I don’t know about you, but when I’m in the dentist’s chair I try to come up with something to distract my thoughts away from the scraping and probing. (No drilling or pulling today.) This afternoon I puzzled over the roster decisions the Cubs will face in two weeks, should they hang-on to their division lead. (As a Cubs fan who has experienced Steve Garvey’s mashing of Lee Smith’s hanging slider in the 1984 play-offs and the 2003 Game 6 collapse, I take this step with some trepidation. At least I’m not alone– Bleed Cubbie Blue engaged in the same exercise earlier today.)
The NLDS schedule is such that the Cubs could get by with a three-man (Zambrano, Lilly, Hill) rotation, but you keep Marquis, too. The back of the bullpen (Marmol, Howry, Dempster) is automatic, Eyre makes it 8 as the only lefty in the pen.
Decisions: Trachsel, Marshall, Woods, Wuertz. Kerry Wood
s will of course be the Buzz Bissinger-inspired sentimental selection, but Wuertz has had a decent, if unheralded year. I can’t imagine that the Cubs would leave Trachsel off the list after trading for him at the deadline– unless he keeps whining about not starting. But, Marquis can serve as the long-man, and it wouldn’t hurt to have another lefty to face the likes of Carlos Delgado or Adrian Gonzalez. (Arizona doesn’t have many dangerous lefties.) So, it says here to go with Wuertz and Marshall in the 7-man bullpen. Hopefully, the Cubs will only stick with 10 pitchers.
After juggling line-ups for the first 4 months of the reason, Lou Piniella has settled on a regular regime, with Floyd and Murton platooning in right (Kendall, Lee, DeRosa, Ramirez, Theriot, Soriano and Jones are the others, for those scoring at home.) That leaves us 6 spots. Ward and Fontenot are automatics; Pie’s been a steady late-inning defensive replacement; Monroe’s been suspect, but stays on.
Backup catcher could require some creativity: Geovany Soto, the PCL MVP, has been hitting the tar off the ball since being recalled on September 1 and may be the Cubs best catcher. However, since he wasn’t on the Cubs 25 man roster on August 31, Soto isn’t eligible for the playoffs, leaving Henry Blanco and his .174 batting average. Blanco has only appeared in four games since being activated August 21. Here’s hoping Jim Hendry can find an injury excuse (Blanco’s neck injury?) that will enable Soto to replace Blanco. Ronnie Cedeno hits no better than does Blanco. Angel Pagan, who’s been working out in Arizona, would be a great story, coming back from colitis to appear in playoffs.