Non Roster Invites
Ed Campusano - LHRP, 26-years-old until July 14, Campusano has never thrown above AA ball in his career. In 2008, Campullu, his tentacles waving in the air, went 3-3 ith a 6.34 ERA in 9.2 innings of work. He's got a good career K-Rating (223 SO's in 222.2 IP) but let's be real here. He's only invited so the big boys can feel good by beating on his ass.
J.R. Mathes - LHSP, 27-years-old, Mathes is a starting pitcher with 15 more career wins than losses (44-29). He also looks like he's got Down's Syndrome, but I am neither picking on those who have it nor him ... I'm just pointing it out. He's been in Iowa two years now, and he saw his ERA drop more than a full run in '08 from 5.58 to 4.29. He's got good control but when not cutting Life Goes On promos, he'd be the poster boy for Meh-diocre.
Matt Smith - LHRP, 29-year-old until June 15, it's tough to tell if I've got the right Smith. But I'm assuming the Cubs have invited the Matt Smith of OSU who has spent parts of 2 seasons pitching in the majors. As an ML pitcher, Smith has a 2.55 ERA in 24.2 innings of work, although he's got one particularly scary line - 24 innings, 23 walks, 22 strikeouts. As a minor leaguer, his numbers have never been so bad - he walked 3.6 per 9 innings compared to his 8.4 totals in the Majors - but it seems unlikely that he'll be the solution to the Cubs lefty conundrum.
Mike Stanton - LHRP, 41-year-old until June 2nd. Hey, speaking of lefty ex Yankees, Old Man Stanton is trying to get back in the game after pitching nowhere in 2008. Dude's been pitching since back in the time when I still thought farts were funny* but his last season in '07 was about as ugly as a Chicago stripper in the sobering light of day. But hey, you never know. He could be the next Terry Mulholland, assuming that Mo is finally done being The Next Terry Mulholland.
(*okay, okay, I still think farts are funny)
Jason Waddell - LHRP, 27-year-old until June 11. Waddle has never thrown in the majors before, but his minor league numbers are actually pretty respectable. In 396.2 innings of work, his ERA is 3.63 with 376 strikeouts to 144 walks. Waddell's never pitched above AA before though, and what will likely happen is that he starts the year off in Iowa and becomes a fallback when Sean Marshall gets emergency-rushed to the rotation or Neal Cotts pitches like the non-stud that we all know he is.
Bill White - LHRP, 30-years-old. White's career totals at the ML level: 13.1 IP, 15 H, 18 BB, 10 SO, 14 ER. The only thing I don't understand is how a guy who allowed 33 players on base in just over 13 innings was able to hold them to only 14 scores. Seems to me that a player with that kind of testicular fortitude would be valuable to have on the team. Wait, I'm not taking into account the inherited runners he let score? Oh. Right.
Esmailin Caridad - RHSP, 25-years-old. Good ol' Battin' Practice Caridad is the first legitimate Cubs prospect to make the list of non-roster invites. He's got amazing control and efficiency, and in 152.2 career innings of work Esmailin is 13-7 with only 88 SO's to 39 BB's. He also did this while pitching in AA ball in the first year he was a part of the Cubs system after having been signed as a free agent after pitching in Japan. I'm thinking he won't be breaking camp with the Big Team, but I'm pegging him as a potential '09 Surprise.
Andrew Cashner - RHSP, 22-years-old. #4 on our Top Prospects list, Cashner's got about as much a chance of making the team as I do this Spring. But he will be getting some much needed experience hopefully against the bench players and scrubs, since he's just as likely to blast a heater into a guy's ear as he is to strike a guy out.
Chad Fox - RHRP, 38-years-old. Jeebus, man, hang it up already! I actually have it on very good sources that a high-up member of the Cubs front office caught Fox banging his wife, and ever since the Cubs have been trying to seek revenge by making Fox's arm explode on national tv during a baseball game. Either that, or they feel guilty for the way Dusty Baker wrecked the guy's career and keep throwing him bones. Either way, I think boner time should be over for Chad Fox. ...er, bone time, I mean. Moving on.
Ken Kadokura - RHRP, 35 until July 29. Kadokura is another Japanese player that the Cubs appear hell-bent on bringing to the team to give Fukudome the company and companionship he needs. (Hmm, Brokebat Mountain, anybody?) He's 3 seasons away from his most recent successful year, and while the image of Crouching Kosuke Hidden Kadokura - robed figures running across Wrigley Field's wires while kicking the crap out of each other - is an enticing one, I don't think it should be the basis of awarding somebody a roster spot.
Rocky Roquet - RHRP, 26-years-old. If this guy ever makes it on the roster, then he should demand that they put his full name on the back of his jersey - and if that happened, then he alone would be the reason I'd support jerseys with names on them. Roquet, while not fighting villainy as a masked super hero, has one thing working against him - he's a career reliever, in the minors. Minor league relievers rarely get the chance to be major league ones, which is too bad for a guy who can throw 97 MPH, buckle knees with a slider, and has the coolest name ever.
Seriously. We gotta interview that guy. God as my witness, I'll make it happen.
And unfortunately, that's where I'll have to leave it for today. Tomorrow, I'll write about all the hitter invites.