Thursday, February 18, 2010

Are there any roster spots open?

Today is the first official day of workouts for the pitchers and catchers...we have another few days until the last 2 people not in camp actually arrive for full squad workouts. 

I have been hinting at this a few times over the last couple months, but examining the players in camp and everyone who has signed, I truly believe the Cubs 25 man roster is almost completely set.

Going on the assumption that the Cubs will go with a 12 man pitching staff and 13 position players, we can go ahead and make out a list of who we will see in Atlanta in early April for opening day.

First, let's get the undisputed players out of the way...

position players:

and the pitchers:
Grabow that gives us 10 position players and 6 pitchers.

Let's get the last three position players out of the way.  The Cubs will likely have 2 backups for the infield.  With the Fontenot/Baker platoon, that leaves only one position player remaining on the infield.  This player would likely need to be a middle infielder...someone to back up Theriot at the very least.  Only one player really fits that description and that is Andres Blanco.  Only a handful of other players could even be considered...with Bobby Scales topping that list, but Scales has had his chance last year and didn't show much and Scales is not currently on the 40 man roster.  Blanco is also out of options, so if the Cubs were to not put him on the rosters, he would have to be placed on waivers.  So, Andy White is our final infielder.

Then we have 2 outfield positions.  Xavier Nady signed a nice contract with the Cubs and will likely platoon with Fukudome in right field (and he might even take over every day out there if Nady returns to 2008 form!).  That leaves only one more position.  A number of names have been tossed about this year for that outfield position:  Sam Fuld, Micah Hoffpauir, Tyler Colvin, and James Adduci. All of these players have options fact, Adduci hasn't played with the big league club yet.  Hoffpauir, Colvin and Adduci are all left handed hitters.  Fuld and Adduci are considered good fielders and can steal bases.  With the starting outfielders average to below average in the field (except Fukudome) I believe it is important for the Cubs to have an option for a defensive replacement late in the game.  That would probably eliminate Hoffpauir and Colvin.  Fuld has had some big league experience and has played wonderfully in the field.  At the plate?  Eh.  Adduci played ball at AA Tennessee last year.  He might not be ready for the big league club.  While I think the Cubs would prefer a left handed bat, Fuld is still the best option overall for what they need.  If Adduci plays well early in the year for Sandberg at Iowa, the Cubs might switch the two.

So, that pretty much fills out the roster for position players.  Don't ask me where Chad Tracy and Kevin Millar fit into this...if they accept playing in the minor leagues, it gives the Cubs some veteran backups for when Ramirez pops out his shoulder again and when Lee breaks his wrist.

Ok, so off to the pitching staff.  We have 6 pitchers right now, 4 starters and 2 relievers.  We need a total of 12.  First off we will put the pitchers on the 40 man roster who are out of options...Tom Gorzelanny and Angel Guzman.  That's gets us to 8.  Marshall will be back.  That's nine.  Samardzija is being paid too much not to be on the roster.  That's 10.  Jeff Gray was brought over in the Aaron Miles trade is probably a lock.  That is 11.

Here is a list of the rest of the pitchers who have a chance to make the staff.  Carlos Silva, Justin Burg, David Patton, Mitch Atkins and Jeff Stevens.  I will also add Mike Parisi to this list since he is a Rule 5 pick and if he doesn't stay on the 25 man roster, he could go back to the Cardinals. 

The first point I want to make here is that rumors have the Cubs still looking to pick up a right handed setup man in the bullpen.  If this is true, then all of these guys are likely out of luck and when the Cubs sign that pitcher (Chan Ho Park???) the roster will indeed be set. 

Assuming no one else is signed, let's look at the rest of these guys.  I have figured that Silva is done.  I believe the Cubs will make up an injury and place Silva on the DL before the season starts.  Stevens, Patton, Atkins, Parisi, and Stevens are all right handers.  With Marshall, Gorzelanny and Grabow all being left handers, it make sense that the last player here would be a righty.  So that eliminates no one.  My guess is that Parisi will not be 100% yet and that the Cubs could start him off on the DL this season.  He is recovering from Tommy John surgery...he did pitch in the minors and in the AFL late last year.  It remains to be seen if he is he's out. 

Burg, Patton, Atkins and Stevens.  For me, all of these guys are pretty much the same.  I was furious with the fact the Cubs were unwilling to lose Rule 5 pick Stevens last I'm eliminating him straight out due to emotional distress.  The three remaining players have pitched a combined total of 26.2 innings in the big leagues.  Stevens pitched the most innings, 12.2...and probably has the best fast ball...but he was also the most ineffective of the three (Atkins 2 innings probably shouldn't count). 

The real battle in camp, I believe, will be with these three players.

Now, which is typically the case, the Cubs could start the season with a few of these players on the DL...including Guzman, Lilly, Gray and Nady.  With the players in camp right now, the Cubs should have no problems replacing them in the short term.

A lot might be made about players competing for jobs this year, but the truth is, with the exception of that last bullpen spot, it all has really been decided already.