The Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan writes that the Cubs have no plans to bring back Rich Harden, as alluded to by manager Lou Piniella. Prior to losing the final road game of the season to the San Francisco, Piniella ran down the 2010 rotation.
"You look at our starting pitching here for next year," Piniella said. "You've got (Carlos) Zambrano, you've got (Ryan) Dempster, you've got (Randy) Wells, you've got (Ted) Lilly, you've got (Tom) Gorzelanny, and you've got (Jeff) Samardzija...And if this kid keeps improving, he'll be right in the mix. So we've got six nice arms."
Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Piniella characterized the starting five as being "pretty settled." Wittenmyer feels that Gorzelanny has a leg up on Samardzija and Sean Marshall for the fifth slot.
Zambrano, despite his personal frustration, could once again be an elite pitcher. The 28-year-old ace is discouraged by his depressed win total, but still managed to post a 3.69 ERA with 8.0 K/9 - a marked improvement over his 6.2 K/9 in 2008. Lilly has had what you could call a career year at the age of 33, recording all-time bests with a 3.02 ERA and 4.21 K/BB ratio. Dempster's HR, BB and SO rates are in the neighborhood of where they were last year, when he garnered national attention. Wells put up a strong 3.18 ERA on the way to becoming the first Cubs rookie to notch 10 wins since Kerry Wood.
Are the Cubs in good enough shape to let Harden sign elsewhere without having to sift through the lackluster available starting pitchers? Let's hear your thoughts in the comments section.