By Brady Stiff
The Cubs made it through the first week or so of the season with a very mediocre 3-4 record. They can attribute three of their losses to their blowpen, er, I mean bullpen.
The 8th innings has been the key so far for the Cubs, as all three times the bullpen has blown it, it’s been in that fateful inning.
That’s why Sean Marshall needs a new job.
As it is now, Marshall is used primarily as a long relief guy, and secondly as a lefty specialist. He’s yet to give up a run so far in five innings over four appearances. His WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) is a shiny 0.20. He hasn’t walked anyone while striking out nine.
He’s the only reliever Lou Piniella can trust right now, and that’s why Sean Marshall needs a new job. He needs to be the setup man for the Chicago Cubs.
In that role right now are lefty John Grabow and righty rookie Esmailin Cardidad. I see no reason why Grabow and Marshall can’t simply switch spots, and Lou certainly isn’t Es-smilin’ when Caridad is busy walking the bases loaded.
The Cubs signed Grabow to a two year, $7+ million dollar deal in the offseason. Common sports sense says that the money must see the field, but it was Lou Piniella himself who said that money wouldn’t play a role in who plays this year. He said it’s about production in 2010.
Well, if that’s the case, I think Lou ought to give Marshall a look at the set up role. Carlos Marmol has been good so far, so a Marshall-Marmol bullpen could really solidify the back end of the Cubs’ bullpen, and hopefully pave the way to more wins.
We knew that the injury to Angel Guzman was significant, but now we’re finding out just how significant it really is.
The bullpen problem still remains, however, because there’s three rookies down there (Caridad, Justin Berg, and James Russell). Of course, once Ted Lilly comes back, one of the rookies will most likely be sent down to make room. Who that is will depend on which Cub currently in the rotation is sent to the bullpen. Both Carlos Silva and Tom Gorzelanny were spectacular in their season debuts, so it’ll be a tough decision for Lou. My money is on Russell being sent down, with Gorzelanny moving to relief duty.
I think the move would be beneficial for the youngsters as well. The pressure of the 8th inning is sometimes greater than the pressure on the closer in the ninth. It all depends on which part of the order you face. I’m not discounting the pressure of getting outs 25, 26, and 27, because it’s a whole different animal. But I think Marshall would excel in the 8th because he doesn’t seem to get fazed by any pressure.
At this point, it’s not time to panic or anything. It’s April 13th. But the reality is, the Cubs can’t afford to give away victories. Some say that games in April and May don’t matter, but they really do. I think that if the thought has even crossed Lou’s mind, he needs to act on it NOW!