Monday, January 3, 2011

Projecting the opening day roster

Sorry that is has been so long since I last posted...I've seen sick for most of the New Years weekend, and I'm just now starting to feel a bit better. Too bad...I wanted to do a cute little post for New Years, but that time has past. Anyway, I hope you all had a good and safe weekend.

Now on to 2011...

The Cubs are likely to make some more moves over the next 3 months as we approach opening day, but unless a major trade were to happen, the Cubs don’t have a whole lot of openings on the 25 man roster. There will be some internal battles like the one for the 5th starter position….but most of the players competing for that will already be on the 25 roster. So, who do we know is going to be at Wrigley on April 1st?

The starting 8:

Starting rotation:



Pitchers competing for the 5th starter:

This results in 22 of 25 roster positions already filled. There is some question about Cashner, who has options left. The Cubs seem to be pretty hell-bent on attempting to make Cashner a starter (which I believe is a mistake). If that is true and he doesn’t make the rotation out of spring training, I could see the Cubs sending him back to Iowa to continue work as a starter.

Ok, with that said, let’s examine what we have left for those three positions. It is probably a safe assumption to say that the Cubs will go with a 12 man pitching staff out of spring training. If that is so, we have 11 pitchers already named, that leaves on reliever spot available. Of the players named, there are only 4 true outfielders, so we can assume that one of the remaining spots would go to an outfielder as well. The final spot would be for an infielder.

First, let’s look at that relief pitcher. I say relief pitcher, but I suppose that it is possible that that remaining spot could be filled by someone that makes the team as the 5th starter. The names…

Justin Berg
Esmailin Caridad
Casey Coleman
Thomas Diamond
James Russell
Jeff Stevens
All of these kids spent time on the roster last season. Caridad, Russell, and Berg all started the 2010 season on the roster…now there is only room for one of them. Coleman and Diamond both pitched fairly well last year in their first season but are probably going to kept in AAA as starters. Caridad impressed everyone at the end of the 2009 season and then again in spring training last year…but was obviously hurt early in the season and then was put on the DL for the rest of the 2010. Russell, Stevens and Berg all are set as career relievers, none of whom have stood out so far in their young careers.

With the Cubs looking very hard at either acquiring another starter or using Cashner as a starter (and with Coleman and Diamond available as starters), it is likely that Marshall and Gorzelanny will be in the bullpen. With Grabow also in the pen, that gives the Cubs 3 lefty relievers already. As a result, it is likely that they will want to use that final spot for a right handed reliever. Even if Marshall or Gorzellany were to go into the starting staff, two lefties are often quite enough for a bullpen. That eliminates Russell.

I believe that the battle will ultimately come between Stevens, Caradid and Berg.

In the outfield, with Colvin already set as a backup that could play all three positions, I fully expect that the Cubs will look for a defensive specialist to fill the final spot out there. Sam Fuld, who continues to just exist on the 40 man roster for no other reason than to excite scrappy-loving fans, is the logical choice there. The Cubs could look in a different direction, though, as they have no true backup first baseman right now (not counting Tyler Colvin). Bryan LaHair had an outstanding season last year…but he could be nothing more than another Micah Hoffpauir. Other possibilities…James Adduci, Brad Snyder and Brett Jackson. Jackson has stated that he is hoping to make a “Colvinesque” type of impression on the Cubs during spring training this year. We’ll see. My guess right now is that the Cubs will either go with LaHair or Fuld.

The infield might be easiest of all the battles. Darwin Barney seems to be the most logical person for that spot. With Jeff Baker as the only real backup at 3rd, Marquez Smith, who played fairly well last year in Tennessee and Iowa, might be an option. In the end, Barney, who I believe will never be much more than a Ronny Cedeno type player for the Cubs, will get that last infield spot.

There is still a lot of time between now and opening day and the Cubs still seem to want to make a trade for a starting pitcher. We also see that once spring training comes along, you never know who might make a big impression like Tyler Colvin did last season. And there are always injuries (Grabow…please?).


We should be hearing about arbitration numbers sometime this week...I believe that could lead to the Cubs giving both Carlos Marmol and Geovany Soto contract extensions.