Chicago Cubs beat writer Carrie Muskat took to her mailbox recently, and offered up, among other things, a couple interesting pieces of information regarding the 2011 Cubs’ bullpen. Specifically, she addressed the possible return of Kerry Wood, and the role of Andrew Cashner.
Of seeing Wood as a Cub in 2011, Muskat was dismissive.
Wood’s contract includes a club option of $11 million. That’s not cheap. As much as the Cubs would like another veteran pitcher in the bullpen, he’s not on their radar. cubs.com.
It’s surprising to hear, a season after the Cubs struggled mightily to bridge the gap in the late innings to Carlos Marmol, that the Cubs aren’t interested in Wood. Despite a rocky start to the season in Cleveland, Wood was brilliant after a mid-season trade to the Yankees – his ERA+? A hilarious 625.
Of course, when taken together with his seasons in Cleveland, it’s hard to imagine Wood getting a huge contract. You’d have to believe he’d see something like two years, and $10 million as his ceiling. Then again, the Cubs extended John Grabow for two years, and $7.5 million, so I guess you never know.
As for Andrew Cashner – who will almost certainly be the subject of a great deal of debate this Winter – Muskat sees him remaining in the bullpen, rather than returning to a starting role.
Cashner was used as a starter in the Minor Leagues, but I think he’s staying in the bullpen for now, using his 99 mph fastball and improving offspeed stuff to set up Carlos Marmol.
While the move would be understandable – in a late inning role in September, his ERA was 1.80, and his K/9 was over 10 (though the WHIP was 1.40, we’ll try to keep it positive) – it is natural to question whether Cashner would be of more value to the Cubs as a starter.
In general, a good starter is worth quite a bit more than a good reliever. But perhaps Cashner simply pitches better out of the pen, when he can let it all fly. We may never know.