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Why Ryan Could be Key for Cubs

Make no mistake: B.J. Ryan is not the dominant closer he was when he joined the Blue Jays. The Toronto reliever has lost a significant amount of velocity, and there is reason to question whether that will return anytime soon.

That's precisely why the Blue Jays are cutting ties with the reliever, who hasn't seemed himself all year. Toronto released him and granted his unconditional waivers heading into the All-Star break, and, assuming he clears waivers (he will; he's owed $15 million for 2009 and 2010), any team can claim him for just $200,000 in 2009 and $400,000 in 2010.

It's likely that a handful of clubs will consider putting a claim on Ryan, but few make more sense than the Cubs, who could use flexibility from Ryan taking a spot in the bullpen to set up their beleaguered rotation.

Here's how it would work: The Cubs sign Ryan for the requisite minimum salaries proposed. That gives them another arm to use at the back end of the bullpen, where they'd slot Ryan in as a set-up man and late-inning left-handed reliever. In turn, that would allow Sean Marshall to move back to the starting rotation, where he spent all of 2008 and would be willing to return.

Marshall spoke to the Chicago Tribune about just such a move:

"I feel like I'm helping a lot down there as the only lefty. I've been working pretty hard getting up almost every game, but I feel like my arm is in shape to continue to do that. And if they need me to step back and stretch my arm out to start, if that's what helps the team, I'll do that too."

It's a move that just makes sense, for Ryan and his prospective new team. The fact that he could parachute directly into a pennant race after being released by his original team has to be the most attractive offer out there for Ryan, or so one would think.

For that matter, what do you think? Does Ryan make sense for the Cubs? Would Chicago be grasping on to straws in the hope of resuscitating a pitcher who just doesn't have it anymore?

By Cameron Smith  |  July 14, 2009; 2:32 PM ET
Categories:  Cubs  | Tags: B.J. Ryan, Blue Jays, Cubs, waiver wire  
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