Cubs make correct call with Wood
March, 25, 2008
• Kudos to Lou Piniella and the Cubs for lining up their bullpen the way they announced before their game in Mesa on Monday. Kerry Wood isn't going to be capable of handling more than 60-65 innings even in the best case scenario, while Carlos Marmol threw 70 innings in just over four big-league months, proving that he can handle multiple-inning stints. Keeping Marmol in the seventh/eighth inning role, where just as many critical at-bats take place as in the ninth inning, makes much more sense than limiting his workload to the Jerome Holtzman Rule. With Wood and Marmol in the right spots, and Mike Wuertz, Bobby Howry and Kevin Hart all backing them up, the Cubs have a chance to have the best bullpen in the league. (We're just going to pretend that the part of the announcement about Ryan Theriot leading off and Alfonso Soriano hitting second didn't happen.) • On to BP, where I got my first look at Kosuke Fukudome. Fukudome spent most of his session hitting the ball to left field, flicking the bat out and trying to make solid contact and almost inside-out the ball to left. (I have a theory that this inside-out approach is a big part of how Japanese kids are taught to hit. Just about every Japanese hitter I've seen has at least some of that in his swing; it's a decision to forgo some power for more contact.) In his last few swings, he stayed back a little longer and drove the ball to right, finally hitting one out on his last swing. His wrists are quick and he keeps his weight back well, but doesn't always get his weight forward in time to maximize the power in his swing. He also starts his swing with a downward motion that can limit a hitter's ability to get to balls in. If his game swings are going to be more like the last few BP swings he took, I think the Bobby Abreu comparison holds -- lots of walks and strikeouts, above-average, good but not huge home run totals.