I'm torn on this one. As I stated in part B of the Astros' preview, I have a preternatural loathing of carrying twelve pitchers. In most cases, there just aren't enough innings to go around, and it encourages LaRussian usage patterns that I just can't abide. If a pitcher is only good enough to face one batter per game, he's not good enough to be on your team. Period.
Yet, there are moments when lugging the extra arm around can be of use. In Houston's case, since Jimy Williams tends to give a lot of innings to his bullpen, having the extra pitcher available is probably a good idea. Williams doesn't put three pitchers in per inning, he just goes to his pen in the sixth. That being the case, having the spare appendage makes the method less mad and works toward sparing the unit as a whole from petering out by August.
A variant of this is being applied in the Cubs' case. With Prior's extended absence staring the club in the face along with the ill-shaven mug of Sergio Mitre, it's reasonable to assume that every fifth day could be an extra long one for the Cubs' relief corps. A desire to keep the key pen men healthy and rested is the root motivation here, and I can't argue with the sentiment.
So, I see the logic, and to a certain extent I agree with its application here, but I can't help preferring to see Scott McClain on the roster instead of Wuertz. Both have had fantastic springs, and in different years, both might have played themselves into ancillary roles with the big club. There's only one, temporary spot available, though, and as in most cases, I'd rather have the bat.
In particular, I'd love to have a right-handed power bat available to pinch-hit in the late innings. Although the regular lineup lists to starboard like the HMS Exeter at the Battle of the Java Sea, the only righty currently available off the bench is Ramon Martinez, and much as I love Ramon, if it's late in the game with a lefty on the mound and I need extra bases, he's not first on my list.
However, my list is rarely consulted by those in power, so Wuertz gets the nod. If I had to guess a reason why the extra arm held sway over the extra bat, I'd say that beyond the pitching considerations mentioned above, McClain's inability to simulate any degree of competence in the field had a lot to do with it. Macias was coveted for his positional flexibility - a trait that both Hendry and Baker have fetishistic tendencies toward - and since McClain's only legitimate defensive position is DH, I'd guess that he could have hit a home run a day and still not have gone north.
Twelve pitchers it is, then. I'll learn to live with it, even if I don't like it much. Just don't be shocked when it's late in a game on May 3 with Steve Kline on the mound, and a howl of agony reverberates throughout Chicagoland as the PA announcer at Busch Stadium says, "pinch hitting for the pitcher, Kerry Wood: Tom Goodwin."