Silva’s Best Outing of Spring Could Be Enough to Secure 5th Starting Spot — Wrigley Field West Mesa Arizona 3/23/11

Posted on 23 March 2011 by Lou

So far so good for Carlos Silva today in Mesa – the righty has thrown 6 innings of 1-run ball and the Cubs lead 2-1.  This could go a long way in helping Manager Mike Quade and the Cubs decide to go with Silva over Andrew Cashner for the 5th and final starting spot in the Cubs 2011 rotation.  After giving up an earned run on 2 hits in the 1st inning, Silva really got into a groove through the next 5 innings.  Silva surrendered just 1 hit during that stretch and he has yet to walk a batter while striking out 3.  It is also impressive that Silva has made it unscathed through 6 innings.  Cashner hasn’t pitched more than 4 innings in any spring appearance, so the length of the start could be a factor in Quade’s decision.

As I stated yesterday, I really think the safe move is to go with Silva in the 5th spot and Cashner out of the bullpen.  The Cubs view Cashner as a long-term work-in-progress front-line starter, so there is no need to rush him in a 2011 campaign that will probably leave a lot left to be desired.  Cashner hasn’t built up his arm strength to be a starter yet and with less than 10 days to go before the start of the big league season, I have a feeling that the Cubs will opt to go with Cashner out of the bullpen where he had some nice success in 2010.  Silva has only this year left on his contract and if he performs well early this spring, the Cubs would more than likely try to move him before the trading deadline, even if they’re still in the hunt for a playoff spot.  They would love to move some of Silva’s $12 million salary and if they did move Silva in a trade, they could then stretch out Cashner to be the 5th starter or bring up someone from the minor leagues to take over that 5th spot.  Cashner was effective during long stretches in 2010, and although he did endure some bumps along the way, he is a dependable arm in the bullpen for the Cubs.

On a hitting side, although the Cubs have managed just 2 runs on 4 hits in today’s game so far, you had to like the 1st inning when both Geovany Soto and Alfonso Soriano came through with clutch 2-out run-scoring singles to give the Cubs a 2-1 lead.  The Cubs are going to need a lot of clutch hitting this season if they expect to be competitive during the long MLB season.  Without a lot of fire power outside of Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena, the rest of the team is going to need to be patient and get on base. And once on base, the Cubs are going to need to come through with timely hitting, especially with runners in scoring position or with 2 outs.  Consistent quality hitting and patience at the plate are going to be 1 HUGE keys for how well this team does in 2011…

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