The Plot Thickens in Cubs Camp

The Cubs made their third round of roster cuts Wednesday when they optioned Justin Berg and Scott Maine to Triple-A Iowa … and assigned Todd Wellemeyer and Angel Guzman to minor league camp. Wellemeyer is contemplating his future after dealing with another injury this spring.

The Cubs are expected to make another round of roster cuts Thursday. Mike Quade said the next decisions on the roster would focus on the position players. Quade also said the Cubs would set the starting rotation by Sunday.

Quade said the “plot thickened” after Silva’s performance Wednesday against the A’s. Andrew Cashner will take the hill Saturday against the Rangers in Surprise … and the Cubs final decision could be made shortly after Cashner’s next outing. Braden Looper, who is still in the mix for a roster and rotation spot, is expected to follow Matt Garza against the White Sox Thursday afternoon.

Here is the update from the desert on the day Starlin Castro turns 21 years old

Mike Quade was expecting another sleepless night Wednesday as he mulls over roster decisions with the position players. Several reports indicated position-player cuts will be made Thursday.

News and Notes
Carlos Zambrano threw 82 pitches over four innings in a minor league game against the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A team Wednesday at Fitch Park. Zambrano asked to pitch in the minor league game, which impressed Mike Quade according to Bruce Miles.

According to Bruce Miles, scouts were at HoHoKam Park to watch Carlos Silva throw Wednesday.

Max Ramirez had a MRI on his sore left wrist Wednesday. Results of the MRI have not been made public yet. Ramirez is battling for a bench job with Koyie Hill and Welington Castillo. Ramirez is out of minor league options and would likely not make it through waivers if he’s not on the Cubs’ Opening Day roster … or start the year on the DL.

With Scott Maine being optioned to Triple-A Iowa Wednesday, it appears James Russell will break camp with the Cubs … as the third lefty in the pen. The Cubs have said repeatedly all spring with an all right-handed starting rotation they would likely begin the season with three southpaws in the pen.

Braden Looper will pitch in Thursday’s game against the White Sox … in what could be his final audition of the spring.

According to a report from the Sun-Times
, Bobby Scales, Blake DeWitt and Scott Moore are vying for the final spot among the position players.

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Well, there’s the update … and it’s time to sleep on it again.

Quote of the Day

"Don't wish it were easier. Wish you were better." - Jim Rohn

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  • Jon

    Hey Folks, I follow the site everyday from Canada…first time poster.
    Neil you do a great job informing us about the cubs!
    You all have great insite into the cubs…

    One thing via mlbtraderumors…the Nats are “tyring to give away” Nyjer Morgan as one scout says.

    Anyones else think that he would be a more versitle upgrade over Johnson or Perez for the 5th outfield spot? Can steal a base or too and hit leadoff whenever in the lineup.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Jon … thank you and Welcome to the CCO!

    • Ripsnorter1

      He’s listed as the worst teammate ever on the Nats by Bleacher Report. He was threatened with several suspensions last year. He’s a bad boy. This year Rick Ankiel has won the CF job and Morgan’s destined for the bench or the minors and the Nats are even rumored to be considering his outright release (as yet his destiny is undetermined).

      But beyond that, he’s the type of player that Jim Clueless would want: no power–no HR in 509 AB, just 17 2B and 7 3B. Can’t hit for average: hit just .253 last year, most of it in April (.287 with 5 2B, 5 3B in April, showing he is strictly a fastball hitter like Sorry-oh-no and Funko). 13 of his 129 hits in 2010 were bunts. Strikes out a lot: 88K in 509 AB. Slugs at an Aaron Miles rate: .314 in 2010; .360 for career (compare Aaron Miles at .314 in 2010/.364 career). Morgan stole 34 bases, but was nailed 17 times for a horrendous 66% success rate. His OPS of .633 was in line with Aaron Mile’s .628 in 2010. His OPS was the lowest of all starting CF in MLB in 2010.

      As for his glove, he made 5 errors in CF for the Nats in 2010. He’s rated in the Rtot as allowing 9 more runs than the average CF. And it wasn’t just a bad year for him: he fielded .987 in 2010, and .986 for his career. This is what he is.

      He’s Milton Bradley with less offensive skills: all the ego, but lacking most of the desirable baseball skills.

      He is worse than Milton Bradley, and after all–Jim Clueless doesn’t learn by his successes or his mistakes. So, I’d say, “YES, JIM CLUELESS WANTS HIM TO BAT LEADOFF FOR THE CUBS.”

      • paulcatanese

        Rip,you are “nasty” (in a good way).

    • Aaron

      Welcome Jon!

      As for your question….Yes, Morgan can hit leadoff whenever he’s in the lineup. The problem is…..he couldn’t crack the Cubs lineup anyway. He’s strictly a CF, and the Cubs are set with Soriano, Byrd, and Fukudome as starters, and are going to have difficulty just finding at bats for Colvin (Colvin should be starting just FYI….the Cubs are really THAT dumb though, as they believe Fukudome will start the season hot like he usually does…But given his performance thus far in Spring Training (in comparison to previous springs), it doesn’t look like he will be hot at all to start the season.

      Anyway, back to Morgan…Rip is correct when he said Morgan is a bad teammate, and it is indeed true that they contemplated suspending him on multiple occasions. They also attempted to trade him last year both at the deadline and in August, and found no takers. At that time, I thought the Cubs should go after him, especially at the end of August as rosters were going to expand, and just see what they could get out of him….but I didn’t know about all the issues. Combine that with the fact that he’s an even lighter hitting and slightly slower version of Juan Pierre, and it just doesn’t make sense.

      If anything, the Cubs should entertain bringing up Tony Campana before they go after Morgan.

      • paulcatanese

        In comparison I agree that Campana should given a shot somewhere along the line. His speed alone would warrant that.

  • Tony_Hall

    Neil – Maine/Russell – I guess they aren’t as interested in Russell a starter then. One month, here you go, lets see if you can still do it. I like Russell in the pen, but thought he would get a real shot to start, by going to Iowa. Maine looked good last year, and to be sent done before the last cuts surprised me.

    • Ripsnorter1

      All that leaves us without a LH starter in the majors or minors. And lets give Tom Gorzelanny away for nothing, while giving BRANDON “I HELP YOUR BATTING AVERAGE” LOOPER a $3.5 Million dollar contract!!!

      • paulcatanese

        Nasty,again

    • paulcatanese

      I also thought Maine was a shoo in this year,liked his fastball,aagain the lack of leftys in the starting rotation is unwise and a bad move.

      • cubtex

        I like Maine also over Russell. This one is baffling if Russell makes the team as a reliever. Why have him start this spring then???? Did anyone honestly think he had a shot to make the rotation this year? If it was a plan to put him in the bullpen all along then that is where he should have pitched this spring. Personally, I am not a big fan of Russell. He always has given up a lot of hits even at his days at Texas!

        • Tony_Hall

          This is just another move that makes you wonder how JH has a job!

  • Tony_Hall

    Trade Silva, pay what you have to, don’t send ANY prospects with him, to make someone take him. Just cut him if you have to, or stick him in long relief, or DL him. Cashner needs to start. The only way to know if he will develop into a front of the rotation starter, is to start him at the major league level. This is a perfect year to let him be the #5 starter.

    For that matter though, I would love to have seen Coleman getting a start every fitfth day as well. He pitched very well in September last year, and has looked good in ST.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Coleman wins the job, but give it to Silva. That’s Cub’s logic.

      • cubtex

        I don’t really think it is fair to say that Coleman won the job. He pitched only 8 innings and had a 5.63. Cashner is the one who outperformed Silva and should be the #5.

        • Ripsnorter1

          You are correct IF you simply measure them by the 2011 ST performance. But Coleman “won” the job, imo, last September with his excellent 4-2 performance in 8 starts. And I think you should add in the fact that this ST Coleman didn’t really get a chance to start any games, and that they have given Cashner the job defacto.

    • Aaron

      I disagree with that….actually, I’d send ANYONE from this list: Berg, Gaub, Diamond, Stevens, and Smit….along with Blake DeWitt and Fernando Perez (I realize almost all that I just listed aren’t even considered “prospects” anymore, but maybe someone might want them)

      • paulcatanese

        You guys are good

      • Tony_Hall

        Absoluteley! I think we both agree, that none of these players are prospects anymore.

        We can only hope that someone would want one of these guys.

    • cubtex

      I agree Tony. If the Cubs have to pay almost all of his conract minus a couple of mill it is worth it. They need to develop Cashner now if they believe he is a future top of the rotation guy.

      I saw Coleman pitch a couple of times last year in AAA and he battles but he will get smacked around. Let him start in AAA again and you can always bring him up for a spot start here and there when needed.

      • Aaron

        I agree with you….and regarding Coleman, I see him as a Greg Maddux circa 2004-2008 versus 2003 and prior. Toward the end of his career, Maddux lost a little zip on his fastball that made him virtually unhittable combined with his changeup. But because there wasn’t much difference anymore between his changeup and cut fastball, he lost his edge, even though his location was still very good.

        In fact, if you look at Maddux’s career, it proves the point I’ve been saying all along that if you give up more hits than innings pitched, you’re going to struggle, and Maddux certainly did his second stint with the Cubs and his first two seasons in the bigs:
        http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/m/maddugr01.shtml

        Whenever you saw his IP and hits about equal, or slightly more hits than innings pitched, you saw a direct correlation with his ERA rising almost to 4 and above later on in his career when he lost the zip on his fastball. There was one statistical anomaly in 1999 when he had 219 IP and 258 hits allowed and a 3.57 ERA. I don’t know what happened that year, but I surmise that he must have recorded a lot of GIDP’s, or his ERA would’ve been in the 4’s.

        Casey Coleman pitches to contact, much like Maddux did throughout his career. However, his one deficiency is that he doesn’t really have the strikeout ability that Maddux had. When Maddux absolutely needed to get a strikeout, he was usually able to do so, and you saw that by his high K totals in some seasons. Coleman doesn’t have that ability….at least not yet.

        Therefore, I think Coleman’s best comparison might be Jason Marquis, who doesn’t have much strikeout ability, and gives up more hits than innings pitched. If Maddux works with him individually, he might have a better career than Marquis, but I just don’t know.

        • cubtex

          You’re definately right about Coleman not having a strikeout pitch. 59 K’s in 117 innings last year in AAA.

          I agree with your assesment. Wouldn’t you think with the Cubs defense(or lack of) Coleman would be better to have another year in AAA? He is a pticher that needs a double play ball to get out of jams consistently and with a young shortstop in Castro and who knows at 2b that could hurt his development.

          • Aaron

            I don’t know what another year at AAA would do for him. He might struggle just like Jay Jackson did. While AAA can be a valuable stopping point in the development of players, I would argue that a lot of players with good success at the MLB level come straight out of AA versus AAA (or have very few games at AAA). I had previously thought that most of these players would likely be hitters, however, upon closer examination, I wanted to see what top pitchers in the game right now did, and I was shocked:

            Phillies:
            Oswalt-5 games at AAA
            Halladay-22 games at AAA
            Lee-8 games at AAA

            Braves:
            Jurrjens-0 games at AAA, straight from AA
            Hudson-8 games at AAA
            Hanson-11 games at AAA

            Nationals:
            Strasburg-6 games at AAA
            Lannan-7 games at AAA
            Hernandez-10 games at AAA

            Marlins:
            Josh Johnson-0 games at AAA, straight from AA
            Sanchez-0 games at AAA, straight from AA
            Volstad-0 games at AAA, straight from AA

            Mets:
            Pelfrey-2 games at AAA
            Santana-0 games at AAA, straight from low-A
            Niese-7 games at AAA

            Brewers:
            Gallardo-13 games at AAA
            Greinke-6 games at AAA
            Marcum-18 games at AAA

            Cubs:
            Dempster-5 games at AAA
            Zambrano-9 games at AAA
            Garza-5 games at AAA

            Here are a few other names for you to consider from the AL…

            Sabathia-0 games at AAA, straight from AA
            Buehrle-0 games at AAA, straight from AA
            Lester-11 games at AAA
            Romero-8 games at AAA
            Liriano-14 games at AAA
            Danks-14 games at AAA
            AJ Burnett-0 games at AAA, straight from AA
            Beckett-0 games at AAA, straight from AA
            Verlander-0 games at AAA, straight from AA
            Scherzer-13 games at AAA
            Porcello-0 games at AAA, straight from high-A
            Gavin Floyd-5 games at AAA
            Clay Bucholz-8 games at AAA
            Jeremy Guthrie-18 games at AAA

            Anyway, the point is, while there are some success stories like Halladay, of pitchers spending more than 15 games at AAA, a vast majority of the solid pitchers throughout the league only spent a handful of games at AAA, before being called up. Ironically, most of them didn’t have outstanding stats at AAA, and I would venture a guess that it’s mostly due to them facing seasoned MLB veterans that can’t hack it anymore at the MLB level. Also, the information I’ve gathered from friends/teammates of mine that have pitched in AAA prior to being called up, they’re asked, a lot of times to work on their secondary pitches. This means that they’re asked to throw certain pitches in situations/counts they normally wouldn’t, and it leads to higher ERA’s.

            But the longer you see a pitcher in AAA, it should be a dead giveaway that the parent club isn’t that high on them. In fact, Randy Wells is an anomaly in that he played in something like 60+games at AAA before getting the call (and that was due to Z’s suspension I believe, and mostly because there weren’t any other guys they could call on).

            It’s very rare that you see a guy repeating AAA for a full season, and get a call to the big leagues. If Jay Jackson doesn’t do well this year, he’s as good as gone from the Cubs. Same for Chris Carpenter, Casey Coleman, etc.

            Fans should study the lower levels of the minors low-A through AA (NOT rookie ball or AAA) to see where the true talent is, especially with pitching. If a pitcher has a low ERA in the lower levels, chances are, he’ll end up having success at the MLB level, especially if he continues the success at AA. But if a guy in his 20’s (about 22-24) is still in the lower ranks, and has ERA’s ranging in the high 3’s on up (about 3.80 and higher I say), the chances of him having success later on are very slim.

            This is just my two cents….take it for what it’s worth

          • Tony_Hall

            Aaron and Cubtex – Isn’t it nice to have a disussion, where we all get along :)

      • Tony_Hall

        Now do you understand, where I and others are coming from on the Garza trade. It has nothing to do with Garza’s ability, everything to do with was he needed for this year. If Silva takes a rotation spot, the trade makes no sense, as Cashner needs to start and I would have been happy with Coleman taking a spot as well. I don’t envision Coleman as a front of the rotation pitcher, but he pitched well enough to earn a spot last fall.

    • paulcatanese

      Also nasty

  • paulcatanese

    I am very hopeful after reading the starting lineup for todays game and seeing Barney in there at 2nd base. If they dont mess with him and just let him play I believe he will become the “darling” of Cub fans. He will not disapoint,and has earned the job.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Scales, Moore and Camp among roster cuts today.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Camp, Ojeda, Scales & Moore assigned to Minor League camp, Perez optioned to Triple-A Iowa

    • Aaron

      WOW….so….that means Baker and DeWitt at 2B, and Barney as the back-up at SS….I’m okay with Baker and Barney, but NOT DeWitt…he’s looked dreadful at the plate and in the field.

      I am very disappointed that Scott Moore didn’t make the team, and I feel awful for Scales, who can’t seem to catch a break. He’s a selfless team-player who brings a solid bat off the bench. I just cannot understand what DeWitt has done to earn a spot on the team, as Scales surely could equal his stats, and Moore has done nothing but hit this spring, and has youth on his side. He actually has had less of an opportunity than Scales to showcase his skills at the MLB level, and has had a decent amount of success with limited opportunity.

      Neil….side note here…..

      If the White Sox try to pass Milledge through waivers….any chance the Cubs might try to get him? I doubt it, as it’d be so un-Cub-like to to give a young guy a chance, but one can dream, right?

  • Aaron
    • Bryan

      I agree Aaron….Rosenbloom nailed this article just right. And I loved the special reference to Soriano chasing curveballs. We, as fans, really missed out on Mark Cuban…thank you Selig.