The Other Fifteen

Eighty-five percent of the f---in' world is working. The other fifteen come out here.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

The big question going into camp is going to be "Who is the Cubs closer?" It's mostly an absurd question - we have an abundance of talented relief pitchers who've all had past success. But we're going to see a lot more ink spilled over our surplus of closers than we will about our lack of shortstops.

And it's possible there won't be a change at all:

The only thing that seems a lock as the first official workout gets under way today is that Piniella has no intention of resurrecting the ''Nasty Boys'' closer job-share program he employed with the World Series champion Cincinnati Reds in 1990.

''We'll have one guy,'' he said Wednesday. ''By the end of spring training, no question. Probably three-quarters of the way through spring training, we'll have one guy. We've got people here that are very capable of getting it done.''

That includes the guy who has done it the last three years. And Piniella didn't rule out the possibility that Dempster could return to the closer role if he can't win a spot in the rotation.


''The Boston situation last year showed us that in spring training. [Jonathan] Papelbon was slated to be a starter and ended up in the closer's role and did a pretty good job.

''I don't know what's going to happen with that situation, but I do know that if Dempster ends up in the rotation, we're going to have a good closing situation here. And if he doesn't, he did a heck of a job for us in the closing spot last year. So it's a win-win for us.''

Lou seems to be confirming a long-held belief of mine: if Dempster can't crack the starting rotation (and with the surplus of candidates we have, there's little reason to think he will) there's a good chance he moves back into the closer's spot. And then it really will be a lot of wasted ink about the vacancy at closer.

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