BJax, Rizzo among latest roster cuts. Dempster opening day starter, Maholm 5th starter

 BJax, Rizzo among latest roster cuts. Dempster opening day starter, Maholm 5th starter
Brett Jackson

According to a tweet by CSN's Patrick Mooney, both Brett Jackson and Anthony Rizzo were seen cleaning out their lockers, as the Cubs will be sending them to minor league camp and then AAA Iowa to start the season.

Brett Jackson's reaction, "Go to Iowa and knock the crap out of the ball."

Exactly the attitude you like to hear.

It shows some patience by the Cubs brass to send down two players who could arguably be among the Cubs 3 best position players already.  As has been mentioned many times, this team isn't about 2012.  Not that the Cubs won't try to win this season, but you're trying to look ahead as much as possible.  Additional time in the minors may mean not putting the best talent on the field to start 2012, but it should help the team down the road.

The Cubs will go with Marlon Byrd and Bryan LaHair for now.  LaHair must prove himself over the next couple of months as he has really struggled this spring.  If he continues to slump and Rizzo continues to mash in AAA Iowa, we could see the Cubs make a change sooner rather than later.

As for Jackson, it will probably take a trade of Byrd to open up a spot for him.  Jackson may already be the better player, but Byrd is an asset that the Cubs can't afford to not cash in on.  Teams will undoubtedly be calling the Cubs about their veteran CF'er over the next couple of months depending on how he performs and the needs of other teams around the league.  Washington and Cleveland are two possibilities.

The Cubs also sent down Adrian Cardenas in a move that I completely disagree with.  That decision seems to have been made early on by Dale Sveum and even though Cardenas has proven he belongs, the Cubs are apparently going to use another roster spot on a very similar player.  I like DeWitt, but I just don't understand the logic here.  Perhaps there will be a trade and Cardenas will be brought back up before the season starts, but DeWitt looks to have won the job for now.

Another possibility, though still an extreme longshot, is Alfredo Amezaga.  I've made it pretty clear that I really like this player as a reserve.  He's a good defender at multiple positions and has had a good spring.  Perhaps most importantly, he can play SS and that might give him an advantage because the Cubs only have Darwin Barney as a backup SS on the 40 man roster and he did not look good there defensively yesterday.  Rust is one thing but there has to be concern whether he has enough arm to make all the plays at SS.  Amezaga also fits the profile of the kind of player the Cubs will favor with this new front office.  He's a good defender with a good approach at the plate and solid baserunning skills.  The biggest downside for him is that he doesn't have a roster spot.

Other players sent down were OF Jim Adduci and RHP Jay Jackson.  Jackson had a very good spring and may have put himself back in the picture for a call-up down the road if he continues to perform well at Iowa.  Adduci is a solid minor league vet and could probably be a decent 5th OF'er for some team. He's a good guy and I'd like to see him get an opportunity somewhere if not with the Cubs.  Other cuts include utility man Bobby Scales and C Michael Brenly. No surprise in either case. I wonder if the Cubs will keep Scales in Iowa or see if he may want to start his coaching career.

In other news, the Cubs have announced that veteran Ryan Dempster has been named the Opening Day starter over Matt Garza.  The Cubs have hinted at such a move, saying it's more about early season matchups, so it's not all that surprising.  Honoring a Cubs player who has meant so much to the team and community may have played a factor, especially since this is possibly Dempster's last season.  In the end, it's just a formality so this move isn't going to move me one way or the other.

In other rotation news, Paul Maholm was officially named a starter, but that's not the surprising part.  The surprising part  is he's been named the 5th starter.  To me that absolutely rules out Rodrigo Lopez (if there was any doubt left, that is) as a possible starter since the Cubs can't afford to have a 3rd or 4th starter who only works 5 strong innings.  It's down to Samardzija, Volstad, and Wells for the last 2 spots.

Of all the moves made today, the only one I really didn't like was choosing DeWitt over Cardenas.



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  • Dempster's the Opening Day starter? I'm surprised.

  • Just saw that and updated the article. News coming in fast and furious today. Had a couple articles planned for slow day, but should have saved the catchers article, I guess!

  • Jackson and Rizzo need to play every day and get the BA's and
    develop their skills. I hope Adrian is the starting 2nd baseman
    at AAA. Maybe later in the year he can come up

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Cardenas will start at AAA and it's probably just a matter of time before he gets called up. Maybe Cubs want him working everyday on his defense. No question he can hit MLB pitching right now.

  • If Maholm is the 5th starter, that leaves third and fourth spot for either Wells, Volstadt, and Shark--two of them, not just one for the "last spot" (as you wrote).

  • In reply to JayPea:

    Thanks, looks like just a typo, meant "spots", plural.

  • Samardzija probably has one spot locked up. Volstadt, Wells and Wood vying for the last spot.

  • My theory is Cubs haven't officially named 5 to keep value high on Wells. Probably going to be Samardzija and Volstad with Wells in long relief unless they can trade him.

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    the fact they named Maholm as the 5th starter instead of just handing him the 3rd spot tells me a couple of things. 1. I think this cubs brass truly thinks Shark is not just a starter but I high end one and they would like to see the only power arms in the rotation going back-to-back, it should be a confidence booster for Jeff. 2. I believe they put demp as the opening day starter to "showcase" him in a way and if he performs look for him to be dealt and everyone in the rotation essentially moves up a spot with Wells/Wood being inserted into the 5 spot. If Maholm is also dealt are rotation will stand at Garza, Shark, Volstad, Wood, Wells or my personal wild card Trey Mcnutt. based on potential that rotation alone is enough to win a division IMO. add a Grieke or Cain and you've got something there. wishful thinking

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    It's nice to have options for a change. Cubs can stick with all this depth or they could possibly trade a Wells or a Lopez for future help or maybe a vet bullpen arm.

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    Does anyone else get the feeling that a middle infielder Cubs trade is imminent? And I have a feeling it'll be Baker over DeWitt, allowing both Cardenas and DeWitt to make the opening day roster. Furthermore, Mather's versatility makes Baker expendable at this point.

    A bench consisting of Cardenas, DeWitt, Johnson, and Mather (and a backup catcher) would be even in that it'd provide two lefties and two righties

  • In reply to Chris Trengove:

    I almost have to think there will be a minor deal there though the Cubs showed by sending Cardenas down that they won't be pressed into giving anybody away.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    do you feel Cardenas can eventually unseat Barney? not a knock on barney I just think he's a utility infielder in the majors while I still see upside in Cardenas, especially offensively

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Possibly, but he needs to get better on defense. He showed some signs this spring but let's see how he does over a larger sample size. The bat is good enough. Right now Barney is the better defender and don't rule him out as far as having a better offensive year. Will be interesting to see how it plays out over the season.

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    I almost wonder if the Cubs have been negotiating with the Phillies right along and the DeWitt move is a part of that. Maybe Cubs trying to get something beyond Castillo and Phillies balking?

  • In reply to Kevin Heckman:

    Maybe.Could be a negotiating ploy. In the end, it could just be that Sveum likes DeWitt better right now, but I'm not convinced yet.

  • Interesting developments. It is a little bit surprising to see Cardenas sent down this early, as if he's no longer competing for a spot. You would think they would let the competition go down to the wire.

    Nonetheless, I don't blame them for preferring a guy like DeWitt as a bench player. DeWitt, although young, is a veteran and has played on a MLB bench before and done a decent job.

    Although Cardenas has promise, he also has some question marks. Even elite prospects can sometimes flounder a bit in their first exposure to the bigs, and it's even tougher to perform off the bench in one's rookie year. It took Cardenas three years to figure out AAA pitching, so it wouldn't be surprising to see him really struggle in his MLB rookie season off the bench. if it was me, I would rather have Cardenas playing full time in AAA if he's not playing full time in the bigs.

    I personally feel that, despite his defensive shortcomings, DeWitt is a better all around 2B than Barney, and probably a nose better than Cardenas at this point as well, but an argument could be made for Cardenas. I would prefer they make Barney the utility infielder and get it over with so he can concentrate a little more on his defense at SS.

    If Barney at 26 still has potential to improve, then so does DeWitt at 26. DeWitt, when drafted in the first round by LA, was considered the best pure hitter coming out of high school. Barney, despite all his intangibles, has yet to show anything in his professional career that indicates he could be a decent MLB hitter.

    I'm less surprised that they're sending Cardenas down now than I was that they waived DeWitt to make room for him. Cardenas has some promise, but he's a mixed bag as a prospect, and his ceiling is not that much higher than DeWitt. He is definitely a good guy to add, but not clearly better than DeWitt.

    I also think it's a bit odd that the FO sees so much promise in guys like Volstad and Stewart, but so little in DeWitt--he seems to fit a similar profile. An elite prospect as an amateur who came to the bigs at a very young age and failed to deliver on his promise, yet still held his own in MLB and is still young.

  • In reply to SVAZCUB:

    I think the bigger problem for me is potentially using 2 roster spots for 2 very similar players in DeWitt and Cardenas. Even if DeWitt is a little better it seems it's not worth using up that extra spot. Of course, if you can't trade DeWitt for something worthwhile, then the Cubs should keep him for now.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I suppose the other possibility is that the Cubs are looking at trading Barney and figure DeWitt is a better replacement starter.

  • I'd be very surprised if that happens, but I won't rule it out.

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    I am guessing that the whole Dewitt decision was based on maximizing his trade value much like Byrds. I know team Theo has said since day 1 that they need to maximize what they have, to demote Dewitt would/could diminish his value to next to nothing. I would be very surprised if he is still on the team by June 1.

  • In reply to Rich Cap:

    This is true. Cardenas value unaffected by sending him down and they're probably not looking to trade him either.

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    After watching a season plus of DeWitt, nothing would convince me he belongs on the 25. He was released earlier and I would be so surprised if any team thought enough of him to acquire him. Barney has not only put on more muscle, but the results have been evident in his hitting. I pulled for Cardenas but Amezaga is who I'm rooting for as the second infielder. I also agree with Maholm being the #5 starter as Samardzija and Volstad have been just short of awesome. Wells can be the long reliever and I'm more hopeful of this year than I thought I ever would be. Yep, pass me some more kool-aide.

  • In reply to Hal McCarty:

    Haha! The pitching is what gives me hope for this season. Tough outing for Samardzija. Needs to bounce back.

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