Cubs News and Notes

Posted by Lionel on March 25, 2009.

While we here at TD World Headquarters have been caught up in WBC fever (OK, so it's more like NCAA tournament and fantasy baseball), there have been a number of interesting notes that I thought I'd get caught up on.

Rule V pick David Patton has been one of the best, if not the best, relievers the Cubs have trotted out to the bump this spring. 9 and 2/3 innings , 8 hits and 2 walks (a 1.03 WHIP), one earned run (a 0.93 ERA), and 10 K's. The problem is that the numbers may not work out. Gregg, Marmol, Heilman, and Neal Cotts are the four guys to whom Lou's committed. That leaves 3 spots. Normally, you'd say that would guarantee Patton a spot. But there's a lot of money tied up in the other spots. Luis Vizcaino, the reliever the Rockies dumped for Marquis, is owed $4M. Chad Gaudin is owed $2M. Jeff ND is on a major league contract. That also leaves out Angel Guzman (who is out of options and would need to clear waivers if he doesn't make the 225 man roster), Kevin Hart, and the oldies Mike Stanton and Chad Fox. In an ideal situation, the Cubs would be able to trade Vizcaino or Gaudin, but that seems unlikely to me. Teams have spent all winter dumping salary (see Cubs, Chicago), so the only way I see this working is if the Cubs eat a portion of the salary (in Vizcaino's case, a large portion). The other issue is that Patton has never thrown above A Ball. Yes, he's pitched well this spring, but do you want to shorten your bullpen depth to give a kid with no experience a shot? My guess is that when this all comes down, Patton is going to have to be returned.

Speaking of Rule V picks, Donnie Veal has been pitching well for the Pirates. He has made 10 spring appearances, all in relief, pitching 10 and 2/3 innings, with a 2.53 ERA. The Pirates have some depth in their starting staff (relatively speaking), so he may be a candidate for the 'pen. But his control could send him back to the Cubs (if they want him). He has walked 11 and hit two batters. His last outing was on Monday, where he pitched a perfect sixth, so the Pirates are looking at him against MLB hitters.

The Corey Koskie comeback ended quickly. He had only seen action in 3 games before announcing his re-retirement. The Cubs may have had some premotions, as they had already brought another body into the fold in Esteban German, who is hitting .267. Lou has been relatively quiet on the backup 3-sack discussion, which may be due to the .275 BA and 6 stolen bases of potential 5th OF Joey Gathright.

One piece of Roster news that was helpful to the Cubs situation is that they were able to reassign Richie Robnett to the minors, taking him off the 40 man roster. Robnett was brought over in the Michael Wuertz deal. This is a significant move because the Cubs only had one opening on their 40 man roster before Robnett was moved.

Lou had some complementary things to say about two other demoted players, Jake Fox and Sam Fuld, saying that they'd both be in the Majors soon. It's not that surprising that he had good things to say about Fox, who hit .350 and slugged .633 in 60 AB's this spring. The problem with Fox is that he isn't good at any defensive position. Drafted as a catcher, his substandard speed, range, and arm put the Cubs in a bind. Scouts think he could hit 25 HR's if given the chance to play everyday in the Bigs, but for that to happen, he'll probably need to be DHing or playing first somewhere. In other words, unless he's traded, he probably won't be in the Bigs soon. As for Fuld, he only hit .250, but his plate discipline was good (he K'd twice in 28 AB's). Whether he'll ever see the outfield bricks again is a question, but without a whole lot of depth at the OF position, he could be battling Doug Deeds, Richie Robnett and Jason Dubois to get back to Wrigley if there's an injury.

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