Making room on the 40 man roster for Rule 5 eligibiles

Making room on the 40 man roster for Rule 5 eligibiles
Trey McNutt

A while back, I wrote about players who are locks, likely to stick, and the players on the bubble as far as the 40 man roster is concerned.  Since then I think Dave Sappelt has moved from likely to lock and you can also say the same thing about relievers Jaye Chapman and Michael Bowden.  Chris Volstad is also on that likely list and I do think he'll get another shot as well.  On the other hand, Adrian Cardenas and Chris Rusin don't look as safe as they did earlier.  Cardenas isn't getting playing time and Rusin's audition isn't going well.  Since the Cubs need pitching and Rusin has shown flashes, I'll split the difference here and add Cardenas to the maybe category.

That leaves the following players on the bubble:

  • Miguel Socolovich
  • Jason Berken
  • Justin Germano
  • Bryan LaHair
  • Joe Mather
  • Casey Coleman
  • Manny Corpas
  • Adrian Cardenas

The first order of business is to decide how many Rule 5 eligible players the Cubs will need to add to the roster.  I wrote about this last year but for newcomers, here's a quick rundown.

Players have to be put on the 40 man roster after 4 years if they are drafted or signed at age 19 or older and after 5 years if they are under 19.  If those players aren't put on the 40 man roster, then they will be exposed to what's called the Rule 5 draft.  They can be selected by other teams provided they are put on that teams 24 man roster and kept there for the entire season.  Last year the Cubs picked up Lendy Castillo through this process and lost infielders Ryan Flaherty and Marwin Gonzalez.

When deciding whether or not to protect players, you must consider the following criteria...

  1. How MLB ready is that player?  Can he contribute enough to make it worth holding up a spot on another team's 24 man roster?
  2. What is that player's ceiling?  Is his ceiling high enough that a team might select him even if he isn't MLB ready?

It's easy when the players fit under both categories.  That is, the player has a high ceiling and is MLB ready or close to it.  It gets tricky when it's one or the other.  The Cubs chose not to protect Marwin Gonzalez even though he was MLB ready because they felt that his ceiling was as a replacement level utility player.  On the other hand, they chose to protect Junior Lake even though he was nowhere near MLB ready because he has the ability to be more than that down the road.  In these cases, you tend to lean toward the higher ceiling.
So which of these Rule 5 eligible players do the Cubs need to add to the 40 man roster this year.

Here is the full list (h/t The Cub Reporter)...

Rule 5 Draft eligible players 

Jeffry Antigua, LHP
Frank Batista, RHP
Justin Bour, 1B
Michael Brenly, C
Michael Burgess, OF
David Cales, RHP
Esmailin Caridad, RHP
Matt Cerda, INF
Hunter Cervenka, LHP
Evan Crawford, OF
Willengton Cruz, LHP
Antonio Encarnacion, RHP
Eduardo Figueroa, RHP
Marcus Hatley, RHP
Ty'Relle Harris, RHP
Jay Jackson, RHP
Alvido Jimenez, RHP
Austin Kirk, LHP
Luis Liria, RHP
Jeff Lorick, LHP
David Macias, IF-OF
Nate Maldonado, C
Trey McNutt, RHP
Pedro Medina, RHP
Jose Montesino, INF
A.J. Morris, RHP
Enyelberth Pena, RHP
Felix Pena, RHP
Starling Peralta, RHP
Nelson Perez, OF
Dae-Eun Rhee, RHP
Rebel Ridling, 1B
Greg Rohan, IF-OF
Melvin Rosa, RHP
Jose Rosario, RHP
Zac Rosscup, LHP
Julio Sanchez, RHP
Brian Schlitter, RHP
Ryan Searle, RHP
Matt Spencer, LHP
Nick Struck, RHP
Larry Suarez, RHP
Francisco Turbi, RHP
Christian Villanueva, 3B
Brett Wallach, RHP
Logan Watkins, INF
Casey Weathers, RHP
Rob Whitenack, RHP
Ty Wright, OF

Locks

  • Trey McNutt, RHP:  Yes, he's been mediocre and it does look like he's a reliever at this point, but as an athletic pitcher with the potential for two plus pitches, there's still hope he can have some impact.
  • Logan Watkins, 2B-SS-CF: Watkins is the Cubs most ready position player outside the 40 man roster.  He can help a team now with his speed, defense, OBP skills, and versatility.  He also has starter potential at 2B.
  • Christian Villanueva, 3B: He's one of the Cubs top 10 prospects and though he's not MLB ready, he has the potential to be a solid MLB starter.  His situation is similar to Lake's last year in terms of long term potential, though they are very different players. Lake had some time in AA and had the potential to provide speed and versatility off a team's bench, but Villanueva is much more polished as a hitter and a defender  And besides, would the Cubs really risk losing a guy they just acquired for their top 2012 pitcher?

Not locks, but pretty close:

  • Starling Peralta, RHP: I think he's one of the guys you have to seriously consider protecting.  He's only in low A ball but can throw 96 as a starter with a slider that occasionally looks like a second plus pitch.  He has good size and was able to sustain velocity as the game wore on.  He's a reliever if you take him today, but there is a chance he can be a starter with two plus pitches in the future.
  • Nick Struck, RHP: He's going to the AZ Fall League so that the Cubs can get another look at him.  He's a guy who's ceiling isn't all that high (#4 or #5 starter), but he could probably pitch right now as a middle reliever.  Can the Cubs afford to lose a potential starter and a guy who would certainly be in that "8 or 9 man rotation" that Theo and Jed like to have as depth?  Probably not.

10 more guys to watch:  An alphabetical list that ranges from extreme longshots to guys on the bubble.

  • Frank Batista, RHP: Highly productive AA reliever with limited ceiling. His role in the majors is likely as a middle reliever, and he could probably fill that role in 2013 for someone.
  • Hunter Cervenka, LHP: Not ready and command is spotty, but a lefty who can hit 94 with good movement may entice a team to gamble.
  • Marcus Hatley, RHP: On the surface you wouldn't protect a pitcher with an 8.22 ERA in AAA, but success in AA and the idea that he had a ton of bad luck at Iowa (2.81 FIP) makes you think twice.  And if that's still not convincing, a fresh arm with a mid 90s fastball and a hammer curve will make you think a third time.
  • Austin Kirk, LHP: After an impressive start in Daytona, Kirk struggled with command and missing bats as the season wore on -- especially after his promotion to AA.  He is a lefty with some potential, so there is a possibility for some interest, but it's unlikely a team would select him at this point.
  • Dae-Eun Rhee, RHP: Tough year at AA but has starter potential.  His AZ Fall League is likely an audition for him.  If he stands out and shows his old velocity, he'll make it tough for the Cubs to leave him unprotected.
  • Greg Rohan, 3B: He's extremely productive,  but as a 26 year old who started the year in A ball, there are significant doubts about his ceiling.  Cubs shortage of options at 3B gives him an outside shot.
  • Jose Rosario, RHP: Can reach mid 90s and flashed a plus breaking pitch at times, but is coming off an injury after 1/2 season in low A ball.  Team would have to stash him similar to the way the Cubs did with Castillo last year, but he's even less advanced than Castillo was last year.  At this stage, he's not really worth a 40 man roster spot for the Cubs, so it's extremely unlikely he's worth a 24 man roster spot on another team.
  • Zachary Rosscup, LHP: Another guy who will get evaluated in the AZL, Rosscup is a lefty who showed swing and miss stuff at AA this year in a limited sample.
  • Larry Suarez, RHP: A Zambrano sized pitcher with the fastball to match, Suarez came on strong at the end of the year in Peoria as a closer, but he's a long way away.
  • Robert Whitenack, RHP:  He would have been a lock had he stayed healthy but his stuff and command did not return last year and he was shut down early.  Huge risk/reward team type for team willing to use up a roster spot for a guy who isn't likely to contribute much in the way of innings or productivity in 2013.

While many guys on this last list have some intriguing qualities, keep in mind that every organization has these kinds of guys.  The risk is low that they'd use up a 24 man roster spot to add something that may well be redundant to what they already have in their own organization.

Which guys would you protect?  And who would you leave off the 40 man roster to make room for them?

Filed under: Roster decisions

Comments

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  • Very hard choice for any team. Who is coming off the 25-man
    roster (for sure) to create room. I would leave a spot for the
    Rule V draft only with the 2-4 pick. Long term potential is hard
    to judge.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Tough decisions indeed. In an ideal world, you'd like to protect all of them, since they all have some MLB potential. Of course, we know that's possible.

    I think they'll leave at least one spot open to give themselves some flexibility in the Rule 5.

  • Nice article John. Very in-depth, as usual. How many spots are currently open on the Cubs 40-man roster? If you don't know for sure, even a ballpark figure would be helpful to know.

  • Thanks. They're all taken right now, plus 5 guys who are on the 60 day DL who don't count toward the 40 man roster. They'll need to make room for two of those guys for certain (Matt Garza and Arodys Vizcaino).

    The other guys are Blake Parker, Marcos Mateo, and Ian Stewart. They're all iffy and I think Stewart's a goner for certain. Probably Mateo too. Parker is 50/50.

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    Excellent write-up, John. Some tough decisions to make there. I just hope the Cubs won't risk losing a prospect in the rule 5 in order to keep someone like Joe Mather on the roster!

    What I'm really itching to know though is whom the Cubs might pick up from another organization. But I guess it's impossible to predict anything at this point...

  • In reply to João Lucas:

    I'd be pretty ticked if that happened. I'd rather protect an A ball pitcher with a good arm, even if he's not likely to be taken, than Joe Mather. I don't mean disrespect toward him, but this team is about trying to obtain and keep as much young talent as possible.

    Too early for that now and too many teams. It's hard enough speculating who the Cubs will protect at this point -- looking at 29 other teams options would be a monumental task at this point. Over the next couple of months, it will whittle down enough to be manageable, and I'll certainly write an article at that point.

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    The only bubble player you listed on the current 40-man I would keep is LaHair. Yes, he's slumped and probably doesn't have a future with the Cubs, but I think there is enough value there that someone will trade for him. The rest are replacement-level.

    In terms of who to add, I don't anticipate we add much more than the 5 locks/maybes.

    I also think we want to head to Spring with an extra slot or two for pickups. The best waiver pickups this year happened at the end of spring training (Valbuena, Camp).

    Our other problem is that we have more 40-man slots than impact players; this is fine when you have to protect a bunch of maybes like Hatley and Cervenka, but deep young teams like the Braves aren't protecting guys like that at all. They don't have the space. Let's hope we have that problem in a couple years.

    One thing is for sure: We will have alot of 40-man turnover this offseason.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Agreed on LaHair. No way I just let him go, but I think he's likely to be traded for a similar level player at a great position of need.

    Also agreed on the last point and it's similar to what I alluded to in the last paragraph. Other teams will have better maybes than the ones on my list, so it's a calculated risk that goes beyond what I have here, which specifically examines only the Cubs organization. In the end, I expect the Cubs to leave most, if not all, of those "maybes" unprotected.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, any 3B versions of LaHair out there? To me that would be an easy trade to make (and probably easier to statistically visualize than a "pitching version" of LaHair, though you could argue for a specialist pitcher that faded down the stretch).

  • In reply to mosconml:

    I honestly haven' checked but it'd have to be someone more LaHair-ish than Greg Rohan to justify taking him.

  • In reply to mosconml:

    Oh wait...you meant trade. Sorry about that :) I thought you meant Rule 5 guys. I'll still have to research that. That would be a good idea if there's a guy and team out there that would fit in terms of positions.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    The 3B market is so lean this offseason, with so many teams in need, that any trade or FA candidates are going to be overpriced, and we will need to overpay. It is what it is.

    I think the best move at 3B is to sign an aging vet to keep the position warm a year or two. Scott Rolen maybe. We have money, but we don't want to give up long-term contracts or young talent. Rolen would cost us neither.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I don't think anyone will trade for LaHair until the last moment. If it appears the Cubs will expose him, the Cubs may make a deal for a bag of balls just so they don't get nothing for him except for the claiming fee.

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    Also, I think you forgot Recker. Not sure if he's the guy, but you need 3 catchers on the 40-man, and if the third is not him, it's gotta be someone likely not in our system now (a FA perhaps)

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Could be. I think he's a wildcard. A guy you can easily let go later if you need to pick someone up down the road. Then again, maybe the Cubs want a veteran to backup Castillo.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I don't think the Cubs want any fringe veteran taking up a spot on the 40 man. However, I can see one on the roster in Iowa for depth.

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    It would be really interesting if Michael Brenly was picked Rule 5. It would seem to be a longshot, but an interesting situation if it happens, nonetheless.

    And if Whitenack is there and I'm, say, the Astros I absolutely take that gamble. Far too much upside. (That still doesn't mean the Cubs should necessarily protect him -- depends how good they think he'll be and how fast compared to Johnson, McNeil, Paniagua, et. al.)

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    It'd be nice to see him get a chance somewhere. That bat is a big question mark to keep on your roster.

    The Astros are certainly a team to be wary of. They've already shown they've been willing to play substandard MLB talent in exchange for the chance to acquire talent that won't help right away.

  • The Cubs also need to leave room on the roster for a handful of free agents, perhaps two SP, a veteran catcher and a reliever or two. Unless Tony Campana can master small ball in a Winter League, I'd use his roster spot for somebody more useful.

  • In reply to cubsin:

    True, but you can also make those switches after the Rule 5. In other words, waive a guy like Recker if and when you sign a veteran catcher.

  • I strongly feel that at least 4 players on the current 40-man roster will be traded. This will open huge roster spots for the FO to acquire new players.

    What about a player like Justin Bour? The Cubs don't need him but I'd hate for him to just walk away without getting anything in return.

  • In reply to WillieG1:

    Trades can definitely make some extra room, but they'd have to make them before rosters are due.

    I don't think anyone will take Bour. We're talking about a AA 1B who didn't show much power and plays below average defense. And you have to start this guy because he's not worth keeping on your bench if all he can do is play 1B and pinch hit.

  • In reply to WillieG1:

    I don't see Bour going anywhere. All MLB orgs have an offensive minded 1B in their upper minors. Bour is a decent player, but if we get 50 K for him in Rule 5, move the other 1B up a level.

  • I have to say I think S. Peralta is also a lock at this point. Some team will most definitely take him if we don't protect him on the 40-man roster. I also think they protect M. Hatley and J. Rosario, to go along with T. McNutt, L. Watkins and C. Villanueva. I like N. Struck, but if we lose him I don't think it'll be a huge loss. I'm fairly unimpressed with the rest of the lot. I also like A.J. Morris and could see some team take a chance on him.

    I hated losing R. Flaherty last year in the Rule 5 draft, but I have to say I trust this management and their evaluation of players. They got it right on the players they traded like D.J. Lemahieu and T. Colvin, who look like bench players in Col. A. Cashner will most likely remain in the bullpen now.

    I do think they should leave a couple spots open on the 40-man roster and maybe try taking 2 players (trade for a pick) in the draft if possible. L. Castillo has a promising arm even if it was difficult keeping him on the big league roster at times. We should try doing this again by taking a couple interesting arms in the Rule 5 draft and keep the one that looks most promising in spring training.

  • In reply to I miss Ron Santo:

    I totally know where you're coming from, but I think Struck is more likely to stay a starter than Rosario, actually, and I'm willing to bet a lot of teams feel the same way. My opinion on Rosario is that he ends up in the pen because he doesn't really have a 3rd pitch and also because of his slight build. I don't think he'll be able to handle the load (which may have led to his injury this year). That said, there could be a team out there that, like you, considers him a future starter and maybe they do take that chance and stash him away. It'd have to be a team that's not going to contend -- and that means he'd have to be a top 10 pick. I don't see that happening. There are almost certainly better options out there if you have a top 10 pick

  • In reply to I miss Ron Santo:

    Not sure if I agree that Colvin is a bench player. I personally thought that we gave up on him to soon. Compare his numbers to David DeJesus's and I would say that we lost out on that deal IMO.

    Tyler Colvin
    .288 BA18 HR 70 RBI .326 OBP .534 SLG 1.8 WAR
    and..
    David DeJesus
    .266 BA 8 HR 49 RBI .353 OBP .405 SLG 1.4 WAR

    Who do you think got the better deal?

  • In reply to johnnywest333:

    Colvin is hitting .230 with a .270 OBP and 7 HRs outside of Coors. That's a replacement level type player.

    He also is hitting .264 with 1 HR vs. lefties. He's improved, but I don't know if I'd call him a bona fide starter when almost all his damage is vs. RHP outside of Coors.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Sheesh that's more like LaHair numbers, I had no idea that he was that bad against lefties. Go's to show you how much I follow other teams lol Thanks bud.

  • In reply to johnnywest333:

    You left out defensive numbers. Oh yeah, there aren't any. DDJ works counts and plays defense. DDJ>Colvin

  • Hey John, why don't you think Rob Whitenack can contribute in 2013 in innings or productivity? He'll be about two years (?) removed from TJ surgery and should, theoretically, be ready to bounce back. He was pitching well through the system before he got hurt last year.

  • In reply to jamespk:

    I think he can increase his workload.

    And I think he can be productive -- just not at the MLB level in 2013.

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    In reply to jamespk:

    He might contribute on the Cubs where they'll have the luxury of looking at him in spring training, although personally I'd want to see him succeed more consistently post-surgery in the minors before giving him a roster spot. But if you had to carry him on the 24-man roster all year, would you add him? Maybe Houston would do something like that, since they're probably hoping to be even worse next year, but even they would probably balk.

  • In reply to Kevin Heckman:

    Good point. Rodon is available next year. Houston will probably want to tank another year. Hard to justify taking Whitenack, but I wouldn't put it past Houston.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Rodon is a pretty nice prize. I kind of suspect that's what is behind Theo preparing Cubs fans for an even worse 2013. But catching the Astros is going to be tough. Singleton should be ready some time next year -- that's when we'll really know the Astros intentions.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Despite the presence of Rodon, I would think Theo would be pretty disappointed if the Cubs had the worst team in baseball next year. That would likely mean some bad years for current MLB players that the Cubs are trying to build with.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    It could. Or it could mean they sign zero free agents, some convince Soriano to leave, and go with a rotation of Shark-Wood-Volstad-Rusin-Raley. (Garza traded at deadline.) That team would lose a lot of games even if Castro is the MVP.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I can't even fathom them shutting off all other avenues to improve on the oft chance they'll get the #1 pick.

    We've already seen that the Cubs strategy doesn't revolve around intentionally tanking seasons in the hopes of landing a draft pick. There are a lot of ways to build, the Cubs don't need to go at it with that kind of tunnel vision, especially since they have the resources (in terms of both money and trade chips) to acquire talent by other means.

    We've seen that if the Cubs can get young talent that have a chance to help them now (i.e Rizzo, T,Wood, Volstad, Sappelt) or a vet that will help them get young talent later (i.e. Maholm), then that's what they'll do.

    Now, if the team is going nowhere at the trade deadline, they might dump guys some older veterans, but even in that case they'll almost certainly still put more talent on the field than the Astros will.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    They can sign a Maholm type, or trade for another Rizzo, but if they start without Dempster, Marmol, or Soriano, trade Garza as soon as someone gives a nice offer for him, don't sign another DDJ, let BJax develop on the fly in center, and don't really do anything about that batting practice team they call a bullpen -- how much better do Rizzo, Castro, Shark, and Castillo have to play to make up for what we lost even compared to this year's team? (Not to mention another Lendy-Castillo-quality Rule 5 guy on the team.)

    Meanwhile, the Astros should get Singleton and Cosart next year. Maybe add in Wojo around the All Star break. I'm not saying they're WS material with that team, but they should certainly be better than they are this. (IF Luhnow actually promotes those guys when they're ready.)

    Guess we'll see in a couple months. But I do think it's significant that there has been zero talk of "parallel tracks" next season -- just talk preparing fans for another down year.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Sorry, Mike, but that's some really odd wishful thinking. If the Astros field a team with Singleton at 1st and a couple of rookie pitchers and that team is better than a Cubs team with a young, but more experienced core -- one that they expect to keep through winning seasons, that would be the saddest victory I can think of. What does that say about the Cubs future with that core?

    The Cubs will build but they won't limit themselves to hoping that they'll be the worst team in baseball, drafting Rodon, and then hoping he'll be the kind of star that's worth passing up every other opportunity to improve. We can leave that strategy to the Astros.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Info on Rodon for those who don't know who we're talking about: http://fayobserver.com/articles/2012/06/01/1181678

    (Well, it's either info on Rodon or specialty pornography, if I copied and pasted the wrong link.)

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    In reply to Kevin Heckman:

    We just carried the essentially useless Lendy Castillo on the roster all year, and he doesn't have half of Whitenack's upside, so I think it's definitely possible.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    He was also a low-mileage arm, though, as opposed to someone coming off major surgery.

  • I'd protect Hunter Cervenka. I'm guessing they will too. Crazy that LaHair's not a lock. Just goes to show you what a self-fulfilling prophecy player projections are. LaHair is an All Star, shows tons of promise in the first half, but someone says he doesn't project well, so he's riding the bench and on the bubble. Jackson hits like ass, plays mediocre defense, but someone says he projects high so he's a lock. My hope is that Mather's eating up all of LaHair's outfield time right now because LaHair *is* in fact a lock so they don't need to see much of him, whereas Mather's on the bubble and they're trying to evaluate.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    I do want to make clear that I don't believe the Cubs will release or waive LaHair, but I can't imagine them passing up a chance to take a similar value player at a greater position of need if given the opportunity -- or to pick up another prospect that could help down the road.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm hoping Soriano gets dealt in the offseason and Jackson starts at Iowa next year no matter how well he does in spring training (since they're often facing AA and AAA pitchers in spring training), opening up plenty of room for LaHair in the outfield, preferably left. I see lots of changes coming this offseason though, so it's anyone's guess how it will actually flesh out.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    I like Hunter Cervenka also, but no way. Houston will piss off one or two teams by keeping a pair of undeserving types. But they are the only team that would grab Cervenka. Also, if we get 50K for the Byrd throw-in, that would be a hoot.

  • In reply to tim815:

    Why's Houston the only team that would grab him? Something with the draft order? If I understand that, maybe I'll understand the "no way" since it doesn't seem much different than what we just did with Lendy Castillo.

  • John, I am really feeling down about this team lately. I mean you have to have pitching to even be close to being competitive. The Cubs have one starting pitcher that could be considered a legit bigleague starter. And he did it for 3/4 of a season. The bullpen is a disaster. I see other teams rolling out guys throwing 98, power arms. We have young guys who just don't look like they should be in the majors.
    To be in the race in the NL next year or any year, be around .500 going into September. At least you are a competitive team. You can say that the Cubs are building for the future with young starting pitchers, where are they? I don't see anybody in the minors that other teams are drooling over. The kid from Atlanta, ok. But they have to go out and be aggressive, and get some pitchers.

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    I'm sure they'll sign some pitchers in the off-season, but it's not going to be anyone the average fan has probably heard of. Next year is for development, and by midseason, I imagine they'll have a better chance of where they'll stand in 2014. We'll know how Vizcaino is recovering. We'll see how Paniagua and Underwood and the rest of the young guys progress. We'll see how Samardzija does in his second year starting and whether Garza is a trade chip or a long-term signee. Maybe we'll make another trade or two to bring in someone with some starting potential. I expect the lineup to be better and the pitching to be worse overall next year. But it's not about competing in 2013. And it's definitely not about overpaying for pitching in 2013.

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    I think management is trying to get pitching; just doesn't happen overnight. Unfortunately, as far as young starting pitching goes, this time last year it was Shark, and nobody else. The cupboard was completely bare. You can thank bad drafting, and trades (Chris Archer).

    Also, Matt Garza is a legit ML starter, and Travis Wood is too. Wood is inconsistent, and he would be a #4/5 on a good team, but he would pitch in most rotations in baseball right now, including good ones.

    But you have identified our #1 problem: Lack of young impact starting pitching. The last draft started to address that, and look for the Cubs to draft more pitching in June, and look for pitching in every trade.

    Look at the Giants: They won a WS and stay competitive, despite having pretty mediocre offensive players. How? Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner....impact starting pitching.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I wouldn't denigrate the Giant's too much, Buster Posey's a candidate for MVP, Cabrera was outstanding before they caught him, former Cub Angel Pagan's having a great year, Pedro Sandoval is being Sandoval, and they found a SS named Arias how's been lights out ever since they called him up. Actually not a shabby offensive club at all. Plus Bruce Bochy is one of the most underrated managers in the game.

    The Giants also have a kid at low A named Kyle Crick who's gonna be another sensational pitcher. I'd like to hire/raid some of their scouting/coaching staff.

  • I think you'll see things improve quicker than you might think. We can see a bullpen like St.Louis' succeed, but a lot of those guys struggled early in their careers.

    The Cubs should have solid starters at most of their positions, they'll have Garza and Samardzija back, and I expect Wood to be more consistent -- and I'll be surprised if the Cubs don't pick up at least one solid SP as they did with Maholm last year.

    That said, I don't think 2013 will the year where they take a big leap. Other than Vizcaino, their best young pitching is in the lower minors, but I expect them to take a college pitcher in this year's draft. It's going to be a process, but it's the right one, and it will pay off....eventually.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree with what you say, and more on Vizcaino.

    Vizcaino, if we were a winning club, would pitch for the Cubs right out of spring training in the bullpen.

    But we need starters; in the short-term next year, this will hurt us, as Vizcaino needs to start in the minors to do this, build up strength, and even then will be on a strict innings limit coming off surgery; I read somewhere 100 innings or so.

    So, Vizcaino won't really help next year. That's OK, if we get to our objective of making him a lights-out starter.

    This is what rebuilding teams do, which is why this is going to take some time, and have some more pain next year

  • In reply to Zonk:

    It is going to be another tough year in all likelihood. I really look at 2014 as the year they'll really make some progress, but I'd like to see some improvement in their play next year, especially from their young core.

  • Only if they expect to be competitive next year. Theo is on record as saying 'the re-build will take longer than some people expected'. 2013 will be 2012 2.0.

  • Between the Cubs having to make these decisions, and forecasting what all the other teams are going to do with their own rosters will have the front office earning their big bucks.

  • Hey John, You and I spoke when we were at the game and I gave you my praise about Sappelt. I still honestly believe that he is a diamond in the ruff and that he is the type of player who makes a bigger impact in the MLB then in the minors. What do you think the chances are that they trade DeJesus and start Sappelt in RF next year? That opens up another roster spot and speaks to the matter of out with the old and in with the new.

  • Villanueva, Watkins, and nobody else, unless Lake gets traded by early-November. Then add McNutt. It isn't about getting to 40 or 39. It's about getting to 37. Theo will play 40 Man Jenga all year long.

  • In reply to tim815:

    They'll protect McNutt. Rebuilding teams shouldn't be in the business leaving 23 year old pitchers with mid 90s fastballs and plus breaking pitches unprotected so they can protect one extra guy off the bottom of a bad 40 man roster.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    No problem with that, but when I see calls to protect 5 or 6 guys to avoid feeding the Astros, I shake my head.

  • In reply to tim815:

    It's not unusual to add about 4-5 men to your 40 man roster. The Cubs protected 4 last year in Theo's first year and some observers were surprised they didn't protect 5 (Flaherty) and some thought even a 6th (Rhee) was justifiable at the time.

  • John, wouldn't it make sense for the Cubs brass to add Whitenack, and then just stash him on the 60-day DL, much like they did with Arodys Vizciano this season? Much like Vizciano, he's recovering from TJ surgery, and is a long ways away from being deemed healthy.

    As for Cardenas, I could see him going back to his original organization in Philly. Chase Utley is reportedly willing to move to third, which would open up regular playing time for Cardenas at second. He probably doesn't warrant a big time prospect, but perhaps a high risk/high reward starter at some level of A-ball.

  • In reply to Jim Weihofen:

    Whitenack isn't hurt. He was in 2011 and pitched with limited success in 2013.

    The 60 Day only applies during the regular season, when the 40 man is full.

  • In reply to tim815:

    I meant *limited success in 2012.

  • I'm not sure. He's not injured, so probably not very ethical. Whether they can do that from a procedural standpoint, I really don't know.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    It all depends on the definition of health. If they say he's still injured and recovering, it could fly. Since Tommy John is such a tricky surgery and recovery, the club could say he's still recovering. At the least, it could buy some time to figure out who they want to keep or cut.

    As for the on the bubble guys, I see Peralta being protected before Struck. The Cubs already have Rusin and Raley, both of whom should start the year at Iowa. The team could wind up offering Germano and/or Berken a minor league deal with a spring training invite, so that'd fill the rotation depth up.

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