Add Relief via Trade, Free Agency, or Minor League Call-up
The Cub bullpen needs help, no question. Neal Cotts pitches on a regular basis . . . any questions? They have Gregg, a closer with no stuff, and Marmol, a guy with great stuff when he's not closing. And then there's Heilman, a guy who probably needs to be starting if he's going to do well. But is this really the reason the Cubs are sitting at .500 and showing every intention of dropping even further? Not really. But here's the move I would make to improve the bullpen if I were Jim Hendry:
1. Acquire Pedro Martinez (free agent) and use him as a closer. He's supposedly 37. He's not playing anywhere. He's probably too old to be a serviceable starter, but I can definitely see him excelling in a John Smoltz, Kerry Wood, Dennis Eckersley starter-to-closer metamorphosis.
2. Make Aaron Heilman the 5th starter and move Marshall to the bullpen. Heilman's stuff is brilliant when he's on and BP-awful when he's not. Inconsistency is poison for relievers, but for starters, it's almost expected. Most starters rarely have all three or four of their pitches working, but an entire game allows them to figure out what is working. Heilman has three killer pitches and no idea how to use them in a single inning of work. Marshall is brilliant wherever he goes.
Acquire a Utility Player/Backup 3B
I.e. Mark DeRosa. It's been well rumored that Mark DeRosa is on the trading block since Cleveland looks to be out of it. It would be great to have De-Ro back, overrated, underrated, or unrated director's cut. So, this one is kinda easy:
3. Get Mark DeRosa from the Indians for three minor leaguers.
Get Jake Peavy
Uh . . . yeah, this is obvious. Peavy's agent made it crystal clear on ESPN Radio Chicago's morning show: the longer the Padres wait to deal Peavy, the lower the benefit for the team who gets him and the more it hurts the Padres. The Cubs are the only team he wants to go to. If the Padres kept him for the next two years, he'd account for almost half the team's salary. In the predicament the Padres find themselves, the Cubs shouldn't have to give up a lot at this point. They won't get him for free, but the team will have to be left intact for Peavy to OK the deal.
4. Trade the Daytona Cubs for Jake Peavy.
Do Something Drastic
The Cubs are past the point of tinkering, and this is the time to do something that get the attention of the entire team. They could bench Milton Bradley. They could have Zambrano play third. They could wear red hats (I don't care if Bud Selig held a gun to their heads, what the crap is that about?!?). But if Jim Hendry really wants to wake up the Cub bats and a whole lot more, this is what he'll do:
5. Fire Lou. Hire Ryno. I'm not one to criticize every tactical move Lou makes, because the guy knows baseball (and knows his team) better than anybody. What I will criticize is the attitude of the team. Lou was supposed to bring (and has brought) a culture of winning and professionalism. Haven't seen much of that this year. The Cubs play like crap and carry themselves like crap. The mystique of Lou is not in the X's and O's but in the scowls and bellows. None of that's working, and it's time to make a change.
Why not Ryno? Why not now?