Early Prediction of the Chicago Cubs Roster

Yes, I do know opening day is still ways away and that is why the heading says ‘early’ predictions. I thought I would do an early look at the 25-man roster before pitchers and catchers report in 8 days (February 10th) and before spring training kicks off in 22 days (February 24th). When spring training concludes and before opening day, I’ll have my final predictions of the 25-man roster.

Defense alignment:
Catchers – Welington Castillo, Dioner Navarro
1st baseman – Anthony Rizzo
2nd baseman – Darwin Barney, Brent Lillibridge
3rd baseman – Ian Stewart, Luis Valbuena
Shortstop – Starlin Castro
Outfielders – Alfonso Soriano, Davis DeJesus, Scott Hairston, Nate Schierholtz, Dave Sappelt
Pitchers – Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija, Edwin Jackson, Scott Feldman, Scott Baker, Carlos Villanueva, Travis Wood, Carlos Marmol, Kyuji Fujiwawa, James Russell, Shawn Camp, Hector Rondon

Line-up vs. right-handed pitching:
1) Davis DeJesus – CF
2) Starlin Castro – SS
3) Anthony Rizzo – 1B
4) Alfonso Soriano – LF
5) Ian Stewart – 3B
6) Welington Castillo – C
7) Nate Schierholtz – RF
8) Darwin Barney – 2B
9) Pitcher – P

Line-up vs. left-handed pitching:
1) Scott Hairston – RF
2) Starlin Castro – SS
3) Anthony Rizzo – 1B
4) Alfonso Soriano – LF
5) Welington Castillo – C
6) Dave Sappelt – CF
7) Luis Valbuena – 3B
8) Darwin Barney – 2B
9) Pitcher – P

1) Luis Valbuena/Ian Stewart – whoever is not starting – 3B
2) Scott Hairston/Nate Schierholtz – whoever is not starting – OF
3) Dave Sappelt – 5th OF
4) Dioner Navarro – C
5) Brent Lillibridge – utility

Notes about line-ups:
*I know these aren’t line-ups Dale Sveum will use, but ones I would send out on the field.
*For instance, I don’t think Castro will bat 2nd rather he’ll bat 5th. I just think Castro is the most ideal #2 hitter on the Cubs roster.
*I do know both Stewart and Valbuena are left-handed … however, I thought Valbuena handled left-handed pitching better last season. So, that’s why I have Valbuena in the line-up vs. left-handed pitching.

Starting Rotation:
1) Matt Garza
2) Jeff Samardzija
3) Edwin Jackson
4) Scott Feldman
5) Scott Baker

Notes about rotation:
*If Garza is not throwing the ball too well in spring training because of his arm, Samardzija will get the nod on opening day.
*Theo Epstein said both Garza and Baker should be ready to go when the regular season kicks off. Garza should be a go, but Baker is more of a question mark. If Baker can’t go, Villanueva will take his spot in the rotation until he’s ready to go.

Relief pitching:
Closer – Carlos Marmol
Set-up – Kyuji Fujiwawa
Set-up – James Russell
Middle relief – Shawn Camp
Middle relief – Hector Rondon
Long relief – Travis Wood
Long relief – Carlos Villanueva

Notes about relief pitching:
*I do expect Rondon to make the ‘pen out of spring training. Since he’ll be sent back to the Cleveland Indians organization if he doesn’t make the team. As he was a Rule V pick.

Possible moves:
*Carlos Marmol being traded (Bruce Levine says Marmol will be traded by opening day.) – If he is traded, Kyuji Fujiwawa will be the new closer and Michael Bowden will take Marmol’s spot in the ‘pen.
*Matt Garza being traded – I think there’s a good chance he’ll be traded if he shows to be 100% healthy. If he is dealt, Villanueva will take his spot in the rotation and Bowden will take Villanueva’s spot in the ‘pen if Marmol is not dealt. But if Marmol is traded as well, Brooks Raley or Chris Rusin will take the final spot in the ‘pen.
*Alfonso Soriano being traded – If Soriano is traded, Tony Campana will take his spot oin the roster as the 5th OF. If Campana is still on the 40-man roster at the time of the move. He’ll be on the 25-man roster until Brett Jackson is ready to be called-up.
**I do expect one of Marmol, Garza, or Soriano to be traded before opening day at the least.

Side note 1: The Cubs still have to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Scott Hairston. The likely move is designating OF Tony Campana for assignment. I don’t think the Cubs really want to DFA Campana and a main reason there not in a rush to add Hairston to the 40-man roster. I think the Cubs are waiting on to see if a trade opens up to clear a spot before DFA’ing anyone.

Side note 2: If Lillibridge does make the team out of spring training, the Cubs will have to clear another spot on the 40-man roster. Since Lillibridge was signed to a minor-league deal and is not on it. That’s one main reason I expect a trade to happen.

Other notes:
*Ex-Cub 1B Mark Grace was sentenced to 4 months in jail for a DUI awhile back. He eventually lost his broadcasting job with the Arizona Diamondbacks because of the DUI. If you don’t recall, Bob Brenly took Grace’s spot this off-season.
*The Cubs minor league system has greatly approved over the years. If I was you, I would keep up with Chicagocubsonline.com, Bleacher Nation and Cubs Den. They all do a great job on everything Cubs!
*The Cubs also signed 24-year old pitcher Yeiper Castillo on December 21st to a minor-league deal, per the Cubs transation page. The signing is more for depth than anything else and expects to open the season in Double A.

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