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How do you fix this bullpen?


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15 replies to this topic

#1 J.F.Edwards

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Posted 12 May 2012 - 02:51 AM

Marmol is unwatchably bad, and injured, which presumably means there has to be some shuffling to fill his spot if he's gone for any length of time.

Wood is unwatchably bad, and apparently still damaged goods (and always will be), which presumably means you can't rely on him like the regular horses. We still haven't seen back-to-back appearances, if I'm not mistaken (I could be, but I don't remember it happening).

Shawn Camp has pitched for almost every AL team. Some of that is for good reasons. But at his age, when almost any team in MLB could have had him, this is not a guy we should be considering after the 7th inning, and even then he's better as a situational pitcher at best.

Michael Bowden and Lendy Castillo. Yeah, well, you saw 'em tonight. And if you didn't, I'll just say that here are two more guys almost any ML team could have had for cheap or nothing. And most teams considered that too much to pay.

Finally, our best guys, Russell and Dolis, can't pitch every day. And frankly, they're pretty good arms but almost every major league team has guys equally talented to these two, and yet on those teams they don't shoulder the burden they do for the Cubs. If these are 7th/8th inning setup men then I like it. If they're splitting the closer role, I will be shocked every time I see a 1-2-3 inning to end the game, much less anything approaching "dominance." They're not that good. Consider: there's a reason neither one is getting the closer nod over the other, and it's not because they both just so darn effective all the time.

All that to say--How (in the *) do you fix this bullpen?

It seems the team wants to keep Randy Wells stretched out as a starter. Same with Casey Coleman. I think both are intriguing bullpen options because neither player has much ceiling as a starting pitcher in MLB. They may have more value as starters, generally speaking, but on this Cubs team I think they might best serve the major league roster in the bullpen.

Again, I would love some ideas around this. I know Ricketts/Epstein/Sveum aren't going to listen to our thoughts, but if we can't come up with something then I think I have to remain unforgivably hopeless about watching games this season. We will always be one phone call to the 'pen away from utter disaster.

That's unwatchable.

Give me some hope, friends.
"You may run like Mayes but you hit like shit."

#2 Cheryl

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Posted 12 May 2012 - 07:58 AM

Go beyond Wells and Coleman. We always look to Iowa. Perhaps a good look at the Tennessee hurlers will pay dividends. I have doubts about Wells and Coeman. Maple was suppose to be pretty good nd some said he was on the fast track to the majors. How is he doing?

#3 BlueHorizons

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Posted 12 May 2012 - 08:08 AM

Marmol is unwatchably bad, and injured, which presumably means there has to be some shuffling to fill his spot if he's gone for any length of time.

Wood is unwatchably bad, and apparently still damaged goods (and always will be), which presumably means you can't rely on him like the regular horses. We still haven't seen back-to-back appearances, if I'm not mistaken (I could be, but I don't remember it happening).

Shawn Camp has pitched for almost every AL team. Some of that is for good reasons. But at his age, when almost any team in MLB could have had him, this is not a guy we should be considering after the 7th inning, and even then he's better as a situational pitcher at best.

Michael Bowden and Lendy Castillo. Yeah, well, you saw 'em tonight. And if you didn't, I'll just say that here are two more guys almost any ML team could have had for cheap or nothing. And most teams considered that too much to pay.

Finally, our best guys, Russell and Dolis, can't pitch every day. And frankly, they're pretty good arms but almost every major league team has guys equally talented to these two, and yet on those teams they don't shoulder the burden they do for the Cubs. If these are 7th/8th inning setup men then I like it. If they're splitting the closer role, I will be shocked every time I see a 1-2-3 inning to end the game, much less anything approaching "dominance." They're not that good. Consider: there's a reason neither one is getting the closer nod over the other, and it's not because they both just so darn effective all the time.

All that to say--How (in the *) do you fix this bullpen?

It seems the team wants to keep Randy Wells stretched out as a starter. Same with Casey Coleman. I think both are intriguing bullpen options because neither player has much ceiling as a starting pitcher in MLB. They may have more value as starters, generally speaking, but on this Cubs team I think they might best serve the major league roster in the bullpen.

Again, I would love some ideas around this. I know Ricketts/Epstein/Sveum aren't going to listen to our thoughts, but if we can't come up with something then I think I have to remain unforgivably hopeless about watching games this season. We will always be one phone call to the 'pen away from utter disaster.

That's unwatchable.

Give me some hope, friends.


Nicely put... and unforunately I have no thoughts on how the bullpen can be strenghthened. A team like this IS difficult to watch. I am SO frustratingly tired of watching a good beginning to a game - usually a QS from the starter, a few runs scored (though achingly not enough), followed by the collapse of the bullpen and a give away win to the other team. The emotional roller coaster is taking a toll and the season is just barely begun. It's tough to invest oneself in a game, when the aforementioned pattern continues to repeat.

THIS fan, can't watch games from a distance and enjoy the good parts of the game, without the bad parts destroying the experience. On the other hand, I hate to miss games.

Without a solution to the mess in the bullpen, I'd settle for a way to deal with these games.

As for Randy Wells and Casey Coleman. Yes, it'd be nice to see them help bolster the 'pen, but I'm guessing the reason they are being kept stretched out is three-fold... so they can backup current starters in case of injury, so they can fill-in for a starter or two that may get traded and to be held as potential trade bait.

#4 Luke

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Posted 12 May 2012 - 02:45 PM

Maple was suppose to be pretty good nd some said he was on the fast track to the majors. How is he doing?


Fast track for most prospects means two or three years. For a high school player (like Dillon Maples), it usually mean three or four (instead of four or five). And I don't know that Maples could be considered fast tracked. BA has him up in 2015, but I think that's a touch on the optimistic side. Prospects, even the best ones in baseball history, take time and patience. Rushing gets you no where.

As for the Cubs bullpen today, it is a puzzle. I'm not prepared to give up on Wood or Marmol altogether (especially Wood, who had no spring training and has already gone on the DL), but they both need to be in limited roles (or, in the case of Marmol, a long minor league rehab assignment) until they get their control in order.

I think it is way too early to write off Michael Bowden as well. If you check his game log for the season (http://www.baseball-...emi01&t=p&year= ), he's had exactly one really bad game as a Cub. He hasn't been the second coming of Mariano Rivera, but he's not so horrible that he is beyond hope either. I have no problem giving him another few weeks of fairly regular low-pressure situation work.

Lendy Castillo was not expect to perform this season. He isn't in the bullpen because he is expected to perform this season. He is in the bullpen because of what the Cubs think he can do in 2014 or 2015 and beyond. Under normal circumstance he's the blow-out garbage time pitcher until he can be sent back to the minors to develop properly, and until last night that's exactly how the Cubs used him. I have no problems keeping a guy who has closer potential (eventually) on the roster in a rebuilding season. Ideally, the Cubs can swing a deal with the Phillies so they can get Castillo to High A where he belongs. Or, short of that, when the Rule 5 rules allow the Cubs can put him on the DL with an aggravated hang nail or something.

But that still leaves the Cubs bullpen with a bunch of guys who can't pitch in pressure situations, and that is a problem. Fortunately, sending Marmol to the DL for Coleman takes care of part of the problem. Should Coleman prove reliable (and Saturday proves nothing either way), he gives the Cubs a fairly safe middle relief / setup arm to pair with Camp. That's four pretty useful farms, with Bowden and Wood working in low-pressure situations and Castillo in garbage time.

So, how about this?
  • Closer - Dolis
  • Setup 1 - Russel
  • Setup 2 / long man - Coleman (Marmol to the DL)
  • Middle / Situational 1 - Camp (good spot for him).
  • Middle / Situational 2 - Wood (if Wood can't get his control back, DL him with back pain or something and bring up Maine, Wells, or J. Jackson).
  • MIddle / Situational 3 - Bowden / Maine. If the Cubs think Bowden can clear waivers, then bring up Maine. If not, then I'm ok with giving Bowden another few weeks of consistent (low pressure) work.
  • Long Man / blow out mop up - Lendy Castillo.
The problem emerges when Marmol is ready to come back off the DL. When that happens, the Cubs need to keep Coleman (or someone) in the pen. I'm not sure what happens in that case, but the Cubs can't drop a safe reliever for Marmol.

And while I'm in favor of giving Bowden another few weeks to see what he's got, I don't think he should be left in there indefinitely. I just think it is too early to scrap him yet. He really hasn't pitched that much for the Cubs; it is too early to rush to judgement.

#5 King Jeff

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Posted 12 May 2012 - 03:10 PM

There are a number of options at Iowa if the Cubs could get past salary/roster spot issues. Castillo is obviously being kept because they don't want to give him back to the Phils rather than his ability. The Cubs need to settle this with Philly and let him find his groove and more innings in the Minors. Wood and Marmol are making too much money and have too much rep to be optioned/released. Otherwise, Scott Maine, Frankie De La Cruz, Jeff Beliveau, and Rodrigo Lopez are all pitching pretty well and probably deserve a shot in the pen over some of the guys already there. Even Rowland-Smith, Blake Parker, and Esmalin Caridad are all pitching well enough to stay on the radar for the pen if future needs arise.

I think it's very important that they don't overreact to the bullpen issues and don't go out and give up good prospects to acquire an arm or overspend for a guy or two in free agency. I think that they can build a perfectly good bullpen from what they already have in house.

#6 J.F.Edwards

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Posted 12 May 2012 - 04:18 PM

Great stuff, Luke. I think you've certainly identified the most realistic scenario in the near-term. And if Wood is healthy then I think this pen could be serviceable. I sure wish we had more low-pressure situations, since most of our guys seem best suited for mop-up duty. But that would require scoring runs, and no way that happens with consistency this season.

One other thing is that, maybe with the exception of Bowden, we pretty much know what we're going to get with these players. I don't see a lot of high ceiling guys outside of Dolis (if he can develop a more effective fastball complement to that sinker he'll be a wizard). So, basically, with each pitcher we're hoping they come out of the pen in nearly peak physical condition AND on top of their game--or they're probably going to give up something. We don't have anyone automatic, or so talented he can come in at 85% and still get the job done. And while I like the idea of stashing a guy (Castillo) in the pen who (apparently) has some real ability that will help us in two years, that means the rest of the guys have to be better, because they're going to be used more. And one of our best guys (Wood) is a DL-stint waiting to happen when he is with the team.

All that to say, I think we're at least one, and more likely two, Sean Marshall's away from having a playoff-caliber bullpen.

Where are we going to get those arms? Can we develop one by next year (who)? Do we have to sign one (who)?
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#7 Luke

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Posted 12 May 2012 - 04:54 PM

All that to say, I think we're at least one, and more likely two, Sean Marshall's away from having a playoff-caliber bullpen.

Where are we going to get those arms? Can we develop one by next year (who)? Do we have to sign one (who)?


Jeff Beliveau and Scott Maine are possibilities. There are a couple of guys in Tennessee who could be candidates as well. Tony Zych, even though he's still in Daytona, could be a possibility.

#8 Spencer

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Posted 12 May 2012 - 05:42 PM

This is a frustrating topic, particularly because I felt the bullpen was a great strength of last years team (even with Marmol's blown saves), and clearly this season it is our Achilles Heel. I still say it is too early to pass judgment on the Sean Marshall trade; I want to see more of Travis Wood at the Major League level. And, of course, even if he busts, hind sight is always 20/20 on issues like that. Shark has certainly been an excellent addition to the rotation, so I can't really complain much about him not being in the bullpen. If Marmol figures his shit out and we can DL Lendy for the rest of the season after the time requirements and fill that spot with a person that actually deserves to be on a MLB roster, it's really not too far off from being a serviceable bullpen.

#9 fromthemitten

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 02:45 PM

Does Bob Howry's arm still work?

#10 Hector Villanueva

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 04:08 PM

Beliveau, Maine come to mind. Would like to see what Frank Bautista is all about.

#11 SirCub

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 02:38 PM

Does Bob Howry's arm still work?

Did it ever?

#12 King Jeff

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 02:40 PM


Does Bob Howry's arm still work?

Did it ever?

He should be signed to a 4 year 24 million dollar contract right now.

#13 TWC

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 02:52 PM

Does Bob Howry's arm still work?

Bob Howry?

BOB FUCKING HOWRY?!

ANGRY. ANGRY!!! SMAAAAAAASH!

#14 fromthemitten

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 04:55 PM

Okay never mind.

I'm seriously saying lets raid the independent leagues and sign anybody that can throw over 85 mph

#15 Fishin Phil

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 02:48 PM

"How do you fix this bullpen?"

Firing squad is the first thing that springs to mind.
Please don't feed the psychos.




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