We’ve received very few insights into the open spots in the Chicago Cubs bullpen. Obviously we know who is pitching well and who isn’t, but we don’t have too many comments from manager Lou Piniella on whom he believes will be heading north with the Cubs.

And then he casually dropped a bombshell.

The Cubs will be leaning on lefty John Grabow to be the primary set-up pitcher. Lou Piniella would like at least one other person to handle those duties.

“If we can find a couple pitchers here to compliment him, it would behoove us,” Piniella said. “The two kids we have right now would either be [Esmailin] Caridad or [Justin] Berg. Then we have to see what we do rotation-wise, and maybe somebody from the rotation falls into that category, too.” Muskat Ramblings.

Unless I’m reading that wrong, Piniella is saying that, among others, Justin Berg is now a virtual lock to make the bullpen. Not only that, he’s being considered for the right-handed set-up role, together with Esmailin Caridad.

Berg, 25, was acquired by the Cubs for Matt Lawton some years ago, and was soon after converted to a reliever, where he has found success. In fact, as much as folks talk about Caridad’s late-season success with the Cubs last year, Berg was just as good, throwing 12 innings with an ERA under one. He was dominant for Iowa last year, so his making the pen is not a surprise.

What is a surprise is how casually Lou mentioned it, and how nobody seems to be commenting on it.

  • Hawkboy64

    Hey is it just me or does the cubs bullpen scare u to death this can’t be the only options we have when r is hendry going to address this

    • Ace

      There are only so many options out there. Most of the semi-decent ones would have to be by trade, and everyone knows the Cubs are looking. That means they’d be costly.

      • Brian

        Someone please either tell me I’m not crazy or set me straight. Why are the Cubs not looking at Heath Bell? His salary is only at about 1.75 mil. Considering it would take about three good players to get him (maybe Vitters, Cashner, and Hoffpauer), their salaries would add up to his so it would be a wash, money wise. We’d be adding a reliable setup guy who can also close if Marmol falls apart. In my mind, Hendry is afraid of upsetting Marmol so won’t make a trade worth making. I think J.H. is gun shy now after not getting Roberts, Peavy, and getting Bradley… which means he’s useless to us now. Please tell me I’m wrong.

        • Ace

          I’m sure the Cubs have contacted the Padres about him. Bell is going to be traded this year, that’s a virtual certainty. But his cost – at least last year – was enormous. The Padres reportedly asked for Vitters, Cashner, and at least two other very good prospects. Given the Cubs’ need now, I’m sure they’re asking for at least as much. Personally, I don’t think one year of Bell is worth both Vitters and Cashner, let alone whatever else they’d want.

          I’m no Hendry defender, but on this one, he’d be right to hold firm if the Padres are being unreasonable.