The 'Pen, Part II


Why am I so confident that the 7 of the 8 guys listed in The Pen, Part I will make up the Cubs bullpen? Well, beyond talent, it's a matter of money. The Cubs 'pen and 5th starter account for around $16 million dollars. With that in mind, the Cubs would either have to send down a player making more than a million dollars to play AAA or release a guy and eat in excess of a million dollars to do so. With that in mind, I give you the contenders (i.e. Guys on the 40 man roster):


Jeff Stevens-Stevens was the "centerpiece" in the Mark DeRosa trade. Ironically, the Indians had acquired him from the Reds in the Brandon Phillips trade. Stevens made 36 appearances in relief between AA and AAA, compiling nearly 60 innings of work. That includes 81 strikeouts, a 3.28 ERA, and a 1.13 WHIP. The 25 year old righthander seems like a legitimate reliever prospect, and has the potential to be the first callup of the year. Odds: 10 to 1

Randy Wells-The 26 year old righthander made his MLB debut last year, making 4 appearances without giving up a run or even a hit. Unfortunately, it was for the Blue Jays after being drafted in the Rule V. He essentially made the club as the 25th guy and due to injury. When those injured players returned, he was retuned to the Cubs. His numbers at AAA don't reflect his short term success. His 8 appearances as a reliever amounted to a near 6 ERA. He made 19 starts at Iowa with an 8-3 record and a 3.75 ERA. If the Cubs dig into the minors for help, Wells could be one of the first callups. Odds: 15 to 1

Kevin Hart-The 26 year old's stats have been discussed in detail in the 5th starter post. Hart, stolen from the Orioles (I know, surprising the Cubs made a trade with the Orioles) for Freddie Bynum, is a hard throwing right hander who would just be another arm in the 'pen. As previously stated, he may be the best suited player for the Cubs to move in a trade. Odds: 20 to 1

Angel Guzman-Guzman appears to be a better fit in the bullpen than the rotation. For one, it would reduce the strain on his arm and potentially save him from more injuries. Two, Guzman remains a strikeout pitcher. 30 strikeouts in 26 and 2/3 innings in '08 between the minors and majors. But even then, he still is just another right-handed arm. Odds: 20 to 1

Jose Ascanio-6 appearances, 5 and 2/3 innings, 8 hits, 4 walks, 5 earned runs. That means a 7.94 ERA for 2008. When he wasn't in the Bigs, he pitched 40 times for Iowa. An ERA over 5 was due in large part to the 10 HR's he yielded. The only positive was the 11 saves. The 23 year old is still young, but you have to wonder if the right hander's 2.54 ERA which made him attractive to the Cubs in '07 was a fluke. After all, his career minor league record is 3.84. Odds: 25 to 1

Justin Berg-Berg was added to the 40 man roster this offseason. Why? Well, the Cubs brass must see something that I am missing. The 24 year old right hander started the season in Tennessee, going 0-3, but with a respectable 3.49 ERA. He moved up to Iowa, where he made 27 appearances, 16 starts. But his 5.68 ERA and 1.00 K/walk ratio doesn't seem like the type of numbers that warrant a spot on the 40 man. He spent the winter playing baseball in Venezula, throwing 10 games of relief and amassing a 9.88 ERA. Odds: 75 to 1

Mitch Atkins-Atkins has been a starter for all but 3 appearances in '07 and 2 appearances in '04. So, to move him into the Cubs 'pen would be stupid. As I mentioned before, he sits in a perfect position to slide into the rotation in case of an injury, but doesn't seem like the kind of guy who would pitch in relief. Atkins record must not reflect the scout's view of him, as he still isn't in the Top 10 according to either BA or BP. Odds: 75 to 1

David Patton-Patton was a Rule V addition, after the Cubs paid cash to the Reds who selected him in the draft. The Cubs would have to put him on the 25 man roster to keep him. In 2006, he dominated at A Ball with a 1.95 ERA. He fell off in '07 when he moved to Advanced A Ball and had a 4.52 ERA. But back for his second year in Advanced A Ball in '08, he got back some of his form, yielding 29 runs in over 73 innings (a 3.54 ERA) and striking out 87. Given that he doesn't have any experience above A Ball, he's likely headed back to Colorado before the end of Spring Training. Odds: 80 to 1

Marcos Mateo-Mateo was added to the 40 man this offseason in his first season in the organization after being acquired from the Reds for Buck Coats. He has yet to pitch above Advanced A Ball, so it was a move to protect him for the future than provide immediate help. The 24 year old righthander had a 3.22 ERA between Peoria and Daytona, starting in roughly half of his appearances. He was hit pretty hard in the Dominican Winter Leagues, giving up 12 hits in 6 innings of work. Odds: 85 to 1

The 'Pen, Part III will focus on the non-roster invitees.



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