Chicago Cubs 2010 Preview: Improving the Bullpen

Damen JacksonCorrespondent IFebruary 13, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 02: Ramon Troncoso #38 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches against the Colorodo Rockies on October 2, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jacob de Golish/Getty Images)
Jacob de Golish/Getty Images

What? They're still looking?

With less than a week before the official start of spring training, the Chicago Cubs are still looking to fill arguably their greatest offseason need: a reliable right-handed setup man for their new closer Carlos Marmol.

After "kicking the tires" on a host of potential candidates such as Frasor, Park, and Gregerson, Chicago is left with no better solution than they had at the end of the '09 season.

For the Cubs, the internal options are not terrible.  John Grabow may have found his stride, as indicated by his 3.24 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in his stint with the Cubs.  And certainly, Angel Guzman finally delivered on his potential and showed he's capable of being at least an adequate late-inning man.

But apparently the Cubs don't agree and are still searching for a set-up man.  There are potential suitors on the free agent market.  And the aforementioned trade scenarios may still happen.  But here are a few alternatives that could fill the void.

Manny Corpas (Rockies)

Corpas is a competent reliever with lots of upside.  He was forced out of his closer role last season by the Huston Street acquisition, then out of the bullpen altogether by injury.

But Manny looks like he's healthy this year, and is expected to be ready for Opening Day after his elbow surgery last season.  Unfortunately for him, the combination of Street and Rafael Betancourt is a talented one that leaves him a bit out in the cold in Colorado.  This writer is wondering if this isn't a good time for Colorado to send the ex-closer packing, if only for chemistry's sake.

Dustin McGowan (Blue Jays)

There's been a lot of talk about Toronto trading away either Jason Frasor or Scott Downs after their signing of Kevin Gregg.  But little has been said about the anticipated return of McGowan, arguably the most talented of them all. 

According to press reports, he's throwing smoothly, and is looking great.  The problem for the Jays, however, is that he's a pitcher out of options.  In other words, they'll need to keep him on what looks like an already competent staff, or place him on waivers and release him.

A better solution might be to move him for a similar talent who at least has options available, allowing them to get out in front of the issue now, and not lose value if he has a bad camp.  The Cubs might be better able to take a risk on him, working him into the role as he competes for setup innings with Grabow.

Ramon Troncoso (Dodgers)

If you believe the rumor mill, the Dodgers would much prefer to make George Sherrill contract away (because of his contract) and keep Troncoso instead.  And this writer would prefer to have Troncoso.  But Sherrill isn't going anywhere, and economic conditions prevent L.A. from addressing the back of their rotation without that relief...well, almost.

If the Cubs are confident about the medical status of Ted Lilly, and if they believe that the combination of Parisi, Samardzija, Marshall, and Silva can provide adequate innings for the first six weeks or so of the season, then quietly moving Gorzelanny for Ramon might be an adequate solution for all involved.

Given the spacious parks of the NL West, and fly ball graveyard that is Chavez Ravine, this might even be great for the Dodgers, as they would alleviate the Gorzelanny fly-ball tendencies.

Personally, I think the Cubs might do well sticking it out with Guzman for awhile in that role, given some of the options available.  However, if they're going to beef up the bullpen, the low-risk/high-upside players mentioned are likely a much better play than the solutions that have been discussed to date.