The Cubs just finalized their opening-day roster, and they bit the bullet on one salary. Making the team in the bullpen are Rule 5 draft pick David Patton and longtime prospect Angel Guzman. The Cubs also optioned right-hander Jeff Samardzija to Class AAA Iowa, where he presumably will work as a starting pitcher.
The biggest news out of this was that the Cubs released veteran right-hander Chad Gaudin, who had a miserable spring training. The Cubs will be on the hook for $1.6 million of the $2 million he has coming. If another team picks him up, and somebody will, they pick up the remainder, which amounts to the major-league minimum salary. GM Jim Hendry tried over the last few days to trade Gaudin, but other teams apparently sensed they could pick Gaudin up without relinquishing a player.
I've been all for keeping Patton, whom the Cubs obtained in a trade with Cincinnati at the winter meetings. The Reds took Patton in the Rule 5 draft out of the Colorado organization. The Cubs must keep Patton on the major-league roster all season as part of the Rule 5 stipulations.
The 24-year-old Patton walked a pair of batters Saturday at Yankee Stadium, but he had a great Cactus League. In 12 games, he was 1-1 with a 1.35 ERA. In 13 1-3 Cactus League innings, he gave up 13 hits and 2 runs while walking only three and striking out 15. The Cubs loved his "mound presence." The kid never looked rattled, and he had a confidence about him that belied his pitching only as high as Class A for the Rockies.
Back at the winter meetings, Hendry said his scouts, particulary Libertyville's Lucas McKnight, provided strong reports on Patton and that they took him in deference to the scouts. I'm told McKnight's work was particularly gutsy and insightful. A lot of scouts might ignore a middle reliever, but McKnight was on Patton and provided strong recommendations. We'll see how it pans out.
Guzman had a 7.94 ERA in the Cactus League, but he threw the ball better as time went on. He is out of minor-league options, and the Cubs apparently feel they didn't want to lose him after all the time they spent rehabbing him from various injuries over the years.
Gaudin, whom the Cubs got from Oakland last July along with Rich Harden, never did get it together in spring training, and baseball types told me he was overstriding. He had a 10.91 Cactus League ERA, giving up 26 hits and 19 earned runs in 15 2-3 innings.
The opening-night lineup looks like this for tomorrow: