So, the Marlins obviously have money to waste

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I realize it’s a footnote that the Marlins re-signed Greg Dobbs for $1.7 million earlier today. It probably doesn’t make much of a difference to anyone besides a few Marlins fans who are already so apathetic that it scarcely registered for more than a few minutes.

However, I don’t think this should be overlooked or forgotten. Paying Dobbs $1.2 million more than the minimum is an absurd waste of money, oddly perpetrated by one of the game’s cheapest owners.

The Marlins originally signed Dobbs to a minor league deal after the 2010 season that would pay him $600,000 if he made the club. Which he did, of course. After hitting .275/.311/.389 with eight homers in 411 at-bats in 2011, he was then given a two-year, $3 million extension.

Now Dobbs is finishing up his third year with the club. Overall, he’s hit .267/.310/.366 with 15 homers and 110 RBI in 966 at-bats. He’s best known as a pinch-hitter, but he started 84 games at third base for the Marlins in 2011, 96 games at various positions in 2012 and 47 games at first base this year. His defensive numbers at all of his positions are abysmal, so Baseball-Reference puts him at -2.5 WAR over the three years. The only position players worse during the span are Yuniesky Betancourt (-3.5) and Marlins teammate Chris Coghlan (-3.3).

And this has been Dobbs’ worst year of the three. He’s batting .229/.305/.301 in 236 at-bats. There’s no way any other team would want him on more than a minor league deal this winter. At 35, he’s obviously a worse bet than he was at 32, when the Marlins originally signed him to that non-guaranteed $600,000 deal.  Why is there any reason to give him more than that now?

It’s not as though $1.2 million was always inconsequential to the Marlins. Two years ago, they gave away right-handed reliever Burke Badenhop to the Rays rather than pay him $1 million-$1.2 million in arbitration. He’s gone on to post ERAs of 3.03 and 3.48 the last two years. Now the Marlins are just throwing away that kind of money.

I understand why the Marlins want to have someone like Dobbs. Young players shouldn’t waste away on the bench, and Dobbs will take his reserve role without complaint. But that’s hardly a good reason to give him a raise and pay him three times the minimum. So what if he’s good in the clubhouse if that’s all he’s really good at? If they had let the market dictate his worth, then they’d have some more to spend on someone useful.

The Cubs are in desperate need of relief

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Tonight in Chicago Yu Darvish of the Dodgers will face off against Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs. If this were Game 1, we’d have a lot to say about the Dodgers’ trade deadline pickup and the Cubs’ budding ace. If this series continues on the way it’s been going, however, each of them will be footnotes because it has been all about the bullpens.

The Cubs, you may have heard, are having tremendous problems with relief pitching. Both their own and with the opposition’s. Cubs relievers have a 7.03 ERA this postseason, and have allowed six runs on eight hits and have walked six batters in seven innings of work. And no, the relief struggles aren’t just a matter of Joe Maddon pushing the wrong buttons (even though, yeah, he has pushed the wrong buttons).

Maddon pushed Wade Davis for 44 pitches in Game 5 of the NLDS, limiting his availability in Games 1 and 2. That pushing is a result of a lack of relief depth on the Cubs. Brian Duensing, Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. all have talent and all have had their moments, but none of them are the sort of relievers we have come to see in the past few postseasons. The guys who, when your starter tosses 80 pitches in four innings like Jon Lester did the other night, can be relied upon to shut down the opposition for three and a half more until your lights-out closer can get the four-out save.

In contrast, the Dodgers bullpen has been dominant, tossing eight scoreless innings. Indeed, Dodgers relievers have tossed eight almost perfect innings, allowing zero hits and zero walks while striking out nine Cubs batters. The only imperfection came when Kenley Jansen hit Anthony Rizzo in Game 2. That’s it. Compare this to the past couple of postseasons where the only truly reliable arm down there was Jansen, and in which Dodgers managers have had to rely on Clayton Kershaw to come on in relief. That has not been a temptation at all as the revamped L.A. pen, featuring newcomers Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson. Suffice it to say, Joe Blanton is not missed.

Which brings us back to Kyle Hendricks. He has pitched twice this postseason, pitching seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but getting touched for four runs on nine hits while allowing a couple of dingers in Game 5. If the good Hendricks shows up, Maddon will be able to ride him until late in the game in which a now-rested Davis and maybe either Strop or Edwards can close things out in conventional fashion, returning this series to competitiveness. If the bad Hendricks does, he’ll have to do what he did in that NLDS Game 5, using multiple relievers and, perhaps, a repurposed starter in relief while grinding Davis into dust again. That was lucky to work there and doing it without Davis didn’t work in Game 2 on Sunday night.

So it all falls to Hendricks. The Dodgers have shown how soft the underbelly of the Cubs pen truly is. If they get to Hendricks early and get into that pen, you have to like L.A’s chances, not just in this game, but for the rest of the series, as bullpen wear-and-tear builds up quickly. It’s pretty simple: Hendricks has to give the Cubs some innings tonight. There is no other option available.

Just ask Joe Maddon. He’s tried.