Not wanting to take the feel good spotlight off of Mike Olt and Ryan Kalish in the “they made the team” post, I’m separately addressing the roster-related implications of today’s news.
First and foremost, Olt and Kalish are getting the last two 25-man roster spots for position players (in case you needed it in black and white, yes, Emilio Bonifacio is making the team). That means outfielder Chris Coghlan and utility man Ryan Roberts are out of luck. The latter was considering retirement before he came to the Cubs, and it doesn’t sound like he’s going to stick with the organization (UPDATE: Roberts has indeed requested, and been granted, his release). Coghlan will likely head to Iowa to await an opening in the big league outfield, or a possible future opt-out (if he feels like he can find a clearer path in another organization).
You’d like to see Roberts stick around at Iowa for depth, but you could also understand why he didn’t want to. Even at Iowa, starts are going to be tough to come by with Villanueva-Baez-Alcantara locking down the non-first-base spots.
Kalish technically takes up the last 40-man spot, but the Cubs will also need one for Bonifacio. He’ll likely take the one vacated by Kyuji Fujikawa when he hits the 60-day DL. Who is exactly getting which spot is largely academic. The point is: the Cubs have the space to add these guys without losing anyone else if they don’t want to.
Although the pitching staff still has a couple spots to sort out (you can lock in Samardzija, Wood, Jackson, Hammel, Villanueva, Veras, Strop, Russell, Wright, and Rondon – questions on Rusin, Grimm, Cabrera), we can now lock in the positional side:
C: Welington Castillo, John Baker
1B: Anthony Rizzo
2B: Darwin Barney (plus UTL)
SS: Starlin Castro
3B: Mike Olt (plus UTL)
UTL: Emilio Bonifacio, Luis Valbuena
OF: Nate Schierholtz, Junior Lake, Ryan Sweeney, Justin Ruggiano, Ryan Kalish
Good balance and decent depth. The lack of a couple big-time bats is what holds you back from saying this is a decent lineup, but they’ve got plenty of guys who could break right, and turn this into an above-average offense. What if Castillo adds some power? What if Rizzo’s BABIP jumps back up? What if Castro reverts to being a .300 hitter? What if Olt goes .250/.350/.475? What if Bonifacio does what he did in 2011? What if Lake puts it all together? What if the mish-mash in the outfield works fantastically in platoons (as their splits say they should)?
Not all of those things will happen in concert. It just doesn’t happen that way. But if some or most do? Technically, conceivably … this could be an average or better offense. I wouldn’t bet on it, but it’s possible. I’m just sayin’.