3/20 Down to the wire

Justin Berg not only won the Cubs Idol competition on Saturday but also appears to have locked up a spot in the bullpen. Lou Piniella said there are four pitchers competing for one spot and that group includes John Gaub, James Russell, Marcus Mateo and Mike Parisi. When asked about Berg, Piniella said: “Berg is in. Berg has done a nice job.”

That means the ‘pen now consists of closer Carlos Marmol, John Grabow, Esmailin Caridad, Berg, and two of the four pitchers who don’t make the rotation. That list includes Carlos Silva, Jeff Samardzija, Tom Gorzelanny and Sean Marshall.

“I like the arms we have and I like the mix we have,” Piniella said.

Piniella said they have an idea as to which way they’re leaning but won’t announce anything yet. The staff will sit down after Monday’s game to discuss the roster.

As for the bench, that’s still to be decided. Andres Blanco has been out with an injury, which hasn’t helped his chances. “I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen there,” Piniella said.

They’d like to keep an outfielder who can play all three spots, especially because Xavier Nady is limited. And they like both Chad Tracy and Kevin Millar.

“There’s a lot to say about a veteran’s contribution and leadership from your bench players,” Piniella said. “There’s some nice subtle important decisions to make here over the next four, five days.”

– Carrie Muskat

3 Comments

I’m thrilled that Berg has finally gotten Lou’s attention. I really liked both him and Caridad when they got called up late last season, and I’m happy to see they’ve been just as good this spring. They’re young and inexperienced, but they have pitched well and deserve a spot in the pen. For the last spot, I think it’s got to be Russell. He’s another young guy, but he’s a lefty and he hasn’t allowed an earned run this spring. The other guys haven’t fared as well. When it comes down to the bench situation, I think Colvin has earned a spot on it. He has been a really good hitter this spring and can play all three outfield positions. I think it’s between Millar and Tracy for that last spot, and its a tough decision, they’re both good guys. I’d kind of like to see Millar make it though. He just has a really good clubhouse presence, and keeping our team loose down the stretch could really help out. He’s also shown he can still hit this spring. I just don’t know that he would be a good guy off the bench in pinch hitting situations. I guess we’ll see in the next week though!

I agree that Colvin has earned a spot, but what he has earned is a starting spot and there isn’t one of those available right now. That said, he needs to be at AAA where he can play every day until we have an opening for him. I think Fuld is our 5th OF. With regard to Millar, I would hope there’s more to be said for him than “he has a really good clubhouse presence” We could get that from Bill Murray. If he can hit and play some OF, then we can probably use him. Tracy should be on the team. Maybe we won’t suffer so much during Rami’s absence when he’s on the shelf for a few days, and he can also serve as a LH power bat off the bench.

It’s going to be pretty tough for any rookie to grab a starting outfield spot the next few years so it’s a tough call for Colvin. I would rather have Soriano and or Fukodome miraculously traded to make room for Colvin to start allowing Fuld to remain the back up outfielder/pinch runner/pinch hitter which he has more than proven he can be in the major leagues. Millar is just a another mystery signing by Hendry like Nady, just more one-dimensional players clogging the roster and having little chance of getting significant at bats. Tracy gets the nod over Millar for defense at third but I wouldn’t lose any sleep if neither made the team because we’re more than covered at third with Baker and Fontenot able to adequatley sub for Aramis. The same amount of thought Hendry put into the outfield and infield would have been better served for the pitching staff.

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