Cubs Players on Roster Bubble Who Will Have a Tough Time Making the Cut

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Cubs Players on Roster Bubble Who Will Have a Tough Time Making the Cut
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The 2014 Chicago Cubs broke camp in Mesa, Ariz. this week with several unanswered questions in regard to their final 25-man roster. There are several position battles which will involve players who are on the cusp of making the major league squad. 

Which players currently on the roster bubble are going to have a tough time making the team?

Let's take a few moments to examine the players that project to be locks to make the team. 

Starting Pitchers: (Spots 1-4)

 2013 Stats

W

L

ERA

GS

IP

H

BB

SO

Jeff Samardzija

8

13

4.34

33

213.2

210

78

214

Travis Wood

9

12

3.11

32

200.0

163

66

144

Edwin Jackson

8

18

4.98

31

175.1

197

59

135

Jason Hammel

7

8

4.97

23

139.1

155

48

96



The first four roster spots will be allocated to the rotation. Samardzija, Wood and Jackson are no-brainers. Hammel should land one of the last two spots. He signed an one-year, $6 million plus-incentives deal late in January. 

Relievers: (Spots 5-9)

2013 Stats

Pos

W

L

ERA

S

IP

H

BB

K

James Russell

RP

1

6

3.59

0

52.2

46

18

37

Blake Parker

RP

1

2

2.72

1

46.1

39

15

55

Pedro Strop

RP

2

2

2.83

1

35.0

22

11

42

Wesley Wright

RP

0

4

3.69

0

53.2

54

19

55

Jose Veras

CP

0

5

3.02

21

62.2

45

22

60

One of the bright spots in an overall dismal year for the 2013 Cubs was the bullpen. Both Strop and Parker showed a tremendous amount of promise and will play significant roles this season. The newly acquired Wright will team with Russell to tackle lefties. The closer duties will be handled at the onset of the season by the eight-year veteran Veras.

Position Players (Spots 10-14)

2013 Stats

Pos

BA

HR

RBI

SB

OPS

Welington Castillo

C

.274

8

32

2

.746

Anthony Rizzo

1B

.233

23

80

6

.742

Darwin Barney

2B

.208

7

41

4

.569

Starlin Castro

SS

.245

10

44

9

.631

Nate Schierholtz

RF

.251

21

68

6

.770


Three-fourths of the Cubs infield will be set on Opening Day with Rizzo, Barney and Castro. The backstop will be manned once again by Castillo, who had a breakout year in 2013. Schierholtz is the only outfielder who seems to have a secure spot, as the outfield situation is not as clear in center and left.

Remaining Spots: (15-25)

There are 11 roster spots left to be determined. 

Pitchers (4): Fifth Starter, Middle Relief 1, Middle Relief 2, Long Reliever

Position Players (7): Starting third base, starting center fielder, starting left fielder, backup corner-infielder, backup middle-infielder, fourth outfielder, fifth outfielder

Another position player slot could be added if Cubs manager Rick Renteria decides to go with one less reliever. 

With that said, here are a couple of potential roster spot battles to watch as the spring progresses. These players may have a tough time making the 25-man roster cut.

Starting Third Base: The Cubs seem to be willing to go with a platoon at third base involving incumbents Luis Valbuena and Donnie Murphy.

Bubble Player to Watch: Mike Olt 

2013 Stats

Pos

BA

HR

RBI

SB

OPS

Donnie Murphy

3B

.255

11

23

2

.849

Luis Valbuena

3B

.218

12

37

1

.708

Mike Olt (Minors AA,AAA)

3B

.201

15

42

0

.684

One of the big questions heading into spring training is whether or not Olt is ready to make an impact on the major league level. Acquired part of the Garza trade from the Rangers last season, Olt hit .201/15/42 in Double-A and Triple-A in 2013. 

Olt shared his thoughts on the upcoming season with Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago

“I don’t really have anything I feel like I have to prove,” Olt said. “I know that I put in a lot of hard work and I think last year was good for me in dealing with a lot of adversity. It’s going to make me a better player and I’m going to (learn) from it.”

What are the odds of Olt making the cut?

It really depends on whether or not his vision problems have fully recovered from the concussion he suffered last offseason in the Dominican Republic winter league. Even if he has fully recovered from the concussion, he will face an uphill battle to make the squad. It seems the Cubs are set on deploying a Valbuena/Murphy third base platoon. Olt will have to have a very strong camp in order to make the team.

Fifth Starter: The fifth starter slot before camp seemed to belong to Jason Hammel. However, with the shoulder setback recently suffered by Jake Arrieta, it seems Hammel is now projected to be the fourth starter. This now opens the doors for several pitchers if Arrieta is not able to make it back by Opening Day. 

Bubble Player to Watch: Carlos Villanueva 

2013 Stats

Pos

W

L

ERA

S

IP

H

BB

K

Chris Rusin

SP

2

6 3.93 0 66.1 66 24 36

James McDonald

SP

2

2 5.76 0 29.2 29 20 25

Carlos Villanueva

SP

7

8 4.06 0 128.2 117 40 103

If Arrieta is unable to make it back by Opening Day, expect Chris Rusin and the newly acquired James McDonald to battle for the fifth and long reliever spots on the roster. This leaves Villanueva on the bubble for making the final cut. The eight-year veteran has been exceedingly average, 40-43 record, throughout his career. He started 15 games for the Cubs in 2013, going 7-8 with a 4.06 ERA.

What are the odds of Villanueva making the cut?

It's going to be tough for Villanueva for make the team with both Rusin and McDonald ahead of him on the depth chart.

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If Arrieta does come back sooner as expected and returns before Opening Day, it will be even more difficult for him to make the squad. The odds are against Villanueva unless he has a stellar spring.

Fourth and Fifth Outfielders: The only player who seems to have a spot secured in the outfield is right fielder Nate Schierholtz. The front runners for the other two starting spots are Justin Ruggiano and Junior Lake. Ruggiano, who was acquired via a trade with the Miami Marlins this past offseason, projects to play center field. Lake had a strong second half of the season with the Cubs .284/6/16 and is expected to get an opportunity to start in left.

Bubble Players to Watch: Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson

2013 Stats

Pos

BA

HR

RBI

SB

OPS

Chris Coghlan

OF

.256 1 10 2 .672

Ryan Kalish *2012

OF

.229 0 5 3 .532

Darnell McDonald

OF

.302 1 5 0 .785

Matt Szczur (minors AA)

OF

.281 3 44 22 .717
Josh Vitters (minors AAA, Rook) OF .267 5 12 1 .833

Brett Jackson (minors, AAA, AA, Rook)

OF

.210 6 27 9 .626

There could be only two backup outfield spots available. One of those roles going to backup center fielder Ryan Sweeney. The last outfield spot could very well come down to a group of outfielders which include Vitters and Brett Jackson.

What are the odds of Vitters and Jackson making the team?

The odds are not that good. Vitters and Jackson have had their chances in the past and have been unable to capitalize. Jackson and Vitters were both brought up to the majors in August 2012 and failed to impress. Both players struggled with big league pitching and have showed a lack of plate discipline on both minor and major league levels. Unless they can show the ability to hit consistently on the major league level, they will not get another chance at Wrigley.

Stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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