Roster Crunch, Smiles Returning

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As I’m sure you are aware of by now, yesterday afternoon the Cubs traded for left-handed relief pitcher Mike Montgomery from Seattle. On his way to the Mariners in return is Triple-A slugger/first baseman Dan Vogelbach. Now, while Vogelbach was already on the 40-man roster, he was not on the big league 25-man roster, so some shuffling will need to be done.

In addition to that move, the guy with the radiant smile pictured above, Dexter Fowler, is expected to return to the big league club fresh off his rehab stint at Triple-A Iowa. This means there are 2 guys that need to be DFA’d or optioned back to Iowa. Now, one would assume there would be a position player and a pitcher moved, so that is  the route I will take here.

For the pitchers, there are really 4 different options to be chosen from. The one that most Cubs fans will tell you to do is to DFA the struggling Clayton Richard. This, however, is unlikely to happen. Yes, he has an ERA of 6.75, but he is also a lefty-match up guy that will likely be lost on the waiver wire. The front office will not want this to happen, at least not until it absolutely has to. Plus, he is one of 3 lefties in the bullpen, if you count the newly added Montgomery. There are, however, 3 righties in the Cubs bullpen with options left. First, there is Adam Warren. He hasn’t pitched great lately, but he has some pedigree and big league experience, so it is rather doubtful he will be sent down again unless it is to prepare for a start as he did before the All-Star break. Second is young power-armed Carl Edwards Jr. A few weeks ago he would have been my pick to head back to Iowa, but in the last couple weeks he has earned his way into pitching in high leverage situations, and succeeding, for the Cubs. The artist formerly known as CJ Edwards currently has a 2.08 ERA, is striking out nearly 10 batters per 9 innings, and has cut his walk rate in more than half of what it was in Triple-A, as it now sits at 2.77 walks per 9. His biggest problem in the minors, which kept him from the big leagues, was his problem with issuing walks. Since he has that under control, at least for the time being, he will be staying in Chicago. This leaves us with one name, Spencer Patton. Patton has only pitched 12 1/3 innings this season and has an ERA of 5.11. He had been solid in his short time in Chicago, but he hasn’t pitched since July 9th. He is the clear option to be sent back to Iowa, at least for the time being.

Now on the position player side, things are much less complicated. With the return of the Cubs All-Star center fielder, there is only one person who can viably be left off of the big league squad. Unfortunately for us Cub fans, that player is young defensive stud Albert Almora. He is currently hitting .265 in Chicago with an OBP of .291. Neither of these numbers are eye-popping, but they aren’t supposed to be. He isn’t a star offensive prospect like every other top prospect in the organization. What he has done, time and time again, is show off his absolutely astounding glove. He is clearly a Major League ready center fielder, but his bat could use a little more work. It will be beneficial for him to head back to Iowa and get regular, everyday at-bats. Make no mistake about it, however, he will be back in the first round of September call ups.

This won’t be the end of the shuffling, though, because soon guys like Jorge Soler and Joe Nathan will need spots on the team as well. In fact, Nathan may join the team as soon as this weekend, in which I wouldn’t be surprised to see either Adam Warren go down to stretch out to become a 6th starter type or see someone struggling, like Justin Grimm, go on the DL with “arm fatigue”, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

 

For now, check out some Albert Almora highlights, as he will likely be in a Triple-A uniform soon.

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