"We are going to take the best pitchers north, so if Samardzija does not get the fifth spot, he will get all the consideration in the world in the bullpen... But let's see how the organization feels. The organization has a say in that also." - Lou Piniella (credit to the Tribune for the quotes)
I have a good feeling the "organization" is going to want Samardzija starting in Iowa to begin the year. So where does that leave the bullpen?
That's really the next big question for the Cubs, as it appears Sean Marshall has basically locked up the fifth starting spot.
If Marshall does in fact win the 5-spot, it's tough luck for Aaron Heilman. Of course, it's a near certainty that the Cubs will need a sixth starting pitcher at some point in the season. But I can't imagine it's easy, much less fun, to switch from reliever to starter, and back again to reliever, within a season. If both Heilman and Samardzija succeed in their respective roles to begin 2009, it may be wise to keep Heilman in the pen and call up Samardzija for spot starts.
If Heilman is in fact kept in the bullpen throughout the year, that will have locked up three of seven available spots. That leaves four more slots for Chad Gaudin, Luis Vizcaino, Kevin Hart, Angel Guzman, Neal Cotts, and Jason Waddell. Furthermore, I guess Jose Ascanio, Ken Kadokura, David Patton and Mike Stanton continue to see innings at this point.
Anyone have any idea on who gets the last four spots? I'd guess Gaudin, Guzman, Cotts, and Waddell. At the same time, I wouldn't be surprised to see three of those four guys miss the boat.
I guess we'll have to wait to find out.
In the meantime, Lou should bench Aaron Miles.