While the rumors about Brian Roberts coming to the Cubs appear to be on-again, off-again, the team did announce that they have agreed to a deal with former 20-game winner Jon Lieber.
The one-year deal worth at least $3.5MM puzzles me, as I don't expect Lieber to bring more to the table than what Dempster is capable of. Nonetheless, the deal does bring options for the team and that can't be all that bad. It might come at a slightly high price, but options are options.
Among those options include trading either Rich Hill, Jason Marquis or Ryan Dempster. While Hill would definitely put more meat on the table, Cubs' GM Jim Hendry has said that Hill, like Pie, is untouchable. Another option is to move Dempster back into the bullpen, though it's unlikely that Piniella would consider him for the closing role. In any event, speculation is that Lieber will make the rotation somehow and Sean Marshall would be the sixth man.
Quite frankly, I hope that Jason Marquis stays in the rotation, because otherwise it would mean that both Dempster AND Lieber will be. Whether or not Dempster can return to being a starter is a large question mark and Lieber's health and ability to pitch at his age is equally uncertain. Sure, they both have upsides, but with Marquis, you know that you'll be getting at least 12 or 13 wins. If our top four pitchers could combine for 55+ wins, we'd be in good shape.