Friday, July 31, 2009

We Hart-ly knew ye

Thursday: Cubs 12, Astros 3

Kevin Hart had a good start and a strange finish. His start (6 IP, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K) netted him his third straight victory, but his Cubs career was finished shortly thereafter, as he was traded to the Pirates after the game. Hart, along with Jose Ascanio and Single-A third baseman Josh Harrison, were shipped to one of Hendry's favorite trading partners for lefty reliever John Grabow and lefty starter Tom Gorzelanny.

It was a good pick-up for the Cubs, who will now have two lefties in the pen once Lilly returns from the DL. Marshall will presumably return to the rotation for now given that Hart was involved in the trade.

Grabow had the third-lowest ERA among NL left-handed relievers last year, and was the Jewish Pitcher of the Year (seriously). 2008 and 2009 have been the best years of his career. He has control issues at times, as he's walked 28 men in 47.1 innings, and he's actually better against righties (.234 average against) than lefties (.275).

Gorzelanny, 27, was 14-10 with a 3.88 ERA in 2007, but has struggled since and finds himself in the minors this year.

The trade seems pretty fair on paper: Hart could turn into a back-end starter, Gorzelanny already proved he has the potential to contribute at the major league level, but hasn't harnessed his talent consistently; the Cubs get the lefty they need and give up a serviceable arm in Ascanio; and the Pirates get a Single-A OBP guy.

The trade makes the Cubs bullpen--which has been very strong of late--even stronger, improves the rotation slightly while Lilly is out, and gives them a lefty with the potential to be a mid-rotation starter in a year or two.

The Cubs' second consecutive pounding of the Astros puts them a season-high eight games over .500. The offense feasted on Houston pitching once again, putting up double-digit runs in back-to-back games for the first time since ... well, not that long ago, actually: August 25-26 of last year in Pittsburgh, when they won 12-3 and 14-9. The bats looked so good Thursday, they knocked Russ Ortiz right out of the Astros organization--he was released after the game.

The lineup seems to have a different hero every day, and Thursday it was Fukudome: a single, a double, a triple and two walks, along with four RBI and two runs. Theriot also drove in four runs, and Derrek Lee was the only starter (including Kevin Hart) who didn't record at least one hit. Fox and Bradley added long balls, and the Cubs are now up to 10th in the NL in runs scored (not great, but up from 15th).

A 6-1 homestand on the heels of a 5-2 road trip is just what the doctor ordered out of the break, and it's nice to have momentum heading into a nine-game road trip to Florida, Cincinnati and Colorado. The Cardinals used a 15-for-29 start from Matt Holliday to take three of four from the best team in the majors, but lost to the Dodgers in 10 innings Thursday, 5-3. So the Cubs regain possession of first place, 1/2 game up on the Cardinals, with the Astros and Brewers four games back at .500 exactly.

***UPDATE***I stand corrected. According to the Trib, Gorzelanny will take over the fifth starter role, and Marshall will remain in the bullpen. Gorzelanny has a 0.96 ERA in his last six minor league starts.

1 comment:

  1. If I'm Kevin Hart ... I want a new agent.