I took a shot at this last year, the Cubs didn’t listen, and we all saw the ugly results. Who fills the final two roster spots is likely to be less relevant to the outcome of the Cubs playoff fortunes than Obama’s decision to base his debate prep in Florida will be to the election.
Twelve position players and six pitchers are automatic. Who will the other seven players? As the Sun Times addresses today, the Jim Hendry and Lou Piniella may be dumb enough to carry 11 pitchers. (If 10 pitchers cant get through five games in a week, you’re in trouble.)
The options for the 4-5 additional bullpen slots include Neal Cotts, Chad Gaudin, Sean Marshall, The Shark, Jason Marquis, Bobby Howry and Michael Wuertz. Cotts is likely a lock. and it sounds like Piniella is set on getting Gaudin back in shape for October. I’m pushing for Marshall over Marquis and Samardzjia over Howry. If Marquis is added as an 11th pitcher, he’s more likely to see time as a pinch runner than pitch any meaningful innings.
Micah Hoffpauir, the Cubs minor league player of the year, had a better season, and is more flexible defensively (faint praise) than Daryl Ward. Piniella may tab Ward for his “veteran presence,” but that is unlikely to work out much better than his choice to start Jason Kendall over rookie Geovany Soto in last year’s playoffs. Felix Pie should be added to fill the pinch-runner role. Unfortunately, the Cubs never picked up a right-handed bat for the bench. Of course, Carlos Zambrano could fill that role in games 2-4; but the rest of the time Heny Blanco is the best they have, meaning they be better off keeping Koyie Hill as an emergency catcher over Jason Marquis as a mop-up man, pinch runner, and architecture critic.