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While we still have no official word from Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella on the final makeup of the rotation and the bench (much less the bullpen), we do have a pretty good idea of how things are trending at this point. Paul Sullivan has offered his thoughts:

Carlos Silva and Tom Gorzelanny appear to have locked up starting spots, meaning Jeff Samardzija and Sean Marshall will be in the bullpen.

The biggest dilemma the Cubs have is how to keep both Chad Tracy and Kevin Millar on the roster.

Ramirez’s lingering injury proves again how important it is to have a capable backup at third.

Tracy will be playing third today, and may be a lock because of Ramirez’s sore arm. Millar is hitting .300 and has been one of the so-called “chemistry guys” that Hendry feels is important to the clubhouse.

His problem is there is no dire need for a backup first baseman/pinch hitter, while there’s obviously a need for someone who can play third.

Hendry said Millar “brings a lot to the table,” but added he won’t be treated any differently when it comes to the final roster decision.

“It wasn’t just ‘Show up, because we like you,’ ” he said.

The Cubs could keep both if they put Nady on the disabled list, but that’s not currently in their thinking. The Cubs are willing to gamble that Nady’s bat will outweigh his lack of arm strength coming off elbow surgery, and they can use a late-inning defensive replacement early in the season.

That brings us to the final spot: fifth outfielder.

Sam Fuld is hitting .154. Tyler Colvin is hitting .442 and ranks sixth among National League hitters.

Hmmm.

While it looks like a no-brainer, the Cubs don’t want to bring Colvin up if he won’t play any, and they don’t want to have to send him down if he struggles. But they also have no other left-handed pop off the bench, unless they keep Tracy. Chicago Breaking Sports.

I can’t help but wonder if Sean Marshall’s versatility and willingness to do whatever the Cubs ask is actually hurting him in the starting rotation competition. You cannot possibly make a cogent argument that Tom Gorzelanny (3.12 ERA in 8.2 innings with 14 base runners given up) has out-pitched Sean Marshall (2.57 ERA in 7 innings with just 6 base runners given up) this Spring. Marshall has, by far, been the class of the pitchers gunning for the starter spots, and if he doesn’t get one of the spots, then he never really had a chance.

As for the bench, if the Cubs intend to carry a fifth outfielder (and if they aren’t going to DL Nady to start the season, they have to carry a fifth), then it is a certainty that one of Millar and Tracy will have to go. If the Cubs want to carry Andres Blanco, they’ll both have to go.

For my money, I’ll take Tracy’s versatility and upside over Millar’s, um, “intangibles.” And as for Blanco, he’s slick with the glove, but he offers nothing at the plate, and would see almost no action at shortstop with Ryan Theriot permanently ensconced there. That means an entire bench spot would be committed to a back-up second baseman – a position where there are already two players. Blanco, of course, is out of options, so if he doesn’t make the team, he’ll be exposed to waivers.

  • jstraw

    Screw it, expose Blanco. If he’s of no use on the bench now, when will he be? Answer: never.

    • Ace

      You’re probably right.

  • Dingo ate my baby

    Marshall has made it hard for Lou with a good outing today. Depends on goonie’s game tomorrow.

    I just worry about how weak defensively we are. Until Castro comes up, Theriot and Fontenot combo at SS is just shithouse. No range what so ever.

    • Ace

      Some defensive metrics – if you buy into such things – had Theriot as an above average defensive shortstop last year.

      • Dingo

        Tell you the truth Ace, those defense matrix is a load of mathematical bullshit. I prefer my own two eyes to judge a blokes defensive skills. His arm is weak as piss for SS and he has no range at all. Some plays he missed last season that were labeled as ‘base hits’ would have been gathered up comfortably by Blanco for an out.

        Don’t get me wrong, I like Theriot, but he is better at 2B.

  • Gargantua!

    We need more fat guys.

    • jstraw

      Makes it much harder to hit ‘em where they ain’t.

  • Roadrunner9779

    They have it all wrong. I would keep both Millar and Tracy on the team. The 5 subs would be Millar Tracy Baker Hill and Nady. Millar can cover left field and right field when Soriano or Fukudome need a day off. Days Byrd needs a day off move Fukudome to center and play Millar in right. His presence would mean so much more than Fukudome feeling comfortable in right. This isn’t even a tough decision, its a no brainer. Hope Pinella and Hendry don’t screw this up like they always do.

  • Roadrunner9779

    By the way I would have traded Theriot when I had the chance and play Blanco at SS. I used to like Theriot and he was one of my favorite players until he pulled that arbitration crap. He isnt worth 2 million let alone 3.4 million.

    • biggz

      Hell yeah, fuck Theriot! How dare he try to get what he thinks he deserves through a fairly common process administered by the MLB. The nerve!

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