A Spring Break for the Chicago Cubs

The Cubs only scheduled off day of the spring is Wednesday … and it could not come at a better time. The Cubs have played 21 of the 34 games on the Cactus League schedule and have made two rounds of roster cuts.

Camp ‘Q’ started with 60 players in big league camp, two roster cuts later, the Cubs have 40 players still on the official spring roster … the Opening Day roster must be filed by March 31.

Could there be a new leader in the clubhouse for the second base job? Teams continue to look at Carlos Silva, as well as Braden Looper and Todd Wellemeyer. Here’s the off day rumors, news, notes and a look at the list of the remaining players in big league camp …

Roster Watch
The latest round of roster cuts Tuesday reduced the active spring roster to 40 players … 20 pitchers, four catchers, nine infielders and seven outfielders. Seven non-roster invitees are still active along with 33 players on the Cubs 40-man roster, which currently stands at 39 players.

Active Spring Training Roster as of 03/16/11

Pitchers

Justin Berg
Andrew Cashner
Casey Coleman
Ryan Dempster
Matt Garza
John Grabow
Braden Looper*
Scott Maine
Carlos Marmol
Sean Marshall
Marcos Mateo
James Russell
Jeff Samardzija
Carlos Silva
Jeff Stevens
Todd Wellemeyer*
Randy Wells
Kerry Wood
Carlos Zambrano

Catchers

Welington Castillo
Koyie Hill
Max Ramirez
Geovany Soto

Infielders

Jeff Baker
Darwin Barney
Starlin Castro
Blake DeWitt
Scott Moore*
Augie Ojeda*
Carlos Pena
Aramis Ramirez
Bobby Scales*

Outfielders

Marlon Byrd
Matt Camp*
Tyler Colvin
Kosuke Fukudome
Reed Johnson*
Fernando Perez
Alfonso Soriano

*Non-Roster Invitee, Not on Cubs 40-man Roster

News, Notes and Rumors

According to a report from Carrie Muskat, Brad Snyder has a small crack in his right rib cage. Snyder tried to play through the injury but could not. Snyder will be sidelined at least three weeks. Snyder has not picked up a bat since he was injured.

Bruce Miles mentioned Darwin Barney could be making a charge at the second base job … And Bruce Levine reported that the second base job is up for grabs. Neither Jeff Baker nor Blake DeWitt has won the spot and Darwin Barney has impressed the coaching staff.

The Cubs have committed a Major League leading 29 errors this spring.

According to a report from Bruce Levine, the Cubs could announce the fourth and fifth starters as early as next week.

Casey Coleman and Todd Wellemeyer are likely fighting for a bullpen spot at this point … with the fourth spot in the rotation belonging to Randy Wells. Andrew Cashner, Braden Looper, Carlos Silva and James Russell are “the only realistic contenders for the fifth spot” according to a report from Bruce Levine.

According to a report from Bruce Levine, Brett Jackson, Josh Vitters, Jay Jackson, Trey McNutt and Chris Carpenter are players to watch for call-ups during the season.

According to Bruce Levine, there is not a scenario in which Carlos Silva is cut before Opening Day. Silva will “likely be in the bullpen if he’s not part of the rotation.” A number of teams are looking at Silva.

According to a report from the Sun-Times, the Cubs have new faith in Josh Vitters.

The Killer C’s‘ are looking to avoid a sophomore slump according to the Sun-Times.

Andrew Cashner is spending a lot of time with Greg Maddux and Kerry Wood. Cashner talks with Maddux in the dugout and watches video with the future Hall of Famer.

Chattin’ with Bruce Levine
Mr. Talkin’ Baseball held his Tuesday chat on ESPNChicago.com. Here are a few of the highlights …

  • Blake DeWitt will get every chance to fail.
  • The “rumor” about the Cubs trading Andrew Cashner or Carlos Marmol for Michael Young has no substantiation according to Levine.
  • The Cubs would love to trade Carlos Silva … but he has to show he can pitch consistently.
  • Welington Castillo will probably start the season in Triple-A.
  • It doesn’t look like Angel Guzman will pitch in the majors this year. Guzman will be sent to minor league camp soon to work on his arm strength.

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Well, there’s the update … enjoy the off day.

Quote of the Day

"The will to succeed is important, but what's more important is the will to prepare." - Bobby Knight
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  • BosephHeyden

    So basically we will not see Brett Jackson, Josh Vitters, Jay Jackson, Trey McNutt or Chris Carpenter on the field unless someone gets hurt and the two guys behind them get hurt as well is what you’re saying? Cause I could definitely see them calling up Vitters on an Aramis Ramirez injury to have him ride the bench the majority of the 15-60 days he spends on the DL while Augie Ojeda or Jeff Baker gets starting time.

    • GaryLeeT

      Hey, give Jeff “Holli” Baker, and Augie “Neifi” Ojeda a little respect. They need their playing time too, ya know.

  • Ripsnorter1

    They say, “Blake DeWitt will get every chance to fail.” Too much Kool-Aid. Quade had him batting 3rd for a few games last year. What is he thinking? The guy can’t hit, can’t hit for power, has no speed, can’t run, and can’t field. His best position is (are you ready for this?) 3rd base. And the Cubs are going to give him “every chance to fail.” What in the Sam Eugene is their standard for failure???????

    HE CAN’T PLAY! DON’T YOU GET IT?!??!!!?!

    Man this “management” is pressing hard to surpass “Howard, Fine and Howard” for stupidity.

    https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/k1-4jUsPX51XR-SEx2t5GA?feat=directlink

    • GaryLeeT

      “What in the Sam Eugene is their standard for failure???????”

      It looks like it’s anything less than Koyie Hill’s 1 for 23 spring training. What’s even worse is that most of those ABs came against minor league and NRI pitching.

      • Ripsnorter1

        You are right . . . and you are wrong. Koyie Hill is a success in their minds, so he can’t be the standard for failure. You are certainly correct about his 1 for 23 ST thus far against NRI and minor leaguers. What’s utterly stupifying is that Wellington Castillo can’t make this team, and Koyie Hill is a lock at 1 for 23. Idunno. Idontgetit.

    • paulcatanese

      Rip,I just posted and as you can see I’m not too happy with these guys also. Look forward to your remarks,they always cheer me up. Thanks

  • Chery

    Let’s assume Barney gets the second base job (I know I’m being optimistic.) Camp is liked. We know that from a Quade comment. Moore did well. Ramirez beats out Hill. (Boy am I a dreamer.) But one of these scenarios may work.

  • Denio

    Right now I would get rid of DeWitt..Ojeda.. R.Johnson.. Perez..Scales
    I would start the season with.

    Soto – Castillo
    Byrd – Colvin – Fuku – Soranio – Camp
    Bakes – Barney – Castro – Moore – Pena – ARam

    By April things could change.

    • paulcatanese

      I would agree with you with the exception of Scales,(slightly) he has at least a bat where the others are pulling our chain and should be gone. Right now Barney is doing the job and deserves further consideration for 2nd base. I would add to the list Hill,but we all know thats not going to happen.

    • twentytwo

      I would say your dead on here…being here at spring training right now, I’d say I might go with Perez instead of Camp…Camp played shortstop all day yesterday. Moore MUST be an option at 2nd base. Left handed hitter & is hitting the ball well..haven’t seen much of his defense yet, but I HAVE seen enough of DeWitt’s…it’s downright pathetic…!

  • cubtex

    Looking at the list of players who are out of options….one name is very interesting…Emilio Bonifacio with the Marlins. Can play 2B, good glove, game changing speed and could be the leadoff hitter the Cubs are looking for. He probably wouldn’t cost too much to try and aquire him and if he hits enough to warrant starting having Bonifacio and Castro at the top of the lineup would make things happen!

    • Dorasaga

      That’s an entertaining thought. Bonifacio’s career 0.306 on-base is no compare to the league average of 0.334. Let’s leave that weakness aside and think about his versatility…

      Well, he mainly played Centerfield last year, 130 IP, shortstop 71.2 IP, and right field 48.1 IP. He played second base the least, but that was before Florida traded Dan Uggla.

      This spring, Bonifacio has been mainly playing second Center, so I doubt the Marlins think much of him infield.

      I don’t know, maybe as a backup supersub, but when we have Barney and Bret Jackson ready to take over, this doesn’t seem to me as an “add’ but a “block” to youth.

      • cubtex

        Dorasaga- I am not saying he would be a long term solution but he could be worth a flyer if the price is right! The most glaring weakness this spring has been 2b and leadoff!! You see where I am getting at? He would be an upgrade defensively at 2b right away and would be base stealing threat that the Cubs desperately need. I doubt it will happen because it makes too much sense…….. but a thought!!! Worst case scenario he would be a versatile additon who can play 2b,3b and outfield.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Hood/100000706523521 Richard Hood

          It takes more than speed to be a lead off man. And everything else that Bonifacio brings to the table just does not add up to lead off hitter. You have to be able to make a pitcher work and get on base. Two things that this guy can not do yet. Do I want more speed at the top of the lineup? Yeah but please let it be someone that can do the job and is not just fast. We already have just speed in Perez.

          • cubtex

            True, but he would be more of a leadoff hitter than anyone they have now. If Perez makes the team it will be as a #5 outfielder. I am saying to try Bonifacio as the everyday 2B. and at $425,000 a year it would be an experiment for one year.

          • Dorasaga

            Sorry I made a typo earlier, and that completely altered half of what I meant.

            I meant to say “This spring, Bonifacio has been mainly playing Center field, so I doubt the Marlins think much of him infield.”

            Despite their weakness on second base, Florida would rather start Omar Infante and journeyman Thurston, both old and lack of hitting.

            That proves something about Bonifacio’s ability holding an infield position, don’t you think so?

            I agree, though, there are speedster options like him as a backup infielder. Sometimes a “lighter” mixed bag is better than a heavier one.

            Just don’t leadoff with him.

          • Tony_Hall

            Barney would be a better option than Bonifacio.

  • Gary J

    I’ve been reading through the spring games but not commenting in general because things have had a generally negative tone on the board (which might be an understatement) and I just haven’t had much motivation to “get into it”. I’ve been watching the games and with the exception of the fielding driving me nuts, I’ve been just enjoying watching baseball again.

    But there were three “battles” being talked about coming into camp (sometimes vehemently). 4 and 5 starter, backup infield, and 5th OF.

    Here we are at the only off day of the spring… the day that Quade pointed at as the day that the brain trust would get together and evaluate the players so everyone could have a defined role and start preparing for the year.

    And here are where things stand to my eye.

    Naysayers were certain that the 4 and 5 spots would be Silva and a combo of Looper or Wellemyer due to salary, veteran preference, personal hygiene, blackmail photos, etc. …. but Wells looks to have 4 locked up and Cashner has the inside track on 5

    They also said that Ojeda would be a shoe in to be on the team and how could we sign him and how clueless the front office was and he’s horrible… and here Barney is being talked about as maybe stealing away the 2b job… and I haven’t heard Ojeda’s name mentioned in a while – it’s probably because of the .125 average and 8 total ABs he’s gotten this spring. He’s been late inning split squad cannon fodder. But the naysayers were certainly right (and I agree with them)…. he’s horrible.

    OF… OK – that’s a whole lot murkier…. but by far also the most irrelevant. There are 4 solid choices for consistent playing time in the OF, so the 5th OF will essentially ride the bench and get maybe 3-4 ABs a week or pinch run or maybe a defensive replacement inning here or there in a blow out. Maybe they’ll play in an extra inning game to give someone some rest. But they really ain’t going to play much at all.

    The murky spot comes from the fact that neither Perez or Reed J have stepped up to claim the spot. I still think Perez gets it just due to the speed off the bench in a close game, but Reed’s defense wouldn’t be a bad choice either. Either way though…. neither is going to be a contributing part of the team in any substantive way. Who knows, might go to someone else entirely.

    Usually that 5th OF gets more playing time if someone gets hurt, but in this case the 4th OF would move into the starting lineup and I’d be stunned if Jackson didn’t get the call to be the #4… or maybe even get inserted into the everyday lineup for a while depending on the position and how he’s doing in the minors. However that played out, the #5 would stay in the same completely irrelevant role.

    So to me, everything is sort of playing out well for two of the three battles. The “right” guys seem to have stepped up to claim the rotation spots and Ojeda isn’t a factor for a job at all. And for all the discussion, the 5th OF just doesn’t appear to matter that much.

    • Tony_Hall

      Gary – Good to hear from you,

      Silva isn’t gone yet, so it still wouldn’t surprise me if they put him in the rotation. I hope it ends up Wells/Cashner.

      The “naysayers” were right, maybe you should think of “naysayers” as “realists” as calling it what it, is, is just that.

      Ojeda’s ST roster spot,could have been Lemaieu’s, so I still can’t understand bringing him in to ST. Barney has a chance to steal the 2B job away, when he is the only one that is playing major league quality baseball at 2B. Dewitt has been bad, and Baker can only bat against lefties, and Barney wouldn’t need days off against lefties. The other option is Scott Moore. He is playing his way onto the roster.

      The 5th OF spot, should go to a hitter!!! It is extremely important. With Soriano, Byrd, Fukudome, and Colvin, you have your 4 guys who will play 99% of the innings. What this team needs is a big bat on the bench, and I just don’t see it.

      It has been fun to watch baseball again, but there has not been much to like about the results on the field. I am not even talking about wins and losses, as much as the extremely poor effort on the defensive side, and the lack of ability to score runs,without the pitchers getting the hits.

  • Wickitkevin

    Here is my suggestion about the whole Dewitt issue.

    Trade Dewitt to The Phillies for a player named Cesar Hernandez and another C Level Pitcher.

    Have Barney start the season at first.

    Signed

    Kevin in San Diego from MLB radio’s Round trip.

    • paulcatanese

      Don’t get me wrong,I really like Barney. But at first?If Lee and now Pena two gold glovers cannot help the sorry throws around the infield how would Barney solve that issue ? I would only assume you are joking…Never, never mind,my fault. You meant Barney at the beginning of the season,my error. Have to read posts better.

      • Wickitkevin

        Sorry got destract meant 2B.

    • Aaron

      Excellent idea, and it helps both teams. Hernandez is like a young Theriot. No power whatsoever, doesn’t strikeout all that much, etc.

      DeWitt has NO place on the Cubs, and mark my words…the ONLY way the Cubs keep him is because they have to have something tangible to salvage the Lilly/Theriot deal in which they got hosed on (they could’ve received MUCH more than they got from the Dodgers). Smit is a non-prospect, and had to be protected on the 40-man…but he’s unworthy of such consideration.

      Wallach isn’t really a prospect either, but he’s still young, so you never know, but his stats aren’t exciting at all.

      As I said this offseason, the Cubs main problem last year was run production. First of all, we just got worse at 1B, actually, with Pena, as Lee is the more polished hitter, and ironically, in one of his worst seasons ever, Lee still almost had as many RBI as Pena…and I couldn’t stand Lee to begin with (imagine that…me being a Lee apologist? Crazy, huh?)

      With Pena and Soriano in the middle of the lineup, we’re going to have HUGE problems scoring runs, as both swing and miss more than any players I’ve ever seen that are regulars (Koyie Hill is the only other player I’ve seen swing and miss more, and he’s a bench player).

      Soto and ARAM (both if healthy) are the only ones we can count on for run production. If you have DeWitt accumulating just 40-50 RBI (which is highly likely), you’re going to be hurting.

      So, here’s my recommendation:
      C-Soto, Max Ramirez (though Castillo has been better, at least he has an option if Ramirez sucks)
      1B-Pena
      2B-Moore, Baker
      SS-Castro, Barney
      3B-ARAM
      LF-Soriano
      CF-Byrd, Camp
      RF-Fukudome, Colvin

      Perez, Johnson, Hill, Ojeda, DeWitt, etc. haven’t stood out at all, and aren’t even worthy of roster consideration at this point. DeWitt and Perez both have options left, so why even fight keeping them on the roster. It’s not like they’re “veteran” players either. Other young guys have beat them out. What kind of message does that send to other young players if you can’t demote the underachievers?

      • paulcatanese

        Aaron,one little addition. Hill dosen’t swing and miss, he just takes strike after strike. At least if he swung maybe the ball would hit his bat.

      • Ripsnorter1

        I just don’t see Jim Clueless dumping DeWitt to AAA. I’ll tell you this: if Ryno were still there, he’d be saying, “Who do you think I am, a miracle worker? You give me this and expect me to make a MLB player out it?”

        No, I’ll be SHOCKED–SHOCKED if DeWitt doesn’t have the 2B job handed to him on a silver, no, golden platter. He’s Jim’s boy. You know, we’ve had Jim’s boys before. We traded away Greg Maddux for–are you ready for this?–Caesar Izturis. The Dodgers are still laughing. Lou put up with him for what–20 games–before he ordered Jim Clueless do dump his hide.

        You think DeWitt nails down 40-50 RBI’s? In a good year, maybe. But I’m not looking for that much production out of him.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Kevin, sorry we do not have your theme music on the CCO … listening to Mike Ferrin right now.

      • Wickitkevin

        Lol. I have tried to get them to cut that out.

      • Wickitkevin

        Neil,

        You should call in. That way I don’t have to carry the Cubs load all by myself.

        • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

          Kevin, I enjoy your calls … you know your stuff. One of these days I will, I am usually working on articles for the site during the show. Mike Ferrin is a really good guy and it’s always a plus having a Cubs fan host a national radio show. Just don’t mention Holden … and of course, I’m joking.

  • paulcatanese

    As far as I can see,the pitching staff has three losers, the Shark,Silva and Grabow. The infield also with DeWhitt, Ojeda,Baker,HILL(he deserves captol letters)Pena with the hole in his swing. The outfield sports Johnson,who is not really that great on defense,Byrd with other issues off the field,and Perez who can’t steal first base.Castro with defensive woes, Ramirez when he wants to play and so on.Combine this with guys(younger) that are putting up numbers right now and should have EVERY opportunity to play and are not getting it. A manager who gives players every opportunity to FAIL? What kind of season am I looking forward to? Getting too old to wait four or five more years. Management and manager have no clue.

  • fryegye

    Concerning the remaining players in camp, I’ve been changing my mind as the season nears. It frightens me that so many of us agree on these things, which guarantees that the team will do something completely different…

    NRIs:
    I could actually picture Wellemeyer being decent in long relief, and I’ve been impressed with Matt Camp and Scott Moore. No on everyone else (and I really liked Reed the first time around).

    As for the rest of the roster:

    C: Soto, Castillo

    INF: Pena, Baker, Castro, Barney, Ramirez (and I had hopes for DeWitt)

    OF: Soriano, Colvin, Fukudome, Byrd

    SP: Dempster, Zambrano, Garza, Wells, Cashner

    RP: Marmol, Wood, Marshall, Grabow, Samardzija, Stevens

    I still think this leaves us weak in OF run production, iffy on long relief and scary on defense.

  • studio179

    “Cashner talks with Maddux in the dugout and watches video with the future Hall of Famer.”

    Ha! We assume they are talking baseball and watching baseball video. Maddux is a big golfer. Maybe they comparing sand wedge and putt shots. Kidding.