|Trade Market May Determine Cubs Season|
Written by Daniel Paulling (Contact & Archive) on March 12, 2010
Angel Guzman has suffered through an unfair share of adversity this year.
Less than two months ago, his brother and best friend were killed in Guzman's native Venezuela. And now, on a much less serious note, Guzman has been diagnosed with a significantly damaged ligament in his right (throwing) shoulder.
The Cubs gave him the option of returning to Venezuela to be with his family, but he hasn't yet. Instead, he'll be visiting Dr. James Andrews, the famed orthopedic surgeon in Alabama, for a second opinion on his shoulder. That visit is expected to happen sometime this week.
Guzman's injury leaves the Cubs with a big hole in their bullpen. Carlos Marmol has been named the team's closer, but he looked quite shaky last year. He posted a 3.41 ERA and 1.46 WHIP -- Marmol allowed nearly a walk an inning -- and was only 15-of-19 in save opportunities.
Marmol does have shut-down stuff, but he also only has 23 career saves. The Twins are worried about their ninth-inning situation despite Jon Rauch, the most experienced closer in the bullpen, having 26 in his career.
Guzman was expected to set up Marmol after posting an excellent 2009 season, but who fills the seventh and eighth innings for the Cubs remains to be seen. Jeff Samardzija recorded some good stats in 2008 (2.28 ERA in 27 2/3 innings), but that was largely hidden by a 1.41 WHIP. Last season he put up a 7.53 ERA and 1.76 WHIP in 34 2/3 innings.
John Grabow pitched well for the Cubs last season, but he and whoever else manager Lou Piniella scrapes together won't be enough. That means the trade market will be the Cubs' best hopes for fixing their bullpen.
Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reported the Cubs inquired on Blue Jays relief pitcher Jason Frasor, who would be an excellent set up man or closer if the Cubs wanted to use Marmol for more than one inning. Frasor posted a 2.50 ERA over 57 2/3 innings last year and is earning a paltry $2.65 million before reaching free agency at season's end. There's also a chance that Frasor becomes a Type A free agent, which would give the Cubs a higher draft pick should he leave via free agency.
Kerry Wood is closing for the Indians this year, but that is probably an extravagance and cost they don't need. He's early about $11 million and both parties are familiar with each other.
And as team's fall out of contention, more arms could become available. Relief pitchers are given Type A, Type B, etc. ratings like other free agents, and teams are reluctant to sign them and sacrifice a high draft pick. It's better to sign a Type A free agent second baseman than a Type A middle reliever and lose your first round pick in doing so. This was why it took so long for Jose Valverde to sign this offseason and may make it more likely teams will trade relievers at the deadline.