Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Rich Hill

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Hill Gone

Update: Crazy Trade Rumor Guy reports that Hill has in fact been sent to the Orioles for the hotly-debated Player to be Named Later.  If any details on the specifics of the trade are made available, we'll post them here.

Hill of beans

As Nick V noted in the SB, the Orioles are talking to the Cubs about acquiring Rich Hill.  The likely bounty the Cubs will receive for the once-untradable player will be a a player to be named later.

Before the start of the '08 season some of us at GROTA had suggested that Hill be dealt to Baltimore for Bedard.  The reasoning was that Hill looked like a giant sissy-man in the playoffs and the Cubs of '07 were a team with one ace and a bunch of #3 or #4 pitchers, and they might need an authentic #2 pitcher to have any kind of post season success.

Well, Bedard didn't have a great '08, but he was at least a little better than Hill who lost control of his pitches and his bladder anytime he stepped up onto the mound.  Last year he would've been one of the most valuable trade commodites on the market.  This year he's getting traded for the modern day equivilent of a box of baseballs and a bottle of rum.

That's baseball for you.

Update: GROTA Army member AJ Walsh posted this link in the Shout Box and tried to break our fragile little blog: Is Helm the next Dempster?

Rich Hill is next out the door. What will we get back for him?

Mid-level prospect
29% (12 votes)
Some mope who went 3-9 in low A ball
20% (8 votes)
Someone else's Rich Hill problem
20% (8 votes)
A piping-hot Home Run Inn pizza, delivered
2% (1 vote)
A frozen Home Run Inn pizza from Jewel
2% (1 vote)
A literal buckit-o-warm-spit
7% (3 votes)
A bumper sticker that says Sox Suck!
20% (8 votes)
Total votes: 41

What To Do When You Are Out of Options?

The cubs roster is starting to take shape.  The Team has made several moves (some good, some not-so-good, some debatable) and has a big one left to make (Milton Bradley).  My question is, what are we going to do with all of the guys we have that are out of minor league options?

Felix Pie has been a hot topic for years now.  However, if the cubs do in fact add Milton Bradley, it will give us 974 outfielders.  Bradley, Kosuke Fukudome, Alfonso Soriano, Reed Johnson, Joey Gathright, Micah Hoffpauir, etc...  Where exactly does Felix Pie fit?  If you answered nowhere you are the 64 thousand dollar winner.  So, what do the cubs do with him?  Well, they have to trade him right, but to where and for who?  Are we going to have to trade him to the Orioles for Garrett Olsen straight up because we have no other options?

What about Rich Hill?  He is the next Erik Bedard, or at least that is what we all thought in the spring of 08.  He is also out of options.  Can we even move this guy, much less afford to keep him on our major league roster.  I dont think he gotten bad enough to clear waivers so that we can assign him back to the minor leagues.

Ronny Cedeno?  What to do with poor Ronny?  He could make the team, actually he has a way better shot than the other two listed above. These are a couple of questions the team has to be thinking of addressing in the next couple of weeks.

2008 Season Recap: Rich Hill and Sean Gallagher

Hill gallagher

At various points over the past two years, I've been a strong advocate for both Rich Hill and Sean Gallagher. At the tail end of the '06 season, I was convinced that Hill would be for real - he threw a ball-busting curve and seemed poised to dominate. And, in '07, he was certainly about as good as advertised - he threw 195 innings of work, he went 11-8, he had a 3.92 ERA, and he struck out 183 batters. Then, he crapped his pants in the playoffs and became trade speculation.

The funny thing about Hill was that he was always hit or miss - there rarely seemed to be an in between. Either he'd go out and pitch a solid game, or he'd go out and get rocked by the opponents. There was no steady pitching until the 5th when he gave up 4. If he had 4 to give up in a game, he'd do it early. This led me to joke that there were two Hill's - Rich and Mitch. Rich Hill was the good pitcher, the reliable lefty with tremendous talent. Mitch was the jealous, evil twin brother of Rich who would occasionally kidnap his good brother and take his place in the rotation. Although they were twins, it was easy to tell them apart - Mitch had one of those evil, curling mustaches and he would pitch while wearing a villanous top hat:

Mitch Hill

There were basically two camps on Hill before the start of the '08 season. Camp Untouchable argued that Hill did well in his first full season and, because the Cubs controlled his contract for essentially the next half decade, his greatest value was to the team. Camp Trade, however - and I was a member of this group - argued that Hill was effective and reliable, but he was not a #2 pitcher, he had no ace-like qualities, and he would best serve the Cubs by being traded in order to upgrade the rotation. But, just to prove to you that I don't always think I'm right, I had stumped for Erik Bedard to be the pitcher the Cubs should have pursued.

It actually turned out that we were all wrong. Hill was neither reliable nor effective in 2008. In fact, he only pitched in 19.2 innings at the Major League level, and he walked 18 batters to 15 strikeouts in that time frame. Concerned for him, the Cubs sent him back to Arizona to work out his kinks, which he never really did. He got roughed up in Iowa, was sent to work out the kinks in Mesa, and was briefly shut down on July 1st after only going 1/3 of an inning. Hill pitched once more on July 8th and did well enough to warrant continued work, but he failed to "get right" this past season. His final figures - 9.1 IP in Arizona ball, 5 walks. 12.1 IP in A+ ball, 11 walks, an 8.03 ERA. 26 IP in AAA ball, 28 walks, a 5.88 ERA.

The Hill saga continues even now. The Tribune has reported that Rich Hill has been pitching in Venezuela for winter ball, where he's seen moderate success. But what is certain is that in 2008 Hill went from wonder to horror, and while the Cubs certainly didn't seem to miss him in the long-run, it's too bad that they failed to get anything of value from Hill.

Sean Gallagher

When Hill went down, Gallagher found his chance to shine. At the age of 22, Gallagher is a pitcher with a lot of promise - he has 3 above average pitches and has succeeded at every level he's pitched. I had a feeling that he probably would be erratic at best in '08, but he appears to have a long future ahead of him which should include success at the major league level.

Then, after 10 starts and 3 wins, the Cubs traded Gallagher to the A's for an older pitcher with a history of arm problems and a contract that expires in one more season, and I rejoiced. After all, as much as I like Gallagher, Harden is a phenom.

Therefore, I would argue that Gallagher's season was very successful for the Cubs. He pitched effectively for a third of the season and then landed Chicago the best stuff starter they've had in 5 years. Thanks, Sean, and good luck.

Sabathia Redux

As was discussed yesterday, C.C. Sabathia is now a Milwaukee Brewer. Reportedly the Brewers were able to get a deal done because they had a uniform his size already available. (Yeah, that was cheap. I’m sorry.) The package is reported to be “Class AA outfielder Matt LaPorta, Class AAA left-hander Zach Jackson, Class A right-hander Rob Bryson and a player to be named.” Outside of LaPorta, the PTBNL is probably the biggest part of the deal – it could be one of several very good prospects the Indians want some additional time to scout. (PTBNL are chosen off a list predetermined by both teams, so the Brewers can’t just forward some 28-year-old Midwest League non-prospect.)

His updated ZiPS projection is a 3.48 ERA, 101 innings pitched. Now let’s presume that the Brewers take this opportunity to move Dave Bush to the bullpen (they could also move McClung to the pen instead, but McClung has been more effective.) Bush projects to have a 4.76 ERA in 85 IP. I’m taking a shortcut here, but I’m filling the rest of those innings with the average ERA of the Brewers pen, 4.07 – so Bush/bullpen hybrid would put up a 4.65 ERA in those innings.

Using some formulas from Tango, I have Dave Bush’s win percentage pegged at .464. Sabathia, meanwhile, is a .596 win percentage pitcher. Assuming 101 IP is correct, that’s 1.48 wins more than Dave Bush. (This doesn’t factor in improvements in the bullpen – but I really don’t feel like resorting to the utter witchcraft that is bullpen projections, so I’ll pass that for the time being.)

This is why I caution that trade-deadline moves are overblown; so much of the season is already passed, that it becomes harder and harder to find a meaningful upgrade.

Also, I want to add – we lead the Brewers by more than a game and a half at this point. Sabathia alone won't give them the division. I know being a Cubs fan is like being some constantly-jilted woman, and we're always afraid of disappointment. On plenty of Cubs sites, I see a lot of handwringing and self-flagelation.

Please, for your own sakes, get over it. Find some Cubbie swagger, commit to the Indian, whatever you want to call it. We're a first-place team right now in the best division in the NL. The Brewers are doing this because they aren't happy with where they're at in relation to us. Take it as a compliment; we have a good team and they know it. And they have a good team too, and this should be a good race. (The Cardinals should attend to themselves.) So let's enjoy the summer.

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