Jason Marquis Traded, Jim Hendry's Roster Reshaping Nearing Completion

Damen JacksonCorrespondent IJanuary 6, 2009

Filed: Jan. 6, 2009

The Rockies. The Giants. The Mets. I always thought it had to be one of the three. Rockies "win."

The Cubs today finalized a deal that will send Jason Marquis to the Rockies, along with a reported $875,000 in cash, in exchange for reliever Luis Vizcaino. The anticipated cost savings now all but clears the path to the Cubs signing free agent Milton Bradley later this week.

You'll forgive me if I don't cry for Marquis. He did a great job for the Cubs over the last two seasons. I won't go so far as to say he ate up innings—which is one of the more intellectually dishonest ideas that I've heard in baseball—but he earned his pay.

He took the ball every fifth day, got some big wins, and stabilized what was a very shaky starting pitching situation upon his arrival in Chicago. He made a great anchor on the back end, and for that, he'll be missed.

Unfortunately, he was about the eighth-best pitcher on the Cubs staff—or at least he was last year—which means that even in today's market, his $9 million salary for '09 was terribly out of place, and something of an albatross.

In short, he needed to go, even if Hendry wasn't earmarking the cash for a new right fielder. Colorado's staff is depleted, and he'll look to slot in behind Jeff Francis and Aaron Cook to solidify their young staff, much as he helped do here.

Colorado is a good spot, too. He's done well there, going 3-0 with a 2.51 ERA in limited duty. Jason has posted similar stats in most of the other N.L. West ballparks, and pitching primarily in those spacious parks should curb his home-run rate considerably, something of the fatal flaw in his game.

I wouldn't be shocked at all to see him win 14-16 games next year. So, at essentially 1/8—and parting with only the problematic Vizcaino in return—it's a strong move for Colorado, who all of a sudden doesn't look so out of it in a very down N.L. West.

And the Cubs, well if they're smart, they'll make some calls, hear some offers, and deal Vizcaino before the start of Spring Training, so as to free up the money completely. The Cubs staff doesn't look nearly as strong as it did in 2008, but it's still good, so it's hard to see him getting late-inning duty here.

That said, $4 million for middle relief is nuts. Maybe you keep Luis if it allows you to trade Wueurtz, but given the option of Wuertz at $2.5 million and Vizcaino at $4M, I choose Wuertz.

Here's to hoping that Hendry clears the space and shops for a better fifth starter instead.