Let's take a quick glance at how the battles for the few roster spots and jobs has been going down in Mesa.
Barring a meltdown the last three weeks (dear lord, three weeks of spring training left?), it looks like Sean Marshall has won the job over Aaron Heilman, Jeff Samardzija and Chad Gaudin.
Heilman looks headed to the set-up role, Samardzija probably to the minors and Gaudin to the waiver wire.
A lot can change in three weeks, but at the moment, the Cubs have four of the seven spots locked down in Carlos Marmol, Kevin Gregg, Aaron Heilman and Neal Cotts. That leaves three spots left for this motley group (ordered in who are the favorites at the moment) .
Luis Vizcaino, David Patton, Chad Gaudin, Angel Guzman, Jeff Samardzija, Jason Waddell, Randy Wells, Mike Stanton, Jose Ascanio, Kevin Hart, Ken Kadokura
I find it hard to believe that the Cubs will just eat Vizcaino's contract and teams will wait for guys to get cut from camp before wasting money and prospects on acquiring Vizcaino in a trade. Patton is Rule 5 draftee and has so far given the Cubs good reason to keep him on the roster. That leaves a battle between Gaudin and Guzman (neither have options left) for the final spot and they have three weeks to justify their roster spots. I don't really think the Cubs will carry Samardzija in the pen, preferring to keep him in Iowa stretched out in case a starter is needed. I think Jason Waddell is the dark horse here, because at some point Lou and Larry are going to realize they want two lefties in the pen.
As for the closer battle, it doesn't matter much to me, but probably does for your fantasy teams. I would guess at the moment that it's going to be Kevin Gregg with Carlos Marmol back in the set-up role. Marmol's strikeout ability is better suited for the role of coming in with runners on base and Gregg has been sharp so far in spring training.
Mike Fontenot has won the job over Aaron Miles and will bat sixth in the lineup. Cubs fans exhale collectively.
Lou said he already has a good idea who the backup catcher will be but isn't telling. A quick look at the tale of the tape tells us it should be Koyie Hill.
Never under estimate the power of being a veteran, but Hill is getting the at-bats and clearly leading the race.
Lou says Micah Hoffpauir is a cinch to make the roster and will get some time in the corner outfield spots as well as first base. That makes the bench: Backup catcher, Miles, Hoffpauir, Reed Johnson and one spot open. I'm not sure that one spot is really open with Joey Gathright hitting respectably in spring training and stealing five of six bases. But, they really seem to want someone to back-up third base so Esteban German, Luis Rivas, Bobby Scales and Corey Koskie can still make a case for themselves. Also, with the Cubs skipping a starter at least once, possibly twice, they could carry an extra bench player and go one less reliever for a few weeks. A lot can happen in two weeks and someone might get injured or a reliever may implode right out of the gate (I recall Hart and Pignatiello doing that in recent years) and the Cubs can adjust when a fifth starter is needed around mid-April.
25-Man Opening Day Roster
Here's my guess on the Opening Day Roster
C - Soto
1B - Lee
2B - Fontenot
SS - Theriot
3B - Ramirez
LF - Soriano
CF - Fukudome
RF - Bradley
K. Hill, M. Hoffpauir, A. Miles, R. Johnson, J. Gathright
Zambrano, Dempster, Lilly, Harden, Marshall
Marmol, Gregg, Heilman, Cotts, Vizcaino, Patton, Gaudin
While I kidded about Gaudin headed to the waiver wire, he seemed to be the victim of a tight strike zone in his last start and being out of the running of the 5th starter spot, he should still get some chances to concentrate on being a reliever and working out of the bullpen.
vs righties: Soriano, Fukudome, Lee, Bradley, Ramirez, Fontenot, Soto, Theriot, Pitcher
vs lefties: Soriano, Theriot, Lee, Bradley, Ramirez, Johnson, Soto, Miles, Pitcher
Against lefties, I think Lou will prefer to keep Soto in the 7th spot and he did bat Johnson in the 5th spot a lot last year, so 6th isn't much of a stretch. I could see Johnson batting second as well, with Soto moving up to sixth, Miles 7th and Theriot 8th.
Wow -- Chapman gives up a hit and everything completely caves in. I think the Cubs went into collective shock.
Stolen base with the pitcher holding the ball, WP that should have been caught or blocked, then Russell with a 2-out error on a routine play. Cubs handed them 2 runs. Throw in a Fowler bobble and it was a mess.
Hopefully, that is all out of their system now -- let's get a W tomorrow.
First time I've ever seen a base running slump -- he's made some poor decisions recently, but I thought it was a great idea to try to score there -- it's not like Heyward was going to get a 2-out hit against a LHP. Sliding feet-first into home is probably the safe (ugh) way to go, but it's hard to get the foot on the plate.
Yup. He got squeezed (twice) on the first walk, but, when you have one-run lead and the other team is trying to make an out -- take the out.
Clearly the Cubs need to clear out the farm and trade for another closer
Where's Ed Lynch when you need him?
Those were more entertaining times.
I wonder if there's an actual cause to this because they were going up hacking at everything. Wonder if scoring a bunch of runs makes you feel like you.can swing at anything and hit it.
That second walk he gave Up was awful though with no pitches even close to being a strike. He was trying to pitch around bunt and that almost never works. That said Rondon should have been brought in after the first walk and should have been left in to finish the inning because he was looking like he had good stuff.
Remember when Bryant used to be able to run the bases with impunity?
And Miggy costs them another run
torres would easily be the system's #1 prospect. he's a middle IF'r that's showing he can stick there even as he's gaining bulk/muscle so far. that said, it's not like the distance between torres and jimenez is huge...it's torres's position value that would vault him in prospect status.
jimenez has the higher ceiling just isolating the bat aspect of his game.
it would suck to lose either, but torres is a very popular/valuable piece.
Arrieta in line to lose the game too
...and chapman fails us. gives up the lead. boo.
bringing in rondon to try to put out this fire is a nice luxury.
Complete craziness bottom seven. Bottom line Cubs were fortunate to score a run
And of course Arrieta walks the first two batters in the eighth (to be fair he was totally squeezed on Zunino's walk to start the inning)
...and the no hitter is over in the 7th...2 on, 0 out.