Can We Give Him Back?

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- Well, I think I'm glad I didn't make the trip down I-10 (Bruce Miles told me there's construction, too, making the usual two-hour ride even longer), just to see Neal Cotts implode again and turn a 3-2 lead into a 5-3 Cub loss to the White Sox.

I guess it's too late to call Kenny Williams and give him back, right? I'd have taken David Aardsma in return, but he's gone to the Red Sox.

It was too nice here in Scottsdale to sit inside all afternoon watching this game on TV (especially since I was stuck listening to Hawk & DJ, since I don't have any way to sync up an online radio broadcast), so I came inside just in time to see Cotts give up a Joe Crede double that nearly was a home run to left, a bloop single to Juan Uribe, and a three-run homer to Jim Thome that is probably still traveling north on I-10 on its way here.

Jim Thome. Hmmm. Left-handed hitter. Isn't that the kind of guy that Neal Cotts is supposed to get out?

Anyway, that ought to make one decision for Jim Hendry and Lou Piniella easy. Even if they have to eat all of Cotts' $800,000 deal, they've got to let him go -- and I'm not sure if the date for paying only a fraction of that salary has passed, but if it hasn't, they need to cut him beforehand.

Tomorrow's weather forecast calls for a 30% chance of rain here in the Valley and temperatures topping out around 60 degrees. So, with a chance that tomorrow's contest vs. the Angels will be rained out, Lou will perhaps have an extra day to decide who his closer is going to be, and it looks like Kerry Wood has the inside track:

The only question regarding whether Kerry Wood can handle the closer duties is if he's durable enough. But Lou Piniella acknowledged Saturday that the setup pitchers usually have a tougher workload, which means the Cubs may be leaning toward giving the ninth-inning job to Wood.

I agree with that 100%. Bob Howry, Carlos Marmol, and as that link points out, Kevin Hart (who appears to have made the team after another good outing today), may have to go more than one inning at a time. A closer doesn't, in general, and so the only question remaining is how Wood handles outings on back-to-back days. Lou was apparently waiting till after the off-day on Monday to get Wood (and Marmol and Howry) back-to-back outings. I would imagine that Wood, having thrown an inning yesterday, will pitch Tuesday and in one of the split-squad games on Wednesday. The unusual day/night split-squad DH will probably allow Lou to give Howry and Marmol back-to-back outings, too.

Other notes from today: Kosuke Fukudome had a scary-looking collision at second base in the 8th inning, but he appeared to be fine, just a little shaken up. I didn't see Rich Hill throw, but three hits and three walks in 3.2 IP doesn't sound real good to me.

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