What about the bullpen?
Well, Jason Marquis-to-Colorado appears to be all but a done deal. Many fans expect Sean Marshall to step in as the new 5th dude in the rotation for 2009. In the Shout Box, Chief has wondered aloud what would happen to the bullpen if this were to actually happen.
Fortunately for the Cubs, there are too many names to list in the Shout Box to complete this discussion. Of course, only one of those names refers to a lefty. If Sean Marshall were to move into the rotation, Neal Cotts would be the Cubs' only left handed reliever.
But who might the Cubs use in the bullpen beyond Cotts?
Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg are near certainties for the 8th and 9th innings (although it's less clear who will pitch when). That likely leaves four spots for the following pitchers, which I now present to you in a particular order:
Jeff Samardzija - Anybody who followed the Cubs in 2008 knows what this kid can do. The Shark throws gas. However, while he ended up with a great ERA, he had some issues throwing strikes toward the end of last season. Might be better off as a starter in AAA, both from an individual standpoint, and as a valueable "sixth starter" for the Cubs. But if he were put in the pen, he certainly has the stuff to succeed.
Michael Wuertz - His out pitch is a plus slider, and I happen to think it's a pretty good pitch. I've seen him get big strikeouts with it. Wuertz' problem is the base on balls - he walks too many opposing hitters. However, before 2008 he did manage to rack up a K per inning every year of his career. Even though many interpreted last year as a down year for him, he had an ERA of 3.63. His career ERA is 3.57; furthermore, his career BAA is .233 (this is against hitters from either side of the plate). This guy should have a chance to pitch for the major league club, and I think Lou will give him that chance in spring training.
Chad Gaudin - People were very pleased with Jim Hendry when he managed to steal this guy away from the A's along with Rich Harden. He was viewed as a "utility pitcher" that could start in case Harden were injured, or pitch out of the 'pen as well. For me, the numbers aren't really there. In 64 innings in 2006, for example, he walked more guys than he struck out. Some people are expecting this guy to contribute in 2009 after he tanked in late '08 (something about a drunken accident with a dumpster?); frankly, I myself don't expect a huge rebound.
Luis Vizcaino - Luis is a newcomer to the Cubs in 2009, and will likely be in the bullpen, if for no other reason than his contract--he's making a few million bucks next year. Had a bad year last year, but was apparently frustrated with his usage. He's had some good years in the past, but cannot get lefties out for the life of him over the course of his career.
Jeff Stevens - Acquired in the DeRosa trade, Stevens is a strong candidate to pitch in relief for the Cubs in 2009. He put together 30 very strong innings at AAA at the end of 2008, with 44 strikeouts, only 19 hits, and only 16 walks. He has a career 3 to 1 K to BB ratio in the minors. Good control, success at the highest level of the minors - he'll definitely have a shot from Day 1.
So that's the crew, as far as I can tell. There are a ton of young, unproven names like Angel Guzman, Randy Wells, Kevin Hart, Jose Ascanio, Mitch Atkins, and lefty Carmen Pignatiello that may get a shot throughout the course of the season. But I think there's really only a couple of ways Lou can go with his bullpen for Opening Day 2009, depending upon whether Jeff Samardzija starts at AAA or in the 'pen.
My guess: Marmol, Gregg, Samardzija/Stevens, Wuertz, Cotts, Gaudin, Vizcaino.