Signing Marlon Byrd was important. The Cubs needed quality in center field. Byrd is quality, if just by a nose.
But there’s more work to be done. The Cubs also need more quality arms, especially in the bullpen. Ted Lilly is out until April, at the very least, recovering from shoulder surgery, and the bullpen is two quality arms short of being a championship caliber pen.
Jim Hendry is showing interest in Jon Garland, and why not. The guy has a rubber arm and good enough stuff for double-digit wins. He’s also affordable, just 29-years-old and likely to sign for a smaller deal in the two-year range.
John Smoltz should be on the radar too. He’d obviously be patchwork until Lilly’s return, but his presence alone in the clubhouse couldn’t be overlooked. And having already tasted Boston and St. Louis, I think Smoltz would certainly appreciate throwing in Chicago just as well.
The health of Ben Sheets brings so many question marks. He’s like a taller version of Rich Harden, but just as expensive. I wouldn’t bash Hendry for taking the risk, you need power arms in October, but I wouldn’t pull the trigger this early in the offseason, either
Jose Contreras should not be a Cub. Period. End of discussion.
Hendry’s looking to trade for bullpen help rather than going through free agency. Tops on his wish list is right-hander Jason Frasor. He’s a local kid out of Oak Forest, 31-years-old and coming off a career year with Toronto (7-3, 2.50 ERA).
Without hesitation, I’d part with Samardzija, Gorzelanny or Marshall for Frasor or any other top-notch bullpen arm. Signing a centerfielder was important, but signing quality bullpen help is even more critical. Chicago will not win without it.