Chicago Cubs management and coaches met yesterday evening to discuss the final roster decision, but, as noted yesterday morning, we might learn about those decisions immediately (and we didn’t, because we’re still waiting to hear – if the Cubs want to make some trades after making their internal roster decisions, you can understand why we’re still waiting to hear the details). Chris Volstad and Jeff Samardzija are expected to get the last two rotation spots, and Blake DeWitt and Joe Mather are expected to get the last two bench spots. The back-up catcher (Steve Clevenger or Welington Castillo) is still up in the air, as are the last few bullpen spots. We should know more soon – as early as today.

  • Speaking of those roster decisions, Randy Wells – who could be the odd man out of the rotation, despite two and a half successful years as a starter coming into this year – was supposed to pitch out of the bullpen yesterday, but instead was bumped into a starting gig on Sunday. What can we make of that? Well, it could be that he’s being stretched out a bit to be a long reliever, rather than a one-inning type guy. I suppose it’s theoretically possible that we’re all wrong, and Wells is actually going to grab a rotation spot, but I doubt that. The other possibility? He’s being showcased as a starter, rather than a reliever, in case teams want to make a final offer for him in trade.
  • On his very successful start yesterday, Jeff Samardzija says he focused much more after coming off a (crappy) start against the Rockies in which he kind of felt like he was on cruise control. “The last start, I was cruising through the whole spring and feeling great and I think that got to my head a little bit,” Samardzija said. “I was throwing instead of really making good pitches. Today, I slowed myself down and stepped off a couple times and took a deep breath and threw the pitch that me and [catcher Geovany Soto] felt was the best pitch.”
  • The new front office is standing behind Darwin Barney as the team’s starting second baseman, at least in conversations with Barney, himself. “They’ve instilled confidence in me,’’ Barney said of early conversations with the new men in charge. “They let me know that they believe that I can do what I believe I can do.’’ Barney added something he appreciates about the new guys: “The good thing that’s different about this year is they are up front with you, and you know you’re going to get honesty,’’ he said, “and as a player that means a lot, whether you like what you’re hearing or not. All I can really say is the communication’s been there with everybody. It’s been there from Day 1. And that’s the most important thing.’’
  • Dale Sveum is trying not to sound worried about David DeJesus’s poor Spring (.286 OBP). “Obviously his numbers aren’t eye-popping by any means,” Sveum said. “It’s just a case of a veteran coming to camp and trying to do too much, maybe a little passive-aggressive instead of [thinking]: ‘You’ve had a lot of success before. Just go out and do it and not worry about where you’re hitting in the order.’ ” I still think he starts the year as the leadoff hitter (against righties), but maybe it won’t last if he slumps for most of April. For his part, DeJesus is working hard, and putting in extra time with hitting coach, Rudy Jaramillo.
  • The Cubs released 21-year-old pitching prospect Cam Greathouse, who was the team’s 8th round pick in 2010. Greathouse can strike guys out, but he had hellaciously bad control last year. We probably will never know if that was the only issue that led to his release, but it’s possible the Cubs felt like they couldn’t spare the pitching spot at the lower levels of the minors right now.
  • CSN’s Patrick Mooney wrote a great piece on the social media revolution in historically slow-to-adapt MLB.
  • Stat guru Tom Tango (tangotiger) is putting together his crowd-sourced playing time projections, which are used in his Marcel projections. In other words, you can play a small role in a relatively important advanced statistical projection model. Here’s where you do it.
  • Fluff on Welington Castillo, who for a long time resisted becoming a catcher.
  • MasterCard is running a promotion where you can pledge your support to the Cubs (by way of pledging to do something), and you can win prizes. I pledged to shave my head (in honor of a certain new bald member of the Cubs’ organization) if the Cubs sweep the Cardinals in April (six games). Pretty unlikely to happen, but I do love my hair. So there’s risk. Anyway, here’s my tweet on the thing, and you can follow the link if you want to make a pledge of your own.
  • Have you picked up a piece of Bleacher Nation apparel yet? You should. It’s swell.
  • Fishin Phil

    Every time a player opens his mouth, the old regime looks worse and worse.

    • TonyP

      That was exactly my thoughts reading the Barney Bullet.

      • Ivy Walls

        How much WAR is the new regime worth in its approach vs last year or the last couple? Think about it, Cubs go over 81 wins and how much loyalty and fan/press/political support will they have with this city against the expectations and stated path of the club?

    • gratefulled

      And that is pretty hard to do.

      I stand behind Barney too. I think he’s gonna have a great season in the field and at the plate.

      Can we get a countdown to the first pitch of the season? Is there a way to make that happen?

  • Tank

    Does anybody find it kinda comical that the Red Sox Chris Carpenter now has to under go surgery to remove a bone spur in his pitching elbow? Feel bad for the guy as I never want to see anybody get hurt but the front office has to have had a chuckle about this

    • Wilbur

      I had the exact same feelings …

    • Brett

      I doubt they find it all that funny – I’m writing a long article on it now.

    • berselius

      I just hope that this doesn’t reopen the endless compensation nightmare.

      • Brett

        Very, very, very ditto.

        • Bric

          Bret and co. does anybody know the answer to this… I’ve always wondered what type of paper work is involved in trades. Many appear to be verbal commitments made at the last minute by phone or text but there’s gotta physical paperwork involved. The question is, do clauses against injury, retirement, conduct, etc. exist which could void this trade?

          It seems that when an injury could void the trade it’s usually specified that the trade only goes through after being cleared by a doctor. I don’t remember hearing this was the case for Carpenter.

          Just wondering because the Bears are facing a similar situation with Brandon marshall right now.

          • Brett

            I don’t know the answer, and could only speculate intelligently – there is almost certainly a written agreement with the specific terms of each trade, and then there are probably boilerplate terms attached to each deal. In the specific part, you could theoretically include anything you wanted, including clauses to protect yourself (assuming they weren’t in conflict with MLB rules or the CBA). As for the boilerplate part, I’m guessing that failing a physical making a deal voidable at the discretion of the receiving team is probably pretty standard.

            • Bric

              That’s what I’d think too which means the Cubs couldn’t possibly be help responsible for an injury that wasn’t detected at the time of the trade. But with Bud as commissioner the lesson learned is get everything in writing.

              Side note: I’d love to see Dr. James Andrews office. Can you imagine all the pictures on the walls of guys he’s operated on? He must be a trillionaire.

      • RoughRiider

        My thoughts are that with the surgery Carpenter becomes the player the Cubs and Sox hoped he would be and the Sox fans will be a lot happier wuth the compensation.

        • hansman1982

          agree, while you certainly hope you never trade Albert Pujols without getting something good back, you always hate seeing the prospects you trade not having success. Makes your other prospects look bad in trade talks.

    • hansman1982

      I was browsing Twitter last night and some other message boards and right now Theo has W. Syndrome – he is simultaneously the worlds smartest man (knowing that Carp needed surgery and convinced current Sox brass to take him) and the world’s dumbest man (bloated contracts, a terrible stretch of non-playoff appearances with only 179 wins in 2 years).

      Seriously, Red Sox Nation is imploding right now.

  • Kyle

    Watching Cespedes crush balls for someone else makes me sad :(

    • Brett

      Does me saying “sample size” make you feel any better?

      • hansman1982

        What, like we have another foreign import to caution us about an early season homer? *cough*Fukudome*cough*

      • Kyle

        A little.

    • OlderStyle

      in the spirit of consistency, ST means absolutely nothing.

  • Cheryl

    Theo and Company have done well in keeping the players informed according to several players. This will pay dividends in the future,It raises my opinion of the quality of the FO management style.

  • Cedlandrum

    The Cam Greathouse release is a head scratcher from all angles. I know that Az Phil had said he hadn’t reported to camp, which in itself is strange. He is a big lefty. 6’2- 230. Oh well.

    • Brett

      Yeah, I try not to speculate, but you wonder if there’s more to the story, you know?

      • Cedlandrum

        Well I respect you not speculating. But I will. There has to be something up. Wonder if last year got into his head with his wildness. But I guess if that were the case he could always retire.

  • OlderStyle

    DeJesus is “passive-aggressive”? What, is he pretending he can’t find his glove when it’s time to go in the field and striking out on purpose?

  • JR

    Samardzija admitting he developed a big head after only a few Spring training games of a few innings each is not comforting. It is even more of an indication that he has the mentality of a reliever and possibly of a dominant closer. Of course that too has yet to be seen; he’s pitched well in relief for exactly half a season. But his past performance and mentality suggest he could be successful in that role. As to starting, I can only hope that the front office met with Sveum yesterday and asked him to articulate the reasons for his infatuation with Samardzija with actual facts rather than gut feelings about his potential. No question he pitched lights out yesterday but that was one Spring training game and is hardly the basis to hand him a rotation spot, particularly when compared to Wells’ body of work. And let’s not forget his last outing. I tend to think that those two games are suggestive of the roller coaster we’d probably see with him over the course of a season — dominant one day, getting crushed the next start with the team out of the game early and draining the bullpen.

    Brett, I appreciate your comments a week or so ago to the effect that hopefully the front office knows more than we do and will be making decisions based on that. I certainly agree they are entitled to the benefit of the doubt, but it seems to me they should be able to articulate the basis of their decision even if it’s to say they have some advanced mathematical model that indicates Samardzija will be successful as a starter (notwithstanding his historical failures) and Wells a failure (notwithstanding his historical (relative) success). If they can’t articulate their reasons, or use nebulous generalizations like “potential to be a dominant starter” — it starts to look a lot like following their gut notwithstanding historical evidence to the contrary. But we’ll see, I’m hopeful that stretching Wells out means he’s still in contention to start. I really don’t want to see him — or any potential starter — traded or I’m really going to start to get bad feelings of deja vu from last year, when the old regime made an ill advised attempt to convert a reliever (Cashner) into a starter and traded away Gorzellany.

    • Brett

      You have to figure, too, that they’re thinking 2012 is probably going to suck, and, even if Samardzija is unlikely to break out as a starter, his upside is higher than Wells’, so why not try? Add to that the fact that, right now, Wells has trade value and Samardzija probably doesn’t have much, and you can see why they’d go with this setup, even if they felt like Wells was more likely to be a better starter in 2012.

      • ty

        The birth of Jeff S. yesterday as a inning filler starter-hopefully. After 3 yrs of Greg Maddux and Mark Riggins working hours in the early mornings on the Fitch Field mounds instructing him to forget the mana-mana rhythmn of pitching–He gets it. A really well behaved young man whom I have come to know and the Cubs are about to reap the rewards of patience.

  • Eric S

    Brett would you say that the BN apparel is the cat’s pajamas? I think Matt Garza would think so.

    • Brett

      It certainly is.

  • terencem

    I think it’s kind of funny that Cubs’ management seems to have more confidence in their position players based on past performance vs. Spring Training results than in the pitching staff. If you looked at past performance, wouldn’t Wells be the obvious choice to be in the opening day rotation?

    I’m glad they are showing faith in DeJesus, since this should just be a bump in the road for him. I have the feeling Cardenas has more upside as a hitter than Barney but I don’t know if he has the glove to fully compensate.

  • louslew

    How can we possibly be surprised that a Notre Dame alum comes up with a case of the big head?

    • Spencer

      he was arrogant in HS too.

      • Packman711

        Its very hard to root for him, for so many different reasons.

  • ReiCow

    I enjoy wearing my BN shirt around, as I live in Rhode Island and everyone initially thinks it is a Red Sox site. I love the looks of disgust / angst when I tell them it is actually a Cub site.


    • Brett

      Ha. Boing.

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