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News » Chicago Cubs Roster Report 2008-11-07


Chicago Cubs Roster Report 2008-11-07


Chicago Cubs Roster Report 2008-11-07
The Cubs look to be strong contenders for the NL Central title for at least a few years to come. They ended this year with 97 wins, and the roster isn't "old" in most key places. Many key veterans are signed to multiyear deals, but center field once again could become a question mark.

BIGGEST NEEDS: Middle relief became the weak link on a generally strong pitching staff, particularly in the second half. The Cubs have spent big bucks on their bullpen in recent years, acquiring such pitchers at RHP Bob Howry and LHP Scott Eyre. But their best production has come from homegrown products such as RHP Carlos Marmol and, for much of the second half, RHP Jeff Samardzija. If the Cubs don't trust CF Felix Pie for 2009, they'll have to look for help there to go along with Reed Johnson. Manager Lou Piniella has lamented the lack of a left-handed bat for much of the year.

FREE AGENTS: RHP Kerry Wood, RHP Ryan Dempster, RHP Bob Howry, CF Jim Edmonds, 1B/OF Daryle Ward, RHP Chad Fox, RHP Jon Lieber, C Henry Blanco.

The Cubs want to re-sign Dempster, but they want to see how many years Wood wants. The Cubs probably won't go much past a year and an option for Wood, whose health is always a risk. Howry is as good as gone. The Cubs probably will let Edmonds walk even though he helped them after the Padres released him. Ward showed his age, and his pinch-hitting touch wasn't what it was. They'll likely bid him goodbye. Lieber and Fox are at the end of their careers.

ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE: RHP Michael Wuertz, LHP Neal Cotts, CF Reed Johnson, SS Ronny Cedeno, RHP Chad Gaudin.

The Cubs haven't gone to a hearing since a long-forgotten regime got to that point with Mark Grace in the early '90s. GM Jim Hendry would like all five players back, but the Cubs likely will have trouble re-signing all five without incident. The Cubs weren't happy with Gaudin, who hurt his back at the end of August and pitched poorly upon his return in mid-September.

IN LIMBO: C Henry Blanco, LHP Rich Hill, LHP Sean Marshall.

The Cubs didn't pick up their option on Blanco, a valuable mentor to Rookie of the Year candidate Geovany Soto. Instead, they may choose to negotiate a lesser deal. Hill was a part of the rotation on Opening Day until developing command problems and then coming down with a back ailment. The Cubs could look to trade Hill and/or Marshall. Marshall, because of his versatility, could fetch something in return.

MEDICAL WATCH:

The Cubs will keep a close eye on the cranky right shoulders of RHPs Carlos Zambrano and Rich Harden, both of whom missed time down the stretch.

C Geovany Soto came down with a sore left hand and wrist, and that hampered his hitting. A winter of rest should help.

LF Alfonso Soriano will have to work hard in the winter so that his legs don't give out, as they've done in his two seasons with the Cubs.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 7, 2008

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