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Last week’s Ian Stewart trade, of course, was actually the Ian Stewart and Casey Weathers trade.

Stewart obviously and rightly netted most of the attention over the next few days. But it’s worth discussing Weathers a bit, because it looks like he’s a legitimate prospect, even if he is a bit older and has control issues sufficiently bad that it’s fair to wonder whether he’ll ever be able to make the bigs.

Weathers, 26, is obviously a few years older than you’d like to see a prospect who’s not yet pitched above AA. But, as a college reliever, his track in the minors was always going to be a bit delayed (college relievers are frequently “old” for their minor league levels because they rarely seem to skip levels, and they start their professional careers in their early 20s). Throw in a Tommy John surgery that cost him a year and a half, and his 26 years start to become more understandable. (For reference, the Cubs’ own Chris Carpenter – another hard-throwing reliever who was drafted out of college (a starter at the time) – will turn 26 in two weeks.)

The other initial-reaction-ding on Weathers was his striking lack of control. Even last year, two years removed from Tommy John surgery, Weathers walked an almost unimaginable 48 batters in 45.2 innings. His career mark isn’t much better, having walked 107 in 135 innings. But, mitigating some of the damage from the walks: Weathers has always struck guys out. In those same 135 innings, Weathers has struck out 169 batters, which, like, whoa. When you look at minor league pitchers, you love to see high strikeout numbers. Not only because strikeouts are, in and of themselves, valuable, but also because it indicates great stuff. And, whether that translates to strikeouts at the big league level or not, it can at least translate to an inability of big league hitters to really square that pitcher up.

That the Rockies took Weathers with the eighth overall pick in 2007 (five spots after the Cubs took Josh Vitters) suggests the makeup of Weathers’ arm has long impressed scouts.

Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein’s take on Weathers squares with the narrative described above.

Weathers represents the risk in taking that college closer who is expected to move quickly and assume a late-inning role. The eighth overall pick in the 2007 draft, Weathers has yet to make the big leagues; instead of making his major-league debut as expected in 2009, he had Tommy John surgery. He was a fun scouting story, as he came up as an outfielder and didn’t take the mound until he won a bet with another position player over who could throw harder. Command and control has always been an issue with Weathers, and like many Tommy John survivors, Weathers has gone backwards in those areas since the procedure. He features closer-level velocity, but his slider is not as sharp as it once was, and after walking 48 over 45.2 innings in 2011, all the Cubs can do is send him to Iowa and hope for more strikes, which we’ve never seen out of him as a professional. The velocity at least gives you something to dream on.

So, there’s another way to explain the slow progress and control issues: Weathers isn’t a lifetime pitcher. Control is often one of the last things to come to a converted pitcher, particular one whose most obvious ability lies in raw arm strength – a kid who can throw hard, will throw hard. That doesn’t always translate to great, repeatable mechanics. So, control comes late – if it comes at all.

In the end, Weathers is a nice lottery ticket. He’s a kid who could finally get his control issues under wraps, and develop into a great bullpen option. One hidden benefit of his slow development: if he does put it together within the next few years and make the Cubs’ pen, he’ll be in his prime with the Cubs before he even hits arbitration. Knowing the way the new front office things, I can’t help but wonder if that factored into their choice of someone like Weathers to be thrown into the “Ian Stewart trade.”

  • Fishin Phil

    Sounds like a kid in need of some quality coaching.  Sure hope he gets it.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      He’s entering this organization at the right time, I’d say.

  • die hard

    Throw it all against the wall and see what sticks approach is not what was expected from
    front office. Odds are he will be out of baseball in 2 years. Meanwhile Cubs gave up too early on the 2 kids sent to CR.

    • Wilbur

      DH, understand there can be skepticism about this type of approach, but I actually like it. I don’t think the Cubs lost anything they didn’t already have and if one of these two kids becomes a viable major leaguer then that’s something that was created from nothing. I’m hoping they get three or more players like this and in the end wind up with a couple of major leaguers.

    • Dave

      Honestly, I think the “throw it against the wall method and see what sticks” is not a bad approach at all when it comes to players like this. Will they all pay off? No. But if you accumulate enough of them, the odds are in your favor of ending up with a few impactful guys.

  • mb1.0.2

    Interesting.

    Am I the only one that feels like this is a rehash of the Marmol story? Converted catcher, wild raw talent but can’t find the zone? The only difference is that Weathers isn’t yet consuming millions of bucks on our big-league roster. I guess that’s a big difference, though.

    Hopefully he pans out and becomes a dependable closer/set-up man.

  • Spencer

    I wonder if he found out he got traded from Twitter like the guy involved in the Cahill trade.

  • Cedlandrum

    Have they announced who the minor league instructors will be?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Not that I’ve seen, no. The problem is they moved the organizational meetings from November to February (which didn’t make much sense to me; I get that there’s a bunch of new guys who had other stuff to do at the time, but, like, how do you make those kind of decisions in February? My guess is they’ll trickle in over the course of the next two months).

    • Cheryl

      That’s a good point. How far have Theo and company gone in getting better coaches at the minor league level? I remember someone mentioned that a minor leaguer who was traded said he didn’t really get good coaching until he went elsewhere.

  • http://casualcubsfan.blogger.com hansman1982

    Basically this trade was swapping a Hot Lotto ticket for a Poweball ticket.  Ya, Colvin and LeMehieu might be more likely to contribute but Stewart and Weathers have infintely more upside.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      You are precisely correct.

    • MoneyBoy

      Hansman – Knocked it out of the park with that one   ^5

  • JulioZuleta

    I like the influx of new blood into the organization. Sure, neither of them probably will be All-Stars, but Colvin and Lemahieu never will be either. Seemingly small moves like this will start to add up over a year or too. Colvin and Lemahieu were of the “fringe starter/ok guy to have off the bench mold” which is way too common in the organization. While Lemahieu has a little bit of upside, I don’t think he is someone Theo will be losing sleep over in a year or too. Sure, we didn’t rob them blind, but I don’t think we were on the losing side either. At least Stewart should be able to provide some pop, assuming he’s healthy.

  • oswego chris

    the second or sometimes third guy in a trade can be huge…actually that was one of the rare things Hendry was good at…

    isn’t it amazing that there is such a lack of quality pitching at all levels that you see so many position players( Marmol, Santos)..changing just because they throw hard….

    • JulioZuleta

      When we traded fan favorite Mark DeRosa (one of my least favorite Cubs) we got Indians prospects Jeff Stevens, John Gaub, and little known Chris Archer. If we hadn’t dumped that overrated “baseball player”/ guy-who-loved-to-see-himself-on-TV for 3 relatively no name prospects, we wouldn’t have Matt Garza right now (Archer was the centerpiece for Garza). Seemingly small moves can end up being organization changers.

      • http://casualcubsfan.blogger.com hansman1982

        That was one of the rare times Hendry sold high on a guy and it worked great for the Cubs.

        Same thinking behind trading Garza, if we can get some guys in here that we can either 1)Finalize the development on and have 6 solid years from or 2) Flip them for 2 Matt Garza’s then YAY Cubs.

        • TWC

          “That was one of the rare times Hendry sold high on a guy and it worked great for the Cubs.”

          Yeah.  I really wish more Cubs fans realized that.

        • Dumpman

          Hendry almost always won on trades. Aram deal, Lee deal, DeRosa deal, Dempster deal.. I mean, he really could deal.

          • EQ76

            I agree.. most of his mistakes were with the FA signings (Soriano, Bradley) and giving out way too many no-trade clauses.. but always remember, under his reign we went to 3 playoffs and had 5 seasons over .500.. that’s the most successful decade we’ve had since the early 1900’s.

          • Smitty

            Unfortunately that is forgotten because of the deals he did ’09/ ’10 and getting almost nothing back in return. He did make some good deals, though.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            The DeRosa deal was his only successful “sell” deal, though. Terrible return dumping Lilly, Lee, Maddux, etc.

            • http://CubbiesCrib.com Luke

              I’m not sure I can agree the Lee return was terrible.

              Robinson Lopez was #19 on BA’s 2011 Cubs top prospects list and showed quite a bit of improvement in his control. He won’t turn 21 until March. It is too early to say how good he’ll be just yet, but he’s projected as high as a mid-rotation starter.

              Ty’Relle Harris wasn’t off to a bad start with the Smokies when he was hit by a car and suffered two broken legs. His control still needs work, but he does a nice job striking people out and doesn’t give up too many hits. If he can just cut the walks down, he’ll be a decent middle reliever.

              They also got Jeff Lorick, who is fairly unexciting. I like his GO/AO numbers, but not much else.

              That’s not the greatest return for a guy like Lee, but it isn’t a bad one either. It really depends on how Lopez develops.

            • EQ76

              One other reason that the Derosa deal was the only good “sell” deal was because 85% of our roster had no trade clauses!!! :)

    • http://CubbiesCrib.com Luke

      You don’t see guys being converted to pitcher because there is a lack of quality pitching, you see guys being converted to pitcher because they can’t hit but have a great arm. The pitching depth in the organization has nothing to do with it. It’s all about making lemonade out of a lemon with an OPS of .214 in three years of A ball.

      If Junior Lake hadn’t staged a mini-breakout this season, he’d probably be learning to throw a curve ball as we type.

      • MoneyBoy

        Hopefully, Luke, last years MLB & Intl drafts brought a much higher grade of lemons … and, even with Seligdorf’s new rules, that will continue.

        Additionally, we now have devoted scouting at the Intl, ML, Minor League and Amateur levels.   Compared to the previous paucity of scouting overall this represents a huge investment and (hopefully) bodes well for the future.

  • spearman

    Wasn’t Carlos Marmol a converted pitcher?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yes. Former catcher. Ditto Randy Wells.

      • Ron

        Didn’t know that about Wells. Interesting since he is a control guy not a hard thrower. do you think this could be his break out year? I think we asked this 3 years in a row but given the delayed development because of his “conversion” or is the general consensus that we know what we got with him a 4/5/6 starter depending on depth.

  • ferrets_bueller

    I wonder if he’s more Marmol, or more Johnathon Sanchez-
    A guy who gets his strikeouts and stuff from having great stuff, or a guy whose control is both the reason for his strikeouts and walks. In other words, IF he develops better control, will he still be nasty (marmol) or will it come at the expense of being hittable (sanchez)

  • Ol’CharlieBrown

    Interesting bit on Zambrano from MLBTR:

    Talking to reporters at the derby, Zambrano outlined his re-commitment to the Cubs following a disastrous 2011 season. “I’m preparing like when I was a rookie, climbing mountains, running on the beach, and exercising hard so that I can arrive at Spring Training in optimal shape,” he said, as relayed by Joiner Martinez at Líder en Deportes. “I want to stay in Chicago for the two seasons I still have with the team. I’m not a coward who would take the back door out of the majors.”

    • TWC

      “I’m not a coward who would take the back door out of the majors.”

      Uh, Z?  Like, when you said you were going to do exactly that?

    • CubFan Paul

      “I’m preparing like when I was a rookie, climbing mountains, running on the beach, and exercising hard so that I can arrive at Spring Training in optimal shape”

      and he says “two seasons” also ..if he finishes in the top 4 of the NL cy young voting his 2013 Option kicks in ..man on a mission type shit, i like it

  • EQ76

    2 seasons??? I thought this was his final year of his contract?

    • Hrubes20

      He’s apparently predicting a strong Cy Young vote this year.

    • Ol’CharlieBrown

      5 years/$91.5M (2008-12), plus 2013 vesting option.

      I guess he is feeling pretty confident and is assuming that he will meet the vesting requirement, whatever that might be.

      • JasonB

        If the vesting option is at all tied to the number of retirements announced by a single player, we could be in trouble.

      • http://CubbiesCrib.com Luke

        For the option to vest, he’ll have to be healthy at the end of 2012 and finish in the top four of the Cy Young voting.

        Let’s just say I’m skeptical.

        • EQ76

          so basically this is the last year of his contract.. of course, I can’t say it would bother me much if he stayed with the Cubs and finished in the top 4 of the cy young voting..

        • Dougy D

          I guess we wont have to worry about him getting his option. If I read correctly, Luke, he had to FINISH the season!

  • ty

    theo reviewed our 40 man roster Monday and today he was spotted at Starbucks outside Fenway park

    • die hard

      hahaha…good one….No going backsie.. before political correctness used to say indian giver referring to remorse over deal and wanting back….hes stuck with Cubs and vice versa….he really wanted out bad after seeing Bosox 40 man…now theirs dont look so bad…but there is still time to make deals for more pitchers with arm trouble/TJ surgery or suspected steroid use…..like the Gagne trade he made…

  • ty

    Brett–was able to see Weathers in Arizona fall league and was there the day his elbow blew out–real nasty scene. Stout kid who throws real hard with natural movement. Downside is he has not bought in to decent mechanics and still acts like the outfielder who can throw harder when you warm up with him. Reminds me a bit of Thomas Diamond whom I had high hopes . Our pitching co-ordinator is one of the best so we will see!

    • die hard

      yeeesh…..hope springs eternal never wears thin…

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

    Man, seriously: you guys are killing it in the comments today. Funny, insightful stuff all over.

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      It’s nice to have the board back

      • BetterNews

        Not for long! Charge!

  • cubincardinalland

    Someone mentioned Randy Wells conversion from a catcher to a pitcher. He is from my hometown, and it shows the fine line between success and failure.
    Randy was playing for Class A Lansing in 2003. He was hitting .163 with an OPS of .363 for the season. He basically was the bullpen catcher getting to play one day a week to give the starter the day off. He was on the brink of being released. Then came an 18-2 game where Lansing was getting blown out and the manager asked the bench if anybody could come in to pitch and get the game over. Randy volunteered, and the story goes that he was throwing 93 mph. Cubs management told him he is no longer a catcher, he was a pitcher now.
    As a side note, Randy’s coach at Belleville East High School, is now a batting practice pitcher for the Cardinals. I have been told that Cardinal players routinely razz his old coach about how he had a major league pitcher on his high school team, and you never even had him pitch one game. You must have been a really lousy coach.

    • ferrets_bueller

      That…is one (two?) seriously awesome story. Thanks for that.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That’s awesome.

  • GoCubsGo14

    Die hard were you not hugged enough as a child. Your comments are always negative, and don’t make sense. The cubs traded two guys with upside at positions that are log jammed and acquired players for positions they need players for. How is this a bad trade. There is no easy band aid fixes for this team. We are probably going to suffer a couple years for past transgressions of backloaded contracts and trading the farm for players past their prime. But that being said you never know what will happen in baseball. You can go be the GM of a team and trade Castro and sign Pujols to a deal where he will make 25 mil at the ripe age of 32…er…34…wait 36, or however old he will be, just make sure the team you GM for isn’t the cubs ill take smart cheap trades any day over what you usually suggest.

    • BetterNews

      How old is this comment? Think I saw the original a day ago.

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