Your 25-Man Roster Guess
The Cubs made two handfuls of expected cuts yesterday which included optioning Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, Albert Almora, Arismendy Alcantara, Logan Watkins, Matt Szczur, Jeudy Valdez, Carlos Pimentel and Eric Jokisch...releasing Aaron Cunningham brings it up to 10. That leaves camp with 56, but only 25 get to travel and we know many still there are just getting their work in. So let's take a best guess at the 25-man Opening Day Roster.
C: Castillo, Kottaras with John Baker trying to bump Kottaras
INF: Rizzo, Barney, Castro, Valbuena, Murphy
OF: Schierholtz, Lake, Sweeney, Ruggiano
That leaves 2 spots open presuming they go with the standard 13 and it seems Mike Olt, Emilio Bonifacio, Ryan Roberts and Ryan Kalish are your 4 best bets to get those 2 spots. Of course, there's also the hot-hitting Javier Baez and if Castro's hamstring injury doesn't clear up soon, it wouldn't be implausible that he's your starting shortstop on Opening Day, but that would open up a spot with Castro on the disabled list so it shouldn't effect the bench much. It does seem that Mike Olt is working his way to a starting 3b gig and my guess that would mean the end of either Valbuena or Murphy. If I had to guess now, it would be Olt starting at 3b, Murphy getting cut with Bonifacio and Roberts getting the last 2 spots and Kalish accepting a minor league assignment, but a lot can change the last few weeks of spring training.
SP: Samardzija, Wood, Jackson, Hammel (1 spot open)
RP: Veras, Strop, Wright, Russell, Villanueva (2 spots open...3 if Villanueva starts)
Jake Arrieta should be the final starter, but it doesn't look like he'll be ready, leaving a spot open for Kyle Hendricks, James McDonald, Chris Rusin or Carlos Villanueva. If Villanueva takes the 5th starter job, which would be my guess at the moment, that'll open up a spot in the pen where the candidate list is anything but short.
In some order of expectedness...
A. Cabrera, Grimm, Rondon, Parker, Rosscup, J. Sanchez, Rosscup, N. Ramirez and whomever I'm forgetting.
Cabrera might seem like a surprise, but seems to have pitched well enough and is out of options, giving him a boost.. The rest will be based off spring performance and Grimm seems to be the leader of that group. Ramirez has had a few good outings, but he hasn't had much success past AA yet, so I think it would have to be overwhelming for him to make th team out of Arizona. We'll see about the rest, Rondon and Parker seemed like favorites before spring training started, but haven't pitched well so far. And of course it's always important to note, that the pen you start out with is never the pen you end up with. The pieces will certainly shift accordingly.
LOCKED IN (MOST LIKELY) - 18
Castillo, Kottaras, Rizzo, Castro, Barney, Schierholtz, Ruggiano, Lake, Sweeney
Samardzija, Wood, E. Jackson, Hammel
Veras, Strop, Wright, Russell, Carlos Villanueva
DISABLED LIST - 2
ON THE BUBBLE - 16
Valbuena, Murphy, Olt, Roberts(NRI), Bonifacio(NRI), Kalish (NRI), C. Rusin, Hendricks(NRI), J. McDonald (NRI), A. Cabrera, Grimm, Rondon, Parker, Rosscup, J. Sanchez (NRI), Ramirez
MOST LIKELY CUT OR OPTIONED - 22
J. Vitters, B. Jackson, Baez (NRI), Christian Villanueva, Beeler, A. Vizcaino, J. Baker (NRI), L. Flores (NRI), E. Whiteside (NRI), R. Lopez (NRI), W. Remillard (NRI), D. McDonald(NRI), M. Maier(NRI), Wells(NRI), Coughlan(NRI), M. Hatley (NRI), Hottovy (NRI), Yong-Lim (NRI), Rivero (NRI), Schlitter (NRI), Wada (NRI), Valaika (NRI)
ALREADY OPTIONED OR RELEASED - 10
Soler, Bryant, Almora, Alcantara, Szczur, Watkins, Valdez(NRI), Pimentel(NRI), Jokisch(NRI), A. Cunningham
For some reason, I'm getting 58 players left versus Muskat's assertion of 56. My guess is Arizona Phil can clear that up pretty quick, but if I were to hazard a guess, the original story on the non-roster invitees has L. Flores and W. Remillard as catchers that will assist at times, rather than actually invitees as Phil has listed on the sidebar.
I don't hate Coghlan as a PHer but he's leading off today which is as bad as Austin Jackson doing so last year. He doesn't even have the speed.
TLS has options. He will be up again in Sept, and maybe earlier.
Very odd -- TLS .308/.419 in July (in 26 AB). Strange move for a team struggling to score runs. Hard to imagine Coghlan doing better than that. Maybe they like Coghlan better as a PH?
Sorry to nitpick -- but the first game wasn't a save.
Wow La Stella sent to Iowa and Coghlan brought up. I'm not a huge Stella fan but he has been hitting lately and is to me better than Coghlan. Neither are good defensively but I guess Coghlan can play the outfield allowing Bryant to stay at 3rd more where he's better.
Not 2nd to last but Cubs are definitely bottom of the pack in the 2nd half in oWAR and wRC+. #1 in dWAR though which is certainly a good sign for the playoffs.
I was going to say that you wouldn't want Heyward to achieve Soriano's OBP--.317 with the Cubs--but now I see that he's already done that. Pitchers have lost their fear of him.
Oh, well, at least Chapman seems to be as good as advertised.
Thanks to E-man and Quiet Man for the link on Chapman in a previous post. It's funny because I never really noticed Chapman's delivery until I saw him doing it in a blue uniform. Two saves in a Cubs uniform already. I hope they don't need him today, despite that smooth delivery.
Cubs are middle of the pack in average, 5th in OPS, 2nd in walks, 4th in runs scored in MLB. Their runs scored ranks 17th in the MLB in July.
Boston, leading everything, continues to rake in July.
Lester has given up one run or fewer in 11 starts this year. So I'd answer yes. Three of his last four starts were duds, yes. Not worried about him at all. Arrieta is concerning, to be sure. I look it at as, what he was doing was historic, so the regression was bound to happen. He showed in his start against the Mets that he's still capable, and I'd bet on him regaining his form.
marlins getting a.cashner and c.rea from SD
This is not an attack...But In what stat are the Cubs second from last in MLB, in hitting? I don't see this.
How odd the stats:
Cubs 1st in pitching in MLB
2nd to last in hitting.
In May they were 1st in both.
trevor clifton (high-A) could be interesting in a couple seasons...could even become a high/middle rotation guy. he's got a lot of pluses in his pitching except control.
eric leal's (high-A) progression through the minors should be worth watching even if only projects to be an mid/end-rotation starter.
we also gotta keep a long-distance eye on guys like jose paulino (ss-A) and preston morrison (A).
As Johnny Bach used to say when it was time for the MJ Bulls to crank up the defensive pressure: "Release the Dobermans!", and Jordan, Pippen, Rodman and Harper would just suffocate the other team.
I'd love to add Carl Jr. to that group - he's got the stuff.
Historically, the Moneyball guys have been great at identifying productive hitters. Not so much with pitchers.