Wuertz, Hill traded; But Is That the Real Story?
My Christmas has come early—or late, depending on your view—with news that Michael Wuertz has been traded to the Oakland A's for minor leaguers Richie Robnett and Justin Sellers. Additionally, Rich Hill has departed, traded to the Baltimore Orioles for a PTBNL.
Neither will be missed. I know, I know. I'm in the camp that you never give up on a young lefty, if he's even had an ounce of success at the major-league level. Frankly, we're not quite right in the head, tend to be terrible late bloomers, and it's not like most have ever had to rely on velocity to get hitters out, so the 30s can be very productive once those guys find their niche. There's a reason that Jesse Orosco pitched into his 60s, you know. Just kidding Jesse.
And yeah, I've heard from the Cubs blogosphere commenting how that may be a move that the Cubs come to regret. Frankly, they're right. Get Rich Hill back in a more relaxed environment, some time to work on his issues with the major-league coaching staff—a few of whom he's worked with previously in the minors—and somebody teaching him a decent third pitch, and I could see where he'd be a serviceable starter again in a year or two.
Unfortunately, buried behind easily a dozen guys in camp who can actually throw strikes, and are likely to get hitters out with more certainty, it wasn't going to work here. And as for Michael Wuertz, well, one need only lightly tap the surface of his resume to see that he just wasn't getting any better, and really wasn't all that good to begin with.
Personally, I found him completely unusable in pressure situations, which was hidden by a deceptively low ERA, and the occasional quick inning of work with no runners on. My only regret was that he wasn't spun last year to the Tigers when they came calling. Probably would have gotten a better haul.
But let me tell you what really fascinates me about these trades. Never in the history of the Cubs has mediocrity been so strongly rebutted. Guys who were supposed to be the cornerstone of the franchise just two years ago have been shown the door, and with little hesitation.
Sweet Lou at work? Probably. It's obvious that his voice is getting greater attention within the organization. And while I'll put aside the indictment of Jim Hendry in his ability to construct a legitimate philosophy and plan for the creation of a consistent winner for a moment—instead deferring to whatever big-name manager is leading the franchise this year—the change in personnel alone is nothing short of spectacular.
It's as if Lou looked around, told the club you've got an organization full of lame-os, head cases, and M.A.S.H. unit patients, and I want them gone. And they were gone.
Consider the list of player who've left from last season alone:
Stevie Scott Eyre
Am I missing anyone? I can't recall any team in recent memory—especially on a championship contender—who's turned over a third of their 40-man roster inside of a single year.
Will it make them better? I don't think so, but in a season where 60% of the MLB teams appear to be writing off this season due to economics—and more likely to cry broke at the deadline—even a 90-win Cubs team has to be considered among the favorites in the NL.
No, the real story here in my opinion is the condemnation of Hendry and the Cubs brain trust by Piniella, who seems to require nothing less of a organizational exorcism to take the team to the next level. But what do you think?
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