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.
If he puts up Soriano numbers I will be ecstatic
I think Javy is learning--but he's learning to make contact, not learning to lay off pitches out of the zone. A quick glance at his plate discipline numbers on Fangraphs shows that his contact rate is up, especially his contact rate out of the zone, but his swing rate is up too, especially his swing rate out of the zone.
I definitely saw ballpark radar guns go up to 102 on Kerry Wood back when he was still a starter, but who knows how accurate they were.
They've mentioned Henry Rodriguez (2013), Chris Carpenter, and Andrew Cashner as Cubs who have gone 100+. They said Rodriguez was tops at 100.8. Who knows before 2008?
He'll play regardless of what he does, just like Soriano played for seven years before they finally ditched him.
What can they do? All I can think of is they can keep hiring and firing hitting coaches until they find one who can get him to stop hitting balls with the handle of the bat.
(All those broken bats added to his paycheck is just a bit much.)
Lester will probably be all right.
I think Arrieta might have added too much muscle preparing for that butt-naked ESPN photo shoot. Pitchers are supposed to be loose, not muscled up.
I have basically written off Heyward for this year -- if you are working on major swing changes in late July, you are going to struggle. Hopefully, he can be more productive at the plate next year. It will be interesting to see what they do with him if the Cardinals keep winning and close the gap. Heyward is dead last in the NL in slugging and in the bottom 5 in OPS -- yet still has a positive WAR. Hunh.
Has anybody in a Cub uniform ever thrown a ball 103 before?
He certainly looks better, no doubt, and is a different player than what we saw when he first came up. Full credit to him for changing his approach and saving his career.
But he has zero walks in 35AB since the break, and 10 in 251 AB all year. He does seem to be able to hit some pitches out of the zone, but, a guy with his pop should be drawing more walks. However, it's easy to forget he is still only 23, and probably trying to make an impact to prove he should be an everyday player.
The usual suspects, Molina and Wong. Gyorko drew a walk with two outs, none on. I recall us (particularly Szczur and Bryant) swinging at everything Familia threw.
Yup. Thanks Q
Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTNekUcY-XM
I for one hope that Sosa comes back soon.
O/B interesting you should mention that. Google ESPN Science Aroldis Chapman and you'll be treated to how his mechanics and delivery are possibly historic. It's the 120% of his body stretch plus the torque. They compare him to the Unit and NRyan.
Amazing how much lower the production gets when Bryant runs into a mini-cold streak. He doesn't stay cold for long. If just one of Zobrist or, gulp, Heyward, gets hot, they oughta have one more really nice winning streak in them. Having a closer that you have absolute confidence in can't hurt.
I hope they hold onto Jimenez. Outfield depth is questionable, especially with McKinney, who struggled this year but still, gone.