As trade season continues and we watch for the names that will change uniforms sooner rather than later, we also have to be mindful of which players the Cubs will use to replace the likes of Matt Garza, Scott Feldman, Nate Schierholtz, etc. Some replacements may come in the form of whoever comes to Chicago as the return in trade. Others, of course, will come from in-house, and have to be on the 40-man roster, which gives us a handy reference of names that could fill some pretty big shoes. This early list is pure speculation and doesn't take into account the potential trade returns, roster moves including designations for assignment (looking at you, Shawn Camp), waiver claims, or injuries that may not have happened yet (poor Ryan Sweeney, we hardly knew ye). Speaking of Sweeney, since he's out for at least two months and probably more with rehab due to his rib injury, he'll possibly be thrown on the 60-day disabled list which should open up a new spot on the roster for some other guy.
The Cubs aren't going to get any super-subs in terms of reinforcements, but they're not all chopped liver either. Let's do this piecemeal:
With Garza and Feldman possibly on their way out, that leaves Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood and Edwin Jackson manning three spots and two vacant spots in the rotation. One of the spots will probably be taken up by Carlos Villanueva, who started the season in the rotation but moved to the bullpen when Matt Garza got healthy again. The other spot may be up for grabs, depending on how soon Scott Baker gets back:
Scott Baker threw first sim game this week, "went well," says Sveum. Next one Satrday. Could be in rotation in Aug. #justintime
— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) June 29, 2013
Key words here are "could be" back by August. And because it's "could be" August, that means someone has to man the ship between whenever Garza and Feldman are traded and whenever Scott Baker finally shows up. A logical candidate to help out short-term is Chris Rusin, who kind of sucked last year in his call-up to the bigs, but has actually been serviceable in the hitter-friendly PCL this season for the Iowa Cubs. As for some dark horses, I was going to suggest Trey McNutt until I looked at his stats and realized 1-that he sucked; 2-that he was being used as a reliever in Tennessee; and 3-that he was being placed on the disabled list. A better candidate who is also currently rostered is Alberto Cabrera, who, while still stuck in Tennessee, has some really good peripherals and a solid ERA. So until Baker returns, I'd look for either Rusin or Cabrera to man the ship from the pool of rostered players.
Sveum said many hours ago @BlaekParker could be Cubs next closer if Gregg is traded. Looks like his audition begins right now.
— Paul Sullivan (@PWSullivan) June 30, 2013
This opens up one roster spot, and another may open up if the Cubs decide that Shawn Camp's toe issue isn't actually what causes him to suck. A third spot is available if Carlos Villanueva goes back into the rotation as stated above.
On the roster, Rafael Dolis is listed on the 15-day disabled list but should be set to be reactivated soon. He's got some good stuff but bad control issues, but they might as well let him work his problems out at MLB. Brooks Raley kind of sucks as a starter at Iowa, but could serve as a long-man in the pen and another lefty to help out James Russell, who should be a LOOGY. Although he's not currently on the roster (THANKS SHAWN CAMP), Michael Bowden would also be a good choice to bring back to the majors. For the dark horse candidate, if he keeps up his small sample size production rate so far, Brian Schlitter may be playing into another cup of coffee, but I think that would be more towards September when active rosters expand.
The most obvious position that would open up should they choose to trade him is the outfield spot currently occupied by Nate Schierholtz. In this case, the Cubs would need an extra outfielder or another utility guy to pick up the slack. We will find out Tuesday who gets Ryan Sweeney's spot, and my guess is that it would be Steve Clevenger. Clevenger's rehab stint ended last week, but he tweaked his left side and was held back some. Tuesday will have been ten full days since that happened so Clevenger should have had enough time to work out the kinks.
To take up Schierholtz's spot, there are a number of other options prior to September call-ups. Last year, both Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters were called up despite being far from major-league ready. This year, Jackson has been mired in a huge slump and has also found himself on the disabled list with foot and shoulder issues, so he might be a long shot until September. Vitters has also mysteriously been missing from action and I'm not exactly sure what his issue is other than sucking at baseball in the past. Both are on the roster and it wouldn't be too surprising to see either make it to Chicago, though it would not be ideal.
The most obvious candidate is Dave Sappelt, who is scuffling a bit in Iowa as well but has the advantage of being an actual outfielder (unlike Vitters) and also right-handed. Sappelt remains on the roster for now.
In addition, there are a couple of interesting young players who could get the call should the Cubs elect to trade away Darwin Barney or one of the third-base wonder twins in Cody Ransom. Junior Lake has been hitting the crap out of the ball in Iowa after returning from his spring training injury in early June, while Logan Watkins has shown some solid on-base skills despite a sub-par batting average. Lake is seemingly being groomed as a true utility man, while Watkins could become the second baseman of the future if Barney is dealt.
Filed under: Chicago Cubs
Tags: Alberto Cabrera, Blake Parker, Brett Jackson, Brian Schlitter, Brooks Raley, Call ups, Carlos Villanueva, Chicago Cubs, Chris Rusin, Cody Ransom, Darwin Barney, Dave Sappelt, Edwin Jackson, James Russell, Jed Hoyer, Jeff Samardzija, Josh Vitters, Junior Lake, Kevin Gregg, Logan Watkins, Matt Garza, Michael Bowden, Nate Schierholtz, Rafael Dolis, Ryan Sweeney, Scott Baker, Scott Feldman, Shawn Camp, Steve Clevenger, Theo Epstein, trade season, Travis Wood, Trey McNutt