The Reliever Saturation Expansion Solution

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crow 2016 1

The Manny Parra signing on Monday did very little to inspire me. I am not much of a fan of the former starter. On the other hand, I really like the Aaron Crow signing from last week instead. Crow’s signing could turn out to be a great move because he won’t be healthy to mid season. It’s almost like the first trade deadline deal.

It seems as though Theo Epstein has signed a reliever or a pitcher about every week this offseason. The end result of all the signings are a boatload of pitchers are now throwing off of mounds in spring training. Most of the pitchers signed will not make the big league club and likely will be released rather than go down to AAA. Some might be able sneak through waivers and stick with Iowa in some capacity this spring.

The New Arms Coming to Spring Training List

SP – Adam Warren (R), Drew Rucinski (R), Stephen Fife (R), Jonathan Pettibone (R),

RP –  Rex Brothers (L) Spencer Patton (R) C. J. Riefenhauser (L) Andury Acevedo (R) Brandon Gomes (R), Manny Parra (L), Jean Machi (R), Edgar Olmos (L), Aaron Crow (R), Jack Leathersich (L) Scott Barnes (L), Nick Greenwood (L), Luis Parra (L), Miguel Mejia (R), and Cole Brocker (R)

Ideally, you want to break camp and head back to Chicago with 8 relievers. You want to make sure you have a mix of lefties and righties, hard throwers and soft tossers, veteran and young arms. When you look at the list of incumbent pitchers, there is not really a lot of room to add any more arms. Maybe one, maybe two, but that’s about it.

The Incumbents

cj 2016 82 2The Returnees: Rondon, Grimm, Strop, Wood, Cahill, Ramirez, Richard

The Returning Maybes: Rosscup, Rivero, Carl Edwards

To me, the Maybes might be the most important of all and have an inside track to the bullpen. Edwards got a sneak peak last fall down the stretch but did not make the postseason roster. Rosscup is a favorite of pitching coach Chris Bosio, and Armando Rivero has not been given a chance. At 28, he is close to being out of time.

Right now, it appears as though the Cubs are operating under the old adage, “You can never have enough pitching.” I like that there will be competition for bullpen spots. It’ll make the spring training games more exciting. I think what the Cubs have done here is to throw a bunch of different colored paints at the wall to see which colors are going to stick.

Who has a real shot at making the big league club

Adam Warren (R) Rex Brothers (L)

Adam Warren has the best chance of breaking into the rotation this year. And if doesn’t happen for him to start the year, he will be ready in the pen in case of injury. He will also be top of the list to replace Jason Hammel when Hammel’s contract expires after this season. Right now, as a lefty, I would assume Rex Brothers has an inside track on a bullpen spot just based on his experience and the arm with which he throws.

Who will probably latch on at Iowa and/or Tennessee

Starters: Drew Rucinski (R), Stephen Fife (R)

Relievers: Spencer Patton (R) Andury Acevedo (R) Brandon Gomes (R), Manny Parra (L), Edgar Olmos (L – maybe Tennessee), Cole Brocker (R – Tennessee)

The Cubs are really gambling here. If one works out from this bunch, that is a huge bonus to have a bullpen arm, in addition to your own prospects, who could contribute as relievers in the big leagues. I think Olmos and Patton might be two to keep an eye on – both are close to major league ready. Acevedo has huge control problems and could take a little longer to get straight.

leathersich signeeDL in the Minors

Aaron Crow (R), and Jack Leathersich (L)

Both of these players could be ready by July 1. Leathersich might take a little longer. When ready, I think it will be tough call on who gets removed from the pen. Leathersich has some good stuff. The Mets blew out his elbow when they left him out for a near 40+ pitch inning.

Who will likely be given their walking papers

Scott Barnes (L), Nick Greenwood (L), Luis Parra (L), Miguel Mejia (R), and C. J. Riefenhauser (L) Jonathan Pettibone (R)

I could be wrong, but I find it highly doubtful the Cubs have spots for all these players at Iowa. 

While this amount of pitching may seem in excess, it is actually is a good strategy because the players are such a low risk/high reward type of signing. If it works out, the team looks great. If it doesn’t, you are not worse off for it.


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