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Apparently, when Jim Hendry traded Aaron Heilman earlier this offseason to the Diamondbacks, it wasn’t purely a salary dump or a dealing from a position of surplus. Silly us, we all saw a team with more than 10 legitimate bullpen options (and that was before Jeff Gray was acquired), and figured, “the Cubs are dealing from a position of strength, saving some money, and picking up prospects. Hooray.”

But now, every time Jim Hendry speaks about this offseason, he reiterates his interest in picking up another bullpen arm. A late-inning righty, he says. First of all, isn’t that what Heilman was? It seems kind of ridiculous to trade a guy, and then say that you’ve got a “vacancy” in the bullpen because of the guy you willingly traded. Second of all, I know the plan is to get someone cheaper who is just as good (which totally makes sense, because the Diamondbacks are just idiots, right?), but why spend money on it at all?

Cubs sources said one of the free agents whose drawn their interest is J.J. Putz, the former Seattle closer who flopped last year with the Mets and eventually had elbow surgery.

The Mets declined an $8.6 million option on Putz, who went 1-4 with a 5.22 ERA in 29 1/3 innings. His best season was in 2007 with Seattle, when he converted 40 of 42 save opportunities and posted a 1.38 ERA.

Putz has drawn interest from a half dozen teams, despite the elbow problems and poor season in ’09. He’s likely to sign for a relatively modest salary with incentive bonuses, which is what the Cubs would do if they were able to sign him. Chicago Breaking Sports.

Putz, who has the best name in baseball, probably fits more into the reclaimation project role than the hard-and-fast setup man role. Still, if the Cubs spend any meaningful money on a reliever when they already have no fewer than 11 guys going for the three bullpen spots that aren’t automatically taken by Carlos Marmol, John Grabow, Angel Guzman, and the one of Samardzija/Gorzelanny/Marshall who doesn’t end up in the rotation at the start of the season, I will lose my stuff.

Those 11 guys – Samardzija, Gorzelanny, Marshall, Gray, Caridad, Parker, Gaub, Atkins, Stevens, Patton, Berg – are not a sure things. But you will not convince me in a 101 years that you couldn’t find three successful MIDDLE RELIEVERS in that pack of 11. The Cubs continue to fail to grasp the concept of where successful middle relievers and set-up men come from. Do they think they signed Angel Guzman as a free agent?

  • Scarey

    You forgot to mention Scott Maine and James Russell. Alex Maestri is a stretch, but will probably be at ST if he isn’t taken in the rule 5 draft.

    • Ace

      I am assuming Maestri gets Veal’d this year. Good point on Maine and Russell.

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