I'm gonna say it again
Even though Jim Hendry did what I consider to be an admirable job in trading a lot of our "spare parts" this off season, the Cubs are still blessed with a few competitions in training camp this spring.
There are 19 guys who I would bet my paycheck that, barring injury, will start the season with us in Houston. Soriano, Fukudome, Bradley, Ramirez, Lee, Zambrano, Dempster, Harden, Lilly, Vizcaino, Gregg, Heilman and Gaudin, based on their contracts alone. Then there are also Theriot, Fontenot, and Miles - this is your middle infield core. The Rookie of the year, Soto, along with Bako, the catchers. Of course, Marmol. None of these guys has to compete for a roster spot.
Now, let's look at what else is going on:
- Marshall and the Shark are competing for the "fifth" starter role.
- Hoffpauir and Jake Fox are competing for the "power hitting backup to Lee" role.
- Gaudin and Heilman are competing for the "ugliest, most disgruntled" reliever role, but I already counted them above. Never mind...
- Cotts and Mike Stanton are competing for the "token bullpen lefty" role.
- Finally, let's hope that Miles and/or Fontenot can show some success in the role of "backup third baseman". Because, otherwise, we're going to be forced to carry someone who can, out of the cesspool of Andres Blanco, Luis Rivas, etc. AND, to make matters worse, this then creates a competition for "fourth outfielder" between GROTA Fave Reed Johnson and Joey Gathright, because assuming Lou is bringing 12 pitchers north, that leaves only 4 outfield positions if the infield is taking up 7.
- As it is, some may say that Johnson and Gathright are already competing for the coveted role of "sometimes center fielder".
I am about to make my point, for those of you patient enough to stay with me so far, however I must make the disclaimer that my assumptions to follow are, as always, "barring injuries" to one of the 19 fortunate sons above. But if worse came to worse, and if one of them were to injure themselves, there is always the short-term fix of the farm system, and a longer-term fix in the mid-season trade market.
But I maintain the following:
- The 2009 Cubs do not need Samardzija AND Marshall;
- The 2009 Cubs do not need Hoffpauir AND Fox;
- The 2009 Cubs, hopefully, do not need another piss-hitting short guy to be a backup infielder. But even if they don't, they don't need Reed Johnson AND Gathright.
- The 2009 Cubs do not need Jeff Stevens OR Josh Vitters...
OH GAWD!! You cry...NOT THIS AGAIN....
Yep. It is lovely to win early spring games, it is entertaining to discuss the chances of Red Sock Schill park his ample ass along the third base bullpen. It is delightful to see the former LSU Tigers beat up on guys who will be parking cars next month. But in my world, this is not a World Championship club we are seeing right now.
However, kids, what we do have today is a club that is close, real close, two fingers held really close together close, only ONE major pickup close. We don't need a 42-year-old fame whore; we don't need a fifth starter; what we need is something we don't have.
And yes, I do understand that there isn't much that can be done until the ownerships for both franchises are set in concrete, but that's ok. All it should take on our end is a few more outings like the one Peavy threw at us yesterday. And all it should take on their end is several more outings where the only runs they score are unearned runs.
I'd toss Marshall-Fox-Gathright-Stevens-Vitters at them for Peavy, and if they wanted either Johnson or Hoffpauir (but not both) instead of Gathright or Fox, I'd give it to them. If they wanted both, I'd take Vitters off the table, so a Marshall-Hoffpauir-Johnson-Stevens for Peavy. This is what we'd have left:
- We'd still have Samardzija for a "sixth" starter to fill in when needed;
- We'd still have a power hitting backup for Lee;
- We'd still have a great-fielding platoon CF with Fukudome;
- Heilman and Gaudin would be full-fledged bullpen members. But for perhaps the first time in their respective careers, they would not have the ability to say "Hey, I am better than X - I should be starting for us", and since that is understood, both can concentrate all of their energies to being the best set-up guys they can be;
- We'd still have the balance and depth Uncle Lou claimed cost us the last two playoffs;
- Oh, yeah. We'd have the best MLB starting rotation of the last 40 years.
Now, THERE's a World Series team!