chicago cubs logoThe Cubs just made a decisive move in the bullpen, designating righty Alberto Cabrera for assignment to make room for previously-cut-from-big-league-camp righty Brian Schlitter on both the 25-man and 40-man rosters.

Cabrera, 25, has been in the Cubs’ system for nearly a decade, and was very good as a starter at AA last year, but struggled out of the pen when he was brought up to AAA. He had a mixed Spring Training out of the pen, at times looking great, and at times getting hit hard. The Cubs apparently decided that they could risk losing him at this point. Given the struggles, it’s possible they won’t lose him at all.

Having been designated for assignment, the Cubs have 10 days to trade, waive, or release Cabrera. Maybe they try to swing a prospect trade involving Cabrera (if I’m remembering my obscure roster rules correctly, Cabrera can be traded and outrighted by the receiving team without having to expose him to waivers), though I wouldn’t expect the return to be much. Cabrera is a fringy guy at this point.

If there’s no trade to be had, the Cubs could, and likely would, waive Cabrera. If he clears waivers – I’d say it’s a 50/50 proposition – the Cubs could outright him off of the 40-man roster, and send him to AAA Iowa. If the Cubs wind up losing Cabrera for nothing, there will be some teeth-gnashing around the interwebz. I’ll be disappointed, because there’s a great potential arm there; but this time of year is lousy with Cabrera-like guys being placed on waivers because of roster crunches and option situations. The Cubs might find some other team’s Cabrera that they like better in the next few days.

As for Schlitter, I actually kinda like this move. Despite most fans not having heard much about Schlitter, 28, he’s actually been quite good for a long time in the Cubs’ system – he just hasn’t been healthy. Shortly after making his big league debut back in 2010 with the Cubs, he was placed on the DL with a shoulder issue. Then he missed all of 2011 with an elbow injury. After returning in 2012, he was pretty great in the minors the last two years, mostly pitching at the back of the bullpen at AA and AAA. He had a K rate near 9 per 9, and his ERA was solidly below 3. He is legitimately worth a look at this point in his career (and he’s got great hair, to boot). Schlitter’s story is just the kind of one you hear all the time about a guy who comes out of nowhere in his late-20s and is a decent middle reliever. He’s not going to change the course of the Cubs’ future or anything, but he could be a nice bullpen piece this year in the early going, and maybe for longer than that.

On the balance, Cabrera’s a guy you like to be able to keep because of the long-term hope, but Schlitter probably makes the bullpen better on Monday. Given the Cubs’ increasing depth, I can’t say that was the wrong decision.

Now we’ll see if, as expected, Justin Grimm and Hector Rondon get the last two spots in the bullpen, thus finalizing the roster.

  • Javier Bryant

    Caught me off guard a bit, it makes the pen look a little better though. Could be easier to sneak Cabrera through waivers if they plan to keep him.

  • CubFanBob

    Thankfully the FO did the right thing here. Schlitter has earned a spot. Cabrera is just too inconsistent. Web experts might shed a tear for losing him but as a fan I won’t miss him.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Give me the guy with late movement on his fastball, over a rocket arm, with little movement and spotty command, every time.

  • Kyle

    I like that we’re now losing guys like Cabrera at the end of spring rather than hoping to claim a couple.

    • ssckelley

      It is an odd feeling to see the Cubs on the losing end of dumpster dives at this time of the year.

      • Funn Dave


  • Cody5798

    Now that the roster is set, who is the backup for Anthony Rizzo?

    • notcubbiewubbie

      probably mike olt

    • cubfanincardinalland


    • Kyle


    • Luke

      Or any of the outfielders, in a pinch. If Rizzo goes on the DL and they need a longer term solution, I suspect it would be Vitters.

      • Santos Toupee

        Yikes. Vitters CANNOT play infield though at least he would need to throw very little at 1B.

  • BennyTheJet

    With Carlos Santana earning the third baseman job in Cleveland what are they going to do with former top prospect Lonnie Chisenhall? would the cubs have any interest? i know we are pretty log jammed on the infield, but if you can acquire value I think you look into it!

    • BWA

      unless he can play a different position, I really doubt the Cubs are interested.

    • ssckelley

      He did have one heck of a spring but the Cubs really do not need anymore 3rd basemen.

    • Q-Ball

      We have alot of needs as a team, but if there is one area I can confidently state that we don’t need a player, it’s third base. I don’t know if Chisenhall has options, but we don’t even have a slot for him at AAA (Christian Villanueva). I don’t think it’s a fit for us……

      • ssckelley

        I would also say shortstop and second base are positions that we do not need any more players, even the bench looks pretty good.

        • blublud

          I like the team this year, in general. I think we are a very intriguing team. This is the type of team where the manager will determine a lot of the outcomes, but we have a chance to make some noise. It’s not impossible that we finish above .500.

          • FullCountTommy

            You had me until the “manager will determine a lot of outcomes” part hahaha

            • blublud

              How is that funny. Our success will be determined by matchups. The manager will determine those matchups by choosing his lineups based on who the other pitcher is. We have the type of team that may have a different lineup every game, something we may have to do to have success. Renters decislion err ups and matchups will be huge this year.

              • blublud

                The last sentence should be Renteria decisions, lineups and matchups

              • FullCountTommy

                I just don’t believe managers make a huge difference, but that’s just me. While they don’t dictate the lineup exactly, the platooning will come down from the front office

                • ssckelley

                  Normally I agree with you but when you have a team full of 4th and 5th outfielders the manager is going to have to do some mix and matching.

                  I do not believe the FO will be filling out the lineup cards.

                  • FullCountTommy

                    They won’t be, but hoyer has already said they’ll be platooning more, so while they won’t be filling the lineup cards out, they will expect certain things out of RR’s lineup construction

                    • blublud

                      Meaning they’ll be giving him the info. Also, how do you know Renteria didnt tell Hoyer he’ll be platooning more, so Hoyer relayed it to the media. Taking the ability to make decisions out of you managers hand is a dangerous proposition.

                    • FullCountTommy

                      I just think they’ll be presenting all of the data to renteria and expecting him to make certain lineup decisions, all I’m trying to say. The front office and the manager being on the same page is very crucial

                    • woody

                      To say that the FO doesn’t meddle with the team is total B.S. The whole experiment of “fixing” Castro’s swing came from upstairs. And it wasn’t just Castro, it affected Rizzo and Barney too. Maybe sitting in an office all day consuming vast amounts of statistical data doesn’t translate to real time improvement to plate disipline. To think that they could teach a guy like Castro to be a hitter like Joey Votto is absurd. If that is what they want then they need to identify players that have that skill and move them through the system. Obviously some of this is probably going on with Baez as we speak. Tweaking someone’s approach is one thing, but a complete overhaul mid-season is another thing. I put the blame for that failure as much on Theo and Jed as I do Sveum.

                  • Letsplay2

                    “You can’t start Pena at first tonight” :)

                  • DocPeterWimsey

                    If this truly is an OF of 4th and 5th OFers, then good match ups will help here like large pails will on a sinking ship. The biggest problem is simply going to be that many times there are no favorable match ups for the Cubs.

                • blublud

                  If the FO will be making the decisions, why hire a manager. Renters will be making the decisions. I recall the FO not liking some of Sveum’s decision. You know what that means, that they were letting him make the decisions.

                • mjhurdle

                  I agree. A manager’s impact in over-rated. I tend to agree with Whitey Herzog when he said that managers affect maybe 10 games a year. And out of those 10, even a “bad” mlb level manager wins about half.
                  The difference between a really good MLB manager and a bad one is maybe 1-2 wins.
                  the fact that the highest paid managers in baseball make about the same amount as a really good 4th-5th OF supports the idea that front offices value managers at about 1-2 wins a year.

            • Johnny Chess

              Someone needs to watch Moneyball again.

          • ssckelley

            Damn, twice in 1 day. I agree, the managers decisions this season are going to be huge. If he finds the right match ups the Cubs could surprise a few people. A lot has to go right but I think this team could win 75 games.

      • Funn Dave

        Which is funny, because our situation at third last year looked pretty dire.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    It is rather striking the difference in talent on this pitching staff in 1 year. Marmol, camp, Eduardo Sanchez, rafeal dolis, Zach Putnam, Michael Bowden, hisanori Takahashi, brooks raley. Poor Dale really didn’t have a chance.
    Today, guys like Ramirez and Rosscup can’t make the opening day club.
    By the way, has Kevin Gregg hung them up officially?

    • ssckelley

      No, he is still listed as a free agent. Nobody wants him. 😀

      • Q-Ball

        Gregg did himself no favors by whining at the end of last season about his role. You would think he would be worth a minor league flier to somebody, at least, but maybe teams are staying away because of that….

    • Brocktoon

      Takahashi threw 3 innings.
      Putnam threw 3.1
      Dolis – 5
      Sanchez – 6.1

      It’s not even like these guys all broke camp as the pen, you just went through and picked the worst performers from last year to prop up this year’s pen.

  • baldtaxguy

    Like this move – I really liked Schlitter’s spring.

    • cubmig

      “I really liked Schlitter’s spring.”

      Try saying that fast 10 times after a 4 or 5 good stiff drinks.

  • ruby2626

    Very exciting for Maine South kid to make squad. Acquired for Scot Eyre from Philly if memory serves me right. Doubly cool for me since I know his Dad really well, great guy, He had streak of 18 consecutive saves last year at AAA so to me it’s great to see him rewarded. Certainly has the power arm the front office loves.

    • Santos Toupee

      I thought as litter or Neil Ramirez deserved that last spot. This is the better option as perhaps Ramirez gets one more shot at starting.

  • Santos Toupee

    Schlitter-damn spellcheck!

    • woody

      Be careful not to leave the l out of his name.

  • cavemancubbie

    Is Maine South the original Maine Township HS in the 1950’s? Had some friends who attended there.

    • Santos Toupee

      No, Maine East was the original Maine Township school. The despicable Hillary Clinton started at East and finished at South.

      • Funn Dave

        Woah–despicable? How d’ya figure?

        • Santos Toupee

          How do you not?

          • Funn Dave

            Well, looking at all the people throughout history whom I would consider “despicable,” they’re all perpetrators of genocides, hatred, discrimination, slavery, etc. I’m not sure how a women’s rights and human rights advocate fits into that picture….

            • Brocktoon

              Mark Grace didn’t perpetrate any of those things.

              Agreed on your point on Hillary though.

            • Bilbo161

              She’s a polititian. Enough said!

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Ever since I told my wife the cubs have a new manager, I can’t get her to stop saying Ricky Renteria. She thinks its hilarious. Hope he is still around in 10 years, the guy is growing on me.

  • waffle

    the right move – not a weenie move. Nice

  • Blackhawks1963

    I like the move. At some point even a building club can’t wait forever on a splashy arm like Cabrera.

  • Spoda17

    Brett, I joined the fantasy baseball league… how the hell can I tell if I am in the BN league..? I must be missing something…

  • TonyP


  • Diggs

    So will Schlitter be making the team over Blake Parker? Seems like an odd move — was he lighting up the minor league camp?

    • baldtaxguy

      Performed better than Parker and Cabrera? Definitely.

  • Lou Brown

    I am surprised. I know he got rocked on his last outing, but I thought Cabrera was pitching well for most of camp? I didn’t follow too closely, so I am not sure. For them to drop him for no return, there must have been something they really did not like.

  • Stogie

    If Starlin doesn’t return to pre ’13 form, I’d look to deal him in the offseason. Baez will force his way in the lineup. Next year, I’d have an infield with Rizzo, Alcantara, Baez, and Olt.

    • Voice of Reason

      The cubs are not just going to give up on Castro. He’s making just $5 million dollars. Even if he hits .250 you are getting value at the shortstop position or if they move him to second for Baez.

      The cubs will have to be overwhelmed by an offer to move Castro.

  • Stogie

    I think Olt is gonna open some eyes.

    • Eric

      well he opened his own. ba-da-bum.

  • toalster

    “…(and he’s got great hair, to boot).”

    Wha’?! Seriously?!?!

    I have to say…I would not mind one bit if the Cubs adopted the Yankees policy and made Shark, Russell and Schlitter cut off that fugly mullet hair they each have.

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