Inbox: Who will substitute for Lilly?
Beat reporter Carrie Muskat answers Cubs fans' questions
Angel Guzman, Xavier Nady and possible blogger candidates are among the topics in this week's Cubs Inbox. E-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, and please include your full name and hometown.
I read that Guzman is in the mix to fill in for Ted Lilly while Lilly recovers from shoulder surgery. Are the Cubs seriously considering Guzman to be a starter? He was very effective as a reliever last year, and the team already seems to be one reliever short at the back end of the bullpen. Wouldn't it make more sense to leave Guzman in the bullpen where he's had success and choose another option to fill in for Lilly?
-- Erich B., Bourbonnais, Ill.
Not sure where you read that, but Guzman is not a candidate to sub for Lilly. Guzman, who has battled elbow and shoulder injuries in his career, seems to have made the switch to relief very well and has a better chance of emerging as the right-handed complement to lefty John Grabow. He could help set up closer Carlos Marmol.
The list for potential starters to fill in for Lilly includes Jeff Samardzija, Tom Gorzelanny, Sean Marshall and Rule 5 Draft pick Michael Parisi. This will be a big year for Samardzija, who seemed to have a tough time getting into a rhythm last season. In 2008, he compiled a 2.28 ERA in 26 relief appearances. Could he be a better reliever than starter? Bouncing back and forth last season between the big league team and the Minors didn't help the right-hander. He did have a chance to work on his offspeed pitches in Mexico this winter.
The Cubs also have to find a good role for newcomer Carlos Silva, who has been used primarily as a starter.
From what I understand, the starting outfield will be Alfonso Soriano in left, Marlon Byrd in center and Kosuke Fukudome in right. My question is, after seeing the Cubs acquire Nady, is he going to play off the bench or contend for a starting job? If his role is going to be off the bench, no disrespect to Nady because he's a decent player, but a one-year, $3 million contract plus incentives is a lot of money for a bench player.
-- Sean M., Geneseo, Ill.
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That's how much Reed Johnson was paid last season, and he was considered a bench player. The Cubs are hoping Nady is able to share time in right field with Fukudome, facing tough left-handed pitching, and also can spell Soriano as well as pinch-hit. First, we have to see how well Nady can throw following Tommy John ligament replacement surgery on his elbow.
I'm concerned the Cubs haven't addressed all of their holes. We don't have a good backup for third base, second base needs some help, the bullpen needs help, and I'm really afraid of the starting pitching. Do you see any moves to plug some of the problems?
-- Frank C. Harvard, Ill.
Not immediately. The Cubs' scouts will be at spring camps in both Arizona and Florida to look at possible additions, most likely via trade. Jeff Baker is the third base backup, which the Cubs didn't have last year, and he, Mike Fontenot and Andres Blanco will share second. Let's see what new hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo can do with Fontenot.
The bullpen is missing one experienced pitcher or they could stick with the kids. As for the starting pitching, that's the deepest, with Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells, Lilly, Silva, Samardzija, Gorzelanny, Marshall and Parisi. And that list doesn't include any of the young arms in the system who will get a look this spring, such as Jay Jackson and Mitch Atkins. Guess I'm not as concerned as you are.
My suggestion for a blogger this year [to take over for Johnson] is Lilly. I would like to see a pitcher's perspective, especially with his rehab.
-- Tom E., St. Louis
Here's hoping Lilly's rehab only lasts a few weeks into the regular season so fans won't have to read much about that. He could be ready mid-April or May 1. The team doesn't want to set a deadline, preferring to wait and see when the lefty is ready.
I think Dempster would be the perfect guy for the blog this year. He's hilarious and seems really good with the press and clearly loves the fans. Is he open to it?
-- Jake L., Moscow, Idaho
Dempster is all of the above, but he does have a lot on his plate. He's created a foundation, the Ryan and Jenny Dempster Family Foundation, to help raise awareness of DiGeorge Syndrome and reach out to families affected by it. Their daughter, Riley, who turns 1 on April 1, was born with the disorder, caused by deletions within the 22q11 chromosome, and she has difficulty swallowing. You can find out more by going to the foundation's Web site.
A suggestion for this year's blog, maybe Nady? It would be nice to hear the day-to-day thoughts of a guy like him playing for the Cubs for the first time and coming off an injury.
-- J.T., Mobile, Ala.
Nady is a possibility. There also were a lot of votes cast for Ryan Theriot.
I think we all want to see "Big Z" do the blog.
-- David C., Chicago
Zambrano did a blog in Spanish last year for loscubs.com for a short time, but the reader comments became rather personal and unpleasant, so it was stopped. Commentators need to think before hitting that "submit" button.
I'd suggest Koyie Hill. He seems like a nice guy with his charity and at the Cubs Convention, he wasn't too much of a big timer that he would ignore it. I think he would provide a great perspective.
-- Rob S., Cary, Ill.
Hill would be an excellent choice. However, he's also pretty sharp. A few readers pointed out that past bloggers Mark DeRosa and Johnson did not last long with the Cubs. Hill may know that. Paulette H. in Peoria does.
One more chance: The last two bloggers were sent on their way the following year, but I'm going to live dangerously and suggest Dempster as the blogger this year. If he goes, I suggest we retire the blogging.
-- Paulette H., Peoria, Ill.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.