The Cactus League schedule is winding down. There are only 12 practice games remaining … the Cubs 2011 season begins in two weeks.
The Opening Day roster is starting to take shape. The Cubs have 40 players in big league camp (39 without Angel Guzman) after two roster cuts. According to a report from Bruce Levine, the Cubs could announce as early as Monday or Tuesday which two pitchers will follow Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano and Matt Garza in the rotation. Reportedly Randy Wells has locked up the fourth spot … with Andrew Cashner the favorite to begin the year as the Cubs’ fifth starter.
According to the Sun-Times, Darwin Barney and Reed Johnson are “pulling away in races for the last two bench jobs.” The Sun-Times reported “Barney has all but wrapped up a job” due to his performance and Augie Ojeda’s lingering back problems.
With all eyes on Opening Day, here’s the update from Mesa … News and Notes
According to a report from the Sun-Times, Randy Wells still has to take care of business over his next few starts to lock up a rotation spot.
The Sun-Times reported if Wells is indeed a lock, then the final spot could come down to Andrew Cashner or Braden Looper … with Carlos Silva being third in line for the fifth spot in the rotation. The Cubs want Cashner to win the job, which could push Looper to the pen. Looper could serve as the long man or emergency starter.
According to the Sun-Times, Mike Quade is not ruling out Starlin Castro eventually taking over the leadoff spot for the Cubs.
Bruce Levine reported John Grabow and Jeff Samardzija are locks to make the team. Scott Maine or James Russell (if the Cubs do not decide to send Russell to Iowa to start) could join Carlos Marmol, Kerry Wood and Sean Marshall in the pen. The Cubs have two open spots in the pen and will likely begin the year with three southpaws in the relief corps.
Carlos Silva may end up in the pen if he does not make the rotation or isn’t traded according to Bruce Levine.
According to a report from Bruce Levine, the final roster spot might not be decided until March 30.
Chattin’ with Bruce Levine
Mr. Talkin’ Baseball held his Thursday chat on ESPNChicago.com, here are the highlights …
Jim Hendry has not spoken with the Rangers since the winter meetings. The Cubs were interested in Chris Davis but the players the Rangers were interested in return for Davis were used in the Matt Garza deal.
The Cubs and Rangers have not discussed a Carlos Silva for Michael Young swap. The Rangers have little interest in Silva and the Cubs have no interest in the money still owed to Young.
Darwin Barney has played well this spring and has impressed the coaches and management with his business-like attitude for his game. According to Levine, Barney is the leading candidate to backup Starlin Castro at short … as well as Jeff Baker and Blake DeWitt at second base.
Augie Ojeda has suffered from back spasms over the past week and the injury is hurting his chances to make the roster.
James Russell has progressed as a starter to the point the Cubs may ask him to go to Triple-A and continue to hone his skills as a starter. Russell is the only lefty starter close to the big leagues and the move would benefit the organization.
According to team sources, if Andrew Cashner doesn’t make it in the rotation he will go to the bullpen. Cashner will not start the year in Triple-A.
Bobby Scales is a backup in case there is an injury to some of the middle infielders. According to Levine, Scales is not scheduled to make the team out of Spring Training.
Well, there’s the update … and I’m sticking to it.