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Reading is Fun-damental
by Derek Smart
The Cubs signed Brian Boehringer to a minor league contract over the weekend in an attempt to add some insurance and minor league depth in the event it becomes necessary to switch out bullpen parts later in the year due to injuries or poor performance. At least, that's what he'd be used for on a team not run by Johnny B.
"He took a year off last year for some personal things with his family," Baker said. "He said his arm is good. The guy knows how to pitch and can throw darn near every day. He will never complain and was a pleasure to have on my team.
"He is looking for an opportunity, and that's what we are giving him. He's the only player I ever had who checks books out of the library in my office. This guy can read a book in about 15 minutes."
WANTED: "Major League" reliever. When asked if arm is in good shape, should answer "Yes." Must enjoy reading, particularly speed reading. Quietness and resignation to personal mediocrity a plus.
The bullpen currently shakes out with either three or four men being sure bets depending on whoyoubelieve, the agreed upon gentlemen of leisure being Dempster, Eyre, and Howry, with the supposed fourth being Scott Williamson (who I'd have to believe is a pretty sure thing). That leaves three spots (and, yes, there's no doubt in my mind that Dusty will go with a 12-man staff) for some combination of Todd Wellemeyer, Michael Wuertz, Will Ohman, Roberto Novoa, and now, Boehringer.
I'd think that Wuertz and Ohman, while not certainties, are the nearest to such a thing in that group, Wuertz because he's really been rather good most of the time, and Ohman because he also had a decent year last season, plus, I can't believe the club would break camp without a second lefty - not because it's actually necessary, but because I think they believe it is. That leaves a battle between Wellemeyer (out of options and a walk machine of late), Novoa (sometimes good, sometimes maddeningly inconsistent), and Boehringer (see above).
I think the club looked at the likelihood that Wellemeyer wouldn't make the club, leaving them compelled to deal him, and Novoa wouldn't be able to earn Dusty's trust while being better served by a more consistent workload in Iowa, and figured they'd best bring someone aboard who could be that worst pitcher on the team, safely transforming mere potential blowouts into full-fledged laughers in an inning or less.
Enter Mr. Boehringer, who with his personal history and love of literature should make the Wrigley Field bullpen a font of enlightened thought and intelligent discourse. Let us all welcome this new addition, The Librarian, and hope that he's much, much better than we have any right to expect.