38 players on 40-MAN ROSTER (two slots open)
* bats or throws left
# bats both
* Brooks Raley
* Zac Rosscup
* Chris Rusin
* James Russell
* Travis Wood
* Wesley Wright
* George Kottaras
# Arismendy Alcantara
* Anthony Rizzo
* Luis Valbuena
* Logan Watkins
* Brian Bogusevic
* Brett Jackson
* Nate Schierholtz
* Ryan Sweeney
The Cubs are a little over two weeks into spring training with about three weeks before Opening Day. It's time to check in on the yearly ritual of spring training battles. What's the fun of spring training without a little competition? The Cubs have a few spots up for grabs and today I take a look at the competition for the fabled closer role between Bob Howry, Carlos Marmol and Kerry Wood. It's the final piece in theseries and I know you will all miss my Wrestlemania-inspired graphic.
The closer battle is probably the least crucial of the spring training battles this year, for two reasons. First, the closer role is generally overrated. The closer protects more three-run leads with nobody on than he does one-run leads with the go-ahead run coming up. Set-up men are often asked to wiggle out of more difficult jams than closers, who are usually brought in just to start the ninth inning with a clean slate. Second, all three candidates can do the job just fine, so Lou really can't lose on this one. Sure, you'd like to pick the best, but those outs in the seventh and eighth are just as crucial; and the two "losers" will slide into the set-up men roles. Plus, if the winner out of spring training can't hack it, the Cubs have two ready-made options ready to fill-in, possibly three if Ryan Dempster isn't cutting it as a a starter. As they say in the old country, it's a good problem to have.
The Cubs are a little over two weeks into spring training with about three weeks before Opening Day. It's time to check in on the yearly ritual of spring training battles. What's the fun of spring training without a little competition? The Cubs have a few spots up for grabs and today I'll look at the starting rotation battle between Jon Lieber, Ryan Dempster, Jason Marquis and Sean Marshall. I won't pretend that Sean Gallagher has a legitimate chance, although I guess I am pretending that Sean Marshall does.
Unable or unwilling to trade for some of the top notch talent that was moved over the offseason, such as Johan Santana, Erik Bedard or Dan Haren; the Cubs head into 2008 with much of the same talent that was good for the second best ERA among NL starting staffs last year. Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly and Rich Hill
will anchor the staff, and if Marquis and Marshall win the jobs, you'll have the same starting five that took the mound for the bulk of last season.
That though, appears to be the least likely scenario, as Ryan Dempster is getting his wish to compete for a starting spot and the Cubs signed Lieber on a one year deal. It appears to be a bit of a logjam at the moment, but the bullpen or the trade market can alleviate that "problem" at the end of spring training.
Let's take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate after the jump...
The Cubs are a little over two weeks into spring training with about three weeks before Opening Day. It's time to check in on the yearly ritual of spring training battles. What's the fun of spring training without a little competition? The Cubs have a few spots up for grabs and today I'll take a look at the center field spot between Felix Pie and Sam Fuld.
The Cubs had the opportunity this offseason to shore up center field with a more reliable veteran, as a few stars hit the market including Torii Hunter and Andruw Jones
. The Cubs were obviously determined to give their youngsters a shot at the job, as they didn't even bother to call Hunter, which leads to the obvious conclusion that they probably didn't call any of the available center field free agents. We'll all soon find out if that confidence will be rewarded.
Felix Pie has been one of the Cubs top prospects and usually the Cubs top prospect ever since he joined the organization as a wide-eyed 17-year old out of the Dominican Republic. Pie has often been compared to the Cubs last great center field prospect, Corey Patterson, both being left-handed hitters with five-tool talent and questionable strike zone judgement. A tenous comparison, superficial at best, and, to be honest, a lazy comparison. While Corey Patterson struggled with each promotion in the minors and was truly rushed to the majors, Pie has taken each promotion in stride, often putting up better numbers than the previous stop.
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CARLITO: I think the MLB clubs that like to spend big internationally (like Texas, Toronto, Tampa Bay, and Boston) will be beating down the Cubs door for their SBV slots. It will be a seller's market, because the Cubs will be one of the few teams that won't be able to use their 2014-15 SBV slots to the fullest.
The Cubs will need to keep at least one slot to cover whatever prospects they do sign (albeit no player for more than a $250K bonus), but the others should be available to be traded.
This is very interesting, I hadn't though of the benefits of still having the picks. Do you think teams will leverage the Cubs a bit though, knowing the Cubs can't pay the slots appropriately, or will the players be seductive enough to render that fact mute?
BTW, if he is posted, NPB RHP Masahiro Tanaka will NOT be subject to international signing bonus limits, because he is at least 23 years old (he's 25) and has spent at least five seasons in a recognized foreign "major" league.
CARLITO: Among other things, the Cubs are going to have some attractive International Signing Bonus Value (SBV) slots to trade after July 1st, since they can't sign any international free-agents subject to signing bonus restrictions for more than a $250K bonus in the 2014-15 International Signing Period as the result of going 15%+ over their assigned ISBP limit in 2013.
Just because the Cubs agreed to forfeit their #4 overall 2013 Rule 5 Draft pick to the Philies to settle a grievance does not mean the Cubs cannot make a selection in the second round of the Rule 5 Draft (overall pick #34) or have another club make a selection for them in the 1st round and then acquire the selected player from that club after the draft.
In his last Instructs outing in October versus SF in Scottsdale (which was both Vizcaino's only AZIL game and the Cubs last AZIL game) Vizcaino's fastball topped out at 94-95 MPH (off the guns of two scouts from other organizations).
"Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka's baseball future was thrown into flux Thursday when the president of the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles told a newspaper that the team might not make the prized starter available to major league teams as a free agent this winter."
Don't know if others have seen this, but I just stumbled upon it. Great video recapping baseball in the 1980s. A couple of Cubs stuff in there (Dawson, 1984, 1989, Lights a Wrigley), but just great all around: