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Friday, April 16, 2010
Win doesn't hide glaring Cubs' deficiencies

By Bruce Levine

Kosuke Fukudome and Marlon Byrd
Marlon Byrd has been an upgrade, but Kosuke Fukudome and Alfonso Soriano have been liabilities in the outfield this season.

The Cubs’ 7-2 come-from-behind victory over Houston on Friday doesn’t camouflage the fact that both the bullpen and outfield defense has been bad for the first 10 games of the season.

The Padres at some point will put closer Heath Bell on the market. The Cubs will have as good a shot as anybody to obtain Bell if they’re willing to give up a No. 1 prospect like infielder Josh Vitters.

Although centerfielder Marlon Byrd has been an upgrade defensively this season, the defensive play of both Alfonso Soriano and Kosuke Fukudome has been way below par.

Outfield defense is the No. 1 contributor to extra outs, and extra outs lead to pitchers’ high ERAs.

As far as the bullpen, bringing up a pitcher like No. 1 pick Andrew Cashner from Double-A has not been talked about, but is certainly not the answer to the Cubs’ bullpen problem.

Cubs GM Jim Hendry will gladly overpay in prospects if he gets the go-ahead from the Ricketts family to trade for a pitcher like Bell and absorb his $5 million contract.

No major-league team can develop four young pitchers into bullpen studs during a championship season. The key for the Cubs winning a division is getting some bullpen help.