, has played mostly center and left, but he will likely platoon in right with Schierholtz and share center with Junior Lake and Sweeney. We’ll find out more about how manager Rick Renteria wants to use his outfielders this spring. The reason for the platoon is the players’ splits: Last season, Ruggiano batted .248 against lefties, compared to .210 vs. right-handers, while Schierholtz batted .170 vs. lefties and .262 against right-handers. Sweeney, limited to 70 games because of an injury, batted .313 against lefties and .250 vs. right-handers.

The parenthetical interruptor, a longtime staple of the Muskbox, conveys additional information at the expense of a sentence that flows naturally.

Is there any chance the Cubs might have more speed on the bases? They need more stolen bases.
— Bruce L., Fountain Hills, Ariz.

Are there ANY Cubs fans left in the actual state of Illinois?

Also, they absolutely don’t need that. The Cardinals were 29th in the league in steals last year. You’re stupid.

CARRIE: Looking at the current roster, Lake is one player who could steal more, but that’s about it. He swiped 38 bases in 2011, 21 in 2012, and 14 last year in the Minor Leagues. I’d rather see the Cubs be smart on the bases, not necessarily fast.

They’re traditionally pretty good at neither.

CARRIE: Just a note: the Cubs ranked 13th in the National League in stolen bases with 63 last season. The Cardinals, who reached the World Series, were last in the NL with 45.

Dammit, don’t steal my thunder.

What does the future hold for Darwin Barney and the Cubs?

I don’t want to be depressing, but death, inevitably.

There are rumors that Javier Baez may snag the second base spot or Barney may get a larger offer to stay with the Cubs. Personally, Barney is my favorite player and I would hate to see him go.
— Mike A., Kenosha, Wis.

Wow. You need higher standards.

CARRIE: Barney, who batted .208 last season, is the starting second baseman for now.


CARRIE: He has started working with new hitting coach Bill Mueller.

“Uhh, maybe you’re actually a switch hitter?”
-Bill Mueller

CARRIE: The Cubs have limited options, including Valbuena, who played second in Venezuela this winter. The Cubs want Baez to continue to play short, and he’ll open the season at Triple-A Iowa. You may see him at third and second this spring, depending on what Renteria and the Cubs’ staff decide.

Since the Cubs already added a mascot and do all sorts of stupid stuff at Wrigley, can we add manager walkup music when the deliver the lineup cards? I’m hearing an organ rendition of Sublime’s “Santeria” as Rick struts out to home plate.

Of the Cubs’ big four hitting prospects, Jorge Soler seems to be the one with the most mystery attached. He has been ranked as high as No. 32 on prospect lists I’ve seen.

Yes, his apartment is wallpapered with prospect lists. And he’s wearing lipstick. And he’s standing behind you RIGHT NOW.

I know he battled injuries a bit. What is an update on his progress and projection? How early can we expect to see him at Wrigley Field?
— Tim B., Chicago

“Depends on whether he avoided the virtual waiting room and preordered 6, 9, or 12-ticket packages last week!”
-Tom Ricketts

CARRIE: Soler, limited to 55 games last season because of a stress fracture in his left tibia…

Man, she’s absolutely KILLING IT on the parentheticals today.

CARRIE: …says he’s 100 percent healthy and his leg has healed. He did play in the Arizona Fall League, but the Cubs told him to take it easy to avoid re-aggravating the injury. He was in Chicago during the rookie development camp and looks ready to go.


CARRIE: Soler was recently ranked No. 49 on MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects , and he has dropped because of the limited playing time. When will he get to Wrigley Field? That’s up to him.

And the front office, of course. And I think Clark has some input.

What is going on with the Wrigley Field renovations? Living out of state because of work, I’m unable to follow. Has any work been done?
— David Q., Bourbonnais, Ill.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. We don’t need your whole life story, chief. We just need to know that you really need a hobby.

CARRIE: The renovations have not begun, just maintenance work.

TOM RICKETTS: Todd, did you sign that contractor’s agreement for the renovations?
TODD RICKETTS: (smacks forehead) D’oh!

CARRIE: However, the Cubs have applied for a permit for the see-through sign proposed for right field, despite opposition from rooftop owners. At the Cubs Convention, president of business operations Crane Kenney did say the $500 million, five-year renovation plan could be completed in four years once they decide to proceed. The delay is because of the threat of legal action by the rooftop owners.

Thanks to Section 242, I’m going to have some shit to say about the rooftop owners, so I’ll leave that for another day. But you know what’s obnoxious? That some litigators are absolutely champing at the bit to represent these morons.