Really? We’re at this point already? It’s not even August yet and we’re already predicting the 2011 roster? Unfortunately, that’s the case. Obviously it’s early and we’ll know more as the next few weeks pass, but is it really even too early to look forward to a new season? This will be the first of my projections for the opening day roster for 2011 and it will probably be just a smidge off. Forgive me.

Catcher – We know Geo will be back, but the question will be who will back him up. Koyie Hill is set for arbitration eligible year # 2. At this point, I would think we’d be better off giving a shot to Wellington Castillo or Robinson Chirinos with the advantage going to Chirinos for a cheaper price than Hill with a higher offensive ceiling. Hill made $700K this year. The Cubs are able to offer 80% of the previous year’s salary if it went to arbitration, but typically the Cubs don’t go the arbitration route. That being said, you’d have to think we’d at least offer the same salary, if not a bit of a raise should we decide to bring Hill back. I’d rather save the half million and use Castillo or Chirinos for the minimum.

Infield – There is a legit chance that we could be almost completely different from an infield perspective come 2011. Derrek Lee will be gone and should Aramis Ramirez choose to leave, the Cubs would be without cornerstone corner infielders for the first time in quite awhile. We’ve seen trade rumors about Theriot and Fontenot, so the potential that one or both of those guys are gone is very legit. About the only given at this point is Starlin Castro.

Outfield – One thing is for sure. We’re stuck with Soriano and we’re keeping Colvin. Beyond that it’s anyone’s guess. That’s the exciting thing about this year. Anything goes. At this point, it’s hard to see anyone taking Fukudome’s contract for what they’ll get in return. It’s also hard to see him getting the starting job at any of the three outfield spots again next year with the emergence of Colvin. There is potential to deal a guy like Byrd, but I’ve not heard his name mentioned once at this point, and that confuses me a little. At this point, the OF looks basically the same with the exception being the loss of Nady.

Starting Rotation – I’m going out on a limb with this one and predicting that the 2011 rotation will not include pitcher with the first name of Carlos. Sorry Mr. Marmol, you’re stuck as the closer. In all seriousness, I truly believe both of the Carlos starters will be pitching elsewhere come opening day. Zambrano will be dealt this off-season and Silva will either pitch himself into a trade or be designated for assignment. He doesn’t seem happy here and has been regularly critical of Lou’s decisions concerning the length of his outings and future starts.

Bullpen – Who knows what will happen with the bullpen! Do you? I certainly don’t.

The 2011 Opening Day Roster (Based On In House Players)

C – Geovany Soto
1B – Tyler Colvin
2B – Ryan Theriot
3B – Aramis Ramirez
SS – Starlin Castro
LF – Alfonso Soriano
CF – Marlon Byrd
RF – Kosuke Fukudome

C – Robinson Chirinos
IF – Mike Fontenot
IF – Darwin Barney
IF / OF – Bryan LaHair
OF – Brad Snyder

SP – Ryan Dempster
SP – Randy Wells
SP – Tom Gorzelanny
SP – Jay Jackson
SP – Andrew Cashner

MR – John Grabow
MR – Jeff Samardzija
MR – Sean Marshall
MR – Esmailin Caridad
MR – Justin Berg
MR – Jeff Stevens
CL – Carlos Marmol

I don’t know about you, but that roster scares the hell out of me.

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers as well as host of VFTB Radio. 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. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail