Lou Piniella and Jim Hendry still have quite a few decisions to make over the next 10 days. Piniella will reportedly announce who will begin the season as the Cubs’ closer by the weekend, but there are two spots in the pen, and a back-up catcher, that have yet to be determined.
Koyie Hill caught Rich Harden’s solid outing at Fitch Park on Wednesday, which have some thinking that signals Hill has the edge over the veteran Paul Bako.
In recent days, thanks in large part to several shaky outings, many have become concerned over the Cubs’ bullpen…and all of the changes to the relief corp that took place over the winter. Lou Piniella has stated five of the seven spots are filled. While Piniella has not named names, that should be Kevin Gregg, Carlos Marmol, Aaron Heilman, Neal Cotts and Luis Vizcaino.
It appeared that Angel Guzman had pitched his way out of the organization…Guzman is out of options and cannot be sent down. According to reports from the Tribune and the Sun-Times, Angel Guzman is a viable candidate once again for the Cubs’ pen along with Kevin Hart, Jeff Samardzija, Chad Gaudin, Chad Fox and David Patton. According to the Tribune, “It looks like Jeff Samardzija could lose out to Angel Guzman for the final bullpen spot, and Rule 5 pick David Patton might not make it despite a 0.93 ERA.”
The Tribune explained Patton could make the team if Chad Gaudin or Luis Vizcaino “suffers an injury and goes on the DL.” The same could be said if either Gaudin or Vizcaino ended up being traded.
The feeling is the Cubs will have a hard time moving Luis Vizcaino and his contract (Vizcaino is owed $3.5 million in 2009 and a $4 million club option for 2010 with a $500,000 buyout). The Cubs could deal the more affordable Chad Gaudin ($2 million) but Gaudin would give Piniella more flexibility than either Vizcaino or David Patton.
Chad Fox is a “long shot” according to the Sun-Times, along with Mike Stanton, and Randy Wells is “more likely to open the season in the Iowa rotation.”
Jeff Samardzija has likely pitched his way to Iowa in recent outings. After looking much more comfortable on the mound against the White Sox last Saturday, the Shark was awful on Tuesday and Larry Rothschild said he was over throwing the ball and slipped back into old habits.
Angel Guzman, on the other hand, Lou Piniella said has “thrust himself back in the mix” with his recent outings.
The remaining days of Spring Training leading up to the Cubs breaking camp on April 2 should be anything but boring. Stay Tuned….