Cup Check

Let's take a quick glance at how the battles for the few roster spots and jobs has been going down in Mesa.

5th Starter

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.

Player
ERA
K
BB IP H
Marshall 0.68 8 1 13.1 9
Heilman 1.80 13 3 10.0 9
Samardzija 6.75 5 2 8.0 10
Gaudin 10.38 5 5 8.2

13

Heilman looks headed to the set-up role, Samardzija probably to the minors and Gaudin to the waiver wire.

Bullpen

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.

Second Base

Mike Fontenot has won the job over Aaron Miles and will bat sixth in the lineup. Cubs fans exhale collectively.

Backup Catcher

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.

Player
AVG
OBP
SLG
AB
XBH
H
Bako .167 .250 .167 18 0 3
Hill .333 .407 .458 24 3 8
Johnson .091 .231 .091 11 0 1

Never under estimate the power of being a veteran, but Hill is getting the at-bats and clearly leading the race.

Bench

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

Starters

C - Soto

1B - Lee

2B - Fontenot

SS - Theriot

3B - Ramirez

LF - Soriano

CF - Fukudome

RF - Bradley

Bench

K. Hill, M. Hoffpauir, A. Miles, R. Johnson, J. Gathright

Starting Pitching

Zambrano, Dempster, Lilly, Harden, Marshall

Bullpen

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.

Lineup

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.

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Comments

http://muskat.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/03/316_ear...

Bradley and R. Wells sent home with the flu.

LF Alfonso Soriano, SS Ryan Theriot, 1B Derrek Lee, RF Micah Hoffpauir, 3B Aramis Ramirez, 2B Mike Fontenot, CF Reed Johnson, C Paul Bako and P Jeff Samardzija.

Unless Gaudin's hurt, he shouldn't be just cut. He's a decent/good pitcher that's had a rough spring. That doesn't mean I know what to do with him. He's got three weeks, I suppose.

Also, you mean "respectably" rather than "respectively." Not that the former really applies to Gathright, but whatever.

Still really hate Soto batting 7th.

Have you looked at how Geo did batting 7th last year Andrew?? His PA's were pretty evenly split between the 5-7 spots but he did a disproportionate amount of damage batting 7th (12 doubles, 9 home runs) and put up his best numbers there (.302 .360 .560 .920 ).

but it follows no logic. it's just numbers he earned.

who's going to give soto better stuff to look at when the 8/9 hitters are next?

sure, it helps having a lineup like this where everyone can hit, but what would you do with soto 7th, theriot 8th, pitcher 9th...esp. with no one on base and soto up regardless of outs?

any advantage soto might have taken in the 7 slot doesn't exist on the end where the pitcher would give in to create a situation better for soto. he might see more walks, but other than that i don't see how soto hitting 7th opens up advantages for him that the pitcher could give him.

he gets Bradley, Ramirez and Fontenot in front of him, that'll be good for some RBI's..if he's leading off, he gets to turn over the lineup for Soriano. Other than losing about 20 PA's to the six hitter, I don't see the big deal.

i dont see a big deal either, but i dont see any advantage inherent to him hitting 7th because he hit well there in the past.

situations don't dictate friendly situations for power hitters in the 7 slot when you got a singles hitter and a pitcher following. it helps the singles hitter can actually hit, though.

Agreed. It's not a huge thing, I just don't think the L/R split is worth making Soto have to be protected by Theriot. Soto's one of the better hitters on this team and, in my mind, shouldn't be below 6th.

I'll be sad to see the Shark not make the opening day team...

i just hope he's being stretched out to start in AAA...which he should be

Cup Check?

Mitch Cup Check?

Great college player, adequate pro. Mixed bag as GM.

Kupcheck is a terrible GM, talk about lucking into a good team with the Kwame Brown/Gasol trade. Doesn't excuse that he acquired Brown in the first place or how he wasted four of Kobe's best years (or however long it has been since Shaq left L.A.).

Just my 2¢

Samardzija banished to Iowa, like Hoffpauir was last year after posting up a AAA .319 .365 .552 in 2007, just seems like a waste. He's healthy, he's paid like a big leaguer and he was a valuable member of the Cubs bullpen last year. It make no sense to have him under a $16.5 million contract and not get some value for the big club if he can contribute effectively. And he showed he can. No doubt about it.

Forget about stretching him out now --- plenty of time for that if someone goes down, we've already got six SP's.

samninja the starter seems more important to me. pen is pretty steady, imo.

The Shark would be more valuable as a starter if he weren't currently 7th on the starter depth chart.

He's more useful to this club in the pen as of right now. If need be he can be stretched out while Ryan O'Malley, Leslie Walrond, other random dude gets a spot start if Harden, Marshall, AND Heilman go down with injuries.

If that happens, we have other things to worry about than The Shark being stretched out.

I think if Samninja was in Iowa as a starter, then he'd be ready to step in on the first injury, wouldn't he?

I mean if Harden, Marshall, Dempster, Lilly or Z got injured, they'd probably go to Iowa first rather than trying to get Heilman ready after being used in the pen exclusively. Of course, a lot of that depends on when a player gets injured and how quickly they have to pencil in a new guy. Sometimes it just comes down to who's day it was to pitch in Iowa. I would also think if they kept Gaudin and he was being used sparingly in the bullpen, he would get the swing role/emergency starter job.

Now if they had some time or knew a pitcher was going to be out awhile, they could slowly bring Heilman back into the rotation. Takes about 3-4 starts to get up to 100 plus pitches...

Don't you think it would make sense at this point to have Someninja start at Iowa through at least the All-Star break and be available as either a starter or reliever in case of injury or ineffectiveness on the part of one or more major league pitchers?

That way he can:
1. Continue to work on consistent command of his breaking pitches.
2. Continue to work on command of his fastball.
3. Get in innings so that when they rely on him as a starter in 2010 he has 130-150ish innings under his belt instead of 80-ish innings.
4. Have his arm strength up and all his pitches working down the stretch and hopefully into October and supplement the pen then.

[Edit: I didn't mean to direct this comment at you, Rob.]

I just had the same thought as Charlie...maybe Samardzija goes down to Iowa knowing he's the first callup in either a starting or relief role. I get that going from the pen to starting won't work, maybe Wes will chip in on how long it would take Samardzija to re-acclimate to the 'pen in Chicago if he's been starting at Iowa.

Samardzija wasn't exactly lights out in the bullpen last year. He had his good moments and bad moments, and he also has not been very good this spring.

The Cubs have the the depth to be patient with him.

agreed...the guy developing a steady 3rd pitch would help his game a lot.

throwing 2 fastballs 3-4 times a week for an inning and resting his arm between it all is a luxury given the pen as it stands. it's not some OMFG pen, but it's pretty capable and filled.

Every pitcher has his good moments and bad moments. The Shark had a good ERA, .226 batting average against, scoreless August. Had a tough patch late in the year, sure. I guess I don't know how more "lights out" you could expect someone to be (unless he's Marmol).

http://www.inaleagueofherown.com/showDiary.do?diar...

not sure if I should be impressed by Harden's workout regime from this picture or horrified by the amount of stress being put on his forearm.

Loosen the grip a bit there, buddy.

Let's have some fun out here! This game's fun, OK? Fun goddamnit. And don't hold the ball so hard, OK? It's an egg. Hold it like an egg.

Ugh... my fantasy team doesn't like that.

I fantasy feel bad for you.

I keed, I keed.

for 1.5 million, could double with incentives.

not bad.

be interesting to see how he handles backe and wandy...the rest shouldn't be an issue (hopefully).

50 year old Ivan Rodriguez > current day Bako

he'll start over 100 games for the Astros though...and get to hit 300 ft homers in the Juice Park.

I should source it:  from ESPN Sportscenter, top of this hour.

 

Ok, back to grading.

You don't need sources Trans, that's the beauty of the internet!

J.R. Towles is crying somewhere....

With Lou already announcing the skipping the #5 starter the first few weeks. I would think that Marshall could start the year in Iowa to stay on schedule in April. Then we would be looking at.

Z
Demp
Lilly
Harden

Gooz
Gaudin
cotts
heilman
Vizcaino
marmol
gregg

Also, hopefully Esteban German gets a fair shot to beat out Aaron Miles. Dude is twice the player at 1/4 the cost.

miles got a 2 year deal and "twice the player" is more than a bit of an overstatement.

e.german is a sure-handed middle IF with a low-powered contact hitting bat.

i'd give them similar at best, imo. miles is more of a sure-thing, but german (even in his older age) has a touch more power upside.

Thats all well and good except German is 2 year younger than Miles. Also the career lines

277/358/383 741ops MLB
296/397/397 794ops MiLB for German

As opposed to

289/329/364 693ops MLB
289/338/401 739ops MiLB for Miles

Would indicate that German is superior in every way to Miles. Add in that he can steal a base and it should be a no brainer.

German is just 1 year younger. Neither can steal - German is 28/42 on his career, and Miles is 23/37. And why do their career averages really matter? German has 1,000 fewer at bats than Miles. You are basically taking German's stats as a pinch-hitter and back-up and comparing them to Miles' as a starter. Here are their last three year trends:

German: 326/422/459 - 264/351/376 - 245/303/338

Miles: 263/324/347 - 290/328/348 - 317/355/398

Also, Miles is a far better defender at 2B, and can play SS which German hasn't really shown he can do. Miles is not a stud by any means, and I don't really like him myself, but German is no better and, I would argue, he's actually worse.

I know I'll be kicking a dead horse here, but if German weren't already a Cub and if he weren't being compared to Aaron Miles, I say none of us would want anything to do with him. We're talking spare parts. I was really hoping the team would pick up legit starters in place of the cajuns. Not because I dislike Fonte & Theriot, but I really believe they would be so valuable off the bench in the late innings.

FANIQ.com has the cubs season preview.

http://www.faniq.com/blog/MLB-TeamByTeam-Previews-...

95 Ws and best record in the NL. They also say Joey Gathright was their best off season move...so grain of salt alert.

The signing of Joey Gathright could be the biggest (or at least best)
news of the off-season.  He has swiped 78  bases in his four year
career and he is a versatile outfielder, which will be helpful given
that Alfonso Soriano is injury-prone.

once I read that, I stopped...

I recommend the preview written here instead if you want useful information.

lol...

Right, because Soriano might have a leg injury Joey Gathright is more valuable because he's fast.

*slaps self in forehead*

Well you know what they say, speed never slumps.

By the way, those lineups suck.

Shark getting hammered...can't throw his slider for a strike and they are sitting on his fastball.

5-0 Brewers; Including two walks, 3 run HR by Hall, double by Hardy and triple by Fielder (ball lost in high sky by Hoffpauir)
...and all runs with 2 outs.

5-1. Reed Johnson double then rbi single by Gabor

Iowa is paging, Mr. Samardzija...

Jeff Stevens wonders if there's any room on that bus....

Samaramadingdong had a quiet 2nd inning, but Stevens gives up a dinger to Hart, then a dooble to Cameron...time to make some roster cuts.

on the positive side, Soriano has two hits including a dooble

A's dropped JEROME WILLIAMS and ERIC PATTERSON from the big league camp.

http://www.sportingnews.com/yourturn/viewtopic.php...

8-1, Duffy and Weeks rbis after a walk to the pitcher. Jeff Stevens, can you pick up the phone. It's a conference call from Sec Taylor Stadium. You won't need to buy any corn before you leave Arizona.

http://www.ballparkreviews.com/iowa/iowa.htm

That's "Sec Taylor Field at Principal Park." Get your naming rights straight!

http://muskat.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/03/brewers...

Brewers manager Ken Macha was asked about the Cubs:
"They're good. I do a little statistical analysis on teams that helps in the preparation of how we pitch guys. As a team, [in terms of] first-pitch hitting, they're [batting] average is way above average. The entire team hits way above average on the first pitch. Not only that, but the percentage of walks is very high.

"So they hit well on the first pitch and they have a large number of walks. That's a deadly combination. So you have to make pitches. You can't just lay it in and get ahead of guys ... because they'll tattoo you, but they're also selective. As far as my statistical analysis goes, we'd better pitch pretty darn good when we're going to play those guys."

shame his team will hate him within the year...seems like he has a clue.

every manager does that. well, the bench coach (usually) does then tells the manager. lou's been known to do his own work in-game. seen a binder in front of him more than once. they're usually in the back left of the dugout during the games.

"The entire team hits way above average on the first pitch. Not only that, but the percentage of walks is very high."

lulz. okay.

lulz?

"This car can go from 0-60 in 4.82 seconds. Not only that, but it has a cup holder."

I'm lost...

and I know what "lulz" means, I was trying to figure out what it was directed towards.

Can we ban all internet memes (e.g. "lulz" and "First!") from TCR?

Unless you're using it in some sort of ironic way to make fun of the typical message board poster, let's keep that shit to BCB, mmm-kay?

I second the motion....

Furst!

"哈哈哈"

no way

bwa-"哈哈哈"!!

yeah, but does every manager chew toothpicks?

If you weren't listening to the game. Ron Santo just belched over the air and is busy explaining what happened.

was that before or after he said ryan braun had a tough december last season? and yes, he did say december.

Davey Johnson talking about problems for the American team with the WBC tournament and possibly forfeiting games in certain circumstances.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5...

Lou says Samardzija very much in the bullpen hunt...

http://blogs.chicagosports.chicagotribune.com/spor...

Macha: Not only that, but it has a cup holder."
-----
Is he talking about the Orioles shortstop?

Today (Monday) is the first day Rule 5 players (like David Patton) can be sent to the minors and the first day Draft-Excluded Players (Koyie Hill, Randy Wells, Mitch Atkins, Justin Berg, Marcos Mateo, and Jeff Stevens) can be sent outright to the minors (should the Cubs wish to do that).

If a club decides it cannot keep a Rule 5 player on its 25-man roster for the entire regular season (or at least 90 days on the active list and the balance on the DL), the player must be placed on Outright Waivers, and any other MLB club can claim the Rule 5 player for the special Rule 5 waiver price ($25,000,) and assume the Rule 5 roster obligations. 

If the Rule 5 player is not claimed off waivers, the player must be offered back to the player's original club (the Colorado Rockies in David Patton's case) for $25,000 (half the Rule 5 Draft price). If the Rockies were to decline to take Patton back, the Cubs get to keep him and could then send him to the minors. But in fact if the Cubs were to decide they can't keep Patton and even if they can get him through waivers, the Rockies would almost certainly take him back if they are given that chance. So the Cubs must think long and hard before deciding to cut Patton. However, making the jump to the pressurized bullpen of a contending big league team is a lot to expect of a young pitcher who has never pitched above "A"-ball.

And next Friday is the last day to option or outright certain players to the minors to avoid having to put the player on the MLB 15-day or 60-day DL (where the player would accrue MLB service time and be paid at least $400k) if the player gets hurt during Spring Training. This applies to any player on the 40-man roster who was not selected in the previous Rule 5 Draft (so it doesn't apply to David Patton) and who did not accrue any MLB Service Time the previous season.

So to avoid taking the chance that they might get hurt and would have to be placed on the MLB DL, the Cubs really HAVE to option Mitch Atkins, Justin Berg, Marcos Mateo, Jeff Stevens, Jake Fox, and Sam Fuld to the minors no later than this Friday, no matter how well they are playing. (Any player optioned to the minors can be recalled at anytime if the player is replacing an injured player who is placed on the DL, so it's possible to option a player to the minors during Spring Training and then recall that player prior to Opening Day, and in fact this happened with Joe Borowski a few years ago).

Koyie Hill has certainly out-hit Paul Bako this Spring, has more power, is more-versatile (Hill played 3B in college at Wichita State, 2B for Team USA, and some 1B in the minors), and has a marginallly stronger throwing arm, but K. Hill has also made at least two really stupid brain fart mental errors in Spring Training games so far, and while that isn't that much of a concern to me, the one thing that really seems to drive Lou Piniela crazy is mental errors (see Barrett, Pie, Cedeno, Murton, et al). So Bako might beat out K. Hill for the back-up catcher gig just for that reason alone. Piniella HATES mental mistakes.  

On the other hand,  if the Cubs don't release him by (probably) next Friday, Bako's $725K salary (plus $400K in incentives) becomes guaranteed, but if the Cubs do release Bako before his contract becomes guaranteed, they only have to pay him $145K as severance.

What the Cubs might end up doing do is keep Bako as their back-up catcher and then try and get K. Hill through Outright Waivers and send him to Iowa (he has been previously outrighted in his career, so he has the right to refuse an outright assignment and become a free-agent immediately, but he would probably accept the assignment to Iowa and defer his right to be a FA until the end of the MLB regular season, because he has done that before). That way the Cubs can keep both catchers in the organization (Bako the back-up catcher with the Cubs and K. Hill the #1 catcher at Iowa), in case a third experienced catcher is needed during the season due to an injury to Soto or Bako. (Welington Castillo isn't ready yet and Mark Johnson doesn't have much to offer).

Presuming he was signed to a non-guaranteed contract last December (and having no leverage, it's VERY likely he did sign a non-guaranteed contract), the Cubs would only have to pay Chad Gaudin $333K (1/6 of his 2009 salary - 30 days severance) if he is released by this coming Friday, or $500K (1/4 of his salary - 45 days severance) if he is released within 15 days of Opening Day.

So I wouldn't be surprised if the Cubs are right now attempting to trade Gaudin, and if they can't work out a deal, they might just release him and pocket the salary (as the Toronto Blue Jays did last year with Reed Johnson) and use the $1.5M saved toward acquiring a player via trade in July. (You can get a player making $4.5M for $1.5M in salary if you wait to acquire him until the end of July, when only 1/3 of the season remains to be played).

What will indicate the Cubs intentions is whether the Cubs pitch Gaudin tomorrow (Tuesday) or Wednesday. That's because if the Cubs want to get one more look at Gaudin before releasing him on Friday, they will need to do it tomorrow (Tuesday), because in order to release him on Friday, the Cubs would have to put Gaudin on Release Waivers by 2 PM EDT Wedneday (11 AM Arizona time), which is two hours prior to Wednesday's game time. 

If the Cubs don't release Gaudin by this Friday, they still could do it sometime during the last 15 days of Spring Taining and get substantial payroll back ($1.5M), but releasing him by this Friday maximizes the savings. That said, I suspect Gaudin is a release candidate (if he doesn't get traded), but probably more likely so toward the end of Spring Training rather than this Friday. There isn't that much of a difference between paying Gaudin $333K or $500K in severance.

I think Angel Guzman (who is out of minor league options) will get traded before Opening Day. He still has sky-high potential and he's finally healthy, but I don't think Uncle Lou can stomach Gooz's inconsistency, and so he's gone. But unlike Gaudin, I don't think Guzman will get released. Rather, Guzman will probably get traded someplace for one or two "mid-level" minor league prospects (as has happened in the past with pitchers like Michael Wuertz and Todd Wellemeyer).

LHRP Jason Waddell (ex-SF Rule 55 Six-Year Minor League FA) has pitched very well so far this Spring (he works VERY fast and he generally throws strikes, two things Piniella LOVES in a pitcher), but he is no more effective against LH hitters than he is against RH hitters, and so while I agree that Piniella will eventually decide he wants two lefties in the pen, Waddell will start the season as the #1 lefty reliever at Iowa, and (barring an injury to Neal Cotts) will probably stay there for most of the season, with a possible September 1st call-up if he pitches well in AAA. Waddell's performance this Spring reminds me a lot of Carmen Pignatiello last Spring. Nice, but not eye-popping.

Rule 5 RHP David Patton has a real good chance to make the Opening Day 25-man roster, but mostly by default. Patton's situation is a lot like another Rule 5 guy (Tim Lahey) last year, except Patton has a definite strikeout pitch (nasty slider) which Lahey did not have. Patton reminds me of Michael Wuertz that way. The problem with Patton (and the problem with Wuertz) is that if he can't throw his slider for strikes (or if the hitters aren't biting), hitters can sit on his fastball, and (like Michael Wuertz) that's not a good thing. The one positive spin is that Patton throws slightly harder than Wuertz, so his fastball isn't total trash.

I think the Cubs would like to trade Luis Vizcaino if they can find a taker, but they don't want to just release him and eat his contract ($3.5M guaranteed 2009 salary plus $500K 2010 buy-out), and they don't want to have to eat too much of his salary if they do find a taker. So I expect Vizcaino will (like Scott Eyre last year) spend at least the first half of the season buried deep in the Cub bullpen, used (whenever possible) in non-critical situations and to eat innings in blow-outs. If Vizcaino were to pitch well in that role, he could get more-significant opportunites, but right now I don't think he figures much in the 7-8-9 matrix (that should be Heilman/Cotts-Marmol-Gregg).

Jose Ascanio, Kevin Hart, and Randy Wells have options available, so it isn't a big deal if they get sent to Iowa. But all three have actually thrown the ball pretty well so far (Ascanio threw four consecutive perfect innings in his first for Cactus League games - 12 up, 12 down, Hart has struck out seven of the last eight hitters he has faced in Cactus League action, and Wells is a strike-throwing groundball machine). Esmailin Caridad (who is not on the 40-man roster) is another guy who has pitched well enough this Spring to receive some consideration for a bullpen job, although I suspect the Cubs would like Caridad to get some AAA time under his belt first. 

Veterans Mike Stanton, Chad Fox, and Ken Kadokura will probably get released before the end of Spring Training, although there is an outside chance that there might be a spot for one of them in the Cubs bullpen, but probably only if Gaudin and Guzman both get moved prior to Opening Day, and/or Patton gets cut. However, Stanton hasn't fooled anybody so far (even LH hitters), C. Fox is always one pitch away from the end of his career, and Kadokura nibbles too much.

The Cubs have a problem with their bench as it is presently constituted, because on days where a lefty starts against them and Reed Johnson (CF) and Aaron Miles (2B) are in the starting lineup, the bench wouold consist of five LH hitters (Bako, Fontenot, Fukudome, Gathright, and Hoffpauir) and no RH hitters (unless you count Carlos Zambrano batting RH). There also would be only one legitimate multi-positional back-up infielder (Miles) on the roster, unless Soriano takes grounders at 2B and SS.

So from a tactical POV, it would be better if the Cubs could exchange the lefty hitting LF-CF-PR Gathright for a speedy RH hitting IF-OF utility guy who can also be used as a late-inning PR, but I doubt that will happen. Gathright has played very well so far, and the two main potential RH hitting back-up IF (Luis Rivas and Esteban German) in camp just don't run well enough to be used as a late-inning PR (Rivas was never fast, while German has gotten kind of bottom heavy and appears to have lost a step).

One other thing the Cubs might do is add Corey Koskie to the 40-man roster, pay him around $600K (plus incentives), put him on the 15-day DL (could be transferred to the 60-day DL if necessary) with Post-Concussion Syndrome, and then have him spend April-May-June at Fitch Park playing in Extended Spring Training games. Then if anything bad happens to Armais Ramirez during the season, Koskie would be just a phone call & a plane ride away, and if nothing else, he could just remain on the DL all year, and then his slot could be used as a post-season roster exemption (as was the case with Chad Fox last year). In fact the Cubs could add Chad Fox to the 40-man roster again, too, just for that purpose [eventual post-season roster exemption), like they did last year.

And I still believe Rich Harden will start the season on the 15-day DL, will spend the first week of the MLB regular season throwing on the side at Fitch Park (EXST), will get one minor league rehab start for the Iowa Cubs at Albuquerque (80 pitches) on April 13th or 14th, and then will be reactivated when the Cubs need a 5th starter for the first time on April 19th.

Deserves it's own post...

book and cliff notes

Deserves it's own post...

Agreed.

This is why I never understood the Rule 5 pick of Patton. No matter how well he does (and he's done well), it's going to be a jump for anyone from A-ball to the bigs. The likelihood of him doing well enough to stick with the club just isn't a likely scenario, not because he's bad but because he's just too green. At this point, though, he's given the Cubs no real reason to give him up, and assuming they'd considered all this beforehand, one has to think he's going to make the pen.

Looking at how we acquired Patton:

http://chicagocubsonline.com/archives/2008/12/2008...

It was actually Cincinnati that selected Patton as a Rule 5-er, who then traded him to us (for "cash considerations").

Do the same rules apply?

Yes, see Phil's discussion at the time of the draft.

http://www.thecubreporter.com/2008/12/11/2008-rule...

Thanks, WISC.

Later in that thread, Phil speculates that even if Patton is returned to the Rockies, the Cubs might offer them a trade to get Patton back (and then assign Patton to AA).

Interesting.

And

Damn, AZ Phil, this is why I rarely read the Chicago Tribune, Sun-Times, or Daily Herald for Cubs news. You can't get this analysis and insight in the regular press. Question - wouldn't the Cubs be more inclined to just make a trade for Patton? Perhaps Guzman and some other roster fodder for him?

Shame that German has gotten fat. The guy was a perennial 40 SB guy as recently as 2006.

In 2006 he was 7/10. He had over 40 in the minor leagues in 2005, but his best year in the majors he was 11/18.

05 I meant. Point being the same. The guy had tremendous speed, not all that long ago. Purely looking at it from a stats perspective. However you don't steal between 83 and 24 bases in every full season unless you have some talent in that regard.

I agree, but then I wonder what happened. In the big leagues he is 28/42 in nearly 1,000 ABs.

http://www.halfstreetblues.com/2009/03/memo-to-tav...

and we have the clubhouse leader for the new Yogi Berra...

(hat tip to Wrigleyville 23 for the link)

my god...

awesome.

Best thing I've read all month! lmao!

USA vs. Puerto Rico in a must-win game tomorrow, should be fun

Ted Lilly starts...

What does the Ted Lilly Super Computer say about Lillyhammer's upcoming start?

nice turkish bathhouse gym backdrop for those photos...

Man, it's like he just wants people to think he's a douche.

http://www.jsonline.com/sports/brewers/41350822.html

oh whoops, they let McGehee go...

I am puzzled by the talk of releasing Gaudin. He is only 26 and has shown himself to be an average at worst ML pitcher. He did fairly well for us last year and bad after he got hurt. No doubt he has had a horrible spring. However, I think his track record at least gives him some time to show what he can do. If he craps out after the first few months, then maybe you dump him. To dump him at this point I feel would be premature. Some team would surely take him and would probably regret it. If he was over 30 and bounced around for awhile then I could see the release.

I left out the word "we". Next to last sentence should say "we would probably regret it". Omission changed the meaning entirely.

AZ Phil.......I know the main emphasis is on the big-league camp but will you be checking out what's going on with the minor leaguers soon? They have intra-squads ( AAA vs AA, Low A vs High A ) today & tomorrow and start their spring games on Thursday.I also heard that the EXT players are scrimmaging the Canadian Junior College team that is in town.Is there a schedule posted yet or rosters? Thanks ( I know you're extremely busy trying to figure out who will make the 25 man roster)

Just noticed:

Houston's 2B Kaz Matsui is mired in one of his patented funks at the plate this spring. 2/34 .059 BA

Xman Matt Murton (.370 .433 .519) is said to have the inside shot at a spot on Colorado's bench. They're looking for a RH pinch hitter who can play the corners. Supposedly he's playing the corners well.

Dittos for the Mariners' Ronny Cedeno (.316 .333 .395). According to the Seattle Post, "Ronny Cedeno, who came from the Chicago Cubs in the Aaron Heilman trade, is likely to back up at second, third and short."

Murton is in the perfect spot in Colorado and I think he can do pretty well there. As for Cedeno, we all know how he rolls... he won't hit .316 over the course of an entire season...

Submitted by George Altman on Tue, 03/17/2009 - 10:40am.

Damn, AZ Phil, this is why I rarely read the Chicago Tribune, Sun-Times, or Daily Herald for Cubs news. You can't get this analysis and insight in the regular press. Question - wouldn't the Cubs be more inclined to just make a trade for Patton? Perhaps Guzman and some other roster fodder for him?

=================================

GEORGE A: Yes.

This happened a few years ago, when the Cubs claimed RHP Scott Chiasson from Oakland in the Rule 5 Draft, and then after Chiasson cleared waivers toward the end of Spring Training, the Cubs traded 3B Eric Hinske (future A. L. Rookie of the Year) to the A's for INF Miguel Cairo and the rights to Chiasson (where the A's agreed to decline the right of return). Then the Cubs outrighted Chiasson to the minors, although they added him back to the 40-man roster prior to the next Rule 5 Draft  (Chiasson was projected at the time as a future MLB closer or set-up guy, but his career got short-circuited by Tommy John Surgery, although he was still pitching in AAA as recently as last season). 

If David Patton can get through waivers without being claimed by another MLB club (and any claiming club would assume the Rule 5 roster obligations, as happened last year when Tim Lahey was claimed off waivers by the Phillies), the Cubs and Rockies could agree to a trade where the Rockies would decline the right of return, with the Cubs sending the Rockies a different player (could be Angel Guzman) and/or cash. And then the Cubs would outright Patton to the minors, but would have to add him back to the 40-man roster after the season or else he would be (once again) eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft.

The reason the Cubs would outright Patton to the minors rather than option him to the minors (assuming Patton clears waivers and the Rockies decline the right of return) is because he would have to clear outright waivers before any trade with the Rockies could be made, and since outright waivers would have already been secured, and since he hasn't been outrighted previously in his career and thus cannot refuse an outright assignment, it would be better to outright him right away instead of waiting until later in the season to try and get him through outright waivers again in case Patton's slot on the 40-man roster might be needed at that time  

However, if the player's original club re-claims a Rule 5 player (like if the Rockies were to re-claim Patton after he clears waivers), the player is automatically outrighted to the AAA club from which he was drafted (Colorado Springs). And if the Rule 5 player has three years of MLB service time or has been previously outrighted in his career, the player has the right to be a free-agent immediately, or can defer the right to the be a FA until after the conclusion of the MLB regular season. 

Thanks, Phil! The outright assignment information makes this even clearer for me. I look forward to your continued reports from ST.

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