2012 Roster Projection: Chicago Cubs

PITTSBURGH - JULY 09: Darwin Barney #15 of the Chicago Cubs is congratulated by teammate Starlin Castro #13 after scoring against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the game on July 9, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

For most MLB teams, the focus is now officially on 2012. You can probably say the same for most fans, too. So here at MLBDD we're spending some time projecting each team's 25-man roster for Opening Day 2012. We're not projecting trades or free agent signings here, so this is purely focusing on the talent that each team already has in-house. The 2012 season may not start soon, but we can still think about what it might look like.

Starting Lineup (ages are based on April 4, 2012)

Catcher: Geovany Soto - Age 29

First Base: Bryan LaHair - Age 29

Second Base: Darwin Barney - Age 26

Third Base: Jeff Baker - Age 30

Shortstop: Starlin Castro - Age 22

Left Field: Alfonso Soriano - Age 36

Center Field: Marlon Byrd - Age 34

Right Field: Tyler Colvin - Age 26

Batting Order

1. SS Castro 2. 3B Baker 3. CF Byrd 4. 1B LaHair 5. LF Soriano 6. C Soto 7. RF Colvin 8. 2B Barney

Bench

C Welington Castillo, IF Blake DeWitt, IF D.J. LeMaheiu, OF Lou Montanez, OF Tony Campana

Starting Rotation

1. RHP Matt Garza - Age 28

2. RHP Ryan Dempster - Age 35

3. RHP Randy Wells - Age 29

4. RHP Jeff Samardzija - Age 27

5. RHP Andrew Cashner - Age 25

Bullpen

Closer: RHP Carlos Marmol - Age 29

Others: LHP Sean Marshall, RHP Chris Carpenter, LHP James Russell, RHP Marcos Mateo, LHP John Gaub, RHP Casey Coleman

Some Quick Thoughts

  • I'm not sure if the Cubs will play Brett Jackson on Opening Day. He's going to be the primary center fielder in Chicago at some point in 2012, but I wouldn't be remotely surprised if they opened the season with Byrd in center and Colvin in right. Most Cub fans would probably prefer to see Jackson, though.
  • The infield corners are obviously going to be sources of focus for the Cubs this winter. Going with LaHair at first base wouldn't be bad, but there aren't many options if the Cubs want to try to replace Aramis Ramirez at third base. I'm thinking that the Cubs didn't want to give up Jeff Baker this summer because they view him as the team's 2012 third baseman.
  • I expect the Cubs to add at least one veteran role player for next season, although they'll presumably keep DeWitt and Campana around. They keep bringing back Koyie Hill for his intangibles and defense, but I suspect that will end now, particularly given Welington Castillo's readiness.
  • I'm not including Carlos Zambrano here. I simply don't believe that he's ever coming back to Chicago.
  • There are rumors that the Cubs will try to convert Jeff Samardzija back to the rotation this winter, though many are reasonably skeptical about how that might work out. He had a solid year in the Cubs' bullpen, but he's basically a two-pitch pitcher with shaky command. Either way, there aren't many other options here.
  • Continuing the theme of weak starting pitching options, Cashner gets slotted into the No. 5 spot even though it shouldn't surprise anyone if he ends up in the bullpen next season. He blew out his arm trying to convert to the rotation this spring, but he has the stuff to be a starter and only needs to prove that his arm can take the innings. 
  • If Cashner does move to the bullpen, the Cubs could have one ridiculously good bullpen, though. Between Marmol, Marshall, Carpenter and Cashner, the Cubs would have four top-level relief arms ready to go, and that's before factoring in a possible return from Kerry Wood.
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