Goatriders of the Apocalypse

12-Man Staff

Goat Reader Alex Walsh wrote us recently with the following: I'd love to read your take on what the Cubs' 12-man pitching roster ought to be, both now and in the future. You could talk about the 5th starter's spot, as well as the bullpen roles of each guy, etc. etc.

Alex, as promised, this article will answer that request.  Of course, Lou Piniella has yet to return one of my phone calls, but even if this isn't what the Cubs will do, I will submit that it's what the Cubs should do.

First and foremost, it's almost certain that this will be the Cubs rotation the rest of the way:

SP Carlos Zambrano
Ryan Dempster
Rich Harden
Ted Lilly
Jason Marquis

That's the easy part, although it's debatable if Marquis is the best 5th starter.

In terms of the bullpen, these are the likeliest options:

Mop-Up: Bob Howry 53 IP, 5.09 ERA
Scott Eyre 11.1 IP 7.15 ERA
Middle Relief: Jon Lieber 44.2 IP 3.43 ERA
Neal Cotts 20.2 IP 3.48 ERA
Sean Marshall 32.2 IP 4.13 ERA
Michael Wuertz 38 IP 3.55 ERA
Set Up: Carlos Marmol 61.1 IP 3.52 ERA
Jeff Samardzija 8.1 IP 2.16 ERA
Chad Gaudin 12.2 IP 2.13 ERA
Closer: Kerry Wood 44.2 IP 3.02 ERA

That's 10 options for 7 positions.  If I'm Jim Hendry, the first move is to re-evaluate the #5 starter.  Jason Marquis just isn't cutting it.  Here are the options:

Jason Marquis 6-7 4.68 ERA
Sean Marshall 1-2, 4.38 ERA as a starter
Jeff Samardzija 0 starts so far, but damn good so far
Chad Gaudin 3-2, 3.75 ERA in 6 starts
Jon Lieber let's ignore his 1 start this year and still argue he's better

I'd submit that any of these guys are better options than Marquis, but the bullpen is hugely important to the Cubs.  Of this group, Samardzija has perhaps the best future as a starter, however, at this point he's been huge to the Cubs as a set-up guy.  Lou's going to probably want to keep him in that role this year.  Marshall, while respectable as a starter, also serves an important role as a lefty pitcher.  Lieber and Gaudin are perhaps the best two options, although I'd probably be most inclined to try Gaudin first, as he's had more success as a starter this year.  Therefore, I'd turn Marquis into the long-inning mop-up guy, and Gaudin would become the new #5 starter.

For the pen, first and foremost I would call Bob Howry and Scott Eyre into a room, shake their hands, thank them for their 2.5 years of work, and send them on their merry way.  

Next, while I would like to return Wuertz to the pen, as I believe he's a very competent middle reliever, at this point I'm hard pressed to be convinced that he's any better than Lieber.  For that reason, Wuertz stays in Iowa until the Cubs can unload Marquis.  I dunno, maybe they can waive him, let somebody claim him, and wave him goodbye.  Maybe they can find a taker, although it's unlikely at this stage that he has any trade value.  Regardless, my bullpen will look like this the rest of the year:

Mop Up: Marquis, RHP
Middle Relief: Sean Marshall, LHP, Jon Lieber, RHP, Neal Cotts, LHP
Set Up: Marmol, RHP, Samardzija, RHP
Closer: Wood RHP. 

If Marquis stays in the rotation, I move Lieber to mop up and Gaudin to middle relief.  If Lieber stays injured, I return Wuertz from Iowa.  But none of this is possible so long as the Cubs keep Howry and Eyre.  One way or the other, those dead-weights need to be tossed overboard.  The Cubs need to move forward and think about winning, rather than loyalty. 

Mysterious Injury time

Waiving Bobby Howry and Scott Eyre doesn't accomplish much except getting two guys who aren't currently performing well off the roster. This is only an issue for another 25 days or so.

I would diagnose Bobby with a phantom injury, say the dreaded '25 day dead arm disease.' Give him a few weeks off and magically he healed as soon as rosters expand.

Bobby's been too valuable the last few years to cut him just because he's struggling... especially when you're 25 days away from it not being a problem.

Scott Eyre? I wouldn't be too disappointed if he was DFAed, but his run as a Cub never matched up to Bobby.

This has been a message of Pestilence

Eyre just got waived.

So that's already come to pass.

Well, it accomplishes not

Well, it accomplishes not having to worry about Bob Howry and Scott Eyre coughing up leads in heart-breaking fashion.

At this point, the Cubs have more than enough relief pitchers on the squad. They do not need to hang on to Howry. He is in the last year of his contract, they accomplish nothing by keeping him around because 1) he's not coming back, and 2) Lou's not going to use him in October.

So why not make room by sending him home?

Draft pick.

If the Cubs offer Howry arbitration at the end of the season, they're probably looking at getting at least a "sandwich" pick, maybe a first round pick. If he's not hurting the team, it's in their best interests to keep him around.


The amount of money the Cubs owe Marquis is obscene, and really precludes Lou, or anyone else actually, from treating Marquis the way he ought to be treated. I think Jason should be sent the same way as Scott Eyre just was, and good riddance. I'd much rather Lieber take mop-up than Marquis.

You think Jason might clear waivers? The Cubs could just let him walk and, considering the steal they made on Edmonds this year (still hate saying that), call it even.

I think Sean Marshall should be the 5th starter. I think there's something to be said for having a couple lefties in the rotation, and the kid's shown real solid stuff in the opportunities he's been given to start - including against the Cardinals (perfect time to bring him back into the rotation, Lou!).

You suggest Gaudin, but with respect to your comment about the bullpen being really important to this team, I think he's filling a really crucial spot in the 7th inning. I don't know what we can expect from Samardizja the rest of the way (other than 96mph gas with late movement).

In reality, the only real question comes down to there being one spot open for Lieber, Howry, and Wuertz, and I think they deserve it in that order.

Jason Marquis has probably already cleared waivers.

Teams routinely put all their players on waivers in the month of August.

easy clearance

Marquis has almost assuredly already cleared waivers. There's no reason the Cubs wouldn't have placed him on waivers along with most of their roster on August 1.

Second, if any team was foolish enough to claim him, the Cubs would have certainly simply accepted the claim and transferred the entirety of Marquis' remaining contract to said foolish team.

This has been a message of Pestilence

Depodesta says you can only put 7 players on waivers...

...per day. So there's a chance that Marquis hasn't cleared yet, if for some wild reason the Cubs put Marquis in the third or fourth group.

Chicago Tribune's Chicago's Best Blogs award