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The Chicago Cubs will be making a final decision on who will be making the team very soon, but before they can do so, they’ve got to decide which mix of players they want on the bench. With Lou Piniella having confirmed that the team will go with seven pitchers in the bullpen, there are five spots on the bench. Three spots are taken: back-up catcher Koyie Hill, reserve outfielder Xavier Nady, and reserve Jeff Baker (though he’s done nothing this Spring to earn it).

That leaves just two spots.

As for the bench, that’s still to be decided. Andres Blanco has been out with an injury, which hasn’t helped his chances. “I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen there,” Piniella said.

They’d like to keep an outfielder who can play all three spots, especially because Xavier Nady is limited. And they like both Chad Tracy and Kevin Millar.

“There’s a lot to say about a veteran’s contribution and leadership from your bench players,” Piniella said. “There’s some nice subtle important decisions to make here over the next four, five days.” Muskat Ramblings.

Some thoughts:

– The Cubs could place Xavier Nady on the 15-day DL to start the season (he can’t play the field anyway), which would buy them some more time and an extra spot to make the bench decision.

– If the Cubs go with both Tracy and Millar, they will have some really unfortunate backup situations in two of the most important defensive spots – shortstop (Mike Fontenot) and center field (Kosuke Fukudome). Those backup situations would be doubly troublesome given that each backup is a starter at another spot.

– I’m sure the Cubs want to carry Sam Fuld or Tyler Colvin, particularly in the early part of the season, but unless Nady is on the DL, doing so will mean that one of Tracy or Millar has to go – for good.

– Andres Blanco is out of options – if he doesn’t make the team, he gets exposed to waivers.

  • ed

    why not cut Baker and keep Blanco, Tracy, Millar and Colvin?

    • Ace

      If the Cubs think Blanco will clear waivers, they’ll still opt to keep Baker, who would definitely be claimed. The Cubs are already on the hook for Baker’s million-ish salary, and he’s shown – though not in Spring – that he can hit Major League pitching.

      And even with all of that, they still can’t keep the four guys you mention. Koyie Hill and Xavier Nady are definitely taking two of the five bench spots. That leaves just three more spots, not four.

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