Jim Hendry Shakes Up Chicago Cubs Bullpen for 2009 Season

Steve PopowskiCorrespondent IFebruary 10, 2009

Losses from Last Years' Bullpen

CL RH Kerry Wood: Age 31, 3.26 ERA, 34 SV, 84 K, 1.09 WHIP

RP RH Bob Howry: Age 35, 5.35 ERA, 15 Holds, 59 K, 1.49 WHIP

RP RH Michael Wuertz: Age 30, 3.63 ERA, 3 Holds, 30 K, 1.43 WHIP


Offseason Additions

CL RH Kevin Gregg: Age 30, 3.41 ERA, 29 SV, 58 K, 3.41 ERA, 1.28 WHIP

RP RH Luis Viszcaino: Age 34, 5.28 ERA, 1 Hold, 49 K, 1.46 WHIP

SP/RP RH Aaron Heilman: Age 30, 5.21 ERA, 80 K, 1.59 WHIP


2009 Projected Rotation and Bullpen

SP1 Carlos Zambrano

SP2 Rich Harden

SP3 Ryan Dempster

SP4 Ted Lilly

SP5 Sean Marshall/Aaron Heilman

RP RH Jeff Samardzija

RP RH Aaron Heilman/Sean Marshall

RP RH Luis Vizcaino

RP LH Neal Cotts

RP RH Chad Gaudin

RP RH Kevin Gregg

CL RH Carlos Marmol



On paper, it looks as if the Chicago Cubs took a huge step back from 2008 as far as relief pitching.

The loss of Kerry Wood's 34 saves, sub- 3.50 ERA and 1.1 WHIP will be a major blow to the bullpen, but given Woods injury history, general manager Jim Hendry is betting that Wood is due to be on the DL again.

Reliver Bob Howry was expendable, because Lou Pineilla lost all faith in him. Wuertz has been a solid reliever throughout his career, but his high WHIP (1.48) shows that he allows a lot of runners on base and has let other relievers get him out of tough situation.

The new additions to the Cubs bullpen are nothing to boast about.

True, Kevin Gregg was a good pickup, but why? The Cubs have Carlos Marmol slotted in as their closer, and why get Gregg unless they are not fully comfortable with Marmol. Gregg will make up for the loss of Wood, and give the Cubs more stability as far as injuries, but Wood was willing to take a discount to stay in Chicago.

The success of the bullpen will ride on how well right handers Jeff Samardzija and Carlos Marmol develop this season, and how well Luis Vizcaino rebounds from a dismal 2008.

Aaron Heilman brings experience, and is a capable replacement to headcase Jason Marquis, but he is definitely not the answer.

Overall, I think that if Hendry's gamble on the development of Marmol and Samardzija pay off, his letting go of Wood will be warranted.

But the when it comes to the Cubs betting on the development of players, it usually turns out for the worse (see Corey Patterson and Felix Pie).