Thursday, February 10, 2011

Reason to hope the Cubs never have to use their bench.

Forgive my absence this week. I returned to work on Tuesday and, to put it mildly, I've had to clean up a lot of shit that piled up during my baby-leave.

Thankfully, the Cubs continued their quiet off-season, so we didn't miss much.

The good thing is that pitchers and catcher report next week.

So what shall I talk about?

I was thinking about talking about the keys to the Cubs succeeding this season...but, honestly, that's something that is better left for the end of spring training, not the beginning.

I could talk about the key battles to watch for in spring training, but, honestly, outside of the fifth starter (a choice among 10 shitty pitchers), 2nd base (a choice between 3 shitty hitters) and right field (K-Fuk or Colvin), this spring is going to be pretty damn boring.

Look for a moment about what I said about 2nd base and right field. Does anything there excite you at all? No...

And that should be concerning because the players who lose these battles are going to be on the bench.
In need of some talent.
Right now, let's assume that Fukudome and DeWitt win the battles at their respective positions. That means the Cubs will have Baker, Barney and Colvin on the bench joining, probably, Koyie Hill and Reed Johnson.
If the Cubs go with an 11 man pitching staff out of spring training, they would add one more position player. On the current 40 man roster, that would be Fernando Perez, but that would give the Cubs 6 outfielders...but that's too many. Marquez Smith or (for Pete's sake) Bobby Scales would be an option to finish off the roster.

In years past, the Cubs have looked for a veteran hitter to play a role on the bench. The bench hasn't even been an afterthought this year.

The bench serves two roles on a team...pinch hitting and insurance against injury.

Outside of Colvin in right field, the Cubs don't have a single position that they can afford an injury at right now. At third base, if Ramirez gets hurt, as he often does, Baker probably takes his place, and while Baker has been good against lefty pitchers, having him hit a majority of the time again righties is a recipe for disaster. Marquez Smith could be called up, but I think he's nothing more than 2011's Micah Hoffpauir or Jake Fox.

At shortstop, Darwin Barney could fill in, but I've said it before, Darwin Barney is nothing more than another Ronny Cedeño.

At second base...again Baker.

Backup at 1st base...(let in the crickets please). I guess Baker could play there.

Center field....Reedz, who we didn't want last year.

Left field, Colvin and Reedz again.

Look, in order for the Cubs to succeed this year, they need Soriano, Ramirez and Pena to have very good seasons...better seasons than they've had the last few years. They can't get away with only one or two of these guys playing well...they need all three to show some serious production improvements. With no one to really back them up, things could get very ugly offensively. You should expect Ramirez to miss some time, and Soriano hasn't exactly been “healthy” since putting on that Cubs uniform.

This is a weak bench backing up a bunch of guys that will need some backup. Let's just hope the aging veterans stay healthy.