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I’ve made no secret about my belief that the very notion that Randy Wells is “competing” for a rotation spot is beyond absurd. Even if basing the decision solely on his “bad” 2010 season, advanced metrics suggest Wells one of the top 30 starters in the NL last year, and was better even than new Cub Matt Garza.

But here we are, and Wells is battling to stay on the big club. And if he doesn’t make the rotation, Wells says he’s headed to AAA Iowa to start.

After starting the third game last year, Wells now finds himself competing for a spot in the rotation. Pitching in relief Saturday against the Padres, Wells threw three scoreless innings. He has not allowed a run in five innings.

Though he’s the favorite to win a spot, Wells acknowledges a worst-case scenario.

“The way I’m looking at it is, yeah, it’s tough to go to Triple-A, but there are worse things,” he said. “This is my job. After a down year, I have to fight for a spot, so it puts things in perspective.”

Wells believes it wasn’t so much a bad season as one poor month.

“It was a bad month,” he said. “I didn’t win in 11 starts, but I pitched some good games.”

Wells went 8-14 with a 4.26 ERA, and had the fourth-lowest run support in the National League. Chicago Tribune.

First things first: what a great freaking attitude. This is a guy who has had two consecutive successful Major League seasons, and he’s not just willing but CONTENT to head back to the minor leagues if that’s what his team deems best.

Second, and more important, is it the right decision to send wells to AAA to start if he doesn’t make the rotation? There are competing thoughts here. On the one hand, if he keeps starting, he’ll remain stretched out, and be ready to step in should another starter on the big club go down. He’s also got options left, so he can be sent to AAA, while trying to do so with a guy who doesn’t make the bullpen like Jeff Samardzija would subject Samardzija to waivers, and the possibility of losing him for nothing. Getting Wells regular work out of the bullpen could also be an issue.

Then again, don’t you do everything you can to ensure you have the organization’s best 25 players on the Major League roster? You cannot convince me that Randy Wells is not a better pitcher, even out of the bullpen, than Jeff Samardzija or James Russell, for example. Wells has been a reliever at times in his career, after all. And stretching him back out to start, should the need arise, would not be a tall task.

I can see both sides, so I probably wouldn’t bitch too hard about either move vis a vis the other move. I would, however, bitch considerably about the fact of the move at all. Randy Wells needs to be in the Cubs’ 2011 rotation.

  • PFK

    Randy Wells needs to be in the rotation. Period. For his part, he needs to learn to focus better. On more than one occasion last year, after one of his famous 1 inning or less stints, he mentioned he thought he was too unfocused and casual and needed to get more pumped up. Hopefully, he has learned he has to “bring it” every time out. If he learned, then I think he is the NL Central sleeper of the year. This kid has huge upside and they have to let him learn as a part of the rotation.

  • Fella

    If Randy Wells doesn’t make the rotation….. I’m gonna be rather upset….. the fact that its even a competition is ridiculous, hopefully its just a motivation tactic.

  • wax_eagle

    Demoting one of the top 30 pitchers in the big leagues based on some arcane notion of wins and ERA is kind of ridiculous. I realize those are the two most quoted stats for pitchers, but both of them are kind of silly(Wins more so than ERA, but neither tells much of the story, let alone the whole thing).

    Wells has been rock solid and pretty darn consistent. That is a huge luxury to have at the back end of the rotation, and if the Cubs can’t recognize that then they need to have different people making the decisions.

    Let Silva stay and in the rotation and let Cashner either sit in the pen, or go back to Iowa and stay stretched for when Silva, or Z, or whoever gets hurt first.

    As far as Samarzidja, put him in the pen or try to slip him back through waivers, dont’ give him a rotation spot just so you don’t waste your money. This is like playing poker and continuing to throw money into the pot to get to the end of the hand just because you’re “invested” doing this on a weak hand is almost always bad strategy and its better to just cut your losses and try to win them back on the next hand.

  • Willis

    Wells should be the #4 and he would be a damn good #4. The fact that he is competing for a spot is pretty much stupid. Unless of course he pitches his way out of a spot. Which he looks pretty freaking good so far. I really think come April 1 he’ll be in this rotation. But it kind of worries me about this organization that this is even a question at this point.

  • BT

    clearly, either Ace is writing for fangraphs now, or they are ripping him off. There can be no other explanation.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/why-is-randy-wells-battling-for-a-rotation-spot/

    • Ace

      Geez… a lot of similarities in there.

  • Dave

    Silva got rocked again today, thank god.

    • Bric

      As much as I dislike the guy, rooting against him isn’t the answer. If Hendry had dumped his contract at the all star break (when his value was highest) instead of holding onto the pipe dream of making the playoffs (p-p-p-playoffs?) we’d probably be looking at a rotation right now of Z, Garza, Dempster, Lilly, and Wells.
      I know, hindsight is 50-50 and all that, but we should still be hoping for him to do well. He’s obviously not in the Cubs’ future anyway and two good outings in ST will make him alot easier to move before the season starts.
      Really?… does anybody actually see Wells getting sent down? Just more mind games by the GM who thinks we’re all dyslexic six year olds. Fire that douche now so he can go run for governor of WI. or pursue his acting career on Two and a half Men. “Winning!”.

      • BT

        What makes you think opposing GM’s were

        A: Asking to take Silva’s contract off our hands?

        or

        B: Turned down by Jim Hendry?

        I highly doubt that, with 6 starters in the fold last year, Hendry turned down ANY offers for Silva, except for those that wanted the Cubs to pick up his entire salary.

        • Ace

          But, at this point, you’d agree that Hendry shouldn’t even turn down option B (assuming it comes with even a minor-league-filler-type prospect), right?

        • Bric

          Like I said, it’s all based on speculation. That and the fact that going into the 4th of July weekend (when it was clear to everybody but him that his manager and team had checked out for the season) he was still publickly quoted as saying “All we got to do is get on a hot streak…” He’s like a bad gambler that gets lucky early and doesn’t have the common sense to leave the table. By his own admission, it’s a business, not a game. He should practice what he preachs.

          • BT

            So you think it would have more sense for Hendry to publicly declare the season was over? How often do you hear a GM do that? How much hell would he have gotten? Regardless of what he was saying, his actual ACTIONS showed he knew were were cooked. He didn’t deal for any veterans, and eventually started get rid of our veterans.

            And Ace, without any inside knowledge, I’m still 99 percent sure that if anyone offered a ham sandwich for Silva, Hendry would take it, even if meant eating half his salary. My problem is with ripping Hendry for turning down deals that in all likelihood were never offered to him.

            • Bric

              Exactly my point. I have no knowledge of anybody offering anything to Hendry. So you’re saying he only takes calls, doesn’t make ‘em? His wait and see attitude has added 10 years onto a 102 year span. So, instead of trying to move Silva, a month later we get Blake DeWitt for Ted Lilly. WTF, why spend a dime calling somebody when Wrigley will still be selling tickets until Bears training camp opens. Then he’s about salaries. Meanwhile other clubs with a tenth of the fan base have built solid teams, won championships, tore down those teams, and rebuilt them again. Make no mistake. Hendry is the problem. Unfortunatetly he must have written a no trade clause into his own contract.

            • Bric

              One more thing… who gives a F*** how much hell he would’ve gotten? Apart from the 15 mil he makes for a 5th place team (wonder what the GMs of all the teams that finished above him make) he knew what the job was when he took it. It’s been over 100 years since the last ring. I think the time for putting pride and possibly hurt feelings above winning and common sense has long since past.

              • BT

                I don’t care how much heat he would have taken. I’m saying that no matter what he freaking did, you would be ripping him a new one.

                You really aren’t getting the point. At all. I didn’t say he only takes calls. I’m saying NO ONE WANTED TO GIVE UP ANYTHING FOR CARLOS SILVA. So when he offered him around, and it turned out the other 29 GMs know as much or more about baseball than we do, he couldn’t make a deal for Silva. Yet you sit here and rip him for not shopping him. It’s absurd.

                I’ll try to simplify it even more for you. A lack of a trade of Silva is no way the same thing as “holding onto” him. It most likely means no one wanted him. So ripping Hendry for not trading him is the same thing as ripping me for not dating Brooklyn Decker.

                It’s not an option.

                • Bric

                  At least we’re on the same page that Hendry deserves no sympathy for putting up with three days of “hard questions” by pissed off fans at the Cubs convention as he cries his way to the bank every week. But apparently we still differ in our overall views of him. I believe he does tend to hold onto players way too long and is overly skeptical of trades because he has a couchy job with a fan base that will always show up and wait for next year. The other 29 GMs know this about him and know they have to produce or go home. At least one GM, Kevin Towers, called him out on it three years ago for not trading for Peavy. Guess What? Towers is gone and Hendry is still here. So, yes, the other 29 GMs are smarter then us. They’re smarter than him too. That’s why we’re in fifth place with the biggest payroll in the division.

        • Jeff

          I know it doesn’t seem likely, but there have been scouts at both games watching Silva pitch. I think MLB Trade Rumors reported that the Yankees are scouting him, go figure.

  • Dave

    He makes too much and has too poor a track record for the Cubs to have gotten anything in return even if they ate his entire salary. The guy was the worst pitcher in baseball his last couple of seasons in Seattle, a couple of good starts aren’t going to erase that memory. If he gets shelled the Cubs can justify releasing him and eating a smaller portion of the money still owed.

  • KB

    All over the blogsphere, multiple writers are questioning the idiocy of this “competition.”

    Only the Cubs.

    • Ace

      I was first. Respek.

    • BT

      If the entire idea behind this is to light a fire under Wells’ ass after he spent last year partying, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. If the idea is that Russell is better than Wells, then it’s idiocy.

  • Steve

    Hell, Silva isn’t the only guy that should be dumped. I realize that he is the most obvious, but there are five or six others that should be shopped, too. A long season is on the way, folks…

  • Raymond Robert Koenig

    Assuming Dempster, Zambrano, Garza and Wells are the first 4 starters, does anyone have a leg up for the 5th spot?

    • Ace

      The Cubs want it to be Cashner, so I guess he’s got the leg up. Performance-wise, *gulp*, Todd Wellemeyer has been the best. But unless everyone else completely falls on their face, including Braden Looper, Wellemeyer is really only being considered for the long-man spot in the bullpen.

  • Steve

    Listen, I still firmly believe that mire than a few guys on that roster have already cashed it in. Rammy has been on cruise control for almost two years now. Sori and Fuk…you can go, too.

    • Ace

      Soriano is actually looking pretty good this Spring, both in effort and results.

      • Jeff

        How great would it be if he has any kind of improvement this season? It would be a huge boost to the lineup having him hit opposite field line drives all season instead of striking out swinging, trying to pull everything.

  • Steve

    Yes, he is. But, talk to me in late May. I’d love to be wrong. Also, haven’t heard much about Fuk. Is he even playing much?

    • Jeff

      Fukudome’s been leading off all spring, except when Jeff Baker has. He’s 5/20, with 3 walks, so basically the same as always.

      • Ace

        Yeah, Fuk’s been playing a lot. I haven’t said much about him because he seems to have his place in the lineup and the outfield rotation locked in. I guess that’s a mistake, though, as he could theoretically lose time to Colvin with a bad Spring (and a good Spring by Colvin). I should probably add them to my battles list.

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