Spring Training Notebook- 2/28/11


The Chicago Cubs Cactus League opener did not go as well as I’m sure the Cubs wanted it to, but the Cubs are trying to bounce back today against the Milwaukee Brewers. When watching or listening to Spring Training games, do not just focus on whether the Cubs win or lose the game. Instead, focus on what the players are doing within the games itself. With that said, let’s take a look at the Spring Training notebook.

  • The Starting Rotation Competition

The battle for the final two spots in the rotation is starting to heat up with Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner pitching in today’s game, and Carlos Silva pitching on Wednesday. While manager Mike Quade insists that the Cubs rotation is open, that is not how I look at it. First, lets begin with the two candidates that are pitching today–Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner. With Wells, I think it is important that we realize that he still has one minor league option remaining. That option should not be shrugged off by the fans, as I really think Wells could start the season in Iowa.

The reason why I think Wells could start the season in Triple-A is because of Andrew Cashner and Carlos Silva. Since the start of Spring Training, it has seemed like Andrew Cashner would have to pitch himself out of a rotation spot. Some have speculated that Cashner may start the season in Triple-A or in the bullpen, but neither of those seem like realistic options. Go back to last year when Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said when the team calls up a top prospect- Starlin Castro, and Andrew Cashner- they will remain with the team. Assuming Hendry has the same philosophy, a return to the minor leagues would obviously have to be ruled out. As for Cashner remaining in the bullpen, that definitely is a possibility. But with Kerry Wood as the Cubs eighth inning man, a healthy John Grabow, and Sean Marshall all slotted for the late innings, Cashner would not seem to be a fit in the bullpen.

Then there is Carlos Silva. The reason Silva will make the starting rotation is because he is owed $11.5 million ($6MM from the Cubs) for the 2011 season. Unless Silva gets “injured” (Wink, Wink), he will be in the starting rotation. In the past, I have speculated that the Cubs could release Silva at the end of Spring Training, but that does not seam like a realistic option for the Cubs. Another reason the Cubs may put Silva in the rotation is to create a market for him. If Silva has the same success this season as he did the first half of last season, he could be a trade option as the season goes on.

If I had to guess on who the final two pitchers in the Cubs’ rotation will be as of today, I would say Andrew Cashner and Carlos Silva. With Randy Wells, Casey Coleman, and James Russell all starting the year with the Iowa Cubs. I would not expect the Cubs to keep Wells in the minors for too long, but just until they decide what to do with Carlos Silva.

  • Roster Cuts

According to a report from Carrie Muskat, Mike Quade does not expect to make roster cuts until the team’s first off day on March 16th. Usually the first batch of cuts consist of prospects moving to the minor league camp. It will not be until later in camp when the significant cuts begin to happen.

  • Need a job?

The Cubs announced today that they are looking for a new public announcer at Wrigley Field. Even if you do not have a “golden voice”, make sure to scour the streets as you never know who has a voice made for announcing.

Case in point…

(Video Courtesy of the Associated Press, first displayed by The Columbus Dispatch.)