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.


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.

Recent comments

The first 600 characters of the last 16 comments, click "View" to see rest of comment.
  • May the best team win, and subsequently humiliate the Cardinals.

  • I love arriving here first thing in the morning, adding a few moronic posts (moranic for any Cardinals fans who may be trolling), and reading the sage posts of all you guys. Most knowledgeable fans on any forum, by far. So post like crazy today and help give TCR some visibility!

    I told my wife last night that I'm going to need a support system for tonight's game. Tonight is going to be a lot harder on me than it is going to be on these rookie bad asses.

  • James Russell elected free agency.

  • based on what SF has been doing every other year lately, getting access to the postseason playoffs seems to be what's important. bring on dat short series!

    that said, skipping the sudden death 1-game WC would be nice from here on out.

  • I know what you are saying, but I feel compelled to point out that there's no such thing as luck, curses, etc. The Cubs this year have as good as a chance as the Pirates to move on to the next round. If the Cubs proceed to the next round or not tomorrow, it will not be because of luck, but because one team outlasted the other. When/if the Cubs are lucky enough to make it to the league series, that's where they may find their biggest challenge. The Dodgers have a good, deep pitching staff.

  • debuting the new format 1 game "sudden death" WC matchup at yankee stadium does a perfect job of showing the intense emotion and drama this game can be.

    that said, i'm ready to not see yankee stadium or hear fans at yankee stadium for another 5 and 1/2 months. at least i don't have to sit through the braves with their "tommy hawk chawp" this postseason.

  • i'd like to know why the internet radio feed of the game (which is always delayed by a few seconds at best) is almost a minute faster than the ESPN cable TV coverage. wtf?

  • i dont know what order they'll be in, but i pretty much expect fowler/schwarb/rizzo/bryant/montero/castro/lastella/arrieta. any change at all (aside from the first 4 guys) wouldn't shock me, though. coghlan is still a wildcard in the lineup joe could always march d.ross out there with very slow arrieta pitching.

  • Yup. Have to agree. Baseball, like golf, certainly has that psych component for the player. There is no real reason why a fielding position should affect a batting average. The Cubs are 106 years over due for a little luck. Don't you guys think so? Maybe the rookies can bring some dumb luck on.

  • probably stacking capable lefties vs cole while keeping the "hot" castro in the game. fwiw, he's 1-6 lifetime with 0 bb/k vs cole (double).

    i chalk bryant's issues at the plate while playing OF up to coincidence so far.

  • I will call your dead horse, "Trigger".

    In one game, when anything is possble, I am glad that Joe Maddon is our Manager.

    He knows the stats better than all of us. It would seem, IF La Stella gets the start at 3B, it will be only up to the point that they were to get the lead (crosses fingers). From everything I have read, the game will be managed like a hoops game: offense/defense. So expect La Stella to be out of the game by the 5th. This team is incredibly deep which is so surprising. We never woulda thunk it.

  • i don't know what their roster plans are, but j.herrera is out there practicing with the team.

    i can't imagine him making any roster, though. dude had 4 PA the entire month of sept. him being a good dude to be around while keeping the clubhouse loose seems to be his main role at this point.

  • I know it's my own personal dead horse to beat --but Bryant has been a lousy hitter when playing the OF this year. Given that it's his first playoff game, I really hope they keep him in his natural position and don't mess with his routine.

    Lousy as in 8-for-45 with one XBH and no HR. Small sample and all that -- but why take the chance?

  • hard to tell what's up given they'll probably want to stack as many good lefties into the lineup as possible.

    castro being a bit hot doesn't help things. if he was still cool they'd probably stick la stella at 2nd and call it a day.

  • Madden won't announce lineups but Stella is practicing at 3rd and Bryant in LF today. I'd rather see Bryant at 3rd but I guess Stella has been hotter than Coghlan.

    /edit. Though I guess they could be practicing this with the idea Stella would come in as a PH then double switch him to 3rd base and Bryant to LF. Hope that's the plan instead

  • I really like the sound of that idea about expanding the AFL to ten teams. Each org. gets to field more players.
    They should do that anyway, regardless of Adv. Instructs.