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Coffee Is For Closers

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You can still discuss the wilds of the VWR in the post below, but for anyone who wants to change the subject, let's talk closers. Who's going to get that coffee and close for the Cubs this year?

Bruce Miles sums up yesterday's live BP sessions involving Kerry Wood, Bob Howry and Carlos Marmol, the three candidates. So far, Lou Piniella is noncommital:

Piniella said a variety of factors would play into his decision. Those factors include whom the Cubs choose for middle relief.

"Look, whether, it's Kerry, whether it's Howry, whether it's Marmol, these guys are all capable of doing it," Piniella said. "We're going to try to do what's best for the team, what's best for the individual. I know Bob's had trouble early (in regular seasons), so let's see how he comes out of spring training throwing the ball."

Sounds reasonable to me. But in the Sun-Times, Gordon Wittenmyer says the math adds up to Marmol:

Marmol is the best-equipped, most qualified candidate in camp not only to win the closer job, but also to be the kind of intimidating force that reduces the ninth inning to a swing and a prayer for any opponent that trails by a run after eight.

Maybe. Greg Couch agrees, and though I'm not sure I agree with him at this point in February, he does at least make a reasonable argument for his position. But then he trots out the old "let's not depend on Kerry Wood" argument:

If Wood is the closer, when the first month is spent in cold ballparks, he is going to blow out his shoulder. How do I know that? I don't. But you watch the Cubs your whole life and you just learn to know when the ship is going to sink.

Sigh. Yeah, I know. We've all felt this way at times. But maybe now is different, Greg. And Paul Sullivan has a cogent quote from Wood summing this all up:

Asked if the battle was purely media-driven, Wood replied: "Absolutely."

Amen. Let's see how it plays out starting next Thursday. Finally, don't be surprised to see these three pitching in the fourth or fifth inning in the early spring games. Why? Because those are the innings, early on, when you are guaranteed to be facing major league hitters. In the ninth, at least in the first week or two of the spring, guys wearing #93 from the minor league camp will be hitting, and that's not the situations you'd want your closer to be facing.