The Cubs are going to toss some guys on the disabled list to open the season and have trimmed the spring roster to 35. As of now there are a couple spots up for grabs: bench guy and bullpen guy. My best guess for bullpen guy is that it goes to lefty Hisanori Takahashi, who would be a complement to James Russell as the southpaw contingent of the pitching staff. As for bench guy, I had originally thought that Brian Bogusevic would be a logical choice, but because he’s left-handed and only plays outfield (and some first base), he’s either ticketed for Iowa or the waiver wire.
Via the non-roster invitee list, the only guy who hasn’t been cut yet is Alberto Gonzalez. The Cubs would need to look on the waiver wire to locate a new infield backup option if they don’t like Gonzalez. Originally, Lillibridge would have served the right-handed utility guy role made famous by the Great Mark DeRosa and former Cub Super Joe Mather. However, with Ian Stewart injured, Lillibridge is now entrenched in a platoon with Valbuena which means they’ll need another backup for those days that Starlin Castro needs off.
Personally, I’d rather they just keep Gonzalez, who is turning 30 this season and can play all the infield spots. Dave Sappelt and Scott Hairston are already on the team and are capable of playing multiple OF spots, so an IF-OF super-utility guy isn’t that critical. As stated before, if they really wanted that option they can just throw Lillibridge in the outfield.
The other names that have been mentioned are Chone Figgins and Bill Hall. Both Figgins and Hall are older than Alberto Gonzalez, and based on recent production over the past few seasons, they’re not much better than Gonzalez, if at all. Gordon Wittenmeyer suggests that the Cubs wouldn’t think about using these guys anyway. Bill Hall may have a slight edge as he has more power potential than the other two mentioned, but considering that this last spot should be used for a guy who will rarely see action on offense or defense, I don’t think it matters. Besides, if Ian Stewart ever returns to full strength/health, the guy at this spot is going to get released anyway.
Just a short mental exercise for a Sunday brunch.