Slowly but surely the Chicago Cubs are coming down to a final 25 man roster to start the season. After meeting with general manager Jim Hendry on back-to-back days, manager Mike Quade finally made some decisions regarding the 25 man roster. No, there is still no final decision on who the fifth starter will be, but the bullpen picture is beginning to clear up after today’s roster moves.
Relievers Justin Berg and Scott Maine were sent to Triple A-Iowa, while starting pitching candidate Todd Wellemyer and rehabbing reliever Angel Guzman were to minor league camp.
With the Cubs cutting Maine, their bullpen for the most part is set. According to a report from Paul Sullivan, Carlos Marmol, Kerry Wood, Sean Marshall, John Grabow, and James Russell are essentially locks to be in the bullpen. Leaving only two spots remaining in the Cubs’ bullpen which Sullivan suggests will go to Jeff Samardzija and Carlos Silva. Andrew Cashner may also be a member of the bullpen, if the Cubs decide to go with Silva or Braden Looper as the fifth starter.
I must say that I am kind of surprised that James Russell will be in the bullpen. From all the reports that have surfaced throughout Spring Training it sounded like Russell had made significant progress as a starting pitcher. It was believed that he had showed so much progress that the Cubs were going to have Russell start the year in Triple A to work on his skills. But it appears that Russell will be the third lefty in the bullpen.
If manager Mike Quade is not sold on the idea of having three lefties, I would not count out right hander Marcus Mateo for a spot in the bullpen. Mateo has silently had a good Spring Training. While he only has appeared in five games, he has an ERA of 1.80 with 6 strikeouts and 3 walks.
Going back to the players that were cut, I can’t really say that there were any major surprises. The biggest name to be cut in the latest round of roster moves may have been Scott Maine. After having a successful stint in the Cubs bullpen at the end of the season in 2010, many thought he would have been favored to earn a spot in the bullpen this season. But after allowing 5 runs (4 earned) on 8 hits and 2 walks in 6 innings of work this Spring, Maine may still need some time in the minors before being ready for the major leagues. If Wellemyer does not opt to sign elsewhere, I’m sure he will serve as an insurance policy in case there is an injury on the major league staff.
Carlos Silva takes the mound today in what could be a make or break game for him as he fights for a spot in the rotation.