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Reliever Matt Capps, who had an ERA approaching 6 last year, has drawn a tremendous amount of attention this offseason following his non-tender by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Among the interested teams, the Chicago Cubs want to insert him into the bullpen in a set-up role. With extremely limited funds available to make moves, the Cubs have already sunk nearly $4 million for 2010 into Capps’ former teammate, John Grabow. Surely, the Cubs wouldn’t drop that kind of money again on another far-from-a-sure-thing reliever?

Right? Right?

According to MLB sources, Capps will receive somewhere between $7 and 8 million as part of a two-year contact. The Cubs have strong Interest (sic.) in Capps, who would go into the role of the primary setup man from the right side in the bullpen. Capps would also give manager Lou Piniella a solid backup closer to finish games off when Marmol wasn’t available.

With the addition of Capps, the back end of the Cubs bullpen would be among the strongest in the National League. ESPN Chicago.

How many years, following big money free agent signings by Jim Hendry, in a row have we heard some variation of “this year’s bullpen is totally going to be a strength”? It feels like it’s every single year. And it probably is.

If the Cubs land Capps, they will have spent some $8 million of the 2010 payroll – practically all of the amount we were led to believe the Cubs had available to spend – on two relievers, neither of whom is even remotely a lock to be a quality option next year.

Sobering thought – neither Capps nor Grabow has been as successful as any of the following relievers in the years before they joined the Cubs: Scott Eyre, Bobby Howry, Mike Remlinger, LaTroy Hawkins.

  • http://thundermatt.com Jake

    Capps is a much better option than Grabow. This article explains his rough 2009 pretty well. It’s not a stretch to expect him to pitch better next season.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/matt-capps-non-tendered/

    • Ace

      I won’t argue that Capps is not better than Grabow – I just wish the choice for the offseason had been one or the other, not both.

  • Sean

    I know jim loves his relievers but the cubs do have a weak/young bullpen. I live 2 hours from pittsburgh and when matt capps is healthy he is a very very good reliever. last year he had to battle injuries which was why his era was so high. he also was more successful as a set up man. if capps is healthy and the cubs don’t have to over pay too much for him it would be a GREAT addition for the cubs.

    • Ace

      Weak/young is simply what bullpens are all about, though. Year after year, the “best” bullpens in baseball seem to come out of nowhere. Adding Capps improves this team, I agree. I’d just rather the money – if it is so very limited – be spent elsewhere.

  • brian

    While I don’t agree with spending all this money on Capps, Marmol does worry me. I would like to see a viable option just in case Marmol’s control is a problem. Don’t get me wrong I like Marmol but control has been an issue in the past and having someone to step in when he’s not on his game would make sense

    • Ace

      Best point I’ve read in favor of a Capps signing, brian. Well done. I can’t argue with it, as I am also very leery about handing Marmol the closing duties.

      • brian

        again I don’t want to spend the money on Capps but, and trust me it is but, there aren’t that many other options out there

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