Spring Training Notebook- 3/21/2011


Spring is finally here! One of the key indicators of the Spring season is the start of the baseball season. We are about two weeks away from the Cubs opening the regular season at Wrigley Field against the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 1. But before we get to Opening Day, we have to first get past the final couple of weeks of Spring Training. This week figures to be the decisive week for the Cubs’ 25 man roster, while next week is when position players start to get accustomed with their roles on the roster. Here is the latest from Spring Training, as we anticipate the announcing of the final two starters in the Cubs’ rotation at some point this week.

  • Jim Hendry, Mike Quade, and Pat Listach to meet on Tuesday

Answers may soon be coming to the final questions on the Cubs’ 25 man roster. However, most of those answers appear to be clear despite no official announcement from manager Mike Quade.

As we have harped on over-and-over again for the past few weeks, Randy Wells has basically earned a spot in the Cubs’ rotation as the fourth starter. Leaving the fifth starter’s spot as the only remaining question for the Cubs’ rotation. Assuming Andrew Cashner does not implode in his start against the Los Angeles Angels today, then he should also be a lock for the Cubs’ rotation. Leaving Todd Wellemyer, Carlos Silva, James Russell, and Braden Looper out of the mix.

It is likely that one of those pitchers that did not make the rotation could very well end up as the long man/spot starter in the Cubs’ bullpen. Considering Carlos Silva is making $11.5 million in 2011, he figures to be the leading candidate for the spot. However, neither Silva nor Mike Quade envision Silva as long reliever. Which my signal that Silva will either be released or traded by the time the season starts.

There really should be no surprises as far as position players go. Both Darwin Barney and Reed Johnson have stepped up their production of late, which has pushed both of them to a spot on the 25 man roster. To much of the displeasure of most of our readers, Koyie Hill will serve as the major league backup to Koyie Hill. Despite both Max Ramirez and Wellington Castillo putting up strong offensive numbers in Spring Training. For those that are searching for a glimmer of hope regarding the backup catcher spot, Carrie Muskat reports that the Cubs may still have to decide between Castillo and Hill for the backup to Soto.

  • Jeff Baker Clearly Thinks He is Better Than Blake DeWitt

While Jeff Baker did not directly say that he should be the everyday second baseman instead of platooning with Blake DeWitt, he pretty much implied that he should be the full time starter.There is no doubt that Blake DeWitt’s struggles have caught the attention of pretty much everyone who has followed the Cubs. In fact, Mike Quade told reporters that while DeWitt has a roster spot right now there still is time left for the players that are making a strong push towards making the 25 man roster. I’d imagine Scott Moore is one of those players pushing for a roster spot.

As for Baker wanting to be the full time starter at second base, that probably would not be the best for the Cubs. Baker is an excellent hitter against left handed pitchers, that would be why he is going to start and probably leadoff against left handed pitchers. But, last year Baker struggled considerably against righties. Despite showing some success against righties this Spring, I do not think that will translate to success during the regular season. The best asset that Baker brings to the Cubs is his versatility. With the ability to play all infield positions and the corner outfield spots, Baker should see plenty of playing time as the super-utility man for the Cubs this season.