Friday, May 14, 2004
Weeghman Returns, Brownlie On Deck, Whither Beltran?
Nice to be back. The trial's over, and life is beginning to settle down. I actually made it back for the Dodgers series, but couldn't bring myself to write after the Great Triceps Debacle or the Wilson Alvarez Ass-Whuppin'. Watching Carlos beat down the Dodgers yesterday was as cathartic as hot chicken soup on a cold winter's day, however, so I brought myself around to writing today.
With Woody on the shelf for a start or more, the question becomes how to best compensate for his absence. Glendon Rusch is the most likely candidate, but I'd prefer to keep his Shawn Estes-like tendencies locked in the pen for now. If Angel Guzman were throwing right now, he would be perfect for that role, but he's not available. I know it probably won't happen, but I don't think it would hurt to bring Bobby Brownlie (4-2, 2.61 ERA, 7 G, 41.1 IP, 10 K, 33 K at AA West Tennessee) up for a start or two.
We have heard a lot about Brownlie's potential and makeup ("potential #1 or #2 starter," "top pitching prospect in the 2002 draft") so isn't it time to begin the 2005 pitching rotation sweepstakes now? I expect that Angel Guzman, Brownlie, and Justin Jones will battle for Matt Clement's spot in that rotation, so I don't think we would lose a whole lot by getting an early preview.
Continuing on this topic, just how many lefty prospects do the Cubs have? It boggles the mind how many quality lefty starters the Cubs have assembled throughout the lower tiers of the system.
Darin Downs (Boise, A) - No Stats for 2004.
Sean Marshall (Lansing, A) - 2-0, 1.11 ERA, 7 G, 48.2 IP, 4 BB, 51 K
Justin Jones (Lansing, A) - 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 5.0 IP, 1 BB, 3 K (Injury Rehab)
Jon Connolly (Daytona, A) - 3-2, 3.03 ERA, 7 G, 35.2 IP, 7 BB, 25 K
Richard Hill (Daytona, A) - 1-3, 3.13 ERA, 6 G, 28.2 IP, 15 BB, 37 K
Andy Sisco (Daytona, A) - 1-3, 3.76 ERA, 7 G, 38.1 IP, 15 BB, 36 K
Carlos Vasquez (Daytona, A) - 2-1, 2.21 ERA, 6 G, 36.2 IP, 11 BB, 26 K
Luke Hagerty (West Tenn., AA) - No Stats for 2004 (Injury Rehab)
Remember that Jones and Sisco were members of the Cubs Top 10 prospects list, with Hagerty right behind. Remember that this list doesn't include lefties Carmen Pigniatello and Reynel Pinto. How many major league teams have eight quality left-handed starters in the minor league system? I simply don't see anyone else with this kind of depth.
Taking the right-handed side of the equation (Jae-Kuk Ryu, Ricky Nolasco, Chadd Blasko, Carlos Marmol, Bear Bay, Billy Petrick, Bobby Brownlie, Angel Guzman, Jon Leicester, Jason Szuminski) into account, the upshot of all this is that Hendry will have a lot of toys in his cart (at least 18 quality arms plus Sergio Mitre, Francis Beltran) to play with as the trade deadline approaches.
So where to use those chips becomes the key question. If Carlos Beltran's there for the taking (and I realize that TribCo wouldn't readily pay the price to re-sign him), I think the Cubs would be foolish to turn down any deal that would send out pitching prospects plus Corey Patterson and net Beltran in return. Although I don't really want to give up on Corey just yet, his market value remains high and we have at least two prospects waiting in the wings as insurance in case Beltran doesn't re-sign (Nic Jackson and Felix Pie). With Jason Dubois (.331, 12, 34, 1.091 OPS in 34 G at AAA Iowa), Jackson, and Dave Kelton as cheap options for left field next year, TribCo can afford to take the $9 million savings on Alou and put that toward the needy Carlos Beltran fund.
Padres tonight. More soon.