Today the Cubs made a number of roster moves, getting close to finalizing the 25-man roster.

Of course, we’ve already noted the most controversial part of today’s cuts: Randy Wells is being sent to AAA Iowa. After some time to digest the move, assuming Wells is able to “get over it,” it’s really a nice option for the Cubs to take. Wells remains stretched out, starting every fifth day, and is available to fill in immediately if the Cubs have an injury or make a trade. And, for all we know, he wasn’t looking great to management as a starter right now, and they don’t believe he’d transition well to the bullpen. On the downside (again, setting aside Wells’ psyche), it’s hard to argue that Wells’ trade value isn’t impacted. He won’t be facing big league competition, and other teams see a guy who “wasn’t even good enough to make the Cubs’ bullpen.” All in all, it’s fine. Things will play out how they’ll play out. And the men pulling the strings know far more than I do about the permutational implications of their decisions.

From there, you also already know about Welington Castillo heading down to AAA Iowa. He’ll be the starting catcher there, which isn’t necessarily a “demotion,” given that he’ll play every day, rather than sit most days.

Today the Cubs also officially cut Travis Wood, whose departure for Iowa has been assumed for quite some time now. He’ll start there, and try and get himself back into a rhythm. The Cubs still believe he’s a future part of the rotation.

The Cubs also sent Casey Coleman to Iowa, which was a modest surprise (in light of Wells not being placed in the bullpen, that is). He’ll presumably remain a starter, but I’d still like to see what he could do as a one-inning reliever. Scott Maine also heads down, which would have been a surprise a week ago, but it’s looked like, for some time, that the Cubs were going to start the year with only James Russell in the bullpen from the left-handed side.

Also cut were outfielder Dave Sappelt, infielders Matt Tolbert and Edgar Gonzalez, reliever Blake Parker, and catcher Blake Lalli. None was a surprise. Sappelt will probably see time in the bigs at some point this year as a reserve outfielder, depending on trades and health in the big league outfield.

Interestingly, Tony Campana remains in camp, despite the Cubs’ acknowledgement that Blake DeWitt and Joe Mather will make the roster. That’s two bench spots there, and Clevenger gets a third, with the other two presumably going to Reed Johnson and Jeff Baker. Why not cut Campana today, unless there’s at least a tiny thought being given either to cutting Johnson or trading Baker (after all, they can keep playing him in big league Spring Training games after they cut him)? There actually could be a reason, but I suppose I just don’t know what it is. Either way, no one presently expects Campana to make the roster out of Spring Training.

At present, the bullpen remains unresolved, with Carlos Marmol, Kerry Wood, James Russell and (probably) Rafael Dolis locked in. Among the guys still fighting for the other three spots: Shawn Camp, Manny Corpas, Frankie De La Cruz, Rodrigo Lopez, and Rule 5 pick Lendy Castillo. Marcos Mateo is still in camp, but he’s been shut down with elbow problems, and will probably soon be transferred to the 60-day DL to open up a 40-man spot.

  • Cooper Rushing

    For now it looks like the Reds bested us in the Marshall for Wood trade, though only time will tell. Haven’t seen much that says Wood will be successful in the bigs.

    • Eric

      You can’t look at trades as “time will tell”. Hindsight is always 20/20. The question is whether or not the present value of the player-you-are-trading’s perceived future performances outweighs that of what you receive.

      You aren’t attempting to buy lotto tickets. You want to either rearrange the duration of your assets (get younger) or the type of assets (which position you currently have value at). Given your current distribution of talent, does this trade make sense at this time.

      • Cooper Rushing

        You’re response didn’t really say anything to be honest since I personally didn’t make the trade. I just thought we could have gotten more for what some say is one of the best LHRP’s in the game. Sure Wood will be around when our team is ready to compete where Marshall would have been less useful but that doesn’t mean Wood is a better answer than a different pitching prospect.

        • Norm

          Well if Travis Wood was the only player the Cubs got back, you may have a point.

        • Eric

          Yeah, Marshall is a great lefty relief pitcher but relief is key. Bullpen arms are cheap. I believe Marshall still has the ability to start if needed, but I doubt many outside the Cubs perceive him that way. Edwin’s response on Wood is pretty well thought out.

      • BeyondFukudome

        Yea, Brock for Broglio was a great trade! Hindsight be damned!

      • BeyondFukudome

        “The present value of the player-you-are-trading’s perceived future performances” sounds to me like a five-dollar way of saying “time will tell.”

        • Eric

          perceived as in projected.

          • BeyondFukudome

            Perceived as in projected as in trying to predict the future as in time will tell.

            I have no problem with the notion that a GM’s performance in a trade should be evaluated in terms of the knowledge available to the GM at the time of the trade. But that doesn’t change the fact that what GMs are trying to do with that present knowledge is, in a sense, to use it to pick a winning lottery ticket.

            • Eric

              Maybe think of it this way. If Garza goes on to win 5 Cy Youngs, I’m not going to call Hendry a genius. He gave up more than market value for the pitcher at the time he was acquired.

              That said, I don’t think you and I are as far from seeing eye-to-eye as it first appeared. I still stand by that acquiring players via trade isn’t “lotto tickets”, it’s about relocating talent. Every club has done too much homework to “pull one over on them”.

      • http://bleachernation loyal100more

        how about the fact that his contract expires at the end of the year… and hes gonna want more than this club is gonna want to pay a bullpen guy even if he is a stud… all in all we dodged a bullet and picked up two potential pieces for the future. now weather or not those guys help us in the future it was still a good move for the club moving forward to get some kind of return on a player they had no intention of extending or resigning given his value on the free agent market. getting younger and cheaper is the mantra of a rebuilding team… as well as turning short term assets into long term ones… we did all those things in this trade no matter how it looks on the field right at this moment.

    • Edwin

      We’ve seen some though. In 2009 Wood had an ERA of 1.21 and FIP of 2.75 in 119 innings of AA. In 2010 he had an ERA of 2.97 and FIP of 3.23 in AAA in 100 innings, as well as an ERA of 3.51 and FIP of 3.42 in 102 innings of MLB. In 2011 he took a step back with an ERA of 4.84 and FIP of 4.06 in 106 MLB innings.

      Most projections for 2012 have him anywhere from an ERA of 3.75-4.50. He has more upside than either Samardzija or Volstad. He’s been a better pitcher through this point of his career than those 2 have ever been. Better minor leauge history, better major league history. I’m far more excited about Wood than the other two. I think he deserved a starting rotation spot, but I’m fine with him starting in Iowa just to take a little more time to figure things out. Other than Wells he is one of my first choices to be called up.

  • FromFenwayPahk

    Brett hits the nail on the head with Wells’ “available to fill in immediately if the Cubs have an injury.” The team is going to carry more than 5 starters. They just can’t all be on the roster on at the same time.
    Also, still trying to decide if I love or hate the phrase “permutational implications” I can’t decide. I am suffering from analysis paralysis.

    • BeyondFukudome

      Somebody please call the vocabulary constabulary…

    • bluekoolaidaholic

      I intend to consider it dis-interestedly.

    • Brett

      It’s magnificent.

  • Noah

    Maybe while the coaching staff loves Mather, the front office isn’t so sure and wants to see if the magic wears off in the next week.

    • MaxM1908

      Wasn’t it the front office who signed Mather in the first place? Maybe it’s the other way around. But regardless, I still don’t see how dedicating a bench spot to a pinch runner is better than designating a spot for a jack of all positions.

  • BD

    In regards to Campana, maybe they are thinking about only carrying 11 pitchers.

    Also, I still don’t understand why you would only have 1 lefty out of 7 relievers.

    • Spencer

      11 pitchers would be nuts. Agreed another lefty would be nice. I guess they don’t want to keep someone just for the sake of keeping him.

      • Ivy Walls


        Forget it, thanks, I thinks Cubs are have a trade in the works with Byrd

        • Spencer

          did you just suggest starting garza on a day’s rest?

  • Spencer

    I would be really surprised if Castillo didn’t at least make the team to start the season. He might not stay all season, but try him out on the 25 man.

  • Justin

    Yeah the 11 pitchers thing was my first thought. 11 pitchers was standard in the NL for many years, but the recent trend has gone more towards 12 pitchers. Perhaps they are waiting to see if a Byrd trade comes to fruition and don’t want to option Campana unless necessary.

    • Eric

      A Baker trade might make sense as well.

  • Eric

    “He’ll be he starting catcher there, which isn’t necessarily a “demotion,” given that he’ll play every day, rather than sit most days, as well Steve Clevenger”

    Is that a typo?

    • hcs

      My guess its that it’s two typos.

    • Brett

      Usually, it’s a letter here or there out of place, but that … I mean, I have absolutely no idea what I was trying to say. That’s embarrassing.

    • mul21

      He was trying to say this:

      “He’ll be he starting catcher there, which isn’t necessarily a “demotion,” given that he’ll play every day, rather than sit most days, like Steve Clevenger will”

      • Wilbur

        Agreed, I would interpret this as Castillo is the catcher of the future (post Soto) and needs to play everyday.

  • Steve

    I bet Hoyer, Epstein, and Sveum know the answers to all the above questions.

  • ferrets_bueller

    Hmmm…11 pitchers, or a campana demotion, or a byrd/baker/dewitt trade, or a johnson cut? Personally, I’d say they’re at even odds.

  • Puma0821

    Any word on Amezaga?

    • Brett

      Still in camp, like Campana, but don’t see the spot for him unless “something happens.”

  • Eric

    I wonder if there is any chance of them working out a deal with Philly and sending Castillo down.

    • Brett

      Always a chance.

      • kubphan82

        Like we send Castillo down but get to keep Castillo and they get Baker? Is that the thought process on that?

  • Puma0821

    So aside from the locked in guys we have, Camp, Corpas, Lopez, Castillo, Campana and Amezaga still in camp and esentially fighting for the las 3 spots.

    I didn’t include Mateo (due to injury) or De La Cruz (John Arguello reports he’s been waived).

    Am I missing anyone else?

    • Brett

      That’s my count.

      • Ivy Walls

        Thinking through this mystery, I think Byrd is in the process of being traded with Campana replacing his spot and then the decision between Amezaga and Camp or Corpas, where the Cubs see if Lopez is willing to go to AAA.

  • terencem

    Brett, have the lawyers for the RIAA contacted you to take down that picture yet?

  • Patrick

    11 pitchers is not *necessarily* out of the question. If Rodrigo Lopez is in your bullpen, he could start twice in the first 30day days. They could also use Maholm in that bullpen/starter roll. Maybe that’s why he was named 5 before 3/4 were named?

    • hansman1982

      If you have a true long-reliever such as Lopez, I really don’t see why you couldn’t go with 11 pitchers, granted you really should have a rotation that looks more like the Phillies than the Cubs before you try this.

  • Bails17

    Why would you say Wood has more “upside” than Volstead or Samardzija? He doesn’t project to be a top of the rotation type of guy with his STUFF. If either of the other two get it together…they will be top three type rotation guys with their velo. Just sayin.

    • Cooper Rushing

      Not sure I’d say any of them will become an ace in our rotation I don’t necessarily think that Wood has more upside than either Samardzija or Volstad. “Edwin” is just a Travis Wood believer, that’s all, and that’s fine. I hope all three succeed.

  • Tim

    Why don’t the cubs consider FA lhp mike Gonzalez

  • mark

    It’s easy enough to see why management really likes Mather–beyond the fact that he’s hitting so well right now and offers RH power, which is in short supply on the team. He plays all OF positions plus 3B and 1B. That covers everything Baker and DeWitt play, except 2B. Campana and Johnson play only OF. Mather gives them tremendous flexibility, and my guess is the Cubs may be looking for ways to leverage that in completing their roster. Does that flexibility give them the luxury of a defensive sub/designated runner? Will it allow them to swing a deal for some other part–using Baker or DeWitt or Johnson? Or some of their pitching depth tossed in? The roster moves today seem to send the message to other orgs that the Cubs are not going to be stampeded, but are in a position to deal.

    It’s clear that Epstein/Hoyer/Sveum are serious about competing ASAP, at the same time they’re committed to a salvage operation/restocking of both the MLB and Minor leagues rosters. They’ve taken some gambles. Some have come to nothing, but some key ones are looking like working out. They’re surely on the phones 24/7 trying to leverage all the pieces they collected over the last three months into a restructuring of the organization.

    These guys seem to know what they’re doing.

  • MichaelD

    “(after all, they can keep playing him in big league Spring Training games after they cut him)? There actually could be a reason, but I suppose I just don’t know what it is.”

    If they cut him now and then recall him because of a trade, wouldn’t they have burned an option year? The money involved keeping him with the major league team for an additional week might be negligible relative to keeping the option year. However, Campana still has three options yet, so maybe they should not worry too much about the options.

    • Brett

      If you’re on the 40-man, and in the minors for at least 20 days, you’ve used an option year. So, yes.

      • MichaelD

        Ah yes. I forgot it had to be 20 days for the option to kick in.

        I guess the general point is that there are a lot of roster rules that might affect these decisions.

  • die hard

    I dont see where team speed has improved especially if Campana released or traded….and without five 25 HR guys, wheres runs coming from?..Pitchers will have to pitch more shutouts and thats not likely…losing lots of one run games 5-4 and 6-5 in the offing, I guess

  • ty

    die–you know ball–no power-we had better run and sacrifice this year. Thank goodness Dale is a National League guy as long as he forgets the Fielder years.

    • DocWimsey

      Theo adheres to the idea that sacrifices cost more runs than they create in the long run. So, do not expect to see a lot of that. (I remember Tito once explaining that he called for a rare SF bunt by the Sox to avoid running up the score of a blowout! :cool:)

      That being written, I have no idea if he’ll go for run-and-hit. That can be dangerous: caught stealings are common if the batter misses and caught stealings are another big no-no in Weaverball. I’ve never seen anybody try to break down how successful those tend to be and how frequently you have to succeed in order to create runs. Given the subjective nature of the events, those data might be hard to obtain.

      • terencem

        Here’s a long article on the Hit-and-Run from BP.

        Here’s the round-up:

        The hit-and-run is far from the worst play in baseball. For a small-ball tactic, it has been quite successful over the past nine seasons, increasing scoring by .06 runs per attempt on average. The value of the hole in the infield defense is real, adding about 27 points to the batting average of the hitter. The double plays avoided by executing the hit-and-run offset the runners caught stealing on the play, and the extra bases gained by the runner when the ball is put in play are enough to move the play into the plus column overall.

        However, there are some situations where the hit-and-run attempt made less sense and was a barely positive or even a net negative play—with the fourth and fifth hitters in the lineup up, with one out, or in the popular ball-strike count of 2-1. [2-1 is when Weaver advised using the hit-and-run.]

  • CHIyanks

    Have to admire fan analysis and armchair GM’s for a 70 win team, maybe

    At least the Boston/Chicago team can sign more Cubans

    • Brett

      It’s what we do.

  • Evolution

    Shouldn’t this cut have been “the most controversialest”?

    Can we not stick to ONE friggin’ alliterative theme in this godforsaken joint?!



    • Brett

      Yeah, you’re right. But it wouldn’t be “most controversialiest,” it would just be “controversialiest.” I screwed the pooch.

      • Dave

        I’m calling PETA, perv.

        • Katie

          First cats now dogs. What’s next? Donkeys? Gerbils?

      • Evolution

        As everyone can see…my purpose on this earth remains completely ornamental.

  • Ryan

    So should we expect the Cubs to make a trade before the season stars?

    • Brett

      They’re rare, but it could happen.

      • Dave

        The Clement/Alfonseca deal happened right at the end of Spring Training, a few days before teams broke camp.

        • Brett

          Yes. I know…?

  • Teeter

    Brett-You are trulely the ultimatate asshole!

    • MichiganGoat

      And you are the world’s best speller 😉

    • Brett

      Thanks for reading!