Baseball Diamond News

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Pitchers and Catchers report to Spring: Cubs Pitching Preview

Well the pitchers and catchers reported to Spring training yesterday. YIPPIE!!!!! Baseball time is here. Especially now that hockey is now officially over, this gives me something to look forward to watching.
The rotation looks set for the most part this year: Wood, Prior, Maddux, Zambrano and Rusch (though they have said he is not guaranteed a SP). This rotation is still very solid even with the subtraction of Clement. If either Rusch fails at the 5th spot or if someone gets hurt the Cubs have Angel Guzman, Sergio Mitre, and even Todd Wellemeyer whom they can insert into the rotation without too much nail biting.
The pen at the moment looks very crowded and the only guys guaranteed a spot are Dempster, Hawkins and Remlinger. If Borowski shows that he is healthy will also make the team even if he gets hammered in spring training, based on his 2003 results the Cubs will ignore the Spring Training stats. This may be a mistake on their part because if Borowski doesn't rebound a lot, he will be a 1 year wonder pitcher whom the Cubs should dump. The next guy in the pen should be Wil Ohman. He had a great showing in the winter leagues and looks to be recovered from arm surgery. A major plus for Ohman is that he is a lefty and would be a great addition to the pen especially since I think he is a major improvement over Mercker. I am not sure if the Cubs will go with 11 or 12 pitchers, but let’s assume it will be 12 pitchers for the sake of making it easier. This leaves 2 spots open in the pen with a battle between: Wuertz, Wellemeyer, Randolph, Novoa, Caruthers, Mitre, Oropesa, Jimmy Anderson and Chad Fox. Oropesa and Anderson will both be cut and/or offered spots in AAA, Caruthers will be appearing in AAA, Mitre will also be heading back to Iowa to get innings in as SP. This then leaves the battle between Wuertz, Wellemeyer, Novoa, Randolph and Fox. Fox probably will be headed to DL so he can get extra time to rehab his arm and make life easier on the Cubs decision making. Randolph should be cut and should have never been traded for, but with that said if he shows control in camp he might turn heads, but that doesn't appear likely. With Novoa being acquired for Farnsworth he is almost assured a spot on the team unless he goes into Spring and gets hammered to the extend it is like rewatching Matt Karchner pitch all over again. This leaves the last spot in the pen between Wuertz and Wellemeyer which might go to Wellemeyer though I think Wuertz has a better upside in the pen. Wuertz had a killer 2nd half last year after getting hit pretty hard in the 1st half with the Cubs. If he shows that the 2nd half was not a fluke, he will move up fast in the ranks of the Cubs pen.

So the staff should look like this:
Kerry Wood
Mark Prior
Greg Maddux
Carlos Zambrano
Glendon Rusch

Ryan Dempster
Latroy Hawkins
Mike Remlinger
Joe Borowski
Wil Ohman
Robert Novoa
Todd Wellemeyer

Now I am not sure if the pen shows much improvement over last season, but it is different. I think that even though losing Farnsworth talent hurts with him being a head case and very unreliable he can be replaced easily. Mercker I thought was overrated as he might have had a low ERA, but whenever he was in a key situation it always seemed like he was failing to get outs.
I will review the catchers tomorrow. Sorry for the slow posting, should be very regularly updated now, especially since baseball is finally here.


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