2009 Player Previews - Jeff Stevens
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As 2008 was drawing to a close, the Cubs did something that really cheesed off a healthy number of the Cubs Fan Nation - they dealt fan favorite Mark DeRosa to the Indians for a bunch of guys who won't play on the Cubs in 2009.
At the time, we thought it was Jim Hendry's way of arming the team for a move to acquire Jake Peavy, but that hasn't happened and instead I'm writing an article about one of the players as if he'll be a Cub this year. Actually, I'm pretty sure he will be - just not for a while, and probably not for long.
Meet Jeff Stevens. He'll be 25 this year and he's yet to pitch a game in the majors. In 2006, he was a starting pitcher who wasn't really cutting it in mid-A ball. The Indians then coverted him to the bullpen and he's been nothing short of successful ever since.
As a prospect, he rates with about average control, a great K-rating, and he's considered above-average in terms of efficiency. This Spring, that's translated into 5 appearances, 4.2 innings of work, 5 strikeouts, 4 walks, 7 hits allowed, and an ERA of 3.86. The ERA is deceiving, though -- I'm just guessing, but I'd have to assume that anybody with a WHIP over 2 has probably allowed some inherited runners to score.
Stevens isn't about to crack this team, but if he can put together a solid start in Iowa, he very well might be Lou's first call-up for a variety of scenarios. Like if Harden gets hurt and is replaced by a reliever like Gaudin or Heilman - assuming that neither start the year in the rotation, and at this point Grizzleyman Gaudin probably doesn't even deserve to make the bullpen - then Stevens would be likely called upon to toss relief for the Cubs.
But chances are, his impact this year will be minimal. But in 2010 - if he isn't part of a huge, team-changing trade - he just may play a very large role on the Cubs.