Article and Poll: Who is the Cubs 25th Man?

Article and Poll: Who is the Cubs 25th Man?
Infielder/Outfielder/RHP Joe Mather was the Cubs 25th man last season.

I wanted to write a piece on spring training roster battles, but for a team that isn't expected to contend, it amazes me how the Cubs lineup, rotation, and even their 25 man roster is basically set.  Barring injury or trade, there might be an opening for a bullpen spot or two, but the most open competition is for that 25th man spot.  The likelihood is that spot will be taken by a second utility infielder, but that's not set in stone.

I realize it's just the 25th man, but what's interesting to me about it is that it will give some insight as to how the Cubs think about roster construction and player development. The team has the challenge of trying to balance the manager's day-to-day roster needs with the organization's long term development needs. Is roster flexibility important? How about righty-lefty matchups out of the bullpen? Do the Cubs prefer to give the opportunity to a young player or would they rather that player get more reps at Iowa? How willing are they to make a roster move in order to make room for a short-term non-roster player?

These are all questions that must be considered as you choose the 25th man.

As of today, this is my projected roster, minus the 25th man.  Starters are in bold italics and defensive positions are listed in order of expected playing time.

Pitchers (12)

  • Matt Garza (R)
  • Jeff Samardzija (R)
  • Edwin Jackson (R)
  • Travis Wood (L)
  • Scott Feldman (R)
  • Carlos Marmol (R)
  • Kyuji Fujikawa (R)
  • James Russell (L)
  • Shawn Camp (R)
  • Carlos Villanueva (R)
  • Michael Bowden (R)
  • Hector Rondon (R)

Catchers (2)

  • Welington Castillo (R)
  • Dioner Navarro (S)

Infielders (5)

  • Anthony Rizzo: 1B (L)
  • Darwin Barney: 2B, SS (R)
  • Starlin Castro: SS (R)
  • Ian Stewart: 3B (L)
  • Luis Valbuena: 3B, 2B, SS (L)

Outfielders (5)

  • Alfonso Soriano: LF (R)
  • David DeJesus: CF (L)
  • Nate Schierholtz: RF (L)
  • Scott Hairston: CF, LF (R)
  • Dave Sappelt: RF, CF (R)

*Scott Hairston and Dave Sappelt could be interchangeable as far as defensive positions. Right now I'm listing Hairston as the backup CF because he has more MLB experience there, but Sappelt's superior speed combined with some tutelage from OF guru Dave McKay could be enough to make him a competent backup CF by the time the Cubs break camp.  In fact, that's probably the best case scenario.

The 25th Man

In no particular order, here are the Cubs in-house options

Option #1: A utility player from group of non-roster invitees

  • Brent Lillibridge: 3B, OF:  Add some speed and a RH bat at positions where the Cubs need one.
  • Alberto Gonzalez: SS, 2B, 3B: Best defender in the bunch but probably the worst hitter.
  • Edwin Maysonet: SS, 2B, 3B: Another RH bat to occasionally fill in at 3B. Can also play SS. Best blend of offense and defense of this group, but that's not saying a lot.

Option #2:

  • Josh Vitters: 3B, 1B, LF?, RF? A potential RH platoon partner at 3B and has the most AAA experience of the candidates from the 40 man roster. He's also probably the best pure hitter of all the utility candidates, even if he didn't show it last season with the big league team. Ability to play corner OF would help his chances. Defense at any position is a concern.

Option #3:

  • Junior Lake: 3B, SS, OF? Another potential RH platoon partner, Lake hasn't advanced as far as Vitters but offers a more versatile, athletic player off the bench. He can run well and that would be an asset on an otherwise slow team. He may also be able to fill in at SS and CF, which adds tremendous positional value. Defense is a concern as well, however. He's erratic in the IF and inexperienced in the OF. Not having played AAA also hurts his chances.

Option #4:

Go with 5 IF'ers and take an extra pitcher

I give credit for this idea to reader Josh.  It's outside the box but it would save the Cubs from making a move to accommodate a fringe non-roster player while keeping (possibly) non-ready prospects at AAA.  The disadvantage is decreased roster flexibility, which includes having to carry two LH 3B (Ian Stewart and Luis Valbuena) who don't hit LHP well.

If the Cubs were to take this route, then I think the Cubs would take an extra bullpen  arm. It would have to be a pitcher off the 40 man roster because otherwise it defeats the purpose, which is to keep the current roster intact.

Given the makeup of the projected bullpen, it makes most sense to bring an extra LHP north.  That narrows it down to...

  • Chris Rusin
  • Brooks Raley
  • Both project as lefty specialists if they make the team. Rusin is older and perhaps more MLB ready. Raley had some success vs. lefties, but may have more upside, so perhaps the Cubs may choose to keep him pitching regularly at Iowa. Fun fact about Raley. He's pretty fast. He was a CF'er and leadoff man for Texas A&M and probably would have been drafted as a position player. In fact, he'd probably be one of the fastest players on the 25 man roster. I'm only half-joking when I say he would add value by giving the Cubs an extra pinch-runner.

Assuming the Cubs make no personnel moves in spring training (yes, I know that's very unlikely), which option would you choose?

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  • fb_avatar

    I don't like using the 25th man spot for someone who is not already on the 40 man roster. If you have to slide someone to the 60 day DL, then it makes sense. The non-roster Invitees need to be significantly better than Vitters or Lake to make that go. Rusin and/or Raley are likely to be on opening day roster in case Baker isn't ready or one other pitcher gets hurt in camp.

  • In reply to Louie101:

    I'm assuming Baker starts on the DL, but Rusin or Raley would still have to beat out one of the 12 pitchers above, probably Rondon or maybe Bowden.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, in my view, Bowden has not lived up to his potential, doesn't throw strikes and hangs his breaking ball too often. If anyone needs to go, why not him?

  • I'll take Lillibridge. Seems like a no brainer, in my opinion. Very versatile defensively. Hopefully he can hit better than Mather this season. He's familiar with Chicago. I think he will be on the opening day roster, barring an injury or trade.

  • In reply to MikeWadle:

    I can see Sveum liking him for his grit and versatility..as well as some speed on a very slow team. Big issue is making room for him.

  • fb_avatar

    I went with Raley largely because he's higher up on the list, but it really could be Rusin, too. I'd guess one of the two gets converted to the 'pen, both because Russell needs help and putting them on the team requires the fewest roster moves.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    And as I added in late, Brooks Raley can fly. He adds value as a LOOGY and a pinch-runner :)

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Yeah, really didn't read the article as closely as I should have before posting. Long day.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Actually, you're good. It was me. It was a last minute edit, so I published it and then realized I didn't write about Rusin/Raley so I added it in afterward...I'm sure you probably saw the first version.

  • Copied from article:

    "Matt Garza (R)
    Jeff Samardzija (R)
    Edwin Jackson (R)
    Travis Wood (L)
    Scott Feldman (R)
    Carlos Marmol (R)
    Kyuji Fujikawa (R)
    James Russell (L)
    Shawn Camp (R)
    Carlos Villanueva (R)
    Michael Bowden (R)
    Hector Rondon (R)"

    I would change the rotation by trading T. Wood this spring and putting Villanueva in the rotation. I would replace Villanueva's spot in the bullpen with either Takahashi (L), Raley(L) or Rusin(L). Once Baker comes back from the DL (whether it's sooner or later), I would put Feldman or Villanueva in the bullpen...whichever pitcher isn't cutting it in the rotation upon Baker's return.

  • In reply to MikeWadle:

    This is like the Kobayashi Maru, only Kirk can change the rules.

    No trading allowed :)

    In all seriousness, a trade of some sort is likely. I was just wondering what people would do given the current conditions. (Plus, I know you've already stated your choice as Lillibridge)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'd also be a little worried about Villanueva in the rotation. He's so-so there (4.50 ERA, 18 HRs allowed in 92 IP) and he lacks stamina. For me he's your 6th man until Baker gets back. Then he's your 7th man.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I can see what you're saying about Villanueva. Thank you for pointing that out. It's just me, but I'd like to see how he'd be in a Cub uniform as a starter. But, in the end, I agree he's a 6th or 7th man.
    I really like how Villanueva can change speeds....I think he might end up a set-up man or closer someday (of course, that can be said for loads of middle reliever types).

  • In reply to MikeWadle:

    I really liked that pickup. Kind of flew under the radar because it came on the heels of the Jackson signing but he can start in short bursts, relieve, and he has some closing experience. Gives the Cubs a lot of options.

    My guess is that he starts in middle relief but he'll end up in the rotation or getting a more important role in the bullpen after the trade deadline.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Villanueva has always been better out of the pen. Feldman, otoh, when giving consistent starts has been a quality starter, especially considering him pitching in that hitters paradise in Texas. Who knows, maybe Villanueava can be a 2 inning reliever twice a week?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    LOL, I like the Wrath of Khan reference. :)

    I agree, I think a trade will happen at some point. The choices for bench players and whether they hit righty or lefty is a little odd with this bunch. If Clevenger hit righty, I'd take him as the 1B backup infield option, and, of course, I know we'd have a third catcher with that scenario. I also don't see the Cubs breaking camp with 13 pitchers, but I like your point about Raley...especially considering his speed. That would be a nice option to have.
    Also, my feeling this winter is that the Cubs stocked up on outfielders and pitchers this winter, not just for depth, but for the specific purpose of making a trade in the spring. I'm probably wrong. But, I'm thinking a pitcher and outfielder will get traded sometime in March.

    Lastly, I have to say I really enjoy your articles, and more importantly, the personality that comes through in the articles, as well as the comments by yourself and your readers. Cubs Den has been a very welcome, refreshing change for me the past several months, because of a great mesh of those personalities. Seems much more balanced than a lot of the other "stuff" that is out there these days. Thank you!

  • In reply to MikeWadle:

    Your welcome Mike and thanks for those kind words.

    I'd actually be surprised if the Cubs didn't make some trade this spring and I'll be shocked if this is the 40 man roster as we get toward the end of March.

    In addition to hitting RH, it would also be great if Clevenger could still play 3B as he did a bit in the minors. If that were the case I think I'd take him too. Ironic because usually teams really like to have a lefty-hitting catcher, but it doesn't work for the Cubs in 2013.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Mike's suggestion was perfectly logical, captain.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    Ha! Agreed. It was perfectly logical, Spock.

    A trade is likely before the end of spring, even if it's a minor one. But I think if I put that out as an option it wins in a landslide. Was wondering how all you guys would work with the given situation. Pretty cool that there are a lot of different answers, all with logical reasoning, of course.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I understand your point, but this article really makes me think a trade is likely. I really like our pitching staff, but at the same time feel like we can use a LOOGY. My choice was Rusin. With that said, Baker on the DL is only a short term fix. I understand it is likely someone gets hurt opening a spot when Baker is ready, but I can't help but think Marmol will be starting the season elsewhere. I have no interest in adding a guy like Lillibridge to the 40 man roster at the expense of someone else currently on there.

  • In reply to Ibleedcubbieblue:

    Oh...I'm not going to argue that. A trade of some sort is likely before the end of spring. But that choice would be too easy.

  • Looks like Zambrano might have to play in the minors in Japan or Taiwan. Oh, how the might Z have fallen.

  • That was quick, wasn't it?

    The moral of the story is this: If you're going to pull those antics (and more important are his brushes with his teammates), then you better be pretty good. Nobody will tolerate it when you're stuff declines and you become a replacement level pitcher.

    I liked Z for the most part, though. I hope he gets another shot in the majors.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Agreed, I'll always root for Big Z.

  • I think Zambrano does need to learn to tone it down A LOT...I know that's stating the obvious. I'm kinda surprised the Yankees haven't taken a chance on him. With Rothschild as the pitching coach, and a chance to win sooner than later, I think Big Z might be a good fit there. I think Zambrano's desire to win, and win now, coupled with his short temper, just didn't play well with the Cubs. And, no, I am not knocking my beloved Cubs! I just think Zambrano needs to be playing on a solid contender, if/when he pitches again in the majors. I hope he does. I also think that, if someone decides he can't pitch anymore, that he should take up hitting full time, maybe as a DH. I think he could, at the very least, provide Carlos Pena-or-better type numbers as a full time hitter. The guy loves to swing a stick.

  • In reply to MikeWadle:

    Zambrano NEEDED to tone it down. It's too late now. He was relatively quiet last year even with that mess Ozzie created down in Miami, but it doesn't change the fact that he just wasn't very good. A team might give him another chance if he had a reputation for being a good teammate and a good clubhouse presence, instead he needs an idiot like Ozzie to keep him under control... isn't that ironic. And as far as Rothschild is concerned, I'm guessing if he was even asked, he'd say stay away... It's not worth it.

  • In reply to Ibleedcubbieblue:

    Zs lost his FB, cant throw his 4 seamer anymore, and cant control his 2 seamer. Its as Don Sutton once said, when you cant throw powder river anymore, you become a 6 inning pitcher. Z doesn't have good enough, consistent control even for that.

  • I'd argue we are at 23 until at least midway through spring training. Hector Rondon has to show us something before we assume the Cubs will keep another Rule 5 pick all year.

    Sure, there will probably be injuries that sort things out, but with Scott Baker sounding like he'll be ready shortly after opening day, more of a pitcher log jam emerging than last year (thank goodness!).

    If Rusin, Raley or Takahashi have good springs, I'm not sure we keep Rondon. I hope we catch lightening in a bottle, but not ready as camp opens to give Rondon that spot quite yet.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to TokyoCraig:

    Something encouraging is that Rondon isn't your average fringe guy that rule 5 picks usually are. He is a legitimate raw prospect and still has development ahead of him but does have the stuff to be able to contribute out of the pen this year. Lendy was way too raw but Rondon does have some experience under his belt.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Agreed, Marcel. It was an intriguing Rule 5 pick, for the reasons you mention. He's coming back from some injuries, though, so - even after an apparently strong winter league showing - I still want our coaches to evaluate him firsthand.

  • In reply to TokyoCraig:

    I agree, nice to have a pitching log jam this year. I think the pitching options will give us a much better staff (and results) than some of the critics are giving the Cubs credit for. It's a great time of year!

  • In reply to TokyoCraig:

    I agree. Of all the players on the "24 man roster" I listed, Rondon is the guy I think who needs to prove himself the most. We forget that Lendy Castillo was not really a favorite to make the team, but he pitched well enough to make the Cubs decide they didn't want to lose him. I think Rondon has to do the same, though I'd give him a slightly larger margin for error than Castillo did last year.

  • For at least the short term I'm thinking that we want to use someone from the current 40 man which would exclude Lillibridge, Maysonet and Gonzalez, that would leave lake or vitters as an infield-outfield option and to be honest I think that would potentially slow down thier developement. Therefor I like the idea of having the extra pitcher to start the season. I'm voting Rusin...well just because...

  • In reply to carolinacub:

    If you're willing to work with a 5 man infield, then I think Rusin is the best choice if you're putting a priority on development. He's the most polished of the 40 man roster candidates when it comes to that last spot.

  • I can't imagine any circumstances in which we would break spring training with 13 pitchers.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    I don't think it's likely, but not impossible. SS, 2B, and 1B are going to play a ton of games. 3B is the only question, particularly vs. LHP. Who do you take? One of the kids or do you make room for one of the non-roster guys?

  • I didn't vote as I truly don't have a favorite here. I know this is another throwaway season, protestations from the F.O. notwithstanding, but seeing the name "Nate Schierholtz" in bold makes me a little bit ill.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    If I could half-bold I would. Other half goes to Hairston. Not sure that makes you feel any better, though.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Nope.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    Yeah, didn't think so.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    1) conventional baseball wisdom would point to Lillibridge being the 25th man

    2) if so, then because I am an utter loser, I plugged in the ages, heights and weights of the presumed 25 man roster, in which I found that the Average 2013 Cub is 28.5 years old, 6 foot 1 and 203 pounds.

    In other words, Nate Schierholtz.

  • I voted for Rusin. I like having a deep pen in the early going; and I just don't see the value of putting any of those utility infielders on the roster, given the risk of losing someone with longer term value. If Stewart and Valbuena combine to hit .150 against lefties, so be it; we can live with that as long as they're productive against right-handed starters. If both those players stink it up against righties, too, then one of them can be waived, and we can address 3B with the empty spot on the roster.

    Anyway, that's what I'd like to happen. But I think the most likely scenario is that Sveum will convince the FO to keep Lillibridge or Maysonet.

  • In reply to Taft:

    Agreed on that most likely scenario -- at least from Sveum's point of view. The way I see it is he'd want one of those guys but if the FO told him they'd prefer to take a guy from the roster, then he'd want Lake...but FO may prefer Vitters since he's further along and could finish development in part-time role.

  • Does Soriano still have any old infielder gloves lying around? Not an ideal solution. But if Castro and Barney collide on a fly ball and both have to be taken out, we've got to have some contingency plan with a 5 man infield. An infield of Rizzo, Soriano, Valbuena, and Stewart sounds scary...I vote Maysonet!

  • In reply to Ratmoss:

    All Soriano's infield gloves are made out of iron.

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    Id say Takahashi & Cory Wade will make the team or at minimum have an equal shot over Rondon & Bowden. Neither Bowden or Rondon are locks -
    95% of Rule 5 picks are returned to their original club - Or an agreement is worked out with the original club and they are sent to the minors.
    and just b/c Bowden is out of options doesnt mean he sticks.
    As we have seen Cubs dont have a problem putting guys through waivers of Des. For Assignment.

  • In reply to deport soriano com:

    Unless Rondon is injured, I suspect he is as close to a lock as a drafted player can be. The reports on him are quite impressive, and the rumors are that Cleveland has tried to get him back several times.

  • I agree with the first two not being locks, particularly Rondon. I do think Bowden is pretty solid, though. To me, not only will someone have to stand out, but he'll have to pitch his way off the team, especially since he's out of options.

    The first few DFA's are easier, it gets tougher as you get deeper into the roster. I think the Cub prefer not to go that route at this point because I don't see a guy left they'd be willing to risk losing for nothing.

  • No way the Cubs go north with 5 infieiders(two which are the left-handed 3bman). Vitters maybe? Bit of a log jam at AAA anyway.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I'm kinda starting to lean toward Vitters myself. I don't think he's ideal but there is less worry about hurting his development and he has the best chance to do something on offense. I get the feeling Sveum would prefer the idea of having Lake on the team, but think front office won't agree.

  • I would say we haven't seen our 25th man yet. He probably will come from another team after being released. Just a hunch.

  • In reply to jaxx51:

    Could well be, especially considering here is no ideal fit in the bunch.

  • As the only platoon option that can back up Rizzo, I would suspect Vitters gets the nod.

  • In reply to Eldrad:

    He's the guy I'm leaning toward right now. Kind of a compromise pick in some ways, but the ability to play 1B and maybe corner OF would help his chances. Most of all he has to rake this spring.

  • Unless Garza or Soriano are traded before the team breaks from Spring Ball,... I'm thinking that they carry the extra pitcher and most likely Chris Rusin.

    The make or break (for me) if Soriano is traded (given - that appears unlikely at the moment) would be IF Vitters absolutely shows he has gotten rid of some of his strikeout issues, and scortches spring pitching,.... he could be tried out as a corner outfielder and take some of Soriano's at bats. Vitters might also make a spot backup for Rizzo.

    But - I'm betting they go with what they have now and carry Rusin.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    I like Rusin in the 13 man staff/5 IFs scenario. Think I like Vitters in the 12 man staff/6 IFs scenario.

    That said, I think that second scenario 12 pitchers and 6 infielders, is more likely.

  • Who I expect to get it? Lillibridge.

    Who I want to see win it? It'd be cool to see Vitters force himself into that role.

    It's a little bewildering and disappointing that we didn't do a better job this offseason. It's not a season-changing mistake or anything, but Lillibridge is a 7th infielder, a guy you keep at AAA in case of injuries. A true MLB bench-quality right-handed infielder would have really shored up this roster. We've got tons of depth in pitching and the outfield, so why not here?

  • In reply to Kyle:

    I'm thinking I'd like to see Vitters get it too. Maybe he rakes and surprises a bit on defense. You limit his exposure in a platoon and maybe you can continue his development at the MLB level.

  • I think Maysonet is the 25th man. He fills the need for a multipositional infielder. We will need the ability to exchange pieces and he can play a better SS than the other options. If Castro needs a breather you don't lose 2 positions (Barney sliding over). Remember as good as a 2B Barney was, he made an error in his only start at SS and if he slides over you are slightly worse at both SS and 2B. As for the 40 man roster, thats why we pay Theo the big bucks. For a non contending team I am pretty sure we could lose another OF without too much long term issues.

  • In reply to Cubfin:

    Maysonet is a solid choice as long as they can make room for him. Even if he doesn't make the team, I can see him sticking in AAA as emergency depth.

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    Here is a history on Cubs Rule 5 picks through the years - interesting:

    http://wiklifield.thecubreporter.com/Cubs_Rule_5_Draft_Results

  • In reply to deport soriano com:

    That Hack Wilson selection turned out okay!

    All in all it has been a non-factor for the Cubs. They've neither gained nor really lost anyone of note for the past 30 years.

    Some nice picks earlier on with Jody Davis, Willie Hernandez, and (to a lesser extent) Heathcliffe Slocumb. But rules were different back then. Teams had less time to put guys on the 40 man roster so they wound up leaving better players unprotected.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    I remember Cubs Fans were up in arms when they lost
    Andy Sisco - maybe 10 years ago - that was early on in the message board era. He had 1 good year.

    i think David Patton - Cubs pick from a few years back is out of baseball - hopefully not the same fate for Lendy C.

  • In reply to deport soriano com:

    Sisco was a head case but I didn't want to lose him either. Looked like it was going to be a big loss but the league caught up with him quickly.

  • These are the kind of roster decisions that used drive Earl Weaver crazy.

    Given that I have elected to stop trying to play armchair GM, I defer to the group to make the call.

    John - maybe a poll would it more interesting for the Cubs den team?

  • In reply to JK1969:

    Its not about playing armchair GM. Just exploring what goes into such a seemingly minor decision in a given situation. You don't have to be an "armchair GM" to have an opinion or a thought on what goes into roster construction.

    Not sure I understand that last question, JK.

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    I didn't vote for him, but I have this weird feeling Vitters is going to have a really strong spring. I make no prediction about the regular season though.

  • In reply to Kevin Heckman:

    Got that weird feeling too. Can see him getting hot early on and maybe doing enough on defense to force the team to bring him north.

  • Granted he's steady with the glove, but with the exception of one season with the White Sox, Lillibridge has been below replacement level his entire career.

    I'd just as soon carry an additional lefty out of the pen. I went with Raley.

  • In reply to Denizen Kane:

    Interesting choice. I think Raley may end up being the better pitcher between he and Rusin -- and I think it's really interesting that they let Jeff Beliveau go. Considering they couldn't DFA Rusin, that speaks to the kind of confidence they have in Raley. Beliveau was considered their top LH relief prospect just a year ago.

  • Is there any indication that Vitters got any instruction after his brief time in South America? If not, I wonder if he is going to show any improvement at the plate.

  • In reply to Eldrad:

    Vitters has had a lot of coaching/instruction upon his promotion to the Cubs and really, all of last season. Not sure there's much more they can tell him. He has to do it. I think it's a matter of it clicking for him now. Not that that will necessarily happen, but if the light bulb comes on this spring and his approach and defense look improved, maybe he gets a shot.

  • I went with other because I still think there's a shot Baker will be ready to go. And even if he does start on the DL, I like Cory Wade for that last bullpen spot. Be nice to have another lefty, but I wonder if they're giving Feldman the advantage for that 5th rotation spot to build value by the trade deadline and starting Wood out in the bullpen. Hope I'm wrong on that last part - Wood ended strong last year and I'd like to see him keep the ball rolling by starting the year in the rotation.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    I like Wade but my thought is the only way you keep him is if you make some sort of trade to open up roster space. I don't know if I'd DFA anyone to keep him. If you can't make a deal, then you can probably keep him in AAA as insurance

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    So do options come into play here at all or not until the season starts? I'm still a little fuzzy on that.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    Wade signed a minor league deal, so they can send him to AAA. Veterans can always refuse to go and see if they can hook on with a MLB team. It depends on how well he does and what kind of opportunities are out there. If no team is willing to give him a 25 man roster spot, there's a good chance he at least stays at Iowa.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    That makes sense, thanks. I remember you did a great article about options once. You almost need a decoder ring to figure some of this stuff out.

  • Good pictures from Tim Sheridan http://boysofspring.com/cubs-workout/

    Thank you for showing me that blog, John... I don't know if it's just me, but Darwin Barney looks like he put on some good 10-15 pounds, he looks much stronger, wondering if he's trying to get his slugging a little bit higher... It would make sense so pitchers would start respecting his K zone a bit more.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Sure thing. It's a fun blog and I've used some of Tim's photos here sometimes (with his permission, of course).

    Agreed on Barney. He's not going to be a power guy, but just needs enough xtra base pop to keep pitchers honest.

  • In reply to Caps:

    It does appear Barney added some more bulk. Hopefully, he can translate that into some extra gap power.

    Not liking the burly beard or gut I see on Trey McNutt though. I was really hoping that a year or two in the BP would help him put everything together and make him a bona fide SP for 2014/2015..... When a guy doesn't look like he's in the best shape, makes you start to wonder how serious they are. Then again, David Wells was never in shape.....

  • In reply to Caps:

    Caps, I posted the same question on that blog.

    Hopefully we are correct and he starts driving the ball more and adds even more value.

  • I think it will be Lillibridge for the versatility he provides. He's even got about 45 games at 1B in his career, and right now I'm not sure who the backup 1B is for the Cubs. The 40 man roster issue is a big consideration because I'm not sure he's really worth losing another player for. Especially since he is a likely one year option.

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    1B is probably going to be Stewart, I would think. Maybe Valbuena or Schierholtz get a look there. Maybe even Welington Castillo. It is odd. The Cubs really have no true true backup for SS or 1B. Not to mention they don't really have a CF at all.

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    By the time spring training is over, we will have fallen "out of love" with at least one member of the current 40-man. Either that or somebody will be injured enough to warrant the 60-day-DL. I don't consider the current 40 man roster as any big shakes

  • I voted for Lake. But am also hoping for a trade to fix the 40 man roster concerns. I'd like to see either he or Vitters force the issue in ST. I think we nix the 13 pitcher idea. Superfluous, especially early in the season.

  • I voted for Lillibridge. Not really out of conviction, just seems to be the practical choice. I like all of the options you laid out, which seem plausible, with the exception of Lake. I think people aren't sure whether he's even ready for AAA, let alone the bigs. He'll probably start in the minors.

    I believe both Rondon and Bowden will be competing for their positions, among other candidates. I don't see those spots as theirs to lose. Is that how you see it, John? Or do you think there are just no other viable candidates for the Cubs at those reliever spots?

  • In reply to HefCA:

    I think Bowden and Rondon have to show well but I think they definitely have the inside track.

    Some of that is for administrative reasons. They'll lose both if they don't make the team. They can't send Bowden down because he's out of options, he has to go through waivers. Rondon has to be offered back to Cleveland and I'm quite sure they'd take him back. You can send the other guys down to Iowa.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    If Cleveland took him back, would they be required to place him back on their 40 man roster?

  • In reply to Good Captain:

    Nope. Which is why it would take them about 3 second to make that decision!

  • I have to vote for "Other".....the name listed above need time in the minors for playing time or will be released........Lake & Vitters will be batting in Iowa for who will be called up first if Stewart goes down....Rusin & Raley are just fill ins when a starter goes down.......if Garza is excellent in March, look for a major deal to happen before the season starts........does anyone really believe Garza is worth a $100 million dollar contract?.....I rather use that money to sign our younger players for long term......Why is Bowden on that roster ??????........what about LHP Takahashi?......if that guy proves he can pitch, don't be surprise if Russell is dealt later on in July if the Cubs are not contending.......I still believe the Cubs can contend this year.....but 2013 could also be the last year where Theo can trade off "key" players (DeJesus, Russell, Marmol etc) to build on for the future.......Garza could be traded before Marmol will be......it would be nice if Stewart gets real hot this year ( which I believe will be the Comeback Player of the Year).....not many 3B on the trade market for this year....Maybe Colletti will be calling Theo in July for Stewart........Maybe that Roster would look different if Garza is gone and 2 spots are taken in the Garza return with MLB ready prospects.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Bowden finished with a 2.95 ERA, is in his prime years, and is out of options, so they cannot send him down to Iowa without waiving him. They obviously don't want to do that or they would have done it long ago.

    My question is what's the reason for your Anti-Bowden crusade?

  • Interesting point about Raley. You know, I usually hate it when pitchers are used as pinch runners... thoughts of Prior getting upended flash through my mind as well as visions of sprained ankles, getting spiked, etc. but I have to admit that Raley making the team as LOOGY/occasional pinch runner merits consideration... if he gets hurt just bring up that extra IF OR your got Rusin who duplicates at least the LOOGY part. If there's one area the Cubs can suffer some attrition, it's soft-tossing lefties.

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    I think now that Campana is gone, the fastest Cubs may be Castro, Sappelt, Raley, and Samardzija. Not exactly the '82 Cardinals.

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    just a hunch but i think Drew Stubbs will be a Cub before the end of spring training...

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    In reply to Dale Miller:

    Heard a few people make that suggestion but I just don't see the reasoning behind it. At this point he's just an older, RH-hitting Brett Jackson with less power, more speed, slightly better defense. Not really the mold of player this FO likes. Doesn't get on base enough or hit for enough power to mitigate the high strikeout totals.

  • In reply to Dale Miller:

    Hmmm...would give the team a true CF'er and a pretty good one at that. Just have to live with the Ks and low batting average. Getting the feeling, though, that Indians will try to keep their guys. They can play Bradley in LF, Bourn in CF, move Stubbs to RF (heck of a defensive OF), Swisher to 1B, and Mark Reynolds to DH.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    That's pretty much exactly what the Indians are said to be doing. Even though it decreases the value of just about every player that got moved around. Word is the Tribe will only move one of their OF'ers for pitching.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Yes. That's the problem. You improve the defense but you increase the burden on each bat. Bradley and Stubbs don't hit like corner OF'ers. Reynolds value would come only on offense and Swisher's numbers won't make him anything special if he's playing 1B.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    They got Milton Bradley!? Or is it perhaps Brantley.....?

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Egads! I always want to call Brantley "Bradley" for some reason.

  • In reply to Dale Miller:

    A possibility,... as the Indians now find themselves with 3 CFs.

    Stubbs for Soriano? Maybe with something else from both sides to sweeten the pot?

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Read my mind. I'm writing a huge analysis on that idea. But I won't spoil the ending here. Should be up within the hour.

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    Was watching some video of Nate "the great" Shierholtz, as Giants fans dubbed him, gunning down runners and playing that AT&T RF wall with perfection and hit a bomb out into the lake in another video. He's a pretty athletic player and i'm excited to see him play RF here. Think he can be a solid hitter as well.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    He is athletic. He'll probably be the Cubs defensive OF'er this year. I think he'll hit better away from AT&T as well.

  • Even though I voted for Lilibridge, and I like Rusin and Raley, a big part of me would like to see the long shot come through and Junior Lake make the squad as a super utility guy. His defense this spring will play a huge role and under the direct tutelage of Dave McKay he should get better given he is the most athletic and toolsy of the bunch. Certainly he would benefit most from a full season at AAA but if he's playing four or five positions well, with athleticism and the hose, and hitting line drives it may be pretty hard to keep him off the team. I really hope he forces their hand. He's got a chance to be a very valuable guy and make some real money.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    Lake would be the most exciting player of the bunch -- and probably most frustrating, but that goes with the territory with young, toolsy guys. Has to show he can help at multiple positions and handle experienced pitchers. I have more faith in the former than the latter at this stage.

  • I chose Alberto Gonzalez. I think having a solid backup behind Barney and Castro is crucial. I really think they need to be spelled from time to time and Gonzo can play some 3rd as well.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    He can really pick it. Cubs have a good defensive infield but you won't lose anything if you put Gonzalez out there.

  • I think bringing Vitters up might help his development. Vitter is known for struggling whenever he jumps a level ,but the next season he does pretty well.

  • In reply to Mitchener:

    Thinking something similar, he may not learn too much more in Iowa that he can't learn in Chicago. The one thing I don't like (and I voted for Vitters) is that it would probably mean the Cubs see Vitters as a part time player at this point. If they think he still has a shot to be a full-time starter, he'll probably go to Iowa. Then again, maybe not. Maybe Vitters will benefit from limited exposure early in his career and then get the chance to work his way up.

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    This whole decision hinges on Stewart and what he does in ST. If he returns to form then I would take Raley. If he does not and gets cut, I would vote for Vitters. Josh has shown he can hit but he just needs a lot of AB's to adjust. So do you give him those AB's early in the season when you're running your best pitchers out there with the expectation that he is going to struggle but your pitching will keep you in those games? Or do you give them to him late in the season when you're out of contention? If you go with the former and he starts hitting, then you have an answer for your 3b situation and an even better line up.

    I know he struggles on defense but you have to trust your major league coaches to help him figure it out.

  • In reply to Zachary Myers:

    That's a good point on Stewart. He's on that non-guaranteed contract so the implication is that he has to show he's ready this spring. That could open up a roster spot if the Cubs don't think he can help them.

  • I removed my team from the Cubs' Den roto' league. There's 1 spot open.

  • How many MLB teams carry 13 pitchers at the beginning of a season. That seems odd to me. Generally teams think they can get away with fewer pitchers to start the season. I just think that scenario is very unlikely.

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    I'm not sure if anyone already pointed this out, but hemming and hawing over the 25th man is kind of a pointless exercise at this point. Last season, the Cubs used 53 different players. And if they plan on trading some of the pitching assets, or some other players from the major league roster during the season, the 25-man roster on opening day will look nothing like the roster at the end of the season.

  • In reply to David Johnson:

    That is addressed early in the article, largely because I expected that response somewhere along the line. To say this piece was just about who is going to be the 25th man -- or that it's trying to predict who it will be is a narrow view. It's really about philosophies on roster construction and player development. If you read the comments, you get a good sampling of how that can vary from person to person.

  • Probably Lillibridge, who can play several positions and bats RH, a weakness with the somewhat lefty-heavy Cubs.

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