LaTroy: Someone Else’s Problem

Specifically, San Francisco's. The Cubs today traded LaTroy Hawkins to the Giants for Jerome Williams and David Aardsma.

Since the Giants are my #2 team (thanks to The Lovely Wife), I'm pretty familiar with these guys. Williams came up in 2003 and had a real nice rookie year (88K, 49 BB in 131 IP) but struggled in 2004 and had to have elbow surgery at the end of the season. He hasn't put it back together since - he started this year on the active roster but struggled and was sent down for a few starts to work on his mechanics, and hasn't come back up yet. This is why:

2005, Fresno: 15 K, 17 BB, 30 2/3 IP, 9.39 ERA

He is having trouble finding consistency with his delivery, and I he's also had to deal with some pretty serious family problems, so he's far from a sure thing, but he's still only 23. When he came up in '03, he looked remarkably poised for a 21-year-old and displayed great control. He's a project, but he's also got a pretty decent upside.

Aardsma, John Sickels' #4 Giants prospect, was the Giants' #1 pick in the 2003 draft and made his major league debut less than a year after being drafted. He was a closer in college and has continued in that role in the minors and in his brief time in the majors. He's also notable for replacing Henry Aaron as the first player, alphabetically, in major league history.

I like this trade. I wasn't as down on Hawkins as some, but given that he had been reduced to pitching mop-up (loss of confidence? loss of talent?), I think the Cubs got a good return for him. I think we'll enjoy Jerome Williams' pooka-necklaced presence on the mound if he gets things turned around (and who knows, being back with Dusty might help), and Aardsma can be a solid piece of the bullpen puzzle.

Comments

I think this is a good trade. I think everyone turned on Hawkins and he needed a fresh start. I hope Williams can turn it around and could be valuable in the future.

Another one of these trades where the Cubs actually have to pay the other team to take the guy off our hands.

Things that make you go hmmmmm.

Just one nitpick I have about this article. It's "puka" shell, not "pooka".

Just one grip about this article from me. It's a "puka" shell necklace, not a "pooka" necklace.

well, christian, time to make the odds for who becomes the new target of the wrath in wrigleyville.
please pencil me in for 5 dollars on aramis.
and, 20 dollars on d. corey patterson.

christian, please post a table of odds on who becomes the new target for the wrath in wrigleyville.

and pencil me in for 5 dollars on aramis. with 20 dollars on corey patterson.

sorry for the double post.

Maybe I'm wrong, but he came up in '03, right? So I don't think he was never with Dusty.

Jerome Williams was one of the top young pitchers in baseball in 2003 before coming to Spring Training in Scottsdale last season weighing 270 pounds.

He struggled with his weight during the 2004 season, and had several minor arm & elbow injuries (strains) during the first part of the season, before undergoing arthroscopic surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow in August. He returned to action at the end of September, and made an effective start for the Giants on Sept. 30.

During this past off-season, Williams lost 35 pounds, but had his work-out routine interrupted due to his father's battle with hepatitis type-C in Hawaii that resulted in his dad having to have two kidney transplants (his body rejected the first one) and a liver transplant.

Because he was with his dad In Hawaii, Jerome arrived late to Spring Training, and didn't have time to get the work he needed to prepare for the start of the season, including work on a new modified delivery designed to decrease stress on his elbow.

Instead of leaving him in Scottsdale at Extended Spring Training, the Giants put him to work in their starting rotation as their #5 starter, and he struggled in two starts before being sent to AAA Fresno to "work on some things."

Williams has been at Fresno for more than a month (it was supposed to have been just a couple of starts), and he has been regressing rather improving. Apparently the alteration of his motion to reduce stress on his elbow has left him totally lost.

Whether he can regain the form he showed in 2003 and at times in early 2004 is anyone's guess, but he's only 23. Hopefully leaving the Giants organization will give him a fresh start (mentally), and maybe that's what he really needs. In a way, he is the Giants' Andy Sisco. But I wouldn't expect Jerome Williams to be ready to battle for a spot in the Cubs rotation until later this season or (even more likely) 2006. He is a mess right now.

David Aardma was the closer on that great Rice University team that won the College World Series in 2003. Like Chad Cordero (Nationals), Aardsma made it to the major leagues in 2004, but struggled and was sent to AAA Fresno, where he pitched pretty well albeit with a bit of loss of velocity on his explosive fastball. He was sent to AA (Norwich) at the start of this season, where the Giants were working him as a starting pitcher, probably to get him innings and more work. Aardsma could be the Cubs' closer of the future, or at the very least a major league middle reliever.

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