Youth Movement in the Bullpen
With the latest injury to Angel Guzman and limited funds available it looks like the Cubs are going with a youth movement in the bullpen. I am actually in favor of the youth movement in regards to the bullpen.
Aside from the John Grabow signing the Cubs bullpen is relatively young and inexpensive. One of the criticisms of GM Jim Hendry is that he overpays for middle relievers, which I agree with to an extent. Then when he decides to go young in the bullpen he still finds his critics. It seems as if he cannot do anything right. I think going young in the bullpen is smart. Relievers are not all that valuable in terms of WAR dollars. Even the best ones are not worth the money they get due to the small sample. Since relievers are a crapshoot to begin with, I don’t see the point in spending a lot of money on relievers. Francisco Rodriguez and Brian Fuentes are reminders why it is not a good idea to spend big money on relievers. Most teams give their young guys a chance to play and I think this is a good chance to find out what we have. Relievers can usually be found from within. Pitchers like Jeff Stevens and Esmailin Caridad have good track records in the minors. Obviously the majors are a different game altogether, but I think there is a good enough track record to warrant a shot.
The bullpen should get a boost when Ted Lilly comes back and one of Carlos Silva, Jeff Samardzija, or Tom Gorzelanny goes to the bullpen. I don’t think any team is going to run away with the division and I think the Cubs can afford to give some of the younger guys a chance. So I’m okay with starting the season with what they have. If it turns out they need a reliever for the stretch run I’m not opposed to giving up C level prospects to get a reliever. If any team is asking for more than that I would stick with what I have. One thing the Cubs do have going for them is that they have a good pitching coach in Larry Rothschild. They also have a good track record with developing pitchers so I think it’s reasonable to expect one or two of the young guys to step up.
This could be the Cubs fan in me talking, but I think they deserve the benefit of the doubt as far as pitchers go. They seem to have questions regarding their pitching going into the season and it usually works out.