The Chicago Cubs finalized their bullpen and 25-man roster on Sunday when they let David Patton and Angel Guzman know that they had made the Cubs opening day roster.
The big story is David Patton. Patton had pitched in the Colorado Rockies minor league system for the last 5 years, but the Cubs picked him up in the Rule 5 Draft. At 24, Patton had never pitched above the Class A level and General Manager Jim Hendry didn’t give him much of a chance of making the opening day roster, which meant the Cubs either had to keep him on the opening day roster or return him to the Rockies at the end of spring training. Hendry had this to say about Patton and Guzman. “It was a long shot when [Patton] got there, and the kid deserves all the credit in the world for pitching himself into it. I think we owe it to ourselves to find out after all the time we’ve invested in Guzman – - he certainly has the stuff and ability to help us be a contending team and, hopefully, he’ll live up to that potential now.”
Patton pitched extremely well in spring training. Patton had a 1.26 ERA during the spring, giving up only 14 hits and 5 walks in 14 1/3 innings of work. “This is what you devote all your time to and what I’ve wanted since I was a little kid. This is just the beginning. I want to do something special and want to be a part of this organization.”
Guzman had a so-so spring, but because he was out of options and could not be sent down to the minor leagues within the Cubs system, Hendry and the Cubs decided to give him one more shot to show what he can do for the Cubs at the big league level. Guzman has battled elbow and shoulder injuries, and at 27, still has the potential to pitch well in the bigs. Guzman had this to say about making the team: “After everything I’ve been through, I still have a long way to go. I’m still young, and I have an opportunity to make a statement in the big leagues. That’s what it’s all about.”
Three other pitchers lost out on the 2 bullpen spots. Chad Gaudin had an atrocious spring – 10.26 ERA giving up 20 runs on 26 hits and 10 walks in just over 16 innings of work. Not good to say the least. The Cubs released Gaudin. Jeff Samardzija, who was a productive member of the Cubs 2008 bullpen, never found the right stuff this spring as he competed for the 5th starter position. Samardzija improved as the spring went on and as he resumed his role in the bullpen, but because he still has options left, the Cubs chose to send him down to Triple-A Iowa. He will likely be groomed as a starter again in the event the Cubs need to bring up a starter in case of injury. Chad Fox is still recovering from an off-season injury and he was also optioned to Iowa.
It will be interesting to see how Patton performs at the major league level. He obviously has talent, but will he be ble to perform at the high level when the bright lights are shining, especially in Chicago. Let’s hope he does…