A Field Of Nine


The month of September is here. That means a multitude of things, but perhaps most important, it means that the Chicago Cubs are one step closer to the off-season. This off-season figures to be just as important as the previous, given that this is the first full off-season that Theo Epstein and company will have at the head of the Cubs’ baseball department. Along with the calendar turning to the month of September, this is the appropriate time for speculation to begin on who on the current Cubs’ roster will have the same spot with the team in 2013. While these discussions are generally fun, the speculation that we see now rarely turns out to be true.

Aug 8, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum (33) walks back to the dugout after arguing a call in the eighth inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

But that did not stop Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times. Wittenmyer, along with Cubs’ manager Dale Sveum, was forced to watch the Cubs “look like boys” as they were being swept by the Washington Nationals this week. But, the Nationals might have also offered a glimpse towards the future for what the Cubs could be come 2014 or 2015. However, the Nationals struck gold twice with outfielder Bryce Harper and starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg, whereas, the Cubs’ farm system is in the process of being rebuilt from the ground up. That is the reason why Wittenmyer states that it would be difficult for the Cubs to repeat the Nationals’ blueprint for rebuilding.

In that same article, Wittenmyer asked Sveum to name the players that he is confident will be on the Opening Day 2013 roster. Sveum named nine players. Those nine players were shortstop Starlin Castro, first baseman Anthony Rizzo, starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija, reliever James Russell, left fielder Alfonso Soriano, right fielder David DeJesus, second baseman Darwin Barney, and catcher Welington Castillo. That list of players seems to be appropriate in terms of potential locks for the 2013 season. However, I wouldn’t put it past the Cubs’ front office to implement the same strategy with Russell that they did with Marshall last winter in trading their best left handed reliever. Despite constant speculation that the Cubs are intent on trading Soriano, a trade at next season’s trade deadline seems much more likelier. Considering that Garza has not pitched in a Major League game since late July, the veteran starting pitcher will likely start the season with the Cubs as interested teams would want the pitcher to prove he is healthy before pulling the trigger on a trade.

Notice who was not on that list? How about closer Carlos Marmol, outfielder Brett Jackson, third baseman Josh Vitters, outfielder Bryan LaHair, or starting pitcher Travis Wood. In the case of some of these players, it is likely that Sveum simply overlooked them. Though, it seems likely that Vitters will begin the season with the Iowa Cubs. Jackson could also start the 2013 season with the Iowa Cubs, though in light of his recent adjustments offensively, the center fielder could be on the inside track for a roster spot. The Cubs will likely add one or two veteran starting pitchers this winter like they did last winter with Paul Maholm, but Wood has pitched well enough to be in the consideration for a rotation spot next season. If not playing with another Major League Baseball team, then it would seem likely that LaHair will take his talents to Japan. As for Marmol, it is likely that the Cubs will try to trade their closer this off-season.

After Thursday’s night showing against the Nationals, the Cubs may also want to add an enforcer or two to the roster. Then again, Steve Clevenger seems to have a firm grasp on that role.