Monday, June 8, 2009

Sigh of Relief

Somehow over the weekend, I managed to avoid a descent into alcoholism while watching the Cubs' offense strand about 3,000 runners against Reds pitching that not only didn't include Tom Seaver, it didn't even include Aaron Harang, Johnny Cueto, or Edinson Volquez. I may, however, have a strange sense of overconfidence brought on by my new smack habit that is causing me to actually like our new bullpen a little bit.

The right-handed roulette wheel that gave us Luis Vizcaino, Jeff Samardzija, and Chad Fox, seems to have come to rest on Jose Ascanio for the moment. I like the kid because he isn't walking everybody he faces (he struck out 8 before walking his first batter this year), and seems to have a bit of a cocky attitude, like he knows he's good enough to get guys out regularly. The cringe factor when he appears in a game is minimal at the moment.

We have not seen much of Jason Waddell, but in his two games he hasn't walked anybody (unlike a reliever I shall only refer to as Neal C.... wait, that's too obvious, I'll call him N. Cotts) and has actually retired the left-handed batter he has been called on to retire. Is it too early to start asking him if he'll wear a Cubs hat when he's inducted into the Hall of Fame? It's almost a shame he will probably be the one heading back to Iowa when Harden is reactivated.

Waddell will be heading out because I don't think there is any way you can tell Sean Marshall that he has not only been bumped from the starting rotation through no fault of his own, but that he is now going to get to enjoy the cornfields again because of this Waddell kid being more of a true LOOGY-type pitcher. That is just not going to happen.

Angel Guzman is performing so well that there are rumblings from some Cubs fans that he should be the 8th inning guy instead of Marmol, or even the closer. I'm not going to get into that, because he has a ways to prove this isn't all a mirage, but I know I felt more confident with him protecting the lead in the 14th last night than I would have if Gregg or Marmol was going out there.

Kevin Gregg is Kevin Gregg and Aaron Heilman is Aaron Heilman. They are going to have frustrating outings. I don't think this can be helped. They both have decent enough stuff and you have to live with the bitter and the sweet with a bullpen, especially when the Cubs aren't going to find anyone better on the waiver wire. But if it turns out that Heilman and Gregg are our biggest concerns, the bullpen has truly turned a corner.

Carlos Marmol seems to have something against Randy Wells since he has played an intrumental role in blowing the last two potential victories for the newest addition to the rotation. There is no doubting that Marmol has the nastiest stuff on the entire staff, and that he could very possibly have the nastiest stuff in the league. Unfortunately, you never know what you are going to get from this guy when he takes the mound.

He threw a slider that scared the bejeezus out of Brandon Phillips yesterday that ended up being called a strike. Phillips wanted nothing to do with Marmol and he ended up walking the guy. Marmol seems to only have a vague notion of where the ball is going right now, and it scares me to death when he is in a game.

I manage to survive by grasping onto the thought that Marmol will return to his dominant self soon, and hope that once he gets his groove back, the improvements to the rest of the bullpen don't regress backwards to Cottsian levels.

If (and when) that happens, I think our bullpen will no longer be the Cubs' biggest problem and they can get to work on finding where they misplaced the bats with all of the clutch hits in them.


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