With 18 games left in the exhibition season it appears the roster Lou Piniella will begin the season with in Houston is all but set. Last Saturday, Mike Fontenot was named the Cubs’ starting second baseman…Gary Hughes confirmed Fontenot as the Cubs’ starter with Holden Kushner on Monday afternoon.
Sunday, Lou Piniella said, “Hoffpauir’s fine. We’re going to use him to rest Derrek Lee at first base and also use him some in the corner [outfield spots]. Another reason for an extra outfielder, too, is when you rest an outfielder, you need somebody to pick up Hoffpauir [for defense] late in the game.”
So with Micah Hoffpauir “a lock“, the Cubs have only two spots left to fill before facing the Astros in Houston on April 6. According to multiple reports Lou Piniella could announce by the end of the week the team’s closer and backup catcher. Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg will be on the roster but as for the backup to Geovany Soto…
Mark Johnson has not done anything offensively to improve his position. So the backup catcher’s job is between Koyie Hill and Paul Bako. Hill has hit this spring, Bako has not and Hill is familiar with the Cubs’ staff.
The Cubs have one spot remaining in the pen, depending on what happens with Luis Vizcaino and Chad Gaudin. Gaudin could be long-man and spot starter with Mitch Atkins in Iowa and just a phone call away. Vizcaino has been inconsistent at best, and his contract all but guarantees him a spot on the 25-man roster.
Here are the ‘locks‘ to make the roster on March 17…if ‘Sweet Lou‘ does not change his mind or if ‘Trader Jim‘ does not make any deals
- Carlos Zambrano
- Ryan Dempster
- Ted Lilly
- Rich Harden
- Sean Marshall
- Neal Cotts
- Luis Vizcaino
- Aaron Heilman
- Chad Gaudin
- Kevin Gregg
- Carlos Marmol
- Derrek Lee
- Mike Fontenot
- Ryan Theriot
- Aramis Ramirez
- Alfonso Soriano
- Kosuke Fukudome
- Milton Bradley
- Geovany Soto
- Aaron Miles
- Joey Gathright
- Micah Hoffpauir
- Reed Johnson
Open Spots: One Reliever and backup Catcher
- Jeff Samardzija – The Tribune thinks the Shark could begin the year in the Cubs pen
- David Patton – The Rule 5 Pick has impressed, but is likely headed back to Colorado
- Jeff Stevens – Struggled this spring, should start the year in Iowa
- Jose Ascanio – His stock was on the rise until he imploded on Sunday, should begin the year in Triple-A
- Kevin Hart – Too inconsistent, will begin the year in Iowa
- Angel Guzman – The one-time top-pitching prospect has not pitched well this spring. He has been inconsistent at best and with the fact he is out of options should be traded unless he ends up on the DL
- Randy Wells – Wells is the wild card and one that most have ignored. Wells has gone about his business this spring and has been very impressive
- Jason Waddell - Piniella likes him but unless they trade Vizcaino will begin the season in Triple-A
- Mike Stanton – Stanton has been inconsistent this spring, but he is left-handed…but not likely to make the roster
- Chad Fox – Jim Hendry’s favorite reclamation project should begin the year at Iowa unless he calls it a career
As for a position player that could make waves over the remaining games…don’t count out Corey Koskie. He has been cleared to play and is expected to get into games soon. The Cubs have an open spot on their 40-man roster and the contract Koskie signed gives them 30 days to decide if he has a future with the big league team.
Only time will tell, but the “smart money” is on Jeff Samardzija and Paul Bako to take the final two spots…even though Koyie Hill has outperformed Bako this spring.
Stay Tuned….the next round of cuts should be made on Tuesday.