There are 2 spots left in the Cubs 2009 bullpen, and 4 pitchers competing for those spots. It has come down to Jeff Samardzija, Chad Gaudin, Angel Guzman and Rule 5 Draft pick David Patton. Guzman is out of minor league options, and Cubs GM Jim Hendry has already said that none of the players will be placed on waivers. What does it all mean? That Patton and Guzman will either make the Cubs Opening Day Roster or be traded to another team before the start of the season.
As it stands now, Kevin Gregg will be the Cubs closer, with Carlos Marmol serving as the primary set-up man. Aaron Heilman, Neal Cotts and Luis Vizcaino have also locked up spots. Patton is the big X Factor – in 12+ spring innings, Patton has a .073 ERA giving up only 1 run on 10 hits. He has struck out 15 batters while walking only 2, but he has never pitched at a level higher than Class A. Cubs manager Lou Pinella had this to say about Patton: “He hasn’t been rattled all spring – it’s been very refreshing. It doesn’t look like the situation is getting to him. He’s out there competing and throwing the ball. We’ll see if everything works his way. ” He’ll get a big chance when he pitches against the New York Yankees in front of 40,000 people in the new Yankee Stadium. If he can show some resolve in that situation, we may see Patton on the Cubs Opening Day roster.
As for the other 3 players, none have had a good spring. Gaudin’s control has been bad – 20 hits and 9 walks in 13 2/3 innings with an ERA over 10.00. Guzman has an 8.71 ERA in 10 1/3 innings of Cactus league work. Samardzija has the best ERA of the 3, which isn’t saying much at 8.16. Samardzija does have options left and could be assigned to Triple-A Iowa to make room for one of the other 3 pitchers.
Pinella has indicated that nothing is permanent. “Regardless of how we go, if it’s not right, we’ll fix it. Let’s not forget that. We’re going to do the best we can. We’ve let everybody compete, like we said, so that’s not a problem. We’ll see how this thing stands by Saturday or Sunday and then we’ll make a decision and if it’s not the right decision, we’ll rectify it.”
Good attitude Lou. Maybe give the kid Patton a shot instead of losing him via trade and see if it works. And if not, you can always bring Samardzija back up from Triple-A Iowa. It should certainly be interesting to see how this all plays out. Opening Day on the road in Houston is only 4 days away!!!