While the Cubs starting eight appear to be set, there is one pressing need in the bullpen left to be filled. Ah, but is that a set-up man, as we've been led to believe, or a true closer?
For if the Cubs can somehow pull off a trade for the San Diego Padres' Heath Bell, they could move Carlos Marmol back where he belongs, as the Cubs' set-up man.
I know it may be somewhat farfetched, but bear with me for a minute. First of all, the Padres know they aren't going anywhere in 2010, so Bell's name has come up as trade fodder.
Second, Marmol is coming off a season where his control was just short of Steve Blass-like. Sure, his slider remains one of the best pitches in the majors, but if he comes into the ninth inning and walks the first couple batters, we're in trouble.
So why not give Marmol another year to get his act together and let Bell, who is a proven closer, take the ninth inning reins?
I know, the two main issues are money and what the club would have to give up to acquire Bell.
Dan Hayes of the North County Times says the Padres' biggest needs are a veteran pitcher, a righty-hitting outfielder, a utility player, and a veteran catcher.
But I assume that the Pads would love to have some young talent too, so how about a deal that includes Andrew Cashner (who is starting in the Cubs' organization but may be better suited as a closer), Jay Jackson, and a low-level prospect?
Bell saved 42 games in 2009, out of 48 chances. He struck out 79 batters in just over 69 innings. His ERA was 2.71.
Bell is eligible for arbitration after earning $1.25 million in 2009. I'm sure that Jim Hendry can squeeze another $3-4 million out of Tom Ricketts if it means that our bullpen is set.
For whom the Bell tolls? Hopefully for the Cubs in 2010.