Silva & Gorzelanny Win Rotation Spots?
Please note the question mark in the headline, but that is what Paul Sullivan seems to insinuate in his latest article.
Carlos Silva and Tom Gorzelanny appear to have locked up starting spots, meaning Jeff Samardzija and Sean Marshall will be in the bullpen.
That seemed to be the most likely scenario before spring training started, made all the more likely when Angel Guzman went down and the bullpen being filled with inexperienced players like Caridad and Berg. Marshall had some moderate success out of the pen last year and if Samardzija doesn't get optioned, he did at least have one really good month in the pen in 2008. Silva just isn't suited for pen work in my opinion. He's a sinkerballer that's gonna let guys put the ball in play and sinkerballers seem to need a few innings to get into the groove, tire the arm out a little and get a little heavier drop on the ball. Gorzelanny didn't do anything to embarrass himself so far this spring, striking out 10 in 8.1 IP, although he did walk 8 as well. He probably won't make more than 3-4 starts anyway once Ted Lilly returns.
If Sullivan's info is accurate, that leaves the bench and bullpen as the last remaining battles. The Cubs will cut it down to 30 players by Friday. Chad Tracy seems to have locked down a spot with his ability to play third base and Ramirez's sore tricep preventing him from throwing. That seems to leave one spot left for Fuld, Colvin, Hoffpauir or Millar (Hill, Baker, Nady, Tracy seem to have jobs at the moment). The Cubs rightfully don't want to bring up Colvin if he can't get regular playing time (.442 batting average during spring training but no walks versus 8 K's in 43 AB's). Fuld is hitting just .154 in just 26 AB's, but is considered the far superior defender. Millar is hitting .300 while telling bad jokes, but putting him anywhere but first base is probably a huge liability. Hoffpauir still has options left and hasn't been wowing the crowds like he did last year. Andres Blanco is also in the mix if they want a capable back-up shortstop, plus he needs to be put on waivers if the Cubs want to send him to Iowa, although I have doubts anyone would put a claim in after missing most of spring training. Of course, they could just do some disabled list trickery and buy a little time if needed with the knee injury he suffered in early March.
I'm gonna assume Mike Parisi's bid for the bullpen ended yesterday and Marcus Mateo has given up 6 runs in 6.2 IP, on 6 K's, 6 BB's and 2 HR's. Why he was even mentioned is a bit perplexing. Marmol, Grabow, Caridad, Berg, Marshall and Samardzija seem to be the first six in the pen, leaving James Russell and John Gaub fighting for the last spot and honorary pink backpack carrier. Russell hasn't given up an earned run in 8 IP's while striking out 8 and allowing just 5 hits. Gaub has struck out 9 in 6.2 IP, but given up 5 earned runs and 2 home runs. I would think Russell is in the lead for the final spot barring a meltdown the last week and a half.
Neither Russell or Tracy are on the 40-man roster, which currently stands at 39. But if the Cubs return Parisi to the Cardinals or get him through waivers and/or put Angel Guzman on the 60-day disabled list, they'll have room for the two or possibly a third NRI player if they find some room for Kevin Millar.
This might be old news but Hammel was on ESPN 1000 and said that he changed his diet and workout routine over the off season and tweaked his delivery so it'd be more repeatable so he'd have a better second half. So...some cause for optimism anyway.
CHILDERS: RHSP Dylan Cease and LHSP Bryan Hudson are probably the top two SP prospects in the organization right now.
LHSP Jose Paulino has electric stuff (91-94 MPH fastball with sinking action and a mid-80's slider), but he also has trouble commanding it.
RHP Jose Albertos (2015 IFA - Mexico - $1.5M bonus) just turned 17 in November, and his fastball already sits at 95-96. He also throws a curve and a change-up, and is fairly advanced for a kid his age.
AZBOBBOP: Most of 2016 draft picks will get assigned to either Eugene or AZL Cubs, but the Opening Day Eugune roster will probably be almost 100% from the Extended Spring Training squad roster (pending the arrival of draft picks).
I think I can probably tell you which pitchers and players at EXST are in contention for roster slots at Eugene and which are in contention for slots with the AZL Cubs - AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW - (listed alphabetically):
* bats or throws left
# bats both
Eloy Jimenez atop the leader board for minor-league home runs in the Cub system, with seven. Tied with Balaguert and Vogelbach, two 24-year-olds. Jimenez won't be 20 until late November. Leads the Midwest League in SLG and OPS. Maybe he'll get promoted to the Myrtle Beach squad that visits Woodbridge, VA, in June or Frederick, MD, in August.
Watched two Pelican games at Frederick the other week. Was most impressed by Stinnett and Happ. Happ may swing harder than Javier Baez, though more compactly. (Also got to see Brockmeyer hit a bomb.)
E-MAN: Jose Paniagua isn't a string-bean, but I wouldn't say he necessarily bulked-up during the 2015-16 off-season either, He led the DSL Cubs in HR and doubles in 2014, and he showed XBH power when he arrived in Mesa last year, leading the AZL Cubs in HR, doubles, and RBI in 2015. It's just that he has taken his HR power to a new level this year.
Paniagua displayed plus-HR power in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games in March, and that got him a slot on the South Bend Opening Day roster. But he was sent to EXST after only six MWL games.
More on the Cub Way.
Martinez is one of my least favorite pitchers in baseball. I'd love to see a game like yesterday's against him.
Send Soler down!
Awesome thanks AZ
Great report, Phil! This organization has so many hitters to be excited about.
Ben Zobrist is very enjoyable to watch!!!!!!
given that he seems to only be throwing low 90s these days rather than the 93-96mph he used to throw, along with his wildness issues this year, he may end up passing through.
i dunno if something is wrong with him physically or his past shoulder issues has rendered him what he currently is, but he's been throwing a lot of sliders he can't control well and his fastball isn't as sharp. even when his slider wasn't working in a game he was still throwing a lot of them.
Any scuttlebutt on where Neil Ramirez gets traded?
He seems better than some of the relievers on competitive teams. He ought to bring more than the waiver fee.
My guess? Toronto.
PHIL: It seems as if Paniagua has always played 1B with the Cubs. At 6'2 and 180#, what is his frame like? String bean? Have you seen him bulk up? Where do you project him? Thanks.
Phil, what's your thoughts on which position players are going to Eugene and who is staying in AZL?
Ahhh...way to bring me down BB.
Still - a win tomorrow will be an acheivement regardless.
Don't mean to spoil your mood, but with tonight's win the are 3-5 on the trip with one to play.
While I'm bringing the room down -- Richard comes in to pitch the 9th with a 12-1 lead...and can't finish the game. Woof.