With the rotation packed and the starting lineup set, the Chicago Cubs have little to do in the way of tinkering with their roster before Opening Day – but tinker they still might.

The Cubs will probably go with 12 pitchers, as has been their norm now for a few years, which leaves five spots on the bench: Jeff Baker, Kosuke Fukudome/Tyler Colvin, Koyie Hill/Welington Castillo, and another infielder and outfielder. If the season started today, the infielder spot would probably go to Darwin Barney and the outfielder spot would go to one of Fernando Perez or Reed Johnson.

Barney showed last year that he can be an effective 25th man, backing up every infield position other than 1st base. But if a solid veteran slips through the cracks – such as Orlando Cabrera, as suggested by Bruce Levine – the Cubs may have to pull the trigger. Cabrera, 36, became a free agent when the Reds declined his $4 million option for 2011 after a modest .263/.303./354 2010 campaign. Still, he plays solid defense, is versatile, and can string together enough offense to make some team’s 25-man roster.

  • Raymond Robert Koenig

    I like this idea.

  • CubsFanatic

    If they are ganna do this, why didn’t they go for Orlando Hudson?

    • thunderMuscle

      Because it’s not going to happen. This is just Bruce Levine bringing up his own ideas in a chat.

    • Jeff

      He never said they were specifically looking at Cabrera, just guys who might slip through the cracks. I also don’t know why anyone would favor Hudson so much, his numbers, while slightly better than Cabrera, are no better that what the Cubs should get out of Baker/DeWitt. Add to that he signed a 2 year deal with a 3rd year option of 8 million, no way in hell the Cubs should even consider giving a multi-year deal to a well past his prime middle infielder. If Hudson would have come on a one year deal for 2 or 3 million, like Cabrera is likely to find, then I’d welcome him, but to think he is that much better than what is out there and the Cubs should have spent 6 million per season and a multi-year deal on him, is absurd.

  • Philoe Beddoe

    12 Pitchers!…this is one of the things I think that has ruined baseball….when I was a kid..teams carried 9 or 10 pitchers…..this is radical and would never get passed…but how about a limit on 10 pitchers on the active roster?….it would speed up games by eliminating all of the specialty moves(curse you Tony LaRussa!), increase offense…you could actually have competent back-ups at each position….I know, I know people would say it would increase injuries…then fine, keep your stupid 12 pitchers and up the rosters a couple to give more back-ups….so you can pinch hit for your awful second catcher(i.e.Koyie Hill) because you have a worse 3rd one you can bring in…if that’s possible..or you can pinch run and do things that teams used to do when one guy wasn’t the back-up at 3 different positions…

    • art

      agree. go with 11, leave your pitchers in a little longer besides automatically pulling them in the 7th, saving the 7th inning guy to help in the eight, 9th, or extra inning games. let a Dempster, Z, or Garza finish a game now and then. hell they get paid enough to go nine not 6. get the whole organization to let the kids go longer. learn to manage not be a robot.

    • Raymond Robert Koenig

      9 or 10 pitchers is enough. 4 starters and 1 swing man. 1 closer and 2 RH and 2 LH in the bullpen.

  • KB

    Cabrera’s line last year: .263/.303./354
    That’s worse than “modest.” That’s the kind of line that you don’t pay one PENNY over the major-league minimum for.

    And, is there a soul on earth (besides JH and Levine) who think that bad line is going to improve on a player in his late 30’s?

    If Cabrera is willing to play for the minimum, if he’s the type who perfectly willing and cheerful about sitting the bench most of the year, if Barney’s defense is so atrocious that he can’t be trusted as our utility infielder…then yeah, go for it.

    • Jeff

      I don’t really think the Cubs should pursue Cabrera, but he has an interesting track record. 04 WS with Boston, 05 and 07 division champ with the Angels, 08 and 09 AL central champ with Sox and Twins, and last year NL central champ with Cincy. Does he have the magic touch? Is he the second coming of the Jason Marquis good luck charm?

    • wax_eagle

      Just looking at WAR, Cabrara was only worth .4 WAR last year, whereas Dewitt was worth about 1.1 and Baker was worth about 1. Its not fair to combine the two, but even assuming each played half the season at the same production then we would have about 1 WAR in contract to Cabrera proving about half a WAR if his production is similar. And to be honest Hudson isn’t much of an upgrade over the current platoon, he only produced 2 WAR last year. I think we can get about 2 WAR combined out of Baker and Dewitt. We might as well see what we have in Barney and not sign a veteran to come in and take up space without producing.

    • Ace

      I think paying near minimum is the idea.

  • John

    The position players will be:
    1 Soto
    2 Pena
    3 Dewitt
    4 Baker
    5 Castro
    6 Ramirez
    7 Soriano
    8. Byrd
    9. Colvin
    10. Fukudome Unless he traded
    11. Hill should be castillo but wont
    12. I’ll go with reed as the fifth outfielder
    and 13. Barney

  • http://None Blinda

    Make Cabrera the Omar Vizquel of the Cubs? I like it. I think he could be a great mentor to Starlin and Barney and still put up productive numbers.

  • jim

    where’s brooks kieschnik when yu need him?