This post started as a reply to this lonely yet welcome dead-of-winter comment, but I figured, why not expand? We need some December content. Anyway, with Kerry Wood off to parts unknown, the closer position is up for grabs in Chicago. Carlos Marmol would appear to be the heir apparent. In 2008, he notched seven saves, which were accompanied by these other sick stats: a 2.68 ERA, a 0.92 WHIP and a .185 BAA. Sounds plenty closer-worthy to me.
Ahh, but a new challenger approaches. The Cubs traded for Marlins closer Kevin Gregg in November to strengthen their oft-suspect bullpen. Gregg recorded 29 saves last year and 32 the year before, so he also seems up to the job (though his numbers lag behind Marmol in most statistical categories).
In this late-November interview posted at Pantagraph.com, Cubs manager Lou Piniella seems to indicate it could go either way. Piniella says: "The best way to handle that is to let them go to spring training and compete. I’m comfortable with Marmol. He’s pitched very well here the last two years. And the other kid saved 29 games this year for the Marlins, so not bad.”
Reading it again, however, the quote kind of hints at Marmol being the preferred candidate in Piniella's mind. I know I'd rather my skip be "comfortable" with me than think I'm "not bad." So my gut's now telling me Marmol will be the guy. (I concede to you, anonymous dead-of-winter poster!) Still, it's a situation to watch closely this spring, and both Marmol and Gregg will be eminently draftable in good-sized daily lineup leagues.