Who Will Be the Other 7?

With only 10 Spring Training games left have there been any clear-cut candidates to fill those last few spots on the 25-man roster? When the Spring Training games started there were several spots that need to be filled. Has Pagan done enough to make the team? Does Grissom have enough left to make the team? How about that 5th spot in the rotation, is there really a candidate there? What about second base? How is the bullpen stacking up? Camp breaks in less than a week….Let’s take a look….

First….here are the eighteen: Derrek Lee, Jerry Hairston Jr., Ronny Cedeno, Neifi Perez, Aramis Ramirez, Matt Murton, Juan Pierre, Jacque Jones, Michael Barrett, Henry Blanco, Carlos Zambrano, Greg Maddux, Glendon Rusch, Jerome Williams, Ryan Dempster, Bobby Howry, Scott Eyre and John Mabry.

Before the Spring Training games started it seemed to be a lock that Michael Wuertz and Will Ohman would leave Mesa with the big league club. Both have been inconsistent and some think that the younger players that have been on the field while Ohman and Wuertz have pitched have had a big effect on their numbers. Will Ohman and Michael Wuertz were one of the few bright spots from 2005 and at least with Ohman being very successful against lefties, he should leave Mesa on the roster. John Koronka has had a quiet spring after a good AFL season, his first as a reliever. Koronka has the one of lowest ERA’s among the relievers this spring at 3.24. A little more time at Iowa in the bullpen could help Koronka be a valuable arm down the stretch for the Cubs….but if Ohman keeps struggling….don’t count Koronka out. Here are their numbers to this point of the spring:

Michael Wuertz: 2-1/18.56 ERA, 6 games, 5.1 IP, 13 hits, 11 ER, 1 SO, 5 BB
Will Ohman: 0-0/6.23 ERA, 9 games, 8.2 IP, 9 hits, 6 ER, 13 SO, 2 BB
John Koronka: 0-0/3.24 ERA, 7 games, 8.1 IP, 7 hits, 3 ER, 3 SO, 2 BB

Angel Pagan and Marquis Grissom. Pagan has come to Mesa and surprised many of the Cubs Faithful. He has showed why the Cubs picked him up off the waiver wire from the New York Mets. Pagan is very fast and if you have not seen him go from home to first, you are missing something. Pagan has a very strong arm and accurate as well. Some have said his skills are similar to those of Carlos Beltran, whatever the case Pagan has still had a very good spring. Dusty has even mentioned that he has a chance to make the club. Marquis Grissom has performed well and his bat seems to not have lost that much over the years. The only concern with Grissom is his defense, which used to be above average. Grissom has taken bad routes on fly balls and his arm is not what it once was, but his leadership could prove to be valuable off of the bench for Dusty Baker. Here are their numbers to this point of the spring:

Angel Pagan: .346/2/4/.400/.692, 9 for 26, 15 games, 9 Runs, 3 BB, 3 SB, 18 TB
Marquis Grissom: .229/0/4/.270/.286, 8 for 35, 15 games, 2 Runs, 2 BB, 0 SB, 10 TB

While the future of Todd Walker is uncertain, the Cubs decision to trade or not trade Walker will have a big impact on the 25-man roster. If Walker is not traded, Jerry Hairston, Jr. will provide Dusty a reliable backup for the infield and outfield. Hairston has played centerfield, left field and second base this spring. But if Walker is traded, Hairston will likely slide into the second base slot, which opens another spot in the outfield that might be occupied by Luis Matos, the player rumored to be involved in the trade with Todd Walker, Matos is apparently battling Corey Patterson for the centerfield spot with the Orioles. The Cubs are determined to improve their defense and have put adding speed at the top of their priority list. With the team being so close to breaking camp, the Todd Walker saga should come to an end soon. Here are their numbers to this point of the spring:

Todd Walker: .286/1/11/.357/.543, 10 for 35, 16 games, 9 Runs, 4 BB, 0 SB, 19 TB
Luis Matos: .375/.412/.500, 6 for 16, 5 games, 1 triple, 2 SB, 8 TB

Roberto Novoa and Todd Wellemeyer. Roberto Novoa had an inconsistent 2005 season; he pitched in 19 games for Iowa and 49 games for the Cubs. Novoa has showed promise, he just needs to work on building consistency. Novoa has only pitched in 2 games this spring and will likely not leave Mesa with the Cubs. Novoa has been ill with ‘Valley Fever’ and there has not been a timetable given for his return. With Novoa being ill and Todd Wellemeyer out of options, Wellemeyer could find himself heading for Cincinnati at the beginning of the season. The Cubs want to see him succeed and that is a big plus, but Wellemeyer has had very bad spring, one that does not even reflect in his numbers. With the questionable starting rotation that will begin the season, the Cubs must have a reliable bullpen for them to put up some wins to start the season. Here are their numbers to this point of the spring:

Todd Wellemeyer: 0-0/7.20 ERA, 6 games, 10 IP, 19 hits, 8 ER, 3 SO, 4BB
Roberto Novoa: 0-0/3.00 ERA, 2 games, 3 IP, 3 hits, 1 ER, 2 SO, 2BB

The Wild Cards. Michael Restovich has had a surprisingly good spring and while his defense is less than spectacular, he provides Dusty Baker with similar options to that of John Mabry. Restovich has played in right field, left field and first base this spring and has done well. A combination of Restovich and Mabry off the bench could provide Dusty Baker with a very good righty-lefty combo. Restovich has hit as many home runs this spring as he did the entire 2005 season with the Pirates. Felix Pie has had a very good spring and has shed his winter ball stats. Pie has a rocket for an arm and leads the team in triples this spring. Pie needs a little bit more time before he will be an impact player for the Cubs. For the Cubs to put Pie on the 25-man roster will take valuable developmental time away from him at Iowa. And the same goes for Ryan Theriot. Theriot has had a decent spring, but with four middle infielders competing for two spots, where does Theriot fit in?

Michael Restovich: .278/2/6/.316/.500, 10 for 36, 18 games, 7 Runs, 2 BB, 1 SB, 18 TB
Felix Pie: .321/1/7/.355/.750, 9 for 28, 17 games, 5 Runs, 1 BB, 0 SB, 21 TB
Ryan Theriot: .211/0/3/.385/.263, 4 for 19, 16 games, 7 Runs, 6 BB, 1 SB, 5 TB

The 5th Spot. With the recent injury of Mark Prior and the rehab of Kerry Wood and Wade Miller, the three Cubs’ starters that will begin the season on the DL have a career record of 173-120. Not counting Greg Maddux; the remaining three of Zambrano, Rusch and Williams are 128-143, Zambrano is 48-35. While many think Sean Marshall is the answer, he has never pitched above AA and would benefit from a little more time in the Minors. Marshall may be a late season call-up but if that happens the Cubs might be well out of the playoff picture. Rich Hill, Jae Kuk Ryu, Sean Marshall and Angel Guzman have a combined Major League record of 0-2, 10 games and 4 starts….all by Rich Hill. The battle is between Angel Guzman and Rich Hill and as soon as they can, one will be sent to Iowa. The Cubs need to have good bullpen to make up for the lack of quality starting pitching.

Rich Hill: 1-0/9.00 ERA, 4 games (3 GS), 9 IP, 10 hits, 9 ER, 11 SO, 6 BB
Angel Guzman: 2-0/6.43 ERA, 3 games (2 GS), 7 IP, 5 hits, 5 ER, 2 SO, 5 BB
Sean Marshall: 0-0/0.00 ERA, 4 games (1 GS), 6.1 IP, 3 hits, 0 ER, 4 SO, 5 BB
Jae Kuk Ryu: 0-0/5.63 ERA, 5 games (0 GS), 8 IP, 7 hits, 5 ER, 9 SO, 2 BB

And finally….Scott Williamson. This is a no brainer….do not trade Scott Williamson. Williamson has been rumored to be on the market and other than that, Williamson has made little noise this spring and isn’t that what you want out of a reliever? Williamson has quietly gone about his business and has had a good spring. Williamson could provide the Cubs with a quality backup if Ryan Dempster cannot pickup where he left off. Other than Howry and Eyre, Williamson has the lowest ERA of any relief pitcher on the roster. Dusty has said with the Cubs not needing a 5th starter until April 15th, he will probably start the season with 11 pitchers on the roster, instead of 12. A bullpen that includes Williamson, Howry, Eyre, Ohman and Dempster might provide the Cubs what they did not have at the beginning of last season. Here are their numbers to this point of the spring:

Scott Williamson: 0-0/2.16 ERA, 9 games, 8.1 IP, 7 hits, 2 ER, 8 SO, 3 BB
Scott Eyre: 0-0/0.00 ERA, 8 games, 8.2 IP, 3 hits, 0 ER, 10 SO, 2 BB
Ryan Dempster: 1-0/4.26 ERA, 7 games, 6.1 IP, 6 hits, 3 ER, 4 SO, 5 BB
Bobby Howry: 0-0/1.80 ERA, 9 games, 10 IP, 12 hits, 2 ER, 5 SO, 1 BB

The most impressive part of Spring Training has been the position players that will be in the Minor League system this year. The Cubs have a very impressive catching corp. Felix Pie is looking like everything that has been advertised, not to mention Angel Pagan, Buck Coats, Brian Dopirak and Ryan Theriot. The Cubs find themselves in a better position than this time last year, if and when the injuries happen….there are players that can fill in while the vets recover….or if nothing else provide players that can be used in trades to help the Cubs win ballgames….either way, it’s a win-win situation.

So who will be the last seven on the roster? Once the Cubs decide what they are doing with Todd Walker the picture should clear a little. If they keep Walker, I think the other 7 will be: Todd Walker, Marquis Grissom, Scott Williamson, Will Ohman, Michael Wuertz, Michael Restovich and Todd Wellemeyer.

Here are photos of the ‘New Cubs’ from the beginning of Spring Training.

Thoughts? Who do you think the other 7 should be?

Daily Herald article and Chicago Tribune article on who they think should fill out the Cubs 25-man roster.

Quote of the Day

"Every strike brings me closer to the next home run." - Babe Ruth