Last season when Bob Howry stood as the Cubs’ best bullpen option before Marmol and Wood, it was obvious the relief corp. was hurting.
As many of you know, I spent the remaining summer months pleading for more bullpen help (and Howry’s departure) – but of course, it never arrived.
Sure, Chad Gaudin – part of the Harden deal – was a plus, but the ’08 Cubs’ pen needed more than one good arm.
And that’s still the case this January despite the club’s trade for Aaron Heilman yesterday afternoon.
There’s already plenty of chatter about Heilman moving into the Cubs’ rotation, but I see room for the guy.
First of all, come Spring Training the often forgotten about Rich Hill will make his case again for a starting position as will Sean Marshall.
Not to mention, it also makes sense for the Cubs to look at Samardzija moving into the rotation, a spot he’s familiar with from his days at Triple-A Iowa.
This leaves Heilman as my odds on favorite to partner up with Gaudin for the middle relief innings.
Heilman has been mediocre during his six seasons with New York, the last three as a reliever.
The plus side is he’s shown some durability, has hovered around a .500 record and averages near one strike out per innings pitched.
Some ballplayers hit their stride late, and at 30-years-old it’s possible Heilman could still improve.
At worst, he’s still an upgrade over the handful of 4-AAA relievers on the Cubs’ roster.
Although I still would’ve liked to see Olson’s development in the Cubs’ farm system, it’s encouraging to see the bullpen get some reinforcements before the start of the season.