More Suggestions On How To Fix A Leaky 'Pen

By Chris Rewers on Tuesday, May 11, 2010

It's become a daily exercise of the media and blogosphere to speculate on ways Cubs general manager Jim Hendry can improve his sorry bullpen.

Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLB Trade Rumors is the latest to chime in, but the solutions he suggests do not make this Cub fan's heart race.

Nicholson-Smith points out the sad fact that Lou Piniella has used six right-handed relievers this season and that only Carlos Marmol (0.61) has an ERA under 6.00. And of the six, only Marmol and Carlos Zambrano have struck out more hitters than they have walked.

Among Nicholson-Smith's solutions:

* Signing free-agent former Cub Juan Cruz, who was released by the Kansas City Royals on April 23. The 31-year-old Cruz allowed two runs and nine hits in 5 1/3 innings with the Royals this season. A further examination of his numbers, however, reveals that Cruz allowed all six of his inherited runners to score and that opposing hitters were hitting .391.

Cruz, who spent his first three years in the majors (2001-03) with the Cubs, has a career 4.15 ERA in 10 big league seasons and has been used exclusively as a reliever in six of the seven campaigns he has pitched in since being traded by the North Siders during the final week of spring training in 2004.

* Making a trade for a right-handed reliever with Arizona or Seattle. Neither the Diamondbacks nor the Mariners have a left-handed reliever on their active roster. Assuming thatSean Marshall is untouchable, the Cubs have lefties Tom Gorzelanny, John Grabow, and James Russell to offer.

But why would the Cubs want any of Arizona's right-handers, who include former Cubs Bob Howry and Aaron Heilman? The Diamondbacks entered Tuesday's play with the worst bullpen ERA in the majors (7.09) and only Heilman (4.05) has an ERA below 6.00.

Seattle's all-righty bullpen, meanwhile, has done just fine, ranking third in the AL with a 3.26 ERA. Besides, would Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik consider making another trade with Hendry after getting fleeced in the Milton Bradley-Carlos Silvaoffseason swap?

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