Early Spring roster predictions
The Tribune published an article yesterday in which the Cubs acknowledged the possibility that they might not be able to keep both Kevin Millar and Chad Tracy on the 25-man-roster. This got me thinking, and although much can happen between now and then, here's the lay of the land (from my sensible-but-not-always-realistic perspective):
Opening Day 25 Man Roster
SP - Zambrano, Dempster, Gorzelanny, Wells, Silva
MR - Marshall, Grabow, Caridad, Gray, Berg
CL - Marmol
Why Silva? It may shock you that some baseball moves are political. Silva belongs in the rotation about as much as you or I do, but his large contract mixed with his poor attitude means that it might be best for him to pitch there and fail. Once Lilly is set to return, Silva can be slotted into the bullpen and the weakest link there can ride off to the Iowan sunset.
Why six relievers? I have long believed that the Cubs are freakin' crazy for insisting on carrying seven arms, and this year's crop of relief pitchers are weaker than anything we've encountered in quite a while. It just doesn't make sense for Lou to go with seven mediocre arms if he can get by with six.
C - Geo Soto, Three Finger Hill
1B - Derrek Lee, Kevin Millar
2B - Mike Fontenot, Jeff Baker
SS - Ryan Theriot
3B - Aramis Ramirez, Chad Tracy
LF - Alfonso Soriano
CF - Marlon Byrd, Sam Fuld
RF - Kosuke Fukudome, Xavier Nady
Why not Hoff? Last year demonstrated clearly that Micah Hoffpauir is not really cut out to hit at the major league level. He had a few good games, a few massive clouts, but if the Cubs are going to carry an extra first baseman/outfielder, it might as well be Millar -- until he proves he's old and busted.
Millar and Tracy? Only until Andres Blanco is healthy enough to play. At some point, the Cubs will need to make a choice about who belongs on their bench. Frankly, if Nady is healthy enough and can cover the ground (he last played center field in 2007), I'd consider dropping Fuld and letting Nady cover center field and right field, while allowing Millar to play a few games in left.
Regardless of whether or not there's room for the two veterans, I hope the Cubs avoid investing too much faith in Micah Hoffpauir, Sam Fuld, Carlos Silva, or any of the assorted bullpen cast-offs. To win they probably will need to be patient enough to allow some of these guys the chance to succeed (or fail), but to win they also need to not hold for too long onto the ghost of hope that they held for these jabrones at the start of the season.
Please feel free to post your disagreements below, I'm sure everybody has an opinion about who belongs on the 25-man-roster, and why.