Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Spring Training Review

As promised, we're going to take a look today at the only thing that counts in Spring Training - the clutch hitting of Derrek Lee.  Wait, that's not right.

No my friends, we're going to look at the competitions.  Presently, the major ones on the Cubs are for the 5th spot in the outfield, the starting gig at second base, and the starting rotation.  Also, the losers of the latter two competitions are probably bound for spots backing up the infield or pitching middle relief, while being forced to carry about the backpack of backup shame.  Anyway, here's how it looks:

Backup Outfielder
Micah Hoffpauir - 12 for 37 (.324 AVG 2 2B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, .891 OPS)

Competing with
Joey Gathright - 6 for 18 (.333 AVG, 0 extra bases .762 OPS)
So Taguchi - 3 for 12 (.250 AVG, 1 3B, .817 OPS)

Dark Horses
Jason Dubois - 2 for 12 (.167 AVG, 0 extra bases, .500 OPS)
Sam Fuld - 3 for 15 (.200 AVG, 1 HR, 1 RBI, .694 OPS)

At this point, based on pure hitting ability it's Hoffpauir's gig to lose.  But if Joey Gathright even stays close, he just might get the nod due to his defensive versatility.  It's pretty easy to suggest that the Hoff's offensive power gives him an edge over his defensive ineptitude, but it's a heck of a lot harder to prove with the power of numbers. 

Meanwhile, So Taguchi joins Jason Dubois and Sam Fuld at the street corner, waiting for the next bus out of town.  These guys just really aren't having an outstanding Spring.

Second Base
Mike Fontenot - 11 for 30 (.367 AVG, 3 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 1.206 OPS

Competing with
Aaron Miles - 6 for 27 (.222 AVG, 0 extra bases, .498 OPS)

Dark Horses
Luis Rivas - 4 for 19 (.211 AVG, 0 extra bases, .461 OPS)
Corey Koskie - No At Bats Yet (WBC, where he's also had no at bats)
Bobby Scales - 5 for 17 (.294 AVG,  1 2B, 4 RBI, .721 OPS)

Fontenot is running away with it at this point.  I only mention Rivas and Koskie because one of those two guys will probably make the team as backups, although Bobby Scales arguably deserves it more at this point.  Scales has to be the true Dark Horse in this competition, but I have a suspicion that his status as Career Minor Leaguer will work against him, even if he continues to hit the ball.

Backup Catcher
Paul Bako - 3 for 15 (.200 AVG, 0 extra bases, .494 OPS)

Dark Horse
Koyie Hill - 5 for 14 (.357 AVG, 2 2B, .938 OPS)

It's the same deal as Koskie/Rivas vs. Scales ... Koyie Hill is hitting the ball very nicely, but he will be hard pressed to take the job from veteran Paul Bako -- not because Bako is better, but because of baseball politics.

Starting Pitcher
Sean Marshall - 9 IP, 1.00 ERA, 5 SO 0 BB

Competing with
Jeff Samardzija - 8 IP, 6.75 ERA, 5 SO, 2 BB
Chad Gaudin - 7 IP, 5.14 ERA, 5 SO, 1 BB
Aaron Heilman - 5 IP, 0.00 ERA, 7 SO, 2 BB

Dark Horse:
Angel Guzman - 4 IP, 9.00 ERA, 2 SO, 1 BB

If opening day was tomorrow, I think Lou would have to pick Heilman even over Marshall as the 5th starter.  The reason is this - apart from Sean, none of the lefty specialists competing for a gig have experienced anything even remotely resembling success.  Samardzija might still also have a shot at the job, but he needs to buckle down and have a few outings where he makes no mistakes. 

Conclusions
Things shockingly appear to be working out the way you'd expect.  Usually there are a few Spring surprises, so far I don't really see any this year.  I think that if anybody surprises us this spring, it'll be Bobby Scales who just might earn his way onto the roster in front of fringe major leaguers Corey Koskie and Luis Rivas.  And speaking of Koskie - have I missed a news story explaining why he hasn't actually played yet?  Somebody please fill me in.

Koskie is toiling for team Canadia

You of all folks should be knowing this

He is, yet when I went to

He is, yet when I went to their stats page I didn't see that he'd recorded so much as a single at bat. Either it's incomplete or something weird is up.

If only there were a website

If only there were a website devoted to position battles for the 2009 Cubs...

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