Okay, so I know that it may be a bit premature to think about the playoff roster. After all, we're just tied in the loss column and more than two weeks of season remains, but you can't help but think about what the Cubs options are, if and when they make the playoffs.
It was just six months ago, that the Cubs were looking at a large roster, looking to make cuts down to 25. Then, it was the end of Spring Training and the team was looking to finalize the roster for the regular season. Now, the rosters have expanded and more is on the line. Changes to the roster won't be able to be made as easily and so there is a lot more and stake here.
Geovany Soto had a career year in Iowa. We all know that. Batting .353 while clubbing 26 homeruns and driving in 109 in just 385 at-bats earned him a 1.076 OPS and MVP honors for the Pacific Coast League. Now, Soto is with the big club and he hasn't stopped hitting. His 4-for-5 on Sunday raised his batting average to .423 (11-26) and he's now slugging .692 with a 1.175 OPS. I understand that the sample size is small and that expecting to put up those kinds of numbers, especially against quality pitchers from playoffs teams, is unreasonable. Hell, if we did expect that, there wouldn't even be a discussion here.
But, one thing is for certain. Soto brings so much more to the table offensively than Henry Blanco, who has been hurt for most of the year. So, are his offensive abilities worth leaving Henry Blanco and his sparkling defense off of the playoff roster? It may depend on who the first round opponent is. If the Wild Card comes out of the east, we would have to take on Jose Reyes and the Mets. If the Padres can hang on to the National League's final playoff berth, our first round opponent would be the Arizona Diamondbacks, a station-to-station team.
So why not take three catchers? Well, the problem is that there is a log jam already for the limited number of bullpen slots and outfield slots; we shouldn't be taking away another roster spot just for a third catcher. Lou can't have eight relievers, five outfielders, and three catchers and it seems to me like the third catcher is the least important.
The way I see it, there are 20 locks for the playoff roster. The top four pitchers in the rotation will obviously be the starters used in the post season, while the big four in the bullpen will obviously all make the team. Scott Eyre and Sean Marshall are the obvious choices for the lefties in the bullpen, but who the other two choices are -- and if Lou even wants two more choices -- is anybody's guess.
As far as infielders are concerned, the team would likely go with the six main guys that they have used all year: Lee, DeRosa, Ramirez, Theriot, and Ward are all must keeps while Fontenot is the default sixth. The three starting outfielders should make the playoff roster as well, but that leaves just two slots remaining for Pie, Murton, and Monroe. The latter two guys would both serve the same purpose (to hit lefties), so maybe Pie comes on for the defense and speed. But, then which of the two righties would you take?
Jason Kendall rounds out the locks as the starting catcher.
Of the players on the team, there are also locks for not making the playoff roster. Pitchers Carmen Pignatiello, Will Ohman, and Kevin Hart fall into that list as do Ronny Cedeno and Sam Fuld. It clears up the picture a little bit, but it's still not perfect. Gallagher, Wuertz and Trachsel will probably battle the rest of the season for the final two (or maybe just one) remaining slot in the bullpen.