Tuesday, May 31

LaTroy Hawkins and the Trade

There is a universal sentiment amongst us members of LB that getting rid of LaTroy was a wise thing to do on Hendry's part, and albeit rather belatedly, I wanted to know and write more about the men we received in return from sunny San Francisco. For a while this mysterious duo were known to the world as "two top pitching prospects", but it was high time that this veil was lifted and their identities exposed. Whether or not they turn out to be mini-Hawkins is another matter, but for the time being, I present to you MegaHawkins.

Jerome Williams, SP/RP

Jerome "Honeymoon" Williams has been in the majors since roughly 2003, seeing 43 starts over the 2003 and 2004 seasons as a 4th or 5th starter in the rotation. This season was penciled in to be more of the same, although a rough start scared the organization into moving him to the minors (a LaTroy-esque 0-2, 6.48 ERA in 3 starts).

With a fastball in the low-90s and a slider that does the pitch's name justice, Williams' rookie season in 2003 was impressive - 7-5 in 22 starts, 3.30 ERA, 49 BB, 88 K in 131 IP. The offseason saw the beginning of the end for him and San Fran, as he put on weight and didn't keep up any kind of workout regimen. At 6-3 and 246 lbs, he struggled with injury through 2004, eventually succumbing in July to elbow surgery needed to remove bone chips and a bone spur in his throwing arm.

He has reasonable talent - with the hit-heavy Giants, control problems with his fastball have largely gone unpunished, but it will be interesting to see what he brings to the table. Hendry is a (sporadically) smart guy, and understood the need for more versatility with his pitching staff at large, and Williams can definitely contribute in the controlled fashion that guys like Dempster, Novoa, Ohman and Wellemeyer have done this season. If used correctly, and that falls on Dusty's toothpicked shoulders, Williams can give them enough to ease through this tricky mid-season rotation-light period.

The Giants were expecting 10-to-15 wins this season, and the Cubs should well expect the same, depending on whether he becomes that 5th starter (Look closely at Leicester's start this week, as the success/failure of that will go a long way to making that decision)

EDIT: Leicester isn't starting as I previously discovered, instead Iowa Cub John Koronka will take Prior's place in the rotation on Thursday.

David Aardsma, RP

"The Big Save", or "First Major League Listed Alphabetically", Aardsma joins a long line of unknown quantities in the bullpen. Man of mystery and little major league experience, the career saves leader at Rice University (including their National Championship-winning campaign in 2003 -- transferred to Texas after a freshman year with LB staffers' alma mater Penn State!) begins his Chicago journey side-by-side with Williams in the minor leagues.

He has been comfortable there since being the Giants' top pick in the 2003 draft, recording a 7-6 record with 19 saves and an honorable 2.81 ERA in 62 appearances at AAA-Fresno.

In the majors, he's functioned in a middle relief role, and showed nowhere near that control: 1-0, 6.75 ERA, 1 BSV in 11 games (20 H, 8 ER, 10 BB, 5 K in 10 2/3 IP, BAA .417, WHIP 2.81)

He has an definite upside to him, given his collegiate and minor-league experience, and like with most specific situation-only relievers in the Cubs bullpen, he could enjoy some success in limited outings and steady development.


At 5:37 PM, Blogger DS said...

JT -- nice post, thanks for providing some more background info on these guys. I don't know about other LB'ers or LB readers, but I'm pretty lazy when it comes to looking up stats (although I do enjoy them). Also good to see the nicknames keep rollin' in...

At 6:44 PM, Blogger Hyposquasher said...

yeah, i agree, i didn't know anything about those guys so that was cool.... did you guys know we have 6 rookies in our bullpen?

At 6:59 PM, Blogger JT said...

Hawk - thanks man, you know I'm good for 3 things in life:
1. drinking whisky
2. arguing about stuff
3. stats.

As Jim said before, if you don't love weird stats yr not a fan, so I think we're all doing pretty well.

Hypo- 6 rookies!!!?!?!

Good for them man, it's definitely a tonic against the aging Wickmans etc etc... I would have no idea how to look this up, but bullpens across the league are getting so much younger, especially guys in the closer/setup roles...

Lyon, Turnbow, de la Rosa, Wellemeyer, Lidge etc...

am I right, or not really?

At 8:57 PM, Blogger Jim said...

You guys are all too young to get the feel for what's changed about the relationship between the parent team and the Iowa club. It's as if the Cubs had a fifty man roster. In fact, they do have a forty man roster. But the movement between the parent club and the AAA affiliate is quite remarkable. It's a good thing the Iowa club is only about 120 miles from Wrigley. It's just a short couple of hours directly into the city.

In any event, I've never seen so much movement up and down, and it seems to be working more or less. I suspect the guys in Iowa are starting to feel like they are just as much members of the Cubs down there as they would be if they were sitting on the bench in Wrigley, and the way it's been going, they probably feel like "I just have to be patient and I'll be right back."

And that drive between Iowa and Chicago is as about as flat as that pool table that JT was passed out on a couple of days ago. Man was he sloshed. He didn't even realize that he was in New Jersey.

At 9:41 PM, Blogger DS said...

JT -- I'll add to the list:

4: overuse of the letter u

Jim -- I never got to say thanks for breaking down Dawson's remarks, thanks for that. I had no idea that went down (I was only about 8 at the time and didn't really care what was going on off the field).

At 10:47 PM, Blogger JT said...

Jim - you're right about that... I think that is true of a lot of other clubs in having their affiliates so close, or at least as close as possible... Boston's is in Pawtucket, for example.

I bet you Jon Leicester knows that drive like the back of his hand - since the beginning of the season, he's been promoted/demoted about 6 times, including the old up/down on consecutive days.

And yr right, I was hammered the other night. Jersey is a bad place to be with a hungover, much less sober.

At 12:54 PM, Anonymous Lazlo said...

Pfft, that bender he was on in Jersey was no big deal. It was hilarious on Monday night when we convinced him to take his close off and run out on the field in LA. He thought he was at a Premier League game.

Those Brits and their nudity.

At 12:55 PM, Anonymous lazlo said...



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