Inbox: Assessing strengths, needs in the 'pen
Beat reporter Carrie Muskat fields questions from fans
The bullpen, bunting and prospects are among the topics in this week's Cubs Inbox. Send your questions to CubsInbox@gmail.com, and please include your name and hometown. We'll get back on a regular schedule.
Is there any chance the Cubs will be looking for another left-hander for the 'pen? Having James Russell as the only one makes me feel a little uneasy.
-- Michael F., Raleigh, N.C.
They're looking. The only option now is to figure out which right-hander on the current staff can handle left-handed hitters. Last year, Shawn Camp, for example, held right-handed hitters to a .263 average, but lefties hit .347 off him. Lefties batted .222 off Rafael Dolis at Double-A Tennessee. The Cubs may want Lendy Castillo to only face right-handers. Last year at Class A Lakewood, lefties hit .271 off Castillo, while right-handed hitters batted .184.
If Carlos Marmol struggles, is there a backup plan at closer?
-- Joe S., Lansing, Mich.
Not really. The Cubs used Dolis in late-inning situations in Spring Training, so he would be an option. The 24-year-old right-hander saved 17 games last season for Tennessee.
Scott Maine posted a 1.17 ERA in eight Spring Training games, yet he was sent down. At the time, GM Jed Hoyer said they were looking to acquire another lefty reliever. Why not Scott Maine?
-- Candace S., San Diego
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Maine needs to be more consistent. Here's Cubs manager Dale Sveum's take on the lefty: "So far, his velocity has gotten better, but his command is not where you want it to be for that added guy right now. He's got to get better command of all his pitches and not get behind so much."
What has happened with Angel Guzman? I haven't seen any mention of him for quite awhile. Is he still with the organization?
-- Dan F., Columbus, Ohio
Guzman signed with the Dodgers, appeared in five Spring Training games and was assigned to their Minor League camp on March 24.
Where is Gerardo Concepcion playing in the Minors?
-- Ben R., West Palm Beach, Fla.
Concepcion, who turned 20 in February, was listed on Class A Daytona's roster.
All the talk about Brett Jackson and Anthony Rizzo is great, and I look forward to seeing them in Wrigley very soon. But good pitching beats good hitting. Who in the Minors do the Cubs have who looks like he could be the staff ace of the future?
-- J.S., Aurora, Ill.
There is some talent as far as relievers go (Jeff Beliveau, for example), and Chris Rusin left a very good impression with his Cactus League start April 1 against the Angels. Robert Whitenack was 7-0 with a 1.93 ERA combined at Daytona and Tennessee before needing Tommy John surgery. I haven't heard about a Roy Halladay-type pitcher in the Cubs' system, and that's something Jason McLeod, the scouting and player development director, is looking for.
Is a move to second probable for Starlin Castro with Junior Lake making his way up?
-- Jeffery D., Chicago
Actually, Lake has played third and is talented enough to move to the outfield, so Castro could stay at shortstop.
I never saw how the bunting tournament that Dale Sveum put on during Spring Training turned out. Who did it come down to and who won the competition for the Cubs?
-- Ben W., Monticello, Iowa
David DeJesus won the 64-player tournament, organized by Sveum. In the final, held March 16, DeJesus, who won the position players' bracket, beat Casey Coleman, who won the pitchers' bracket.
I'd still very much like to get a Ron Santo "Pass10n" T-shirt that Koyie Hill designed. Is there any way the Cubs are going to bring those back for fans to buy?
-- Laramie R., Chicago
Sorry, but I'm told there are no plans to sell them again.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.