The Cubs removed Manny Corpas from their 40-man roster today, suggesting the team isn't necessarily expecting him to make the major league club on Opening Day.
So then who will be in the 'pen? Let's go by process of elimination.
The pretty-much-sure-thing starting pitchers on the 40-man are: Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza. Hah! That's it!
Tier 2 Cub SPs are Randy Wells, Paul Maholm, Chris Volstad, and Travis Wood. Three of these four will fill out the rotation, and most signs these days have pointed to Travis Wood being the guy sent to AAA.
Casey Coleman and Andy Sonnanstine will also likely be kept long, as starters in AAA; in other words, not likely 'pen candidates.
You might argue that Jeff Samardzija is absolutely prepared for the starting rotation, but I'm not quite ready to go so far. Still, he's out of options, so he'll be in MLB. Bullpen pitcher number one!
Carlos Marmol and Kerry Wood will be there too, as will James Russell. Lendy Castillo was drafted by the Cubs through Rule 5; that means he must stay with the Major League club all year, or else he goes back to the Phillies. So he's a good bet to at least open the season with the big league team.
Like Samardzija, Marcos Mateo is also out of options, so at this point that's as good a reason as any to bring him up to MLB. That gives us a pen of: Marmol, Wood, Russell, Samardzija, Castillo, and Mateo.
That leaves one spot for the seven pitchers remaining on the 40-man:
Unless the Cubs are OK with a pen with one left-handed reliever in it, Gaub, Maine and Beliveau are the favorites to land the 12th spot on the MLB pitching stat. And only one of those guys got explicit love (not THAT kind of explicit) from the front office this offseason, so I'm betting Beliveau is the last pick.
Again: Marmol, Wood, Russell, Samardzija, Castillo, Mateo, Beliveau. Your Opening Day 2012 bullpen.
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