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Running down the rosters: Chicago Cubs

Feb 14, 2012, 6:13 PM EDT

Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney, Marlon Byrd

Forget about 2012 and probably 2013 as well; the Cubs are thinking long-term after luring Theo Epstein from Boston as their new showrunner. This year’s club won’t necessarily be one of the worst in baseball — the pitching depth could help it avoid that fate — but there’s also little in the way of upside until more of the youngsters come along.

Rotation
Ryan Dempster  -R
Matt Garza – R
Randy Wells – R
Paul Maholm – L
Chris Volstad – R

Bullpen
Carlos Marmol – R
Kerry Wood – R
Jeff Samardzija – R
James Russell – L
Marcos Mateo – R
Andy Sonnanstine – R
Scott Maine – L

SP next in line: Travis Wood (L), Rodrigo Lopez (R), Sonnanstine, Casey Coleman (R)
RP next in line: Chris Carpenter (R), Manuel Corpas (R),  Lendy Castillo (R)(Rule 5), John Gaub (L), Rafael Dolis (R), Casey Weathers (R)

The Cubs have yet to find a Garza trade to their liking, leaving the rotation as the team’s strength. No one from the group aside from Garza stands out, but the team should get reasonable innings from everyone. I have the other five starters projected with ERAs ranging from 4.18 (T. Wood) to 4.42 (Maholm).

The bullpen, on the other hand, will need a bounce-back season from Marmol, a healthy Wood and continued improvement from Samardzija if it’s going to be any good. The last three spots should all be up for grabs. I like Carpenter, but he’s going to have to throw a few more strikes in spring training to claim a spot initially. Castillo, a Rule 5 pick from the Phillies, could be kept and hidden as a mop-up man.

Lineup
RF David DeJesus – L
SS Starlin Castro – R
CF Marlon Byrd – R
LF Alfonso Soriano – R
1B Bryan LaHair – L
C Geovany Soto – R
3B Ian Stewart – L
2B Darwin Barney – R

Bench
C Welington Castillo – R
INF-OF Jeff Baker – R
INF-OF Blake DeWitt – L
OF Reed Johnson – R
OF Tony Campana – L

Next in line: C Steve Clevenger (L), C Jason Jaramillo (S), 1B Anthony Rizzo (L), 2B-3B Adrian Cardenas (L), 3B Josh Vitters (R), INF Matt Tolbert (S), INF Bobby Scales (S), INF-OF Alfredo Amezaga (S), OF Dave Sappelt (R), OF Brett Jackson (L)

The lineup appears set, as the Cubs have made it clear that Rizzo will start off at Triple-A Iowa. It could actually be surprisingly productive if LaHair proves that his 2012 was no fluke and Soto continues his even year-odd year pattern (he had an .868 OPS as a rookie in 2008 and an .890 OPS in 2010).

As for the bench, we’ll have to wait and see what happens to DeWitt. He re-signed for $1.1 million last month, only to be designated for assignment in February. The Cubs could cut him and eat about $200,000, but he’s not such a bad guy to have around. If not DeWitt, then the last spot could go to Tolbert; ideally, someone on the bench would be able to serve as a backup shortstop. As is, Barney is the second option there.

Outside of Castro, no one in the lineup here is a great bet to be on the next contending Cubs team. Byrd and Soto are candidates to be traded this summer. Of course, the same goes for Soriano if he can play well enough to draw a suitor. Ideally, Rizzo, Jackson and maybe even Vitters will occupy lineup spots in the second half the season.

  1. foreverchipper10 - Feb 14, 2012 at 6:23 PM

    In the first paragraph about the pitchers you have a predicted ERA for Wood as a starter. Something tells me you meant Wells or someone else there right? Just a helpful hint.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Feb 14, 2012 at 6:24 PM

      Whoops. I meant Travis, but that does need to be clarified.

  2. jason1214 - Feb 14, 2012 at 6:55 PM

    Ahh my cubbies. I’m hoping for 75 wins, but that’ll be tough in 2012. Should look a lot different roster wise by 2013-14

  3. brenenostler - Feb 14, 2012 at 7:32 PM

    I remember when it was Sammy Sosa, Moises Alou, Aramis Ramirez, Greg Maddox, Matt Clement, and Kerry Wood. Gosh have times changed.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Feb 16, 2012 at 5:55 PM

      Maddux*

      Sorry.

  4. ditka96 - Feb 14, 2012 at 8:13 PM

    Wasn’t Blake DeWitt shown the door?

    • ditka96 - Feb 14, 2012 at 8:15 PM

      Sorry I’m guilty of not reading until the end…I hate it when I do that!

  5. tone360 - Feb 14, 2012 at 8:30 PM

    At least we are not the White Sox.

  6. schaffershokai - Feb 15, 2012 at 9:13 AM

    This will liven things up: http://youtu.be/VQ6dvKCfDRo

  7. ndrocks2 - Feb 15, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    This is a bad expansion team at best. I hear they will play hard and the right way, you can get that from any minor league and college team in the country so the only difference is you get to pay major league concession, parking & tickets. Big fan so I guess you just have to accept they admit they stink and will until they get the youth movement complete.
    Should be interesting how long of rope the fans will give before they expect to see results. I guess if you haven’t won in over 100 years what is a couple of more years before we become competitive again? Maybe in 2014 when we play in Wrigley (or whatever the naming rights are then) after the taxpayers rebuild the park we will be ready.

  8. adamhansolo - Feb 18, 2012 at 6:10 PM

    Cardenas is a left handed batter.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Feb 18, 2012 at 6:17 PM

      That’s right. Thanks!

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