Results tagged ‘ trade ’

Cubs acquire lefties John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny

General manager Jim Hendry just announced a trade with the Pirates moments ago. The Cubs sent right-handers Kevin Hart and Jose Ascanio, and Class-A infielder Josh Harrison in exchange.

Hart, of course, was today’s game-winner. You can read the full press release below the jump. Quotes from Hendry coming soon.


Baltimore chopped

The Cubs shipped enigmatic left-hander Rich Hill to the Baltimore Orioles today for a player to be named later. Hill had struggled with his command in 2008, as well as an injured back.

Indeed, it was a precipitous fall for the promising southpaw who the Cubs selected in the fourth round of the 2002 draft out of the University of Michigan. Blessed with a looping 12-6 curve, Hill made the cover of the June 2007 issue of Vine Line (below) displaying the grip he used to confound hitters en route to a 11-8 and 3.92 ERA campaign that season. At the end of the 2006 season, Hill had ratched up his value when he went 7-1 with a 1.80 ERA in just 15 starts–a lone bright spot in an otherwise dismal 2006 season for the big-league Cubs.

VL june R Hill.jpgLike outfielder Felix Pie, who also was dealt to Baltimore in January, Hill’s minor-league numbers were impressive. He struck out 626 men in just 451.2 innings and was highly sought after by other teams. I remember our general manager Jim Hendry telling me during the 2006-07 off-season, he couldn’t get past the first five minutes of a conversation with other GMs without someone stating to get anything done, Hill had to be involved.

I liked Rich a lot–I remember in 2005 after he first made his big-league debut then had been sent down. While the team was on the road, Hill had just finished packing up his car to head back to Iowa. I ran into him in the concourse. He looked despondent, but when I told him he’d be back he just nodded and smiled.

The knock on him always was his fastball command. Everyone knew he had the big curveball and even a middling change, but he never could get that fastball right. Former Cubs bench coach Dick Pole told me once he challenged Rich to throw high strikes. Even though he sat around 90-91 mph, the curve made it look even faster. Dick was right–and Rich’s meteor took off.

I broached this subject with Rich one day. A terrifically cerebral guy, he read a lot and liked to play golf. But I think he needed to trust his stuff. Stop thinking so much. Even manager Lou Piniella said so. “He carries this burden around on his shoulders,” Lou said of Hill. “I tell him, go home, talk to your wife. Go out to a movie. Stop thinking.”

It was then Rich told me he had been reading a book called “Thinking Body, Dancing Mind,” by Chungliang Al Huang. (No relation.) I picked it up myself and found it insightful–not so much for any performance of mine, but rather, why Rich would like it. That mind of his, going a mile a minute, worrying about perfection, calmed down after he read it. I wonder how many of those lessons he relied on last year as he struggled through wildness and injury.

He’ll now compete for a spot on the Orioles with familiar faces around him–Baltimore’s bullpen coach Alan Dunn has worked with Rich before, as has O’s pitching coach Rick Kranitz, as well as Pie. Perhaps both he and Felix can find that meteor on its second time around.

–Mike Huang

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Back to it: Cubs acquire Kevin Gregg

There’s no slowing down in baseball’s off-season: General manager Jim Hendry has been working the phone for a couple weeks coming out of the team’s organizational meetings, and he made his first major move today by picking up Marlins right-handed reliever Kevin Gregg for hard-throwing prospect Jose Ceda.

Gregg is a 6-6, 238-pound flame-thrower, who has been effective against both left- and right-handed batters. With the Marlins in 2007 and 2008, Gregg pitched in several late-inning roles, including closer. He features a mid- to high-90s fastball and a splitter.

More updates to come

Thanks to all of you who have stuck with the Vine Line blog during the off-season. We’ll be updating regularly over the coming months, including with updates on the magazine as some of you have requested.

In the coming days, look for extended comments on Geovany Soto and Lou Piniella on their awards as well as the year ahead.