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Buried amid the Gerardo Concepcion signing last evening, and the Matt Garza arbitration avoidance this morning, the Cubs actually signed someone else, too: lefty pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith.

The deal is a minor league one, and may not even include an invite to big league Spring Training (the Cubs purportedly finalized their non-roster invites earlier in the week, though I’d be surprised if he’s not there). Let’s be frank: this isn’t a particularly big move.

But, at the same time, it’s always nice to squirrel away formerly-successful big league talent in the upper minor leagues, and that’s what Rowland-Smith is. In his mid-20s, Rowland-Smith was quite good with the Mariners. He had modest success as a 24-year-old reliever in 2007 (112 ERA+ and 42 K in 38.2 innings), and then a part-time starter in 2008 and 2009 (124 and 115 ERA+).

But something went terribly wrong in 2010 for the native Australian, and Rowland-Smith’s effectiveness fell off the map. After starting the season third in the M’s rotation behind a couple guys named Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee, Rowland-Smith was ousted from the rotation by mid-season (he was DL’d with the kind of back injury you associate with guys who are simply not pitching well enough to stay on the roster).

Last year, he was relegated to the Houston Astros’ AAA club, where he never even got a chance to crack the terrible Astros’ big league team. He had a 6.19 ERA and 1.643 WHIP in 104.2 innings, mostly as a starter, at AAA last year (which numbers actually aren’t as atrocious as they look for the PCL – not that I’m excusing them).

Small sample size caveats apply, but it looks to me like Rowland-Smith, who just turned 29, was highly effective back when he was a reliever, and then trailed off in effectiveness as a starter (indeed, his K rate was almost halved when starting). Perhaps a move back to the pen could see him find some renewed value.

In any event, the word here, as you may have already guessed, is depth.

  • Stan

    Competition for Trever Miller in Spring Training (If it gets to that stage?)

  • ferrets_bueller

    Woo, he got his own post afterall! This is what I posted about him last night on the Concepcion thread:

    “This is likely to get completely lost in the excitement, but the Cubs have also signed RRS.  (Ryan Rowland-Smith, for the unitiated).  I’ve always liked RRS, (along with Brandon Morrow(two guys I used to draft as late round fliers in FBB a few years ago, when they were with SEA(obviously, Morrow is no longer a late round guy (and neither is RRS, as he dropped off the map)))) and hope that he can finally get his career turned around in our system.”

  • colocubfan

    I forget who said it first, but they were right. You can never have too many left handed pitchers!

    • Fishin Phil

      You can if one of them is named Grabow. Fortunately, that is no longer the case for the Cubs.

  • Patrick

    I got to watch Rowland-Smith in Seattle and he was at times extremely effective. He was also always mentioned as a great “team” guy and accepted the roller coaster they had him on for a couple of seasons with grace. He’s also a good follow on twitter: @hyphen18 although his profile lists him as an Astro’s pitcher. Quality guy, with potential to be a quality bullpen arm if he bounces back.

  • Idaho Razorback

    Living in North Idaho we get all the Mariners games so I saw Ryan Rowland-Smith pitch a number of times. RRS is much more effective as a reliever and some of his pitches are down right nasty especially against left handed hitters. He’s still young and I think he could be effective if used properly.

  • Stinky Pete

    HEY!! Are you a former highly regarded MLB Prospect? Did you fail to live up to your hype? Are you currently out of work? Buck up, Li’l camper!! We have a place for you!!
    (This is not meant to be cynical, I really like what they are doing. Just being silly. =-)

    Somewhere, Brien Taylor is desperately trying to scrape enough money to fly to Arizona.

    • JulioZuleta

      All the makings of a Mark Prior return?????? What ever happened to Rocky Cherry? I remember he came in, threw 8 pitches, all balls, and never pitched for the Cubs again.

      • Stinky Pete

        Didn’t Cherry end up with some legal issues? or am I confusing him with Toe Nash?

      • Andrew

        Made me read the Prior page on wikipedia and cry. I hope someday he makes another major league pitch.

        • ferrets_bueller

          He was doing well for the  Yanks last year…until he got hurt.

  • WGNstatic

    Brett you state:
    “He had a 6.19 ERA and 1.643 WHIP in 104.2 innings, mostly as a starter, at AAA last year (which numbers actually aren’t as atrocious as they look for the PCL – not that I’m excusing them)”

    I am curious. I see a lot of mention of the PCL being a hitters league. I had always assumed that was mainly due to a lack of good pitching there. My assumption was that, for a variety of reasons, big league clubs prefer to have better minor league pitchers in AA and hitters in AAA for whatever reason. If I am correct, then why should any pitcher get a break for ugly numbers in the PCL?

    Is there something else I am missing? ballpark factors for example?

    • http://CubbiesCrib.com Luke

      Ballpark factors are probably the biggest reason. For some reason, there are lot of shoe boxes mis-branded as baseball parks in the PCL. You do see some high end, young pitching skip that league and go straight from Double A to the majors. The PCL makes decent hitters look great, decent pitchers look terrible, and is a lot of fun to watch.

      To put it in context, 2011, league average numbers (average, mind you) in the PCL were:
      OPS: 0.807

      WHIP: 1.545
      ERA: 5.12
      HR/9: 1.0

      And you can pick just about any season and see similar numbers. It can get pretty crazy.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        In addition to the small parks, many teams play in hitter-friendly zip codes out West.

  • Idaho Razorback

    Brien Taylor. I haven’t heard that name in a while. The first four players drafted in the 1st round that year were Brien Taylor, David McCarty, Mike Kelly, and Dmitri Young. The Cubs selected Doug Glanville in the 1st round that year. Atleast the Cubs didn’t strike out on that pick like they did the previous three years when they selected Ty Griffin, Lance Dickson, and Earl Cunningham.

    • Quintz

      I think the Indians drafted Manny Ramirez right after the Cubs took Glanville. I could be wrong.

  • Idaho Razorback

    I’m surprised the Cubs havent invited Laddie Renfroe or Kennie Steenstra to spring training as a non roster invitee!

  • die hard

    No matter how hard Theo tries, he will never be able to replace Marshall….starting to look like a case of seller’s remorse by FO

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Either you don’t really believe that, and you’re trolling (stirring up shit just for the fun of it). Or you believe it, and you have an embarrassing lack of understanding about the difference between a throw-away minor league contract and an attempt to sign a top-of-the-line lefty reliever to a multi-million deal.

      Which is it? That’s not rhetorical. I want an answer.

      • JulioZuleta

        Drop the hammer.

        • DRock

          Brett, thank you for calling out die hard. Anxiously awaiting his response…

          • TWC

            ::crickets::

            • Mick

              It’s starting to get that Daddy hit Mommy type of feeling in here…

              • Katie

                Getting out my lawn chair and cooler.

              • Brady

                In this case though Daddy found his hand without beer and was forced to go to the kitchen and find it womanless. Hence Daddy went to go start hitting somebody.(All joking aside I rarely see a well written post by die hard. Most are either blatant troll or have a huge lack of understanding on how the world works). Bring out the ban hammer and strike!

      • Matt

        I agree Brett. Just trolling for reasons to bash with zero understanding of reality when it comes to this baseball team or it’s front office.

      • Quintz

        I think it’s possible he could be trolling and have an embarrassing lack of understanding at the same time. Like the perfect storm of ignorance and annoyance.

        • TWC

          Precisely.

          • ferrets_bueller

            Inconceivable!!

            • TWC

              You keep using that word.  I do not thi–

              Wait a minute… I  used that line earlier this week.  Gotta keep it fresh, you know?

      • http://bleachernation loyal100more

        DAMN!!! brett said shit…shit, now i said it

      • Nomar’s Left Glove

        Thank you, Brett. You have just become my hero. I try to be fair to all ideas, but this guy is intellectually dysfunctional. If I hear about Castro being destined for the outfield and past his prime one more time, I really might snap.

    • cjdubbya

      From UrbanDictionary.com:

      1. troll

      One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument

      4. troll

      1. A large, brutish creature of European myth, often lacking in intelligence. Sometimes compared to the Japanese oni.
      2. A dumbass who makes idiotic posts in message boards newsgroups for the sole purpose of pissing people off, often lacking in intelligence. Sometimes compared to people who pass you by on the sidewalk then grab you in inappropriate places.

      See also, die hard. Again I say, back under thou bridge, yon trolles!

      • Chibs

        “Sometimes compared to people who pass you by on the sidewalk then grab you in inappropriate places.”

        Do trolls really do that? Great, now I’m intrigued. I freakin love it though!

  • Edgar

    dont waste your time on him Brett

  • http://bleachernation loyal100more

    whos on “troll patrol”?

  • http://bleachernation loyal100more

    i love the posse of restoration projects that theo has signed… if one or two pan out maybe then he gets his kudos. im all for it and think its actually really smart.

  • http://bleachernation loyal100more

    stewart, maholm, rrs, volstad, wood, dejesus, just to mention a few that come to mind. chances are very good that somebody bounces back, or catches on, and they all came cheap. i see big dividends from the group of come back guys. as well there are a few guys in the orginization with a make or break tag on they’re back that could translate well. smart team management will be the key to getting lemonade out of these so called lemons.

  • http://bleachernation loyal100more

    every year as you all know the league has this “come back player of the year” thing that it does… well have quite a few lines in the water this year. not sure why but ian stewarts name sticks in my frontal lobe. i think he plays at a level that exceeds expectations, and shows a bit of the player he was thought to be, and once was in co. i think he bats around 265-270 and belts 17 homers… and depending on where he hits in the line up… maybe a welcomed 75 rbi. all the while playing a decent 3rd for us. any takers?

    • KidCubbie

      Loyal you and I are on the same page brother. Go Stewy!

  • Edgar

    The Orioles just released Rick VandenHurk. Another possible project???

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      If he could just stop walkin’ dudes, he’d be great. If only it were that simple…

  • http://bleachernation loyal100more

    whos vandenhurk? another guy that didnt pan out? uh oh, go get em theo!

    • ogyu

      The Incredible VandenHurk

      • http://bleachernation loyal100more

        is he green? i mean if thats the only problem… well theo dont care about that

        • ogyu

          I hear he has a really bad temper…

          • http://bleachernation loyal100more

            if he walks a few guys then he ends up ripping his uniform, and… then comes the triple digit chin music

            • ogyu

              Yep. Kinda like Zambrano.

  • http://bleachernation loyal100more

    come on guys…. stop playing with that troll already

  • http://bleachernation loyal100more

    cepedes= sammy sosa minus the peds and corked bats?

    • ogyu

      and facial bleach

    • jandersonjr81 father of Caden

      And post homerun kisses.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

    Semi-relatedly: Heyman says the Dodgers have signed Todd Coffey, at whom the Cubs were looking.

    • http://bleachernation loyal100more

      coffey didnt look that bad… any idea how much he cost them?

      • Shawn

        Ken Rosenthal says $1.3 Million with a club option for 2013.

        • http://bleachernation loyal100more

          wow… that sounds like a decent signing. not earth shaking, but money well spent on bullpen depth.

  • steve

    Brett is a mushroom cloud laying %other &*&er, Superfly TNT, Guns of the Navarone!

  • jandersonjr81 father of Caden

    Brett, kind of in regard to the diehard post up top. I agree with some of the projects. Wood, Seppalt, Stewart, Dejesus, Corpas, and disagree with others, Johnson,Volstad most notably. By stating that, it doesn’t mean I’m trolling. It means I’m searching for an alternate reasoning, which I have not found.( Not that I’ve been accused, nor am I defending diehard). I guess the point I was making is sometimes diehard states legitimate concerns, but because of his “trolling” or trolling reputation, which ever it is, his good points get overlooked.

    I guest my point is how many project can we take on. I actually like this move, but damn. Rookie manager with a bunch of projects can be disastrous. How many do you think will actually work out?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      This project will play in the minor leagues if he doesn’t work out. It’s a total non-issue, and not remotely a good point by him.

      • jandersonjr81 father of Caden

        No, that wasn’t, I was just saying some.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          If they exist, they have become too few and too far between. I’ve been (we’ve all been) very patient.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          (I’m not dismissing your overall point, by the way – I’m just frustrated.)

          • jandersonjr81 father of Caden

            I guess I kind of feel like because I wanted Z to have another chance, or because I don’t think Volstad will come close to working out, or even though I like Johnson but think he’s a wasted roster spot, people think I’m “stupid”. It’s almost like if you don’t agree with the majority, you get trash talked. I kind of feel like diehard has been “blacksheeped” and so now he responds ignorantly to try and get revenge. Honestly its kind of funny. It’s just as much a message to him, as it is anything, that if he just responded in a non-trolling manner, he would get better responses back.

            • drew

              For me its the lack of a coherent response that makes me tune him out. I get annoyed with the grammer police sometimes, but…posts….like…these….drive…me…..insane.

  • Mick

    RRS should make a decent insurance policy for a couple of areas for the Cubs. He could serve as a situational lefty if the FO decides to waive Gaub, Maine, Beliveau, or Castillo. Or, he could fill the same role as Sonnestine but from the left side in case we have some injuries in the starting rotation.

    This FO is like a well-oiled machine. Brett, if you’re ever reaching for topics, it’d be really interesting to see a timeline of all the moves this FO has made since taking over. I swear they’ve got to be averaging at least 2-3 moves/week.

  • jim

    Russell, gaub? Rrs is good signing. Man, cincy looks loaded.

  • die hard

    I am serious every time I post because I take the Cubs seriously. Putting a label on my posts is alot easier than replying in an intelligent manner. The Cubs have added about 10 pitchers since the new FO took over, 4 or 5 of whom are lefties. The Cubs had an excellent lefty in Marshall who was a proven asset on the mound and in the clubhouse. Sometimes making changes just because you can is not the best way to improve a business. Ridding the team of Marshall may be one of those changes. The FO’s settlement with Garza and hesitancy as to moving Garza reflects a second guessing of the Marshall move is how I read it. You all can agree or disagree and call me names for saying it….but hey, Ive been called worse and survived all these years. Mike Royko once said that if you are not making them mad then you are not doing your best. Well, I am no Mike Royko but I always try to do my best. If that makes you mad, then I must be succeeding.

    • http://bleachernation loyal100more

      ???????????????????????????

    • baseballet

      It’s alright. There’s a lot of love for the front office on Bleacher Nation, including from me. I don’t mind that you disagree with most of us. A contrary opinion is refreshing.

      • Kevin

        I 2nd guess the last 103 years……..

    • Andrew

      I think you are missing some major differences between Marshall and Garza. I’ll list some

      1. first and what really is the biggest point is that marshall was a free agent after this year so if the Cubs were able to get some long term value (which they did) for his services in 2012, it was a good deal for the Cubs since no matter what I think everyone would admit the Cubs probably would be a wayyy outside shot at the playoffs for this year. And Marshall has even been quoted that he wouldn’t even mind coming back to Chicago, so he’s not even lost for good. Garza on the other hand will be under cubs control for up two 2 seasons. This means we can keep him for a while and hes a LOT more valuable. It will take a while for people to give in and pony up the assets needed to acquire him.

      2. Marshall is a reliever, Garza is a starter. That means Garza plays at least 3 times more than marshall will in a season. Both are great players, but Marshall simply doesn’t play enough to be a player you can build a team around and Garza does. Relievers are pretty easy to find and that is evident in this years market for closers. Look at what Madson got, we will easily find a few good arms for the bullpen when we need them.

      3. Lastly, I don’t know how hesitant the Cubs are on trading Garza, but it takes two to tango and we need to get great value back for him like we were able to do with marshall. Blockbuster trades (which a Garza trade would be) aren’t made overnight in the offseason because there isn’t very much pressure to get it done quickly.

      • die hard

        I respectfully disagree with your analysis because I feel the best way to build a sound staff is to have a great starter and a great reliever around which to add the other blocks. Keeping both of them and then go from there would be the better way to begin to contend in 2012. If the Cubs are planning to write off the 2012 season, then the fans should be compensated accordingly by lower ticket and concession prices if expected to show up and cheer on the team nonetheless. Your premise is that the Cubs got good value for Marshall. To be true those players will have large shoes to fill, literally and figuratively. Hopefully, you are right. And what did you expect Marshall to say, that he was glad he was gone? He was being loyal to a fault which is what was so good about him. I say he will retire as a Red if they will have him because thats his character.

        • Andrew

          I wouldn’t say they’re writing off the season, but they are selling high and buying low this season. We know that there are a lot of sunk costs on this team, so we can’t really be spending big on free agents, but we still have a lot of holes. With so much of our assets tied up in Soriano, Dempster, and Zambrano, you’ve got to get creative. That means converting some short term assets like marshall and garza, into players that fill current holes i.e. starting pitching, a lackluster farm system etc.

          Also the Cubs are a business, and as such they are concerned about making money. To arbitrarily lower the prices when people are going to go to the games regardless is just plain stupid business. If you, as a Cub fan wanna take a stand, you don’t have to buy a ticket or concessions. Supply and demanded

          P.S. Nobody has to literally fill Sean Marshall’s shoes I think he will take his shoes with him to Cincy.

    • Shawn

      I don’t think settling with Garza has anything to do with second guessing on trading Marshall. Garza and Marshall are guys who can bring back value. The Cubs have Left handed relievers who could potentially fill the role Marshall had. They are dealing from what they would perceive as strength. On paper the Cubs are weaker without Marshall. That doesn’t mean that will be the case when the season starts. As for Garza, the fact they haven’t traded him doesn’t mean they have changed their minds. It suggests to me they have not found the deal they feel is a fair return. They could still trade him or they could extend him.

    • Mick

      Hey die hard, tell us what you think about the Cubs’ front office and while you’re at it, answer Brett’s question.

      P.S. where do you live?

  • scorecardpaul

    first thing you have ever said that even makes any sense. You are no Mike Royko

  • Kevin

    We have a lot of 2nd guessers out there with all the moves made by the FO so far. Everything the Cubs have tried in the past and hasn’t worked and now we have a very smart FO that thinks out every move methodically. It’s time for all Cub fans to sit back and enjoy the ride, I know I’m excited!

    • DocWimsey

      A team without fans second guessing the front office on every move is a team without fans.

  • MichiganGoat

    Damn I missed the fun.

    • die hard

      always room for one more

  • curt

    die hard its been 103 yrs do you not believe a change was needed a new apporach how about we give the fo a chance see where we are in a couple years if its not better then ill say yr right but until that time dude lighten up.

  • OHBearCub

    Marshall will be a free agent after this season. D can resign him for a home town discount to some degree. Which could very well happen.
    Being a relief pitcher in Cinci is much like being a PCL pitcher. The ball flies out of that place

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