Kerry Wood of the Chicago Cubs closes out the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 9th inning for a save at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. Why not have him start to help the rotation? (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The Cubs are down two starting pitchers with Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner both headed to the disabled list. No roster moves have yet officially been made; presumably, something will be announced today, although no one is actually needed for either spot until Sunday, which would have been Wells' turn. It's been speculated, and probably correctly, that Casey Coleman will be recalled to take Wells' spot in the rotation. Coleman did a nice job in eight starts last August and September and was a contender for the rotation this year in spring training.
So the Cubs can fill one of those spots with a major league ready pitcher. I posted a poll on the right sidebar asking who you think should get the other spot, whose turn will first come up on Tuesday in Houston. At this writing, Chris Carpenter leads the poll, with Thomas Diamond second. Diamond started last night's Iowa opener and was pulled after 84 pitches. Diamond started three games last year and had a decent debut; after that he was pretty bad. Carpenter doesn't seem major league ready yet; neither is Trey McNutt, who is scheduled to start the season in Double-A.I put Kerry Wood in that poll almost as an afterthought. With all the off days this month, manager Mike Quade says that fifth guy won't be needed very much:
"The way I see it now in the next three weeks, you're looking at a line of three Tuesdays where we need pitching," Quade said. "Whether that's 'Russ' coming out of the chute or if someone takes the bull by the horns in the Minor Leagues and establishes himself. Three times in three weeks we need somebody, and that's better than five times in three weeks or whatever. Built in off-days help for a lot of reasons, and this is one of them."
James Russell ("Russ" as mentioned by Quade) would also be a bad idea as fifth starter; he hasn't started a game since 2009 at Iowa, and he wasn't very good in the minor leagues as a starter.
The more I think about this, the more sense it makes. Why not Kerry Wood? Three times in three weeks, give him the ball and let him start. Call up Scott Maine, Esmailin Caridad or Jeff Stevens to be the last guy in the bullpen. Sean Marshall can take over Wood's setup duties for a while. It's an unorthodox, outside-the-box idea... but it just might work. Incidentally, if the Cubs did decide to give Wood the ball to start Tuesday in Houston, it would be 13 years to the day that he made his major league debut, April 12, 1998 in Montreal.
Go for it, Jim Hendry and Mike Quade. Demonstrate some original thinking. It's three games in three weeks. And... it just might work.