Orioles Order Pie to Go, Leave Two Pitchers Behind
In what may be a precursor to an eventual trade for San Diego Padres ace RHP Jake Peavy, the Cubs have traded OF Felix Pie to the Baltimore Orioles for LHP Garrett Olson and minor league RHP Hank Williamson. Olson was thought to be one of the pitchers Padres GM Kevin Towers wanted back in a Peavy deal.
The 25-year old Olson was a Supplemental 1st round pick (48th overall) of the Orioles in the 2005 Rule 4 Draft out of Cal Poly (he was selected with the compensation pick Baltimore got for failing to sign their 2004 #1 draft pick, RHP Wade Townsend), and was rushed to the big leagues by the Orioles after being named their Minor League Player of the Year in 2006, logging MLB time in both 2007 and 2008. A scouting report from his senior year in college showed him having three quality pitches, including a fastball that sits at 88-90 MPH but has touched 93, a 12-6 "hammer" curve (his "out" pitch), and a decent change-up. He has performed very well at AAA over the past two seasons (he was a AAA IL All-Star at Norfolk in 2007), although he has been hit hard to the tune of a 6.87 ERA and 1.82 WHIP with 21 HR allowed in 165+ IP in 33 starts so far at the big league level. Olson was a college teammate of Cubs prospects RHRP Rocky Roquet and 3B-turned-RHP Josh Lansford, and he supposedly wants to be an FBI agent if his baseball career doesn't pan out.
While Olson may very well ultimately end up moving on to San Diego in a trade for Jake Peavy (or to the FBI Training Academy in Quantico), in the meantime he will at least give the Cubs some additional starting pitching depth (or "inventory," as the GMs like to call it) at AAA in 2009. Although he has used up two minor league options through the 2008 season, at this point Olson (like Jeff Samardzija) still has two options left because he has completed only three "full seasons" in pro ball, and the earliest he can complete five full seasons will be at the end of the 2010 season. If Olson remains in the big leagues each of the next two seasons, he will be eligible for salary arbitration for the first time after the 2010 season.
Williamson is a 6'5 225 23-year old right-handed reliever who was drafted by the Orioles in the 14th round of the 2007 draft out of San Jacinto JC - North, after spending his freshman season redshirting at Rice. He was throwing a fastball in the low 90's in college, and he has put up some solid strikeout totals with good control (22/110 BB/K and only four HR in 90 IP) with a 1.13 WHIP working out of the pen over two minor league seasons, mostly in short-season "A" ball. He will likely be in the bullpen at either Peoria or Daytona in 2009.
The left-handed hitting Pie will turn 24 next month, but he is already out of minor league options. His fate seemed to be sealed when the Cubs signed OF Joey Gathright to fill the role Pie probably would have been given had he remained with the Cubs in 2009.
Pie has been one of the Cubs top prospects for several years now. He was signed as a 16-year old "bonus baby" out of the Dominican Republic in July 2001, and was named the Arizona League Co-MVP and the #1 prospect in the AZL by Baseball America in his first pro season (2002). He was also rated the Cubs #1 prospect post-2005 and post-2006 by BA. He has won minor league Gold Glove awards. and his "outfield arm" was rated one of the top five in the Cubs organization.
While Pie has done well at each level in the minors (hitting 299/355/470 in 632 minor league games), he has struggled to hit at the Major League level (just 223/284/331 in 130 games over parts of two seasons). And he has had some "maturity" issues over the past couple of years, too. As usual, Pie spent the off-season playing winter ball with Licey in the Dominican Winter League, where he hit 304/328/409 in 30 games.
Getting a chance to get more-regular playing time with the Orioles should help Pie become all he can be. That wasn't going to happen if he had remained with the Cubs. Felix will be reunited with a number of former Cubs minor league players, coaches, and executives in Baltimore, and he may even end up patroling the outfield at Camden Yards with former Cubs #1 draft pick Luis Montanez, a teammate of Pie's at Daytona (in 2004), at West Tenn (in 2005), and at Iowa (in 2006).
In what was probably the last start for RHSP Jeremy Null at EXST
Intrasquad game this morning on Field #5 at Riverview Baseball Complex
4.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R (3 ER), 0 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 2 WP, 1 GIDP, 5/4 GO/AO, 75 pitches (50 strikes)
Next stop is likely either South Bend or Myrtle Beach (TBD)
There does seem to be something funky about closers pitching in non-save situations -- they never seem to be as effective. But, to your point, there could not have been a save situation in that game, so why not use your best reliever?
Heyward getting the night off.
Grand Slammin' Sczcur in RF - La Stella batting 2nd
Your thought: don't pitch Rondon at all, since a save can't happen in extra innings at home.
Maddon's thought: might as well pitch him now, because there's no later.
It looked like the baserunner might have screened Russell some though it's still a play he should have made.
I wasn't thrilled with the use of Rondon in that situation. In save situations opponents have a 77 OPS. In non-save situations it's a 116 OPS. We had other relievers for that spot we could have used.
I'm not sure if it's his normal swing but it's obvious he can hit and he's always hit for power just not HRs so if it is his normal swing there's something else going on.
This article from spring training said he was trying to pull the ball a lot more:
Oh, thanks. I guess I should actually look at the schedule. Yay, 3-game road trip!
Good call, indeed. This ought to be a good series.
Sorry to nit-pick -- but the games against the Nats this week are at home.
Can't remember a worse weather-start to a season. Yuck.
Basically Russell booted a slam dunk DP grounder letting a run score. But he drove in the tying run in 9th. Just not their day, Rondon notwithstanding.
Didn't see the game, but it sounded like the Cubs gave away 2 runs with poor fielding. Bummer.
Well, it's been a fun diet of Reds, Brewers and Braves, but now the Cubs have to play real teams in May (Pirates, Nationals, SF, Cards and Dodgers) -- hope we are all still smiling when we wake up on Memorial Day.
He does seem out of synch. His body seems to start forward, then his arms sort of try to catch up -- if that's his normal swing, he will never hit for power. It's an all-arms slasher swing, but the timing seems off.
He is currently slugging .256 -- I realize the weather has been bad, but that's epically bad. Currently 92nd out of 94 qualified NL batters. Yikes.
Weird home stand -- 3-1, with 2 rainouts, vs. two teams that will lose 100 games. Feels oddly disappointing.
Miserable baseball weather all week -- hopefully better weather will get the bats going. Not just walking, but actually hitting.
That strike call on LaSterlla was terrible
I was hearing some talk that John Mallee is trying to change Heyward's swing. Wonder if that is lending itself to the slow start.
at least it wasn't a "nobody showed up" stomping.
anytime you wanna jumpstart your season would be nice, heyward.