Remember all the Brian Roberts to the Cubs rumors?
How can you forget, right?
Chicago coming off its dreadful 2006 campaign was in need of a second baseman for new manager Lou Piniella. Roberts, Baltimore’s slick-fielding, switch-hitting two-time All Star seemed the perfect fit.
Jim Hendry and Andy McPhail reportedly discussed a trade for Roberts, but of course a deal never came to fruition. However, the rumors lingered throughout the 2008 season with word Hendry’s unwillingness to come off top prospects Felix Pie or Tyler Colvin had stymied the talks. Not to mention, a Cubs package including Sean Marshall or Sean Gallagher, plus another prospect, seemed unreasonable to McPhail’s liking.
As frustrating as the stalemate was at the time, the Cubs clearly dodged what would’ve likely been a disastrous trade. While Marshall developed into one of the premier left-handed relievers in all of baseball, Roberts slipped into an unfortunate spiral of nagging injuries that’s limited him to just 115-games during the past three seasons.
The Cubs, meanwhile, managed back-to-back division titles in ’07-’08 with Mark DeRosa and Mike Fontenot splitting second base duties. The addition of Roberts in either season couldn’t have hurt the Cubs, but he probably wasn’t the difference maker come October and he certainly wouldn’t have been worth another one of Hendry’s over-priced, back-loaded contract offerings; which was practically a given for Roberts considering the way Hendry was spending those days.
Now 35, Roberts is heading into the final season of his 4-year, $40M deal with Baltimore. Per the usual, however, he’s also recovering from injuries including two offseason surgeries, one a sports hernia, the other a torn labrum in his right hip.
As the old saying goes, sometimes the best trade is no trade…and wouldn’t you know, the Cubs traded Pie to Baltimore anyway in 2009 for – wait for it – Hank Williamson & Garrett Olson. Oh how quickly things can change, for
better or for worse.
-James Russell: (7-1, 3.25). Easily the most reliable arm in the bullpen. The 26-year-old southpaw allowed just 5 HR in nearly 70 innings pitched (69.1) and was second in strikeouts (55) only to Carlos Marmol’s 72 and games (77) to Shawn Camp’s league leading 80-appearances.
He set career-highs in appearances (77), innings pitched (69.1), strikeouts (55), home runs allowed (5) and hit batters (1). His ERA+ was a solid 21-points above the league average.
Russell is one of the few, if only, bright spots for the Cubs’ bullpen heading into 2013. It took Sean Marshall a few seasons to become one of the best left-handed relievers in the National League, and Russell appears to be headed down the same path entering his fourth season.
Honorable mentions: Shawn Camp (3-6, 3.59) league-leading 80-appearances, led Cubs relievers in innings pitched (77.2), third in strikeouts (54) and WHIP (1.29). Michael Bowden (0-0, 2.95) fourth in strikeouts (29) second in WHIP (1.25).
Travis Wood’s faced three-straight former Cy Young Award winners.
For good measure, you can make it four former Cy Youngs he’s faced in his last five trips to the mound: Barry Zito (’02), Justin Verlander (’11), Jake Peavy (’07) & Johan Santana (’04-’06).
I mean, talk about your run of tough luck!
Yet Wood’s pitched exceptionally well posting a quality start in all four outings, including two wins with hardly any run support.
Cubs fans are coming down hard on Travis Wood. He’s had a terrible spring training. He’s pitched himself out of the competition for the starting rotation, and perhaps, off the big league roster.
Instead of locking down a rotation spot, as many anticipated he would, it’s more likely he’ll begin the season at Triple-A, where he’s spent the better part of three seasons with the Reds organization.
That’s well below expectations for most Cubs fans who value Wood solely on the Sean Marshall trade, which is a bad idea because that’s not what the trade was all about.
I think most Cubs fans are bristling with the news Sean Marshall is headed to the Reds for the young left-hander Travis Wood and future prospects.
Trading away your most reliable bullpen arm, to a division rival no less, seems unthinkable. But that’s the tough part in analyzing an offseason trade such as this one.
Marshall, unquestionably, makes the Reds a favorite to win the division next season. Wood, on the other hand, is far less likely to make that kind of immediate impact for Chicago.
Human nature tends to want a clear-cut winner of the trade from the get-go. But this swap of left-handers won’t be fairly decided any time soon.
Perhaps, we’re about to see Theo Epstein begin rebuilding the Cubs the way I thought he would at the Winter Meetings.
That process being through trades of some of the Cubs most valuable players in return for young, inexpensive and major league ready prospects.
At least, that would better explain the rumored reports the Cubs are shopping Sean Marshall for Travis Wood.
If, in fact, the reports are true, it tells us two things.
Projected pitching staff with current roster.
-Matt Garza RHP
-Ryan Dempster RHP
Carlos Zambrano RHP (updated Thursday January 5th)
-Chris Volstad RHP
-Randy Wells RHP
*Jeff Samardzija RHP
-Andrew Cashner RHP
-Chris Carpenter RHP
-Marcus Mateo RHP
LEFT HANDED RELIEF:
-James Russell LHP
-Sean Marshall LHP
-Carlos Marmol RHP
ON THE BUBBLE:
*Casey Coleman RHP
*Rodrigo Lopez RHP
*John Gaub LHP
*Scott Maine LHP
Here’s my voting for the Cubs’ 2011 Cy Young Award.
1. Sean Marshall: Set the Cubs’ single-season ‘Holds’ record with 34. Allowed just 19 earned runs in 75.2 IP, arguably the Cubs’ 2011 MVP as well.
2. Matt Garza: His 10 wins are a poor reflection of his overall performance, nearly reached 200 IP (198.0), and 200 strikeouts (197), made 31 starts with a 3.32 ERA. Should easily have 3 to 4 more wins.
3. Ryan Dempster: Led the Cubs in both starts (34) and Quality Starts (21), topped the 200-innings mark (202.1), and registered 191 strikeouts.
4. Jeff Samardzija: Made 75 appearances, all from the bullpen, posting a 2.97 ERA and 8.90 K/9, won 8 games vs. 4 losses, got stronger as the season wore on.
5. Kerry Wood: Posted a 10.06 K/9, had 21 Holds, 1.29 WHIP, and 3.35 ERA in 55 outings.
I didn’t have high expectations for Casey Coleman entering Monday’s game against the division leading Brewers.
But he easily pitched his best game of the year tossing 6 innings of 1 run, 2 hit baseball with a career-high 8 punchouts against a very tough Milwaukee lineup.
It must be a huge confidence booster for the 24-year-old considering he hadn’t won a game with the Cubs in four months and entered Monday’s contest with an unsightly 7.08 ERA.
One solid start doesn’t make a season, but for Coleman, it buys him another start to prove he’s of major league caliber on the mound.
The next obvious step is showing consistency to string together quality starts, which thus far, he’s failed miserably to do so.
It’s a shame if Sean Marshall doesn’t make the NL All Star team.
But snubbing the 28-year-old is a real possibility given no one outside Chicago is paying much attention to the bumbling Cubs.
Marshall, (3-0) with a dazzling 0.95 ERA, has been sensational setting up Carlos Marmol, as was the case Thursday night when Marshall got the win after posting a season high 2.0 innings pitched and improving his scoreless innings streak on the road to 20.0.