The Cubs continue to go with an 11-man pitching staff (six-man bullpen), but with a stretch of ten consecutive games looming starting tomorrow, and with hot and humid weather now a factor affecting the stamina of Cubs starting pitchers (Zambrano said he was sapped by the second inning yesterday), it seems very unlikely that Lou Piniella will want to go with a "short" (six-man) bullpen through the weekend.
Trading Jacque Jones was supposed to be the method used to open up a spot on the 25-man roster for the 12th pitcher, but now it appears JJ might not be going anywhere anytime soon.
So if Uncle Lou does indeed believe he needs a seven-man bullpen (and 12-man pitching staff), what move will the Cubs make to clear a spot for the 12th pitcher?
Well, Daryle Ward could get released. He is only making $1M (with about $500K left), and Jones could perform the same role as Ward (#1 LHPH). Except Ward will probably be needed to platoon with Mark DeRosa at 1B when D-Lee serves his suspension or if D-Lee were to get hurt later in the season, and DW is also a legitimate, proven, high-quality MLB LHPH, which Jacque Jones is not.
Of the 14 position players presently on the Cubs 25-man roster, only four have minor league options available.
It is far more likely that if a position-player on the 25 gets cut, that it will be one of these four:
1. MIKE FONTENOT
: He isn't going anywhere.
2. ANGEL PAGAN
: A switch-hitter who can play all three OF positions, Pagan (hitting right-handed) has been used a lot recently as both a platoon CF and RF, as well as an occasional PR and defensive replacement in RF for Cliff Floyd when he doesn't get a start.
3. FELIX PIE
: A potential Gold Glove CF, Pie has struggled at the plate the last couple of weeks, and has been used mostly as a late-inning defensive replacement in CF and pinch-runner.
4. RYAN THERIOT
: Capable of playing 2B-SS-3B, Theriot is the Cubs #1 utility infielder and RHPH.
I believe the key here is Jacque Jones. He obviously had some value to the Florida Marlins. (If acquired, he supposedly was going to be their everyday CF!). The Padres apparently considered him as a possible everyday LF. And the Twins wanted him as a 4th OF/DH. So if he remains indefintely on the Cubs 25-man roster, what legitimate (non-sarcastic) role could he play in the immediate future?
I would say if Jacque Jones remains with the Cubs and is given some role to play, that it will be in a CF platoon with Angel Pagan, not #1 LHPH. Which means when a 12th pitcher is added (probably by sometime this weekend), unless a Jacque Jones deal can be rekindled, or unless the Cubs are wiling to eat $6.6M of JJ's remaining $7.2M in salary owed to hom through 2008 by releasing him, that Felix Pie will probably be the Odd Man Out, and will get optioned to Iowa where he can play CF every day, work with Iowa hitting coach Von Joshua on his approach and stroke, and wait (probably impatiently) for the Cubs to move Jacque Jones.