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
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).