A virgin blogger pops his cherry on Christmas
First I would like to apologize to all on the site for not putting my thoughts into this type of blogging format before. I'm the new guy, my bad. Well here goes. I am not going to comment on Mark DeRosa, as I would rather bang my head off the bricks at Wrigley than talk any more about his situation.
Instead I am going to concentrate on the one team weakness that I feel is consistently being overlooked; which is the Cubs Bullpen. I was one of the many that was upset to see the Cubs let Kerry Wood walk, and then that fire had gasoline poured all over it soon after the news of the trade for Kevin Gregg broke. So here the team sits on Christmas day with question marks up and down the bullpen, and no one in the organization is willing to actually address the issue. The closer from 2008 is now a member of the Cleveland Indians and God bless America Bob Howry is gone too; so that's basically one step forward and two steps back. Hendry then turns and hands the Marlins an early Christmas present in the form of Jose Ceda, who is and has been a highly regarded relief pitching prospect in the organization. When the news of the trade first broke I expected Jeremy Hermida to be coming to town, but instead we picked up Kevin freakin' Gregg. A player that the Marlins didn't even want to keep around because even they realized he is going to be overpayed in comparison to the production he will give a team. The decision to let Woody go was supposedly based on dollars, but then the Cubs turn around and hand over half of the money it would have taken to keep him to acquire a terrible pitcher with virtually no upside; and we gave up a quality prospect in the process. So where do the Cubs go from here? Do you hand the keys to the car to Marmol and let him be the closer? If not, then I would assume Marmol remains the setup man and Smardjz becomes our closer for 2009. And the final scenario, a true sign of the apacalypse, Kevin Gregg is the Cub's closer with Marmol and Smardjz working as setup men.
So that being said, the back end of the bullpen needs some help. Along those same lines those within the organization that could step in and contribute in the bullpen are mostly younger guys; in which the Cubs really don't know what they can expect from them over the course of a full season. Some of those names include: Sean Marshall, Kevin Hart, Angel Guzman, Chad Gaudin, Michael Wuertz, Neal Cotts, Jose Ascanio, and the unknown soldier Rich Hill. Looking at what we've got and what we need the idea of the bullpen having to finish the game from the 6th inning on is a pretty scary prospect. So basically the bullpen goes from being a strength in 2008 to a weakness in 2009 overnight. I am currently holding my breath until the season starts, in hopes that Angel Guzman joins forces with Carlos Marmol and the two of them transform into the 2-headed Megatron that the Cubs need at the back-end of the bullpen.
So I will end this by asking a few questions. First, what does the team do with Marmol? Do you move him or leave him in a role that he has flourished in? Is Smardjz ready to close at the Major League level? Should the Cubs attempt to trade any of their surplus of middle infielders (Ronny Cedeno) or outfielders (Felix Pie) or starters (Jason Marquis) to add some quality relievers to the bullpen? Finally, would it be worth it to extend a 1 year offer to someone like Trevor Hoffman to bridge the gap to Marmol closing in 2010?