The what of the when/if of Wood and Prior
Well, it seems that everyone else is talking about what to do if/when Wood and Prior come back, so I will too. And yes, if everyone else jumped off a bridge, I would too. I like to be consistent in my conformity.
I was actually discussing this just last night while watching Sergio master the Marlins. If Sergio continues to pitch this well up until Wood and Prior are both due back, what happens? Granted that is a really big if (actually, this is a really big if:
), but hypotheticals are good for the soul.
Right now, Wood is slated for at least two more rehab starts and I think that is all he is going to need. So, he should return around June 29th or so (as long as the shoulder-fluid doesn't return first), and at that point, Koronka or Hill or whoever is filling in for the DL-dynamo is going to be shipped back to Iowa. So far, no big deal. Now we have a rotation of Zambrano, Maddux, Rusch, Wood, Mitre. So things are looking up. (wee!)
Now, assuming that after Wood returns the pod people don't bring back Mitre and the duct tape holding together Wood's shoulder doesn't fail, there will be another decision to make. I'm looking at a Prior return right around the All-Star break if there are no setbacks. Now, unless the Cubs want to go with a six man rotation (they don't), they need to make a decision. Someone has to go to the bullpen. Who should it be?
Well, I'm pretty certain it won't be Wood. He makes very much money and has very much ego, and I don't think he would take well to a demotion. Plus, his well-documented first inning struggles make him a poor candidate for a reliever. So that brings us to Rusch or Mitre. Or a trade. There has been speculation bubbling across the internet that the Cubs might try to acquire Gary Sheffield. The rumor was started in the NY Post, and Dusty has claimed ignorance on this trade (Dusty is very believable when it come to ignorance). If the trade goes down, expect one of these pitchers to head over to NY. But don't expect the trade to go down, it is a bit far fetched.
What do I think will happen? I think that Mitre will remain in the rotation and Rusch will go back to the pen. Why do I think this? I have no idea, it is just a hunch.
What would I do? Assuming no trade and that Wood doesn't go to the pen, I would send whomever is playing worse between Mitre/Rusch to the pen. That is the easy thing to do and the expected thing to do, and so I think the players will be most comfortable with that. Besides, the pen could use some long relief help.
Eventually though, a trade for a outfielder will happen. And Sergio will probably be traded. But for Sheffield? Well, seeing as how Hendry worked so hard to purge the team of all its crabby-pants players, I don't think he is going to jump on the chance to acquire another.
Now, what happens if Nomar returns...