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Cheap, Late-Inning Relief Options

Michael AshkenasiContributor IDecember 18, 2009

NEW YORK - MAY 31:  Kiko Calero #40 of the Florida Marlins pitches against the New York Mets during their game on May 31, 2009 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

Thinking about how much of a bad streak Hendry has been on recently (the Bradley signing, the 2-year deal for John Grabow, not offering Rich Harden arbitration, etc.) I feel bad for Jim, and wanted to see what I can do to help him......Right now the Cubs bullpen looks like this:

CL -- Carlos Marmol

SU -- Angel Guzman, John Grabow

LR  -- Sean Marshall

MR -- Justin Berg, Esmailin Caridad, Jeff Samardzija or Jon Gaub or Jeff Stevens

While I feel comfortable about the front 4 (even though Hendry waaaay overpaid Grabow and doesn't seem to pay any attention to a pitcher's WHIP), I'm not sold on the back end.....Berg and Caridad closed out  with a bang last year, but neither was on the team's radar as a major prospect and I don't see both being solid contributors going forward (maybe one, but not both....)

Samardzija is too inconsistent, Stevens dominated triple-A but couldn't translate it to big-league success, and Jon Gaub -- although absolutely filthy at double- and triple-A -- hasn't yet been up with the big leage club.

It's clear that at least 1 more veteran arm would be nice.  [Preface: I rely heavily on OPS-against as a quality indicator of future success.....]

Here are my free-agent relievers, ranked by preference, that could be obtained relatively cheaply:

1) Kiko Calero    

Upsides: Except for 2007, has an OPS under .640 the last 5 years. Only 4 HRs given up the last 3 years combined.

Downsides: Injured in parts of 2007-08.

Would offer:  2-year, $6-mil deal, and go as high as 3 years, $9 mil.

2) Doug Brocail

Upsides: Had an OPS under .680 in 2006-08. In 2009, OPS against RH of .662. 

Downsides: Subpar 2009 due to injury.

Would offer:  1-year, $2.5-mil deal, and go as high as 2 years, $4.5-mil.

3) Russ Springer

Upsides: Great in 2007-08. Except for 2009, has an OPS under .700 the last 5 years. .538 OPS against RH the last 3 years.

Downsides: Poor numbers in 2009, sometimes HR-prone...

Would offer: 1-year, $2.5-mil deal, and go as high as 2 years, $5-mil w/ $3.5 option for 2012.

4) Chad Bradford

Upsides: Except for 2007, has an OPS under .680 the last 5 years. Only 4 HRs given up the last 3 years combined. Pretty consistent submariner when healthy.

Downsides: Injured in parts of 2007-08.

Would offer:  2-year, $5-mil deal, w/ $3 club option for 2012.

5) Brian Shouse

Upsides: Great in 2007-08. .531 OPS against LH the last 3 years. Terrific lefty specialist.

Downsides: Awful in 2009.

Would offer:  1-year, $750,000 deal, and go as high as 1 year, $1.5 mil w/ 2011 option.

6) Brendan Donnelly

Upsides: Except for 2008, has an OPS under .700 every year of his career. Might be healthy for the first time in a long time, and could come cheap.

Downsides: Injury-prone, gopher-prone.

Would offer:  2-year, $3-mil, or as high as 2 years, $4 mil.

7) David Weathers

Upsides: He's a workhorse, and very versatile, having closed games for the Reds a couple of years.

Downsides: OPS under .700 in just 2 of the last 5 years.  Really more suited to middle-relief role than anything else....

Would offer: 2-year, $3-mil.   That's all.  Someone else will offer him more and regret it.

8) Fernando Rodney

Upsides: Experience closing, was 37 of 38 saves last year.

Downsides: ERA under 3.50 only once and gives up gophers. Really not a great pitcher, has a reputation as a fireballer that doesn't match the numbers.

Would offer: 2-year, $3-mil.  That's all.  Someone else will offer him more and regret it.

9) Guillermo Mota

Upsides: Great in 2009.

Downsides: In 2006-08, he was both not effective AND expensive.

Would offer: 2-year, $3-mil.  That's all.  Someone else will offer him more and regret it.

10) Alan Embree

Upsides: Lefty. Experienced.

Downsides: His numbers have gotten worse each of the last 3 years. I'm only putting him on this list to have a nice round top-10......

Would offer:  Minor-league deal.

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