Busch Stadium (Image: Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE)

Beyond Busch: NL Central & MLB Notes – Spring Training Week 2


We are now through two weeks of Spring Training. Teams are beginning to make cuts, assigning prospects to minor league camps and certain roles are beginning to solidify. There are plenty of positions left unsettled, but as Spring Training moves on, more and more cuts will be made until there are 25 players on the roster. This week, I’ll take a look at some of the openings in each NL Central camp at this time.

Chicago Cubs

The biggest competition in Cubs’ camp is for the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation. Right now the Cubs are throwing four guys for the final two spots. It’s a fight between Travis Wood, Randy Wells, Chris Volstad and Jeff Samardzija. Paul Maholm seems to be a lock for the rotation with Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza sure things barring injury. Wood has gotten knocked around so far this spring carrying a 20.25 ERA. Wells and Volstad have yet to allow an earned run in 5.2 and 6 innings respectively. Samardzija sports a 3.00 ERA, but has struck out 6 batters in 6 innings without a walk.

Cincinnati Reds

The Reds also seem to have a cluster of players fighting for the final two rotation spots. The competition here is between Homer Bailey, Mike Leake and Aroldis Chapman. Chapman is working on a transition from the bullpen to the rotation. Bailey is having an awful spring so far; in 7.1 innings he has a 11.05 ERA and batters are hitting .393 off him. He’s allowed 3 home runs. Leake hasn’t been much better with a 7.71 ERA and batters hitting .463 off him. Chapman may have the early lead with a 2.57 ERA with 7 strikeouts in 7 innings.

Houston Astros

As seems to be the theme so far, the Astros are also auditioning a handful of players for two open rotation spots. Livan Hernandez, Zach Duke, Jordan Lyles, Kyle Weiland and Henry Sosa all hope to impress Brad Mills enough to be named to the starting rotation. Weiland has yet to allow a run in 8 innings and Hernandez has an ERA of 1.91 through 11 innings. Each year no matter where he lands, it seems Hernandez does enough to win a rotation spot. Duke, Lyles and Sosa have all had issues so far this spring so his chances are improving.

Milwaukee Brewers

The rotation in Milwaukee is pretty settled. They are working on rounding out the bench and at the back end of the bullpen. The Brewers have some veterans and young players looking to latch on to the club to act as key members of the bench. Corey Hart‘s availability for the opening series will make a difference about an outfielder being in the mix. Logan Schafer is putting together an excellent spring to get himself some consideration. The veterans in the mix are Brooks Conrad, Travis Ishikawa and Cesar Izturis who manager Ron Roenicke seems to have a spot for. Conrad’s ability to hit from both sides of the plate may help his odds. Schafer is hitting .550, Conrad .238 and Ishikawa .350.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Back to the rotations. The Pirates are working out the same issues as many of the other NL Central clubs, shoring up the back end of the rotation. Charlie Morton, James McDonald, Erik Bedard and Brad Lincoln are fighting it out for the last two spots. There actually is a third spot available for a short time as A.J. Burnett will be out until sometime close to mid-May after fracturing his orbital bone during bunting drills. McDonald and Lincoln have not been good at all so far this spring. McDonald’s ERA is at 9.00 and Lincoln’s is double that. Morton has made only one start while Bedard has looked good in his two outings sporting a 3.60 ERA and holding hitters to a .133 batting average in five innings.

Here are notes on the remaining MLB lineups (all stats through Thursday’s games).

NL East

Atlanta BravesBrandon Beachy and Mike Minor looking to hold 4 & 5 spots

Miami MarlinsCarlos Zambrano; 6.75 ERA, but 9 K’s in 5.2 IP

New York MetsJohan Santana looking good thus far

Philadelphia PhilliesJim Thome working in his glove at first

Washington NationalsChien-Ming Wang strains hammy ending solid performance against Yanks

NL West

Arizona Diamonbacks – This team is ready to go right now

Colorado RockiesJamie Moyer; 49 yrs. old, 5 IP, 1.80 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, .222 BAA

Los Angeles DodgersJosh Fields fighting for last roster spot

San Diego PadresCarlos Quentin; .533, 1 HR, 2 2B, 4 RBI

San Francisco Giants – Free Brandon Belt

AL East

Baltimore OriolesBrian Matusz ready to make a splash; 13 K in 10 IP

Boston Red SoxDaniel Bard rocked by Cardinals; 2.2 IP, 7 ER, 6H, BB and 1 HR

New York Yankees – Sign Andy Pettitte to minor-league deal could be worth $2.5 million

Tampa Bay Rays – Not many question marks for Joe Maddon’s team

Toronto Blue JaysTravis Snider and Eric Thames fighting over left field honors

AL Central

Chicago White SoxAdam Dunn continues to get on base; comeback player of the year chances good

Cleveland Indians – Worms don’t stand a chance agaist Tribe’s rotation

Detroit TigersJustin Verlander strikes out 8 in 3.2 IP against Orioles

Kansas City RoyalsAlcides Escobar extended through 2015 with two club option years

Minnesota TwinsDanny Valencia looking to bounce back from sophomore slump

AL West

Los Angeles AngelsC.J. Wilson solid in first three starts; 9 IP, 1.00 ERA, 0.78 WHIP

Oakland A’s – Keep an eye on Jemile Weeks

Seattle Mariners – Is Michael Saunders finally ready to shine?

Texas RangersJosh Hamilton; 3-for-22, 0 HR, 0 RBI

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Tags: A.J. Burnett Adam Dunn Alcides Escobar Andy Pettitte Aroldis Chapman Brad Lincoln Brad Mills Brandon Beachy Brandon Belt Brian Matusz Brooks Conrad C.J. Wilson Carlos Quentin Carlos Zambrano Cesar Izturis Charlie Morton Chicago Cubs Chien-Ming Wang Chris Volstad Cincinnati Reds Corey Hart Daniel Bard Danny Valencia Eric Thames Erik Bedard Featured Henry Sosa Homer Bailey Houston Astros James McDonald Jamie Moyer Jeff Samardzija Jemile Weeks Jim Thome Johan Santana Jordan Lyles Josh Fields Josh Hamilton Justin Verlander Kyle Weiland Livan Hernandez Logan Schafer Matt Garza Michael Saunders Mike Leake Milwaukee Brewers Minor Leagues Paul Maholm Pittsburgh Pirates Popular Randy Wells Ryan Dempster Travis Snider Travis Wood Zach Duke