Cubs bullpen

Now there's a surprise...

Zambrano to bullpen starting Friday. "Because of his stuff" Lou sez. Z is cool with move.

We'll see if the bullpen gets better, but it's certainly gonna be a lot more expensive. How many bad starts by Gorzelanny or Silva before this gets reversed?

The anticipation has reached a fever pitch as Pirates closer Matt Capps is expected to make his final decision today. Take the main set-up role and back-up closing duties in Chicago for a team that shouldn't completely suck...on the sale floor they like to say they're a team in contention.

Or...

Close for a team that has been the worst in baseball over the last two years and big acquisitions so far have been signing Ivan Rodriguez about seven years too late and signing Jason Marquis (insert own joke here). It would stand that as a closer for the Nationals, he'll probably get even less chances than he did in Pittsburgh.

The money being rumored is in the two year, $7-8M range, basically Grabow money. I wasn't overly thrilled with what they gave Grabow or how quickly they gave it to him. On the other hand, I think Capps is a better pitcher despite the hiccup last season, so it certainly wouldn't be the worst middle relief contract Hendry ever handed out.

If Capps decides he wants to close and signs with the Nationals, the Cubs could move on to rehab projects like Kelvim Escobar or maybe hope they can find enough money in the Ricketts sofa cushions to sign Jose Valverde if his price drops after mistakenly not taking the Astros arbitation offer.

Like the Cub hitters who failed to come through in the clutch, the Cub bullpen left its fingerprints all over Thursday's loss to the Cardinals.

From the Cubs.com game story:

The bullpen...is not in sync. Aaron Heilman, who came on in relief
of starter Sean Marshall, served up Greene's homer on his third pitch.
Rookie David Patton (0-1) took the loss, giving up Yadier Molina's
tie-breaking RBI single in the seventh. Albert Pujols was intentionally
walked, but the other two Cardinals who were walked both scored.

"All we can do is preach," Piniella said. "That's all we can do is say what's good for the individual."

Heilman says there's only one thing they can do.

"Pitch better," Heilman said. "There's no other way to get
around it. There's no real magic formula that you can say, 'Do this,
this and this' and everything's going to click. Sometimes it takes
days, sometimes it takes weeks, sometimes it takes longer to figure
out. We have to keep going out there, be aggressive and keep pitching,
and things will fall into place."

Game by game, here is how the Cub bullpen has fared so far in 2009.

I recently purchased a copy of the Bill James Handbook 2009...I know, a little late to the party...but it does a great job of presenting information that isn't readily available, information I'll pass along as they become relevant throughout the season. I'm also going to get a subscription to BillJames.net to update everyone as the season progresses.

But thumbing through the book they have all kinds of stats on relievers and let's see if any of it will help Lou pick his closer on the year.

Time to play a little game of who would you rather have on your team....your three contestants.

  ERA
ERA+
IP
Player A 3.26 137 67.1
Player B 2.68 167 86.1
Player C 3.41 125 68.2

 

Everyone should be pointing to Player B, right? Let's add some columns though...


Above all, there was the bullpen. If you didn't outscore the Reds in the first six innings, forget about winning. Rob Dibble, Norm Charlton and Randy Myers constituted the deadliest combination of 95-mph (or better) fastballs, swaggering attitude and occasional mullets in the game. So much so that the trio earned a nickname derived from a pre-wardrobe malfunction Janet Jackson: the Nasty Boys.

— Jonah Keri, espn.com

When Lou Piniella's Reds swept the heavily favored Oakland Athletics right out of the 1990 World Series, his trio of fireballing young relievers led the charge. After combining for 44 saves and a 2.14 ERA over a total 235.1 relief IP during the regular season, the threesome made an indelible mark in Fall Classic history by throwing 8 2/3 innings and allowing the mighty A's no earned runs on just six hits. Dibble won Game 2; Myers earned a save in the clinching Game 4.

(The Boys were no slouches in the NLCS either. Myers, the series MVP, saved three of the four Cincy victories over the Pirates, Charlton had a win, and the Nasty Boys struck out 20 and allowed just six hits and one earned run in 15 2/3 IP.)

Watching Piniella's current club at work and appreciating how his bullpen, particularly young set-up man Carlos Marmol, has contributed to the team's early season success, I thought it would be interesting to see how the three stalwarts in Piniella's Cub bullpen compare to the Nasty Boys of 18 summers ago.

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