The Cubs Should Consider Jeff Samardzija

Would help out the bullpen

It's becoming pretty obvious that Cubs manager Lou Piniella isn't too pleased with the performance of his bullpen so far this April, and he shouldn't be.  The team is only a few weeks into the season and already some members of the pen have shown an consistent inability to get hitters out and hold leads, with new closer Kevin Gregg on top of the list with his 9.00 ERA and 2.75 WHIP in five appearances.

Evidence of Piniella's feelings has been everywhere.  Already this season Piniella has sent pitching coach Larry Rothschild out to the mound three times to make a pitching change in his place, which indicates that Sweet Lou just doesn't want to deal with his pitcher.  Maybe he's afraid he'll throttle him, or maybe he's just trying to send a message.  Either way, his unhappiness is clear.

Then there was Friday afternoon's Cubs victory over the Cardinals.  Carlos Zambrano wasn't at his best all afternoon, yet in spite of the fact he gave up three home runs, nine hits, and seven runs, Piniella let him stay out there for seven innings and throw 109 pitches.  Then he went to Aaron Heilman to pitch the eighth and brought in Carlos Marmol to close the game in the ninth, leaving Gregg sitting in the bullpen.

So if Lou isn't happy with what he has in the pen, maybe the Cubs should consider calling up Jeff Samardzija from Iowa to help out.  The Cubs sent Samardzija to the minors to stretch him out with plans on using him as a starter, but at this point he's more useful to the team as a reliever.

In a late-inning role last season, Samardzija appeared in 26 games for the Cubs last season, and had 25 strikeouts in 27.1 innings, with a 2.28 ERA.  So far this season in Iowa he's appeared in two games with one start and only six innings of work, so it wouldn't take very long to have him adjust to a bullpen role, if at all.

It's something the Cubs should strongly consider, and to their credit, they probably are.  They're far and away the best team in their division -- losing Chris Carpenter for a few months hurts the Cardinals badly -- and it would be a shame to see them killed by their bullpen.

Along with writing for, Tom Fornelli can also be found contributing at FanHouse, SPORTSbyBROOKS, and his own Chicago sports blog Foul Balls

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