Observations from Spring Training

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The Cubs still have a couple of roster spots to fill before Sunday's 2:00pm C.T. deadline and with those roster spots, comes at least two other decisions.

After Saturday's game, Aaron asked me a comment to describe the performances in the exhibition season for the 28 guys (25-man roster and the three competing for the final two spots) that I saw this spring.

Numbers and box scores can often be deceiving. So here is goes...

Pitchers

Neal Cotts - Same ole Cotts. Seemed to lose focus, especially against minor league hitters. Threw the ball very well at times and awful at others. If they had another option or if he had options probably would not make the team. If Cotts struggles I would not be surprised if Jason Waddell got a look in games that count.

Ryan Dempster - Solid, other than the first inning. Threw the ball well.

Chad Gaudin - Struggled all through camp, best outing was against the Yankees on Saturday. I still think he is a good option for the Cubs' long man. But as long as Vizcaino is in the pen, they do not have room for both. The problem will be moving Gaudin's contract.

Kevin Gregg - Impressive. Until his outing on Friday night kept the walks down, which has been his mo.

Angel Guzman - Inconsistent and looked scared on the mound at times but man does he have an impressive arm. They have a lot of time and money invested in him. Wish the light would turn on, lot of talent there.

Rich Harden - He pitched and made all but one scheduled start. I am not concerned, as long as he's healthy he will be fine.

Aaron Heilman - Impressive. Could be one of the surprises of the spring for me. After reading and seeing him be so bad in New York, he kept the ball down and got results.

Ted Lilly - Behind. Needs innings...one of the many negatives about the WBC.

Carlos Marmol - Not Senor Nasty yet. Had trouble with his slider in Arizona. As long as the can keep him focused and on the mound, should be fine.

Sean Marshall - Very, very good until his last two starts. Retired Major League hitters and they did not seem to catch up to him the second time through the lineup.

David Patton - The Rule 5 guy as he is known. Patton got my attention in the fourth game of the spring. Horrible, horrible bullpen. Threw the ball all over, even skipped one over the fence and onto the field. But when he took the mound he was lights out against Ozzie Guillen's everyday lineup.

Relievers must have a short memory and that afternoon told me a lot about him. He put a horrible bullpen behind him when he took the mound. Also, he never pitched above A-ball as everyone knows, but not only did he perform after the bad bullpen, but he did it in front of the largest crowd (at the time) he'd ever pitched in front of.

Patton retired Major League hitters and minor leaguers as well...but most importantly he threw strikes.

Jeff Samardzija - Seemed a lot more comfortable out of the pen. After about 30 pitches he seemed to lose it. He may be a starter down the line but right now he is a one-inning Major League reliever.

Luis Vizcaino - Not impressed. He is very deliberate on the mound, imagine just a bit faster than Steve Trachsel. Made me miss Bobby Howry.

Carlos Zambrano - Showed up in very good shape. Seems more animated but more focused at the same time. Threw the ball very well.

Catchers

Koyie Hill - I think Piniella made the right decision. Hill knows the pitchers as well as Geovany Soto from the time they spent together in Iowa back in 2007. Hit Major League pitching as well as minor leaguers. He also displayed a good strong arm behind the plate.

Geovany Soto - See Ted Lilly

Infielders

Mike Fontenot - Excellent spring, a little concerned over his defense but the experts think he will be an upgrade over DeRosa. Fontenot is a big key for the upcoming season in my book.

Micah Hoffpauir - If he could only catch the ball. I guess the thing that impressed me the most is that he seemed to hit Major League pitching better than minor leaguers at the end of the games. Was he more focused in those at bats? He made one excellent diving catch in right but other than that average defensively.

Hoffpauir is the Cubs' back-up quarterback but replacing Lee with Hoffpauir at first would cost the Cubs' infield a lot of errors...and the team some wins.

Derrek Lee - Hit the ball much better in the last week. Still not elevating the ball. Piniella should have a short leash on him hitting third...but the man can still pick it at first.

Aaron Miles - Hard nosed player, impressed me. One of the gamers or dirtbags on the Cubs.

Aramis Ramirez - Still waiting

Ryan Theriot - Good at the plate. He's got to quit getting picked off and thrown out at second. Defense the same and he needs Derrek Lee.

Outfielders

Milton Bradley - Three letters WOW. He is one intense guy and I'm loving it. When he showed emotion and argued with the ump in Scottsdale during the night game. I started to take exception. I initially thought, why is he doing that...it's just Spring Training. Then I thought, maybe that has been one of the problems...too many times shrugging off a player not hustling or seeming to care. Then two innings later he looked like he was going to take the guy out at second.

If he can stay on the field he's going to have an impact.

Kosuke Fukudome - With a lot more to prove...see Ted Lilly.

Joey Gathright - The man can cover some ground in center. Gathright hustles and gives it his all. While sometimes we the fans might not like the result, he still gives it his all. Gathright gives the Cubs something they do not have...speed. And late in games that could win them a couple of close ones.

Reed Johnson - See Aaron Miles

Alfonso Soriano - Looked great on the bases and saw him make a couple catches he would not have gotten to in his first two years with the Cubs. He also appeared to be in real good shape and put on a little muscle. Did not seem as 'wirey'.

Aaron also asked about Jake Fox. The man can hit, he just cannot catch the ball. From everything I've read/heard he is a hard worker. If he could just find a position he has a big league bat already...although most of his hits seemed to come off second string and minor league pitchers, unlike Hoffpauir.