Well, It Could Have Been Wuertz
Time to retire the "worst-Wuertz" puns as Jim Hendry moves another player without any options for 2009. As we heard yesterday, the Cubs do end up dealing Michael Wuertz to the Athletics for outfielder Richie Robnett and infielder Justin Sellers. Scouting reports and pertinent info on the newbies after the jump...
Richie Robnett was the Athletics first round draft pick in 2004 out of Fresno State University (26th pick overall). The 25-year old lefty stands at just 5-10", but his Stockton coach said he had the "body of a Greek God". He's one of those players that scouts expect to grow into his power, showing flashes with 20 HR's in Hi-A Stockton in 2005 and another 18 between Double A and Triple A in 2007. He hasn't shown much in the way of plate discipline to this point, not a lot of walks and too many strikeouts which contributes to his .257 career minor league batting average.
His 2008 season began with surgery in April for a benign tumor in his stomach. It seemed to be a longer road to recovery than planned as he was originally only expected to miss a couple of weeks, but that turned into a few months before finally joining the A's Triple A affliliate in Sacarmento at the end of May. He started off well enough with an .817 OPS but things quickly turned sour for him for the rest of the season (.658 OPS) and he was demoted to Double A Midland. He improved slightly in Double A (750 OPS), but a disappointing 2008 nonetheless.
Defensively, he's moved between center and right, but it looks like he doesn't quite have the range to handle center. The arm is considered to be a plus arm and he should be anywhere between an average to above average corner outfielder with the glove. He was #24 on scout.com's Top 50 A's prospects entering 2008 and and #7 on Baseball America's Top 10 in 2005. Considered to be an elite athlete, the Cubs will hope it translates into an elite baseball player. He was on the A's 40-man roster and the Cubs will have to put them on theirs as well. If he can show some progress this season, he could be in line for a promotion to the majors this year if injury or ineffictiveness hits Bradley or Fukudome.
Justin Sellers was the A's sixth round pick in 2005 out of high school in Huntington Beach, CA and was ranked #9 in their organziation by Baseball America in 2007. The 23-year old infielder has a career 695 OPS in the minors, so I'm assuming the Cubs aren't expecting a power hitter out of him. He's considered to have above average range and arm with soft hands at both second base and shortstop. The A's aren't much of a base stealing organization so you can't read much into his minor league stolen base numbers, but the scouting reports consider him to have above average speed. Chances are that he'll be nothing more than a utility player in the majors if he ever gets there.
Scout.com had him ranked #29 after the 2007 season, #40 before 2008 and #47 after the season in their top 50 Athletics prospects. He's considered to be baseball smart and his Dad is former major leaguer pitcher, Jeff Sellers.He sounds a lot like Ryan Theriot, the A's even considering having him attempt switch-hitting at one point, although that appears to have been abandoned.
As for moving Wuertz, I have to admit a curious move. Here's a pitcher that has put up ERA's in the 3's his entire Cubs career with a K rate to indicate that it isn't a fluke. I know there's this rumor out there that he only pitches well when the game is out of reach, but that doesn't make sense when he was one of the best in the league in 2007 at stranding runners. I understand the move. The Cubs don't want to end up without a chair for some of these players without options when the music stops at the end of March, so they're trying to give themselves some flexibility. But I would think Wuertz would be the safest bet to be a postiive contributor in the pen over Cotts, Guzman or Gaudin. Of course, I guess that's what would make him the most attractive for a team in a trade as well. Utility infielders are a dime a dozen, so I don't expect much from Sellers, but Robnett has some serious power potential and that's pretty tough to find in the minors and pretty tough to get a team to give up in a trade.
Overall, I'm a bit disappointed in the trade, but it's understandable when looking at the bullpen roster crunch and high turnover rate that the Cubs have had at that position the last few years. It's not like any team ever ends up with the 6-7 guys they start off with in April out of there bullpen, so that flexibility will probably prove valuable down the road.
To be fair to Emery and Trestman the foreshadowing of last year started happening well before them with the failure or mismanaging of multiple draft classes forcing the team to overspend in a free agency market that is even worse than baseball. Kyle Long seems like a good pick but they traded away another good one in Olson because of Martz's stupidity and inability to change his offense to fit the team talent.
HAGSAG: I think Domonic Brown does fit the criteria of a reclamation project, but unless he is willing to accept a minor league contract with an NRI to Spring Training, I don't think the Cubs would be interested given where the Cubs are right now. A couple of years ago? Yes. But probably not now.
Brown would be better-off going to a club that is rebuilding and re-establish his value there, like Chris Coghlan did with the Cubs. And if he can re-establish his value, he could get traded to a contender at the trade deadline and take it from there.
"they just fade away"
(Except in the cases of no-fade lefties like Moyer, Orosco and Rich Hill.)
Amazing to me how quickly it fell apart under Trestman. Year 1, they were a Chris Conte brain fart away from making the playoffs. Year 2 -- coach, staff and GM all fired.
I am sure Jonathon Mota will be signed next.
AZ Phil, what is your thoughts on Domonic Brown as a reclamation project?
He also played LF in deference to Curtis Granderson.
Meh... other moves to make...hope to see a move or two soon.
I haven't seen much Bears football this year - difficult to watch the games out here, but the game I saw the week before I was watching in shock as I saw them actually make tackles. And Cutler has looked really good, too.
I guess people can quibble about play calling, but the team I saw is way more than 50% better coached (my only very minor disagreement with your comment).
Under Trestman, the team didn't do anything right. This team played like a well coached team when I saw them play the Rams.
"What is sometimes overlooked about Vogelbach because of his "bad body" and because he has struggled so much defensively is that he is a hard worker, has a great attitude, loves to play the game, and is very well-liked by his teammates, and while that may not seem important, teams do actually value stuff like that. "
As well they should. Replace a word here and there and you are describing any worker someone would hire.
Hak-Ju Lee signs a minor league contract with SF Giants.
Some closure on the 6 degrees of Separation for Matt Garza/Chris Archer
-0.3 WAR in 7.1ip last year...
-3 WAR projected over the course of a season.
the cubs just added an all-star reliever's worth of work by losing b.schlitter.
Rockies sign Brian Schlitter to a minor league contract. Good luck in Coors Field. Enough said.
i'll take him over frandy since it's unlikely he'll progress as a SS (and 2nd isn't looking much better).
i hope patton's delivery deception skills play well in the bigs over time. cubs need pitching options that are MLB-ready and dude fits the bill for a MLB/AAA mix...both needed.
I'm not saying he's great, but can we agree on the word "decent"? Became a pro at 23, called up at 26; nothing wrong with that trajectory, he hasn't been knocking around. Even in the majors his SO9 is 9.7. In the minors it's 12.2, so he's always missed bats, and without being a wild man: his walks are low. He cost the Cubs an unheralded A-ball middle infielder and a roster spot.
he's a righty (a 27 year old one that's going to be 28 before spring training starts) that throws low 90s with a low-80s slider. that's as ordinary as it gets for a righty reliever.