We’ve all heard the old adage “You can never have enough pitching.” Now, I couldn’t agree more with this idea- just look at last year’s Cubs. I don’t think I was alone when I thought our club had issues when Glendon Rusch was our number 2 starter going into the season (I offer my deepest apologies to anyone experiencing sudden nausea and/or aggressive bowel movements upon mention of last year’s disaster of a season). However, this season the Cubs find themselves in a position to take advantage of this school of thought rather than scratch their heads wondering why they didn’t follow it to begin with.
The July 31 trading deadline is about a month away, and the rumor mill is beginning to see some action. Don’t worry, I’m not about to go on a Jacque Jones rant. By now his value has been deluded so badly that I am only half kidding when I say I’d trade him for a cold Old Style. Anyways, like so many Julys before this one, teams are looking for pitching- especially relief pitching. After a rough couple of months, we have all witnessed improved results from the bullpen- in particular of late. Missing for the better part from this recent resurgence has been the much maligned Ryan Dempster, who was put on the DL on June 27th with an oblique strain. Reports say Dempster should be good to go after the All-Star break, but if I were calling the shots, he would have already pitched his last inning as a Cub. As entertaining as he can be, and while his numbers this year haven’t been awful, I doubt anyone is truly confident when he takes the mound nursing a one run lead. Personally, I have a hard time trusting the ninth inning to anyone whose fastball command fluctuates such as Dempster’s does. But what really makes Dempster expendable is that the Cubs appear to have a number of young arms ready to take on big league relief jobs. While I’m pretty lukewarm on Rocky Cherry; Carlos Marmol and Billy Petrick have looked good, albeit in small sample sizes. And for God’s sake, why not try Carmen Pignatiello? He could easily outpitch Scott Eyre for a fraction of the cost (Seriously, I think it’s time Hendry swallows his pride and simply shows Eyre the door).
Fortunately, the market in all likelihood would overvalue a guy like Dempster who has a few saves under his belt. Unfortunately, selling high on someone in this fashion seems lost on Hendry, as we all learned in the Barrett for Bowen deal. Should Hendry reach some kind of epiphany and decide to make a deal, a number of teams could come calling. The Phillies, Indians, and maybe even the Braves come to mind off the top of my head. Some kind of package including prospects or near ready arms would do the trick.
So who would replace Dempster in the ninth? Bob Howry could do it. At the very least you know he wouldn’t offer too many free passes. Carlos Marmol, with his newfound fastball command has been dominating since his conversion to the ‘pen, drawing comparisons to Francisco Rodriquez (Now I know those comparisons are very premature, but I think Marmol’s got that kind of upside). Want an idea outside the box? What about Eric Gagne? While the Rangers would probably seek a lofty return, should the Cubs find themselves in striking distance of Milwaukee come the end of July, he could be in the picture.