The Cubs have recalled INF Adrian Cardenas, C Welington Castillo and P Casey Coleman from Iowa
These are all familiar faces, of course, as all three have been with the Cubs already this year, and their recalls have been made necessary given the four empty roster spots after today’s trades.
There’s not much to say about Cardenas, who spent most of his time in the majors earlier in the season on the bench, and frankly I’m not sure what he’s doing back with the major league club. He’ll be used in a utility role, but it stands to reason that he’s more or less taking Reed Johnson’s spot on the roster. And that’s what’s confusing, because Cardenas bats lefthanded, unlike Johnson, and isn’t really very useful as an outfielder, unlike Johnson, who could play all three spots. I’m not sure what use the Cubs have for a lefthanded utility infielder with little power, especially since the most logical defensive role for a utility player on this team would be to sub for Valbuena at third. But Valbuena is a lefty, also, so Cardenas isn’t even suited to that role. I would have guessed that Dave Sappelt is the more logical choice, but despite playing better lately, Sappelt has been mostly unproductive for Iowa this season (he’s hitting .260/.318/.355).
Coleman’s role is most obvious, since both Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm have been traded, and the day of Matt Garza’s next start has yet to be determined. However, Coleman is simply a poor pitcher, having been bad in the majors this season (7.32 ERA in 16 relief appearances) and in the minors (5.01 ERA in 11 appearances, including 9 starts). And just to reinforce the point, as I write this he’s already allowed a grand slam in tonight’s game.
Neither of those two guys likely figure in the Cubs’ long-term plans, but for Castillo it may be a different story. After a big start, he’s cooled off recently at Iowa, and is now batting .260/.375/.425 for the season. The Cubs have talked about wanting to give him as much playing time as possible, but now with Geovany Soto having been traded, he finds himself likely to split time with Steve Clevenger behind the plate. I hope that Dale Sveum doesn’t go with a straight platoon, because that would leave Castillo (as the righthander) on the bench more often than not, and that playing time is divided more or less evenly. Regardless, though, this looks like a real battle for the position, with both players getting a chance to earn the starting job outright next season. Hopefully at least one of them makes the most of the chance.