Pen pals

The good news is that when Bobby Howry signed with the San Francisco Giants, the Chicago Cubs were rid of one of their most frustrating relievers.

Of course, the bad news is that the loss of Howry leaves the Cubs at least two arms short in their bullpen.

The solution to shoring up one of last season's bright spots: signing Chad Fox, of course.

Yes, that Chad Fox.


Economic hard times have hit all across Major League Baseball, but look to have hit the North Siders a little bit harder as it continues to transition into an era of new management even though they still don't have a true owner.

Carlos Marmol will close, that's for certain. He whiffed one-third of the batters he faced last season and looks like he is a mini K-Rod in the making. And he's affordable and under team control for the forseeable future.

After that the pen's got more questions than a Senate Subcommittee researching steroid use in baseball.

The Cubs acquired Kevin Gregg, whose blown save antics helped propel the Cubs to a division title. And to top it off, they dealt one of their most promising young arms. It looks like Jim Hendry got fleeced again by the Fish.

Neal Cotts posted an ERA above 6.00 in August and September and hasn't been a solid lefty reliever since his 2005 stint with the White Sox. The best southpaw out of the pen was Sean Marshall, whose 3.42 bullpen ERA would look even better as a starter ... and could be even better in San Diego.

Angel Guzman, Kevin Hart, Jose Ascanio, Michael Wuertz and Chad Gaudin are all options. Not necessarily good ones. They're all young and have had moments of FAIL. Lou Piniella seems pleased with this group. If that's the case, I'm convinced he's been hangin' with Lil' Wayne and drinking cough syrup for a living.

If Hendry and Piniella don't get their act together, the '09 Cubs will resemble the '08 and '07 New York Mets.