Creeping Inexorably Toward A Worthwhile Sub-Heading.
Friday, April 30, 2004
Rusch-ing To Deal
Yesterday, the Cubs made a trade with the Detroit Tigers, sending 22 year-old fireballing lefty, Felix Sanchez, to the Puddy Tats in exchange for 20 year-old lefty control artist, Jon Connolly and a player to be named.
The exchange of players itself might not be terribly significant. Sanchez has a great arm, but as was pointed out in Bryan Stroh’s report on the Cubs’ Top 30 Prospects at the Cub Reporter (Bryan ranks him at #17), while his fastball is a legitimate Major League pitch, he doesn't have much else going for him, including a useful secondary pitch. He had a nice year at West Tenn last season, but in his return this year he's gotten cuffed around a bit, giving up 11 hits and 4 walks in 6.1 innings while sporting a 7.11 ERA.
Connolly, on the other hand, is your prototypical crafty lefty. In his Baseball Prospect Book 2004, John Sickels notes that his "best fastball is 86 MPH, and his curveball is rated as 'not great.' He does have a very good changeup, and obviously his command and control are top-notch." He's been getting his first taste of High-A ball this year, and the results are somewhat mixed. His 3.68 ERA is solid enough, as are his mere 5 walks given up in 22 innings, but he's also given up 28 hits and only struck out 8 in those outings.
So, at first blush, a reasonable conclusion is that the Cubs grew tired of Sanchez' unfulfilled potential and distinct lack of polish, and decided to use his live arm to acquire someone who, while equipped with a lower ceiling, was still young and looked to be more of a finished product. But there's more to it than that.
As is pointed out in this morning's Chicago Tribune, the deal opens a spot on the 40-man roster which is almost certain to be filled by Glendon Rusch. Who goes where and does what is still an open question, but it appears very likely that Michael Wuertz will be sent down to Iowa. After that, it's a matter of deciding who goes in the rotation, Rusch or Mitre, with the one who's left going to the pen.
In the interest of full disclosure, Rusch has had a nice run in Iowa, going 2-0 with a 1.89 ERA in 19 innings of work. He's only walked one man in that span, while giving up 18 hits - none of which were homers - and striking out 16. Those numbers, the fact that he's left-handed, and his super-neato-veteran-sheen make it seem near certain the he'll be getting the ball on Monday against the Cardinals.
I'm willing to concede that there are worse ideas in the world. Rusch had a pretty nice run at the end of last season, and has shown better control in his time on the farm. Mitre has had a couple nice starts, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that the thought of him facing the likes of Edmonds, Pujols, Renteria and Rolen makes me break out in a bout of the Olde Tyme Estesian Pox.
So, kids, besides the obvious exchange of players, this deal leaves us with the distinct possibility that Glendon Rusch could take the ball for six or more starts over the next month-plus. I can't really say that's a good thing, but it's not so bad either.
UPDATE:The Sun-Times has a slightly different take in their article, stating that Rusch will be in the bullpen to start with, and won't be in the rotation unless future struggles from Mitre warrant it. This makes a little more sense, especially since Rusch had some pretty nice success out of Milwaukee's pen last year, and the Cubs could use another lefty to compliment Mercker until Mike Remlinger is ready to return. Debate on whether Remlinger should be used like other lefties will be saved for another time.