Cubs Roster Projection: 2nd Edition

It looks like things are really starting to clear up at this point with just a couple of weeks left to go in the spring.  The biggest questions are for the last 3 spots in the bullpen, where the Cubs still have 6 viable candidates, 3 of whom are out of options and another who is a Rule 5 pick who needs to make the roster to stay with the Cubs.  It seems certain the Cubs will make some minor deals near the end of the spring to try and maximize their bullpen assets.

Here's how the roster is shaping up right now...

Starting Lineup

C: Geovany Soto - Incumbent having a solid spring but with young catchers playing well behind him, teams who need a catcher may be calling Theo and Jed.

1B:  Bryan LaHair - Has really struggled this spring while Anthony Rizzo has flourished.  He's going to have to hit to keep this job.

2B: Darwin Barney - Added some bulk and has been adding extra base power to his defense and contact skills.

3B: Ian Stewart - Swing was coming around before he got injured but he should be ready soon.

SS: Starlin Castro - Quietly has played better defense this spring.  Will be interesting to see if that carries into the season.  Everyone knows he can hit.

LF: Alfonso Soriano- Started the spring hot and will remain a Cub for now.

CF: Marlon Byrd - Fans eager to see top prospect Brett Jackson play.  Jackson has had a solid spring and may already be the Cubs 2nd best player, but Byrd also playing well and he'll keep the job as long as he's with the team.

RF: David DeJesus - The Cubs leadoff man is off to a slow start but most expect him to perform when the bell rings.


C: Steve Clevenger - In a neck and neck battle with Welington Castillo.  Only reason Clevenger may get job is his LH bat complements Soto and Cubs may want Castillo to play everyday.

IF: Jeff Baker -- A lock to retain his jack of all trades role off the bench -- if he's still here.

IF: Blake DeWitt - Still holds lead over Adrian Cardenas, but that gap has narrowed of late.  DeWitt will have to hold off a late charge from Cardenas, who has the advantage of youth and already being on the roster.

OF: Reed Johnson - The steady veteran is the Cubs best defensive outfielder, particularly in LF, where Soriano needs some late inning help.

OF: Joe Mather - Came in to camp and basically took Tony Campana's job as a long shot non-roster invite.  His versatility on offense and defense is a plus.  It's also possible he could end up with Jeff Baker's all-purpose role

Starting Rotation

Matt Garza, RHP:  Looks to take another step forward this year and become a bona fide ace.  Cubs will have to make a decision soon whether to sign him long term or trade him for prospects to continue the rebuilding process.

Ryan Dempster, RHP: Veteran leader for changing staff. This will likely be his last year as a Cub unless he comes at a big discount next season.

Paul Maholm, LHP: Not exactly going to wow anybody, he just gets the job done.

Jeff Samardzija, RHP: Sveum is talking like Samardzija is a lock, or at least close to it.  His size, velocity, athleticism, and 4 pitch repertoire make him interesting, but the difference has been his much improved command.

Chris Volstad, RHP: Has pitched great this spring by pounding the ball low in the strike zone.


Carlos Marmol: Hasn't been lights out by any stretch of the imagination, but has shown signs of figuring it out recently and should be the Cubs closer...for now.

Kerry Wood: Veteran should be the primary guy in the 8th inning but some young arms are coming on strong.

James Russell: Inherits Sean Marshall's late inning lefty role out of the pen but has been shaky so far this spring.  Cubs need him to step up.

Rafael Dolis: He's earned a spot by not giving up a run and pitching with pretty good command all spring.  Strikeouts aren't there yet, but he does have swing and miss stuff.

Trever Miller: Despite the bad outing he may still have the edge on Scott Maine for the moment.  With Russell something of an uncertainty, Sveum may feel better with another veteran lefty to fall back on.  Then again, there's nothing written that the Cubs have to take a second lefty, especially if one doesn't distinguish himself.  Both players can be sent down to Iowa.

Randy Wells: The Cubs are going to have to give him a role in the bullpen if he loses out on a rotation spot. Wells has pitched well this spring, but Samardzija and Volstad have been a tick better.  Wells may end up as trade bait as many teams will be looking for a starter at the end of the spring.

Marcos Mateo: Right now I'm giving him this spot because he has no options, but he's hanging by a thread as Lendy Castillo has made a strong move this spring and the Cubs have picked up a second pitcher that has no options in Frankie De La Cruz.  The Cubs may try and find a way to keep all 3 arms.



As mentioned, Lendy Castillo could still get that last spot but my feeling is the Cubs would rather see if they can try and make a deal to keep him in the minors while he continues to refine his command and secondary pitches.

Frankie De La Cruz: Like Mateo and Wells, he's out of options but there's a bit of a logjam at the bottom of the bullpen.  It's unfair to count De La Cruz out without him having thrown a pitch yet, but it appears the Cubs will have to make a move or two to keep him and Castillo.

Welington Castillo: Battling with Clevenger but his higher ceiling may cost him a spot on the roster.

Adrian Cardenas: It was his job to lose and so far DeWitt has done his best to make sure that happens.  This one isn't decided yet, though Sveum seems to be a bit more partial to the veteran DeWitt here.

Tony Campana: His speed off the bench could be useful, especially early in the year when runs are hard to come by, but Campana has done nothing to earn that spot while Mather has played lights out.  Campana's only chance right now may be a trade of Jeff Baker, which seems unlikely at this point.

Scott Maine: The hard throwing Maine is Miller's main competition to be the second lefty out of the pen...if there is a second lefty, that is.

Travis Wood: He started the spring with a good shot at making the team but has pitched his way off the staff for now.  With a strong finish, he may still challenge for a role, but that is unlikely at this point.  Wood has an option left so he can regroup in AAA Iowa

There are other players, such as Casey Coleman and Blake Parker, who still have an outside chance, but right now it's looking like there are 32 players vying for 25 spots.  The bullpen picture remains the foggiest but the Cubs could clear things up with a roster move or two soon.

It'll be interesting to see what direction the Cubs go with those last 6 spots but it seems right now they'll have to do some fancy maneuvering if they want to keep as many of these players as possible.




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  • Interesting. I didn't see Sonnanstine on this list. Is he pretty much a goner?

  • In reply to lokeey:

    I'm guessing that Sonnanstine will be waived and his spot on the 40-man will go to Mather or Miller?

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Maybe Mather. I'm not 100% on Miller right now making the team. You have to wonder if it's worth a roster spot to keep him. Easier for them to go with Maine or keep another righty.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I say go with Maine as a power lefty out of the pen to compliment James Russell and maybe even take his "Marshall" role at some point.

  • In reply to lokeey:

    I'd say Sonnanstine is not only not going to make the 25 man roster bu he's in jeopardy of not sticking with the 40 man right now.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree, nice work John.

    We will need roster spots, and Andy makes a lot of sense at this point. Hasn't shown a reason to keep him, and his upside is limited IMO.

    My question is - does Campana stick on the 40 man? Eventually we will need a spot for Bjax, and unless there is a trade at the major league level, that seems like a likely spot.

  • In reply to bwenger:

    Thanks and that's a great point about BJax. It makes me wonder if the Cubs will try and limit the non-roster guys who make it as much as possible. In the end, Mather may be the only guy because you can make a good case for Maine (or not even taking a second lefty) and Cardenas making the team.

    Campana is a tough guy to waive because of his one great tool, but if he hadn't been added last year, it's tough to say whether they would have done it this year. I think they'll keep him for now. If BJax gets called up, my guess is that either Byrd or Reed Johnson gets moved.

  • As always, appreciate the good work John. I continue to have doubts about Mateo and, though no great fan of Baker, I wonder if he is not more valuable as a Cub than anyone he can bring in a trade.

  • In reply to Hubbs16:

    Thanks. I'm having some doubts about Mateo too and am not sure the Cubs may not keep Castillo instead. I think there will be some deals made and the last 2-3 spots in the bullpen are still wide open.

  • Jackson and Rizzo just need many BA's in AAA until they are

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    It's what's best for the team but I don't think those two will be down there very long.

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    It works for me, and if Castro were to get hurt or simply needs a day off, Barney can slide over to shortstop temporarily.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Whoever backs up 2nd, DeWitt, Cardenas, Baker is going to get some playing time because they'll get to play during Barney's days off and Castro's when Barney slides over to play SS.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    maybe more than that because I have a feeling Barney wont be the 2nd baseman come summer time much less year. In my eyes he is a major league super utility player who can start but shouldnt over long periods of time. Think Brett Lillibridge of the sox but with less power and utility. I actually think lillibridge is the better player and would be our 2b if we had him yet you cant trust him over a full season.

  • Sonnestine gone, frees up spot for Castillo. trade Baker and frree up spot for Mather . After that Bryd , Johnson , Wells can all go , get some Class A guys with upside and head North . What I hope happens anyway.

  • What happened to Manny Corpas? I figured he may have a shot as a NRI but haven't heard much about him. Did he get injured or been ineffective?

  • In reply to TheMightyGin:

    He's been ineffective (5.40 ERA), though not terrible. He has 0 walks and 5Ks, so that's encouraging, but without a roster spot he'll have a tough time making the team. The Cubs will likely keep him at Iowa for insurance but I wouldn't be surprised to see him up at some point in the season.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    the thing id really like to know is how was his velocity

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I'm not sure on that. First game he was high 80s, maybe peaking low 90s -- but that was his first game so it may not mean much.

  • Good article..., but leaves me with some scarey thoughts.
    1. If our corner infielders can't hit, Baker is our primary back-up..,SCARY.
    2. Lotta candidates for relievers..,we're counting on Wood alot,SCARY.
    3. No trade for Soriano,Byrd yet. If corner infielders don't hit, we gotta lean on these two for power and average,SCARY.


  • In reply to rakmessiah:

    Thanks. Lots of scary stuff!

    I know, it scares me too but without him it might be Mather and Cardenas depending on how things shake out. That might be worse.

    We do need Wood because a lot of guys are unproven. No Marshall, no Cashner, and no Samardzija. It's a big turnover but the Cubs think Dolis can play a major role sooner rather than later.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    As far as the power, it looks like it's mostly going to be Soriano, but I think the Cubs will try to get 10-20 (or more) from various sources. DeJesus, Byrd, Castro, Soto, Stewart, LaHair...but yeah, no really big power threat that's going to scare anybody!

  • John, you mentioned in your post that it looked like Travis Wood was destined for AAA after a rough spring. But that was before his meltdown this afternoon against the Mariners: 2 innings / 7 ER, including 3 HRs. He's got an ERA over 25.

    I'm starting to think Wood should be taken off the field before there's any more damage to his confidence. Maybe an extended spring training would be better, followed by an assignment to High-A, then aggressive promotion if he's recovered his form.

  • In reply to Taft:

    They usually reserve those slower progressions for pitchers who are hurt and rehabbing... unless maybe there's something specific you want him to work on -- and if that's the case, it's likely they send him to AAA afterward.

    He was throwing up to 92mph but didn't really throw anything except fastballs and cutters, so 75% of his pitches were in the 88-92mph range -- not a whole lot of changing speeds. Command seemed off too. He's just a mess right now.

  • Interesting speculation. I'd be a bit surprised of Dolis makes the roster though, despite how well he has pitched. He has no AAA experience, and as you mentioned, there's a lot of guys they stand to lose if they don't go north with them. I would think they would give an extended chance to de la Cruz and Mateo by taking them north, and then waive them if they flame out and bring up Dolis at that point. They're going to need that depth at some point during the season, anyway.

    What do you think of Jay Jackson's spring? Any idea why he has pitched so poorly at AAA the last couple of years after blowing through the low minors? Does he have it figured out now, or is he just having a good spring?

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    I just cant see the Cubs not having Campana on the roster, I mean this is a crazy winter but I still see the wind blowing in at Wrigley and small ball at this moment seems to be the way to go, Campana with 300 at bats would probably have 35 stolen bases, thats 35 times a runner would be in scoring position...Oh well its going to be interesting one way or another..

  • In reply to Byron Mullins:

    That's a lot of PAs from a guy who may not get on base that often. If Campana has a role with the team, it'll be as a late inning guy/occasional spark plug. He's a fun and useful player in spurts but I'm not sure he can sustain an adequate level of production over a whole season as a starter.

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