It's time for the weekly FIX THIS EFFIN' BULLPEN post
I am humiliated to admit that I can't bring myself to visit ChicagoNow today because I don't want to read a gloating Kaplan tell us all about how he was right about Kevin Gregg -- especially when he's not. While it's true that Gregg lost the game -- despite AJ's noting that Gregg has previously pitched multiple innings -- I still think it's probably a mistake in this modern era to use closers in more than 1 inning. Still, the guy to blame is probably Carlos Marmol, who'd be the last person in the platoon to be assigned grenade-tossing duty.
Not to mention the healthy dose of blame that belongs to Lou Piniella for failing to get Grabow ready earlier in the game to face the Philly lefties that Marmol couldn't handle. Maybe the Old Man still hasn't learned that the Grabber is a part of his roster.
Anyway, believe it or not I'm still unconvinced that the Cubs bullpen is actually all that bad. I just think that, like the Cubs lineup, they have been horribly mismanaged this year. Much as it took Lou far too long to realize that Soriano wasn't a leadoff hitter and maybe Bradley belonged in the #2 spot of the lineup, his continued insistance on turning to Marmol in big situations -- coupled with his persistence in using relievers for multiple innings -- has been costly and needs to end.
Therefore, I will submit to you the following two bullpen concepts. One is for when Jim and Lou return to reality and realize that teams only need six relievers, the other will be for the reality of the seven guys the Cubs will continue to carry. Onward:
Your Six Man Squad
LR - Aaron Heilman -- he belongs nowhere else but in blow-outs, whether it's the Cubs who are leading by 6 or their opponents. Much as Lewinski was with presidents, Heilman has yet to meet a lead he didn't want to blow. So, let's put him in a place where his inaffectual ability will do the least harm.
MR - John Grabow and Carlos Marmol -- At the most, Marmol should be a 6th and 7th inning guy right now. It's true that he has amazing stuff, but the wildness is not worth the risk. Actually, I've started to feel that Marmol should be on Hendry's trade-list. Looking back through the history of the league, there aren't many effectively wild pitchers who had long careers and if his mechanics can be fixed, it doesn't appear to be something that Larry Rothschild is capable of. Grabow, meanwhile, may in fact be a better lefty reliever than Marshall, but at this point Sean has been nearly untouchable in relief.
SU - Angel Guzman and Sean Marshall -- Guzman has proven to be an extremely valuable relief pitcher this year. He's one guy I was definitely wrong about, as I called for his release at the start of the season. He's presently got a 2.57 ERA and has only allowed 11% of his inherited runners to score. Sounds like a go-to guy to me. Marshall, meanwhile, has a 1.19 ERA in relief. Last season Goat Friend and Iowan sports broadcaster Jon Miller noted that he doesn't have the stuff or the pitches to be an effective starter, and that appears to be true, but he won't face many batters twice in relief. He's had his shot(s) to start.
CL - Kevin Gregg -- we've already outlined that Gregg has been an "average" closer. This remains true, despite last night's 2-inning outing and loss. If used properly, Gregg will do a servicable job. Still, I wouldn't call the closer's role a strength in the Cubs repertoire and I look forward to the glorious day when they get somebody who's actually great at doing the job.
Your seven man squad
LR - Heilman, Marmol -- You read that right. If he wasn't needed in a middle relief role, I would absolutely put Carlos Marmol on the same boat as Aaron Heilman. He is not an asset to the Cubs right now.
MR - Grabow, Esmailin Caridad -- It's possible that Caridad couldn't maintain his strong start with the Cubs, but until he became as much a question mark as Marmol, I would keep him over Carlos in the bullpen.
SU - Guzman, Marshall
CL - Gregg
What I wouldn't do is allow Jeff Samardzija anywhere near a major league uniform. Maybe he'll someday be a reliable major league pitcher, maybe not, but this isn't his year -- so why the hell is Lou keeping him on the roster just to get smacked around?