Timing on this article was slightly off, so now I'm updating this to reflect today's decision to send Cardenas down and apparently keep DeWitt.
I know that Blake DeWitt has impressed Dale Sveum from day one. He looked like an early lock to win his roster spot back from Adrian Cardenas, who scuffled out of the gate.
Things have changed very much since then. For one thing Cardenas has been better on defense than advertised. He's not going to win a Gold Glove out there but talk that he's absolutely awful seems to have been a bit exaggerated. He hasn't shown anything that leads me to think he can't be at least adequate there, especially in a part-time role. At any rate, it's at least as good as DeWitt's defense.
Cardenas's calling card, however, is his bat and he has had it on display for a couple of weeks now, raising his average up to .286. He has outslugged DeWitt .647 to .463.
Then there's the all-important roster situation. Those spots are precious commodities at this point in the spring. Non-roster player Joe Mather already seems like a lock to earn one spot, but he has played head and shoulders above his competition this spring. That has not been the case with DeWitt. Do you give him the job over Cardenas because of experience or a slightly better batting average in the spring? Those seem like trivial reasons for a team focusing 3 years down the road. When DeWitt was badly outplaying Cardenas early this spring, you could make a case for sticking with DeWitt and taking a chance on waiving Cardenas, but it seems pretty obvious that Cardenas does not get through waivers at this point given his recent performance and the general need for 2Bs out there.
DeWitt may also bring you back a piece that could be useful, whether it's a relief arm or perhaps another asset for an improving farm system. It's not likely the Cubs get back something substantial for DeWitt but he should bring back enough value to make it worthwhile. DeWitt's skills are redundant with Cardenas. They are the same kind of player in that they are lefty hitters with so-s0 defense at 2B, 3B, and the outfield corners. The difference is that Cardenas is slightly younger and has a 40 man roster spot -- a spot that the Cubs originally gave him at the expense of DeWitt's place on the roster. It seems reasonable to think that they believed Cardenas was the better fit back when they made that decision the first time, and there's been nothing that's happened this spring that should have made them change their minds.
Update: The Cubs sent Cardenas to AAA Iowa. While it doesn't ensure that DeWitt has made the club, it's a good indication that unless a last minute spring deal is made, he will go north with the team. I'm disappointed in this move because I think it was made by Dale Sveum before the Cubs even took played a game. Not that I think decisions should be made based on spring stats, but has DeWitt really been so much better than Cardenas that you should use another 40 man roster spot to keep him?