Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The State of the Bullpen

I covered the bullpen some in yesterday's post, but unfortunately technical difficulties prevented me from posting that story. So today, let's talk a little bit about the Cubs' relief core.

Carlos Marmol is the closer. He is of the utmost importance to this ballclub because they already lack bullpen depth. As of now, there would be nobody to take over for Carlos if he goes down or struggles.

But instead of thinking about "What ifs..." let's face the situation the pen is in right now. With the injury to Angel Guzman, the already thin bullpen lost a significant arm. Marmol will be the Cubs closer, John Grabow will be the primary left handed setup man, and beyond that there's a gray area. Lou Piniella has showed confidence in Esmalin Caridad, who pitched well late last year when he received a callup. Lou says that Caridad has made the club as a setup man. Whoever is left out of the rotation of the group of Samardzija, Marshall, and Gorzelanny will fill the 4th spot in the bullpen. That leaves three slots open.

Jeff Gray, who came to the Cubs in the deal that shipped Fox and Miles to Oakland this winter, is out with a groin injury and will probably not be ready to start the regular season.

So these final three spots could be filled with young pitchers that are in camp, or the Cubs could look to add a veteran presence to the bullpen by going outside the organization. Bruce Levine continues to report that Jason Frasor and Luke Gregerson are options for the Cubs. Frasor worked a scoreless inning in his only spring appearance so far for the Blue Jays. Gregerson has worked 2 innings so far for the Padres and has yielded just one base runner and no runs.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports connects the Cubs to John Smoltz and Pedro Martinez. Would it be worth the injury risk to try to bring in one of these post-prime legends?

Even if the Cubs fill 1 spot with a trade or free agent signing, there will still be at least 2 bullpen openings for younger guys. Bruce Levine says that Casey Coleman, John Gaub, Jeff Stevens, and James Russell are candidates. Carrie Muskat mentions Justin Berg, Mike Parisi, and Thomas Diamond. Muskat adds that David Patton will most likely start in the minor leagues now that the Cubs have kept him on the roster long enough to keep him since the Rule V Draft in December of 2008. Carlos Silva will also vie for a spot in the bullpen if he does not make the rotation. He could start the year hidden on the DL if he does not improve upon his Cactus League debut.

Let's take a look at how some of the Cubs competing for spots in the bullpen are doing in the Cactus League:
  • Andrew Cashner: 2 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 1 ER
  • Casey Coleman: 4.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER
  • J.R. Mathes: 2 IP, 2 ER
  • Mike Parisi: 2 IP, 1 ER
  • Carlos Silva: 2 IP, 7 H, 6 ER
  • Jeff Stevens: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 4 ER
  • John Gaub: 1.1 IP, 1 ER
  • Marcos Mateo: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER
  • Jeff Kennard: 0.2 IP, 4 H, 4 ER
  • Mitch Atkins: 0.1 IP, 0 ER

We'll see how it plays out!

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