Two Spots, Five Pitchers and 48 Hours

After the two roster moves on Monday, the Cubs 25-man Opening Day roster is all but complete. Koyie Hill will backup Geovany Soto and Micah Hoffpauir will fill Daryle Ward’s role from the past two seasons. With that said, the 13 position players, barring a trade, are set. The Cubs’ 40-man roster stands at 36 players.

According to multiple reports, Lou Piniella will have his bullpen set before camp breaks on Thursday and the team heads east to unofficially open the new Yankee Stadium. The final two spots on the Cubs’ 12-man pitching staff are down to five candidates…and Jim Hendry is working on trading at least one of them.

Jeff Samardzija, Chad Fox, Angel Guzman, Chad Gaudin and David Patton are the candidates. Two will make it, one is likely headed to Iowa, one is trying to be dealt and one is out of options.

Jeff Samardzija did not help his cause on Monday. He allowed an inherited runner to score on a 2-1 pitch to Billy Butler. Samardzija came in with the game tied and runners on first and third with two outs. Samardzija quickly fell behind 2-0 before throwing a strike.

Lou Piniella has shown in the past he is little to no patience with relievers that come into a game and do not throw strikes. Samardzija will play a big role for the Cubs in the upcoming season. Just not on Opening Day.

Angel Guzman showed flashes on Monday of how good he can be…but consistency has been his problem, other than injuries, throughout his career. Guzman broke off a couple of beautiful breaking balls in the upper 70s in his first inning but started missing his spots the next inning. He gave up a couple of hits, then was replaced by Samardzija.

Angel Guzman has a Major League arm but his confidence and consistency are questionable at best. Could the Cubs come up with a mystery injury and hide him for a little longer on a rehab assignment?

For the second day in a row, the mainstream media mentioned Jim Hendry could be working on trading Guzman.

Chad Gaudin has not been the same pitcher since his late night run in with the dumpster last fall. Gaudin is out of options and reportedly Hendry is trying to trade him. Gaudin could be a valuable bridge from an ineffective starter to the late inning setup men.

The Cubs need a long reliever and Gaudin could fill that role…without him, Lou Piniella will have a bunch of one-inning guys that could burn out a pen quickly or worse yet cause Piniella to overuse Carlos Marmol.

Chad Fox has quietly put together a very solid spring and could find his way on the Opening Day roster. Fox has allowed three runs, all earned, on 10 hits in 10 innings (10 games) with two walks and nine strikeouts….that is a 2.10 ERA with a 1.20 WHIP. Teams are hitting over .300 against him.

David Patton is the most interesting of the remaining pitchers fighting for a job. Patton was not pitched above A-ball but all he has done this spring is throw strikes and show a lot of poise on the mound. Lou Piniella likes him and what is not to like…12 strikeouts, two walks and eight hits allowed in 10 2/3 innings. Patton’s 0.84 ERA has been plastered all over the media but his 0.94 WHIP has not…and neither has a .233 opponents batting average.

Patton is scheduled to pitch on Tuesday…and Chad Gaudin and Chad Fox should be on Larry Rothschild’s list as well.

The Cubs bullpen has the most questions entering the season. It should be an interesting 48 hours. Stay tuned….

David Patton Bullpen Session from Feb. 25

Quote of the Day

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." - Albert Einstein