With Bowden’s Arrival, Someone Has to Go

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Unless you have been under a rock the past 24 hours, you should know that Marlon Byrd is now a former Chicago Cub. In the deal that sent the struggling center fielder to the Boston Red Sox, the Cubs got back a right handed relief pitcher by the name of Michael Bowden. The Chicago native is someone both Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer know quite well, as they were the tandem that drafted him for the Red Sox in the first place, so no one should be surprised that they requested him as compensation for Byrd. The Red Sox had no problem sending him to Chicago as he was designated for assignment a week ago and they were running out of time to find him a new home.

Since making his major league debut in 2008, Bowden has appeared in 39 games, pitching 59.1 innings. In that time, he has accumulated an ERA of 5.61 with a WHIP of 1.584. While those numbers are far from impressive his strike out to walk ratio is. With 48 strike outs and 23 walks he does appear to have some solid command. This year though, he appears to be pitching quite well and may be coming into form. He has pitched three innings in his two games while only allowing one run. He has also struck out three batters and has only given up one free pass. In my mind, he will almost certainly be used in the back end of the bullpen as a set up pitcher.

Bowden is scheduled to join the team in Chicago in time for the game tomorrow night against the St. Louis Cardinals. There is only one problem, the roster currently stands at 25 men. With the same number of pitchers and fielders they started the year with, so there is no obvious choice as to who will go down to the minor leagues or receive their outright release.

There are of course several candidates to be catapulted off the roster, such as today’s losing pitcher Rodrigo Lopez. Other candidates would be Lendy Castillo, Rafael Dolis and Shawn Camp. I know that the popular choice would be to send Carlos Marmol packing, but that is not going to happen, so you would save yourselves a lot of time and aggravation if you stop waiting for that to happen. He will be on this team for the entire 2012 baseball season, unless Epstein and Hoyer are able to hoodwink another team into taking him. With that being said, let us take a look at the five men in question and who does and does not make sense.

Lopez makes the least sense to be taken off the roster as he is the team’s long man. You need someone on the team who can eat a few innings if needed and he is the only one who can fit that role as a former starting pitcher. While he is irreplaceable and not a mainstay on the roster, at the moment, at least until Ryan Dempster gets back, there is no other pitcher who can easily slide in and take over that role. Once Dempster gets back, today’s starting pitcher Randy Wells might be shifted into that role in order to keep him on the roster. Long story short, I believe Lopez is safe.

Castillo has a chance of getting sent back down to the minors, but the problem with him is that he was the team’s Rule 5 Draft pick. If the Cubs want to keep him they need to keep him on the 25 man roster all year, other wise he goes back to the Philadelphia Phillies unless the Cubs work out a deal to keep him. I don’t think he has to worry about losing his job, because the Cubs seem to like him. If they didn’t think he could stick all year they would have worked out a deal with the Phillies and sent him to the minors at the start of the season. Therefore, Castillo might very well be safe.

Camp is one of the two that I feel has the most chance to be removed to make room for Bowden. He has not pitched well at all in his time with the Cubs. He has struggled to the point where he has almost reached Marmol territory. His inflated ERA of  4.22 is counted by his somewhat impressive WHIP of 1.22. However, there are two things that might very well save his job come tomorrow evening. One is the very thing that got him his job. Cubs Manager Dale Sveum knows and likes Camp, so he has the inside track as being one of the manager’s favorites. The other is his impressive strike out to walk ratio. In his seven games and 10.2 innings pitched he has struck out eight batters and only walked one. While he has not been that good, he has done a half way decent job and that could buy him a little more time on the major league roster.

If you are keeping score at home, you know which pitcher is left. Dolis, in my mind, is the most likely pitcher to be removed from the roster once Bowden arrives in Chicago tomorrow. Dolis has been the most inconsistent pitcher on the pitching staff and has looked more like the Marmol who is all over the place than the man himself, and there is only room on the roster for one of them. Since Marmol makes the most money and, whether you are ready to accept the fact or not, is the team’s closer for better or worse that makes Dolis very expendable. His 4.50 ERA and 1.63 WHIP makes him very dangerous to keep in the bullpen until he can figure things out. He is as wild as they come, and we have seen wild every time we watch Marmol pitch. The difference is Marmol can set strike out records when he is on his game, whereas Dolis does not look like he can find the plate at all more often than not. He has only struck out two batters all season while walking seven. Dolis has electric stuff, so I have no doubt in my mind he can make a return to the majors at some point, but he needs to learn better control first. If I were making the call, Dolis would be the odd man out.

Within the next 24 hours, Epstein, Hoyer and Sveum will put their heads together and make their decision. They likely already know who will be removed from the roster to make room for Bowden, but they are waiting as long as possible to make the move known just in case something goes wrong. Will they agree with my assessment or will they go down a completely different path? We shall know soon.

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