First of all, everyone breath a sigh of relief that Marquez Smith survived the draft and remains a Chicago Cub. His loss wouldn’t have been significant, but he is a nice looking player finally coming into his own who could fight for a job off the bench next season. Even better, he provides the Cubs with flexibility at third base. If the Cubs decide to turn Vitters into a first baseman, which still is not impossible, then Smith become the the guy most likely to hold down third when Ramierez gets hurt. He’s good defensively, its just that his bat hasn’t caught up to his glove. I’m glad he’s still a Cub. For now. Now that he’s survived the draft, he starts climbing my “Most Likely To Be Traded” list.
And that’s pretty much the story of the Rule 5 draft for the Chicago Cubs. Well, almost.
The Cubs did lose two pitchers in the minor league portion of the draft, and one of them we might wish the Cubs could have held on to. Ron Morla and Casey Lambert were both taken, by the Mets and Orioles respectively. Ron Morla, quite frankley, does not strike me as that big of a loss. He isn’t a bad pitcher, but there are plenty of guys his level or better in the Cubs system. The odds of him making it to Wrigley were slim. The Cubs turned him into a reliever after acquiring him from Oakland organization, and if he can get his control tuned up a bit, it’s not impossible we’ll see him as a middle reliever for somebody one day.
Casey Lambert is a bit of a different situation. He was a fairly high draft pick, round 6 in 2007. A left handed pitcher, I think he will also wind up in the bullpen. Right now he gives up way too many hits to be a successful major league reliever, but he has had success as a closer in the minors.
The reason he was exposed, in addition to the general depth of pitching in the Cubs organization, is that he was coming off Tommy John surgery. If he has a full recovery, Baltimore might have stumbled into a good quality arm with potential as a left specialist. If he doesn’t, then he was a low risk gamble. Either way, I doubt the Cubs will ever miss him significantly.
The Cubs were also involved in a Rule 5 trade, selecting Mason Tobin and sending him to Texas. This was a prearranged deal, just like the Hamilton deal a few years ago. There was never a chance the Cubs would have kept Tobin. This was simply a way for Hendry to make a quick buck helping out a fellow GM. It’s a very smart move for Hendry, but hardly a significant one.