Rarely is a non-event good news in the world of the Chicago Cubs (“why didn’t Hendry sign that guy? why didn’t he make that trade? why haven’t the Cubs won in a million years?”), but today’s Rule 5 Draft was a relative non-event for the Cubs, and it’s a good thing.
The Cubs selected a player with their first round pick, but did so as a pre-arranged favor for the Rangers, to whom they promptly traded the player for cash (a la their pick of Josh Hamilton some years ago, who was promptly traded to the Reds). Let’s hope the Rangers return the favor some day.
The Cubs did not take another player in the other two phases of the Draft but did lose two pitchers in the Triple-A phase. The Mets selected right-hander Ron Morla while the Orioles took lefty Casey Lambert.
Morla, whom the Cubs acquired from the Athletics along with Jeff Gray for Aaron Miles and Jake Fox in December 2009, was 4-3 with a 4.00 ERA in 43 games at Class A Peoria with 86 strikeouts in 78 2/3 innings. Lambert, a sixth-round pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, had gotten as high as Triple-A Iowa in 2009, but his ascension was sidetracked by Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. He was 1-0 with a 2.95 ERA in 14 games with Class A Daytona last season.
“Nobody ever wants to lose a player,” Cubs player development director Oneri Fleita said. “You wish these guys well.” cubs.com.
Fleita’s right, you never like to lose players, but given the state of the Cubs’ system (read: stacked), the losses will be easily absorbed.
The biggest non-news from the draft is, of course, the non-selection of third base prospect Marquez Smith. Everyone – including those in the Cubs’ front office – expected Smith to be selected. He put together a dominant offensive season last year in AAA at age 25, and, coupled with his solid defensive skills, most thought he could succeed as soon as 2011 as a bench player. Perhaps other teams weren’t convinced by one solid offensive season (in an offensive league), but whatever the reason, Smith remains a Cub.