View From The Bleachers

January 23, 2008

Who Makes Up Your Pitching Staff?

Filed under: General — Joe Aiello @ 5:00 am

We’re beginning to near that hallowed date when pitchers and catchers report for duty in Mesa, AZ. The Cubs need to break camp with 12 guys on their staff cause that’s the way Lou likes it. That being said, what are your thoughts on who the Cubs should break camp with? Keep in mind that when you make your decisions, there a number of things to consider (i.e. Options remaining, Rule 5 regulations, 40 Man roster rules, etc.)

Here is a list of the current options that the Cubs have to choose from. Listed below is pitchers on the 40 man roster and non-roster pitchers who have been invited to compete for a spot in spring training. I’ve included some notes to ponder next to some of the names. Remember a few things:

  1. If you add a player that was invited to compete, but isn’t on the 40 man roster, he has to be added to the 40 man roster before opening day. That means someone on the roster must clear waivers or be released to be removed. Releasing a player means the Cubs pay the balance of his contract up front (not popular). If he’s claimed via waivers, the Cubs have no recourse, they simply lose the player.
  2. If a player is out of options, he has to make the opening day roster or clear waivers to be sent down.
  3. If you choose to not add a rule five pick to the opening day roster, he must be offered back to his original team.
  4. Your team should include 12 pitchers, because that’s the number Lou likes to carry.

40 Man Roster Guys

  • J. Ascanio
  • Neal Cotts – He must approve an option to the minors
  • Ryan Dempster*
  • Scott Eyre*
  • Sean Gallagher
  • Angel Guzman
  • Adam Harben
  • Kevin Hart
  • Rich Hill
  • Bobby Howry*
  • Tim Lahey – Rule 5 pick
  • Jon Lieber*
  • Ted Lilly*
  • Carlos Marmol
  • Jason Marquis*
  • Sean Marshall
  • Juan Mateo
  • Billy Petrick
  • Carmen Pignatiello
  • Jeff Samardzija
  • Kerry Wood*
  • Michael Wuertz – He must approve an option to the minors
  • Carlos Zambrano*

* = Out of Minor League Options

Non-Roster Invitees

  • Ed Campusano
  • Geoff Jones
  • Les Walrond
  • Esmailin Caridad
  • Jose Ceda
  • Chad Fox
  • Mike Smith
  • Shingo Takatsu

Joe’s Pitching Staff

1. Carlos Zambrano – SP
2. Ted Lilly – SP
3. Rich Hill – SP
4. John Lieber – SP
5. Sean Marshall – SP

6. Ryan Dempster – MR
7. Scott Eyre – MR
8. Kerry Wood – MR
9. Bobby Howry – MR
10. Carlos Marmol – MR
11. Jason Marquis – MR
12. Michael Wuertz – MR

There really isn’t much decision for the team to make with the pitching staff. Leaving Kevin Hart off the roster was tough, but it comes down to not having a spot available for him as of right now. I also seriously considered Jose Ceda, but his experience kept him off. Tim Lahey just doesn’t have enough to warrant keeping him. I’d send him back to Tampa Bay, because we’re not going to use him. Neal Cotts was the only tough decision for me. I think he’ll approve the move to the minors, but that’s assuming he doesn’t shine in the spring. Assuming that, I ask him to sharpen up in Iowa with the promise that he’s the first one recalled if he shows something. If he doesn’t approve the demotion, then I think you have to let him test the waiver system.

Now that we have the pitching staff done, we’ll take some time to look over the position players on Thursday. That’s when it gets a little hairy.

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids and helps people protect their assets as an independent insurance agent. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail

  • http://cubsfx.blogspot.com Harry

    Joe – I’m with you, including the Cotts dilemma, with one exception.

    I would attempt to get rid of Marquis and replace him on the 25-man with Hart. I’d try and trade Marquis for someone(s) that may or may not be added to the 40-man. I’d wait to see if any non-roster invitees make it.

    2nd pick would be Dempster, to trade, that is.

  • Jose

    I agree with Harry. We should try and trade Marquis and Dempster. But, we have two issues with that goal (1) who would take them? (2) it will cost us a ton of cash to trade them. No team is going to do a straight up trade. With that said, they need to be taken off this team. They really do not have a role that can not be filled by a current younger arm.

  • Jerious Norwood

    I think we’re too quick to give Lieber a place in rotation. Lefties absolutely destroy him, and he got very little interest in a free agent class that is completely devoid of pitching. We need to see about his stuff in spring training first. Hopefully he can be a reliable veteran presence on the staff and in the club house, but I’m dubious.

  • Jerious Norwood

    Also, how about the idea of a hybrid 6 man rotation. One of the reasons Beckett lost the Cy Young race in the AL was that he pitched fewer innings than Tubby (I can’t remember his name for some reason). But its also one of the things pointed to in explaining his playoff dominance. I think it makes all kinds of sense to protect the arms of the staff, particularly through the ‘dog days’ of Summer during day games at Wrigley with an extra day off. And this could pay off huge in October.

  • Jerious Norwood

    CC Sabathia!

  • Boomer

    As seen with the study of 5th starters that was posted on this site (I think anyway), the quality of back of the rotation starters is terrible. Using a psuedo 6th starter would just bring the quality down even more, getting less action for the actual good starters.

    As for the pitching staff, I think its pretty set barring a trade.

  • Arizona Phil

    A slight correction regarding Michael Wuertz and Neal Cotts having to give their permission in order to be optioned to the minors…

    Only players with at least five years of MLB service time have the right to refuse an OPTIONAL assignment to the minors. (Players with at least three years of MLB ST and players who have been outrighted previously in their career have the right to refuse an OUTRIGHT assigmnment to the minors).

    The thing about Michael Wuertz and Neal Cotts (and Angel Guzman as well) is that because their anniversary date (debut) of being added to an MLB 25-man regular season roster is at least three years previous (or in the case of Guzman, the anniversary date is at least one year previous, because he spent two full seasons on optional assignment to the minors prior to being added to the 25-man roster for the first time), they must clear Optional Assignment Waivers in order to be optioned to the minors. But it’s not THEIR choice.

    Optional Assignment waivers are revocable, meaning if the player gets claimed by another MLB club, his club can withdraw the waiver request and keep the player. (The second time a player is placed on Optional Assignment Waivers in a given waiver period the waivers are irrevocable and the club cannot withdraw the waivers if the player is claimed). Once a club gets a player through Optional Assignment Waivers the waivers are good for the entire waiver period, so a lot of clubs will place players on Optional Assignment Waivers at the start of each of he regular season waiver periods (2/16 through the 30th day of the regular season, 31st day of the regular season throuigh 7/31, and 8/1 through 11/10).

    Because Optional Assignment Waivers are revocable, getting a player through them is essentially just a formality. While another GM could be a hardass and make a “nuisance claim,” players are almost never claimed off Optional Assignment Waivers.

    A couple of years ago, the Cubs had to get Optional Assignment Waivers on Corey Patterson in order to option him to the minors, and last year, the Cubs had to get Mark Prior through Optional Assignment Waivers in order to option him to the minors during Spring Training (however the optional assignment was later canceled by MLB after Prior filed a grievance claiming a pre-existing injury). Last August, the Cubs had to get Will Ohmann through Optional Asignment Waivers in order to option him to the Iowa (and the Cubs did that just a few days before Ohman would have reached five years of MLB Service Time, at which point he could have refused the optional assignment).

    Besides Wuertz, Cotts, and Guzman (who will likely spend the 2008 season on the 15-day or 60-day DL while rehabbing from TJ surgery), other players presently on the Cubs 40-man roster who will reach their three-year 25-man roster anniversary debut date during the 2008 season (at which point they would need to clear Optional Assignment Waivers in order to be optioned to the minors) are Mike Fontenot (on 4/11), Rich Hill (on 6/15), and Matt Murton (on 7/7).

    Tim Lahey (acquired from TB after the Rays selected him with the 1st pick from the Twins in last month’s Rule 5 Draft) is a Rule 5 pick and so he can only be sent to the minors after he clears Rule 6 Return Waivers (MLB Rule 6 describes the mechanism for removing Rule 5 draft picks from a club’s roster), as long as he is not claimed off waivers by another MLB club (in which case the claiming club assumes the Rule 5 roster obligations) and as long as his original club (MIN) declines to re-claim the player.

    Since the Twins owe the Cubs a PTBNL from the Craig Monroe deal, it seems quite possible that if Lahey does not make the Cubs Opening Day 25-man roster (and he probably won’t), and presuming he doesn’t get claimed off Rule 6 Return Waivers (and players are rarely claimed off Rule 6 Return Waivers, because of the restrictive Rule 5 roster obligations that go with that type of claim), that the PTBNL from the Monroe trade will be Tim Lahey, whereby the Twins would satisfy their PTBNL obligations by declining to re-claim Lahey, so that the Cubs would then be able to send Lahey to the minors.

    And Ronny Cedeno and Geovany Soto are the only players presently on the Cubs 40-man roster with less than five years of MLB service time who are out of minor league options, such that they would have to clear OUTRIGHT Assignment Waivers (which are irrevocable) before they can be sent to the minors. It’s EXTREMEMLY unlikely that the Cubs would risk losing either player off Outright Assignmemt Waivers, so if Cedeno doesn’t make the Cubs Opening Day roster, he will almost certainly get traded.

    AZ Phil
    TCR

  • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com/meetmatt.php Matt Jacobs

    That just made my head spin. Very informative.

    I think AZ Phil just won the award for longest comment. :lol:

  • Braden

    I fully agree with Joe’s staff

  • 99yrs

    I like Joe’s pitching staff. We had a lot of good luck last year when it came to our pitchers not being injured. Although I don’t think the likes of Dempster, Marquis, Lieber are going to get us that far they do provide us with a little insurance at this point should we experience a setback. If all goes well we can always rotate the above three with Marshall, Gallagher, Hart or whoever is on a hot streak.

    Its been awhile since we have had this number of choices. Wasn’t it just a couple years ago we had big Z and then a bunch of question marks.

    If all goes well they do provide us with some trade bait to the clubs who end up having some holes in their rotation at the end of spring training. I don’t think we get more then a couple A or AA prospects for those guys though.

  • Jacki Rossi

    How many wins does the 4 spot usually get around the league(s)? 10-12?If that is accurate, Lieber should be able to acheive that, right?

  • Arizona Phil

    One thing to keep in mind about Sean Marshall is that if he spends the entire 2008 season in the major leagues, he will have accrued two years plus 132 days (2+132) of MLB Service Time by the end of the season, and that could make him eligible for salary arbitration as a “Super Two” post-2008 (the minimum floor for “Super Two” status has varied over the years between about 2+125-2+140).

    But by optioning Marshall to the minors at the the start of the season and leaving him there for at least 20 days (anything less than 20 days on optional assignment in a given season and a player gets credit for a full year of MLB Service Time), it becomes very unlikely that he would qualify as a “Super Two” for salary arbitration purposes after next season with 2+112 MLB ST.

    So if Marshall gets optioned to Iowa to start the season, both Jason Marquis and Jon Lieber would likely be rotation starters (at least for the first three weeks), and Kevin Hart would likely make the Opening Day 25-man roster as the “12th man” on the staff (and Lou Piniella seems to like Hart as a “long reliever/spot starter”).

    Obviously that could change if there are injuries.

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