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Who Shall We Boo Now?
by Derek Smart
Rumors of the Cubs shopping LaTroy Hawkins have been going around for a while now, and they finally came to fruition today as he was dealt to the Giants in exchange for Jerome Williams and David Aardsma.
I've been asked already if I think this is a salary dump or a sign of the team punting the season, and while it's a legitimate question, I believe the answer is an emphatic, "No."
The Cubs are getting generally solid work from the young guns in the pen, and with the fan base completely turning on Hawkins, making his life a living hell every time he came to the mound at Wrigley - even in the meaningless situations he was used in at the end - the team was left with little choice than to try to get what they could for him.
Jim Hendry did well getting what he did, especially in light of recent events. Assuming that Williams isn't injured (his extremely rough start in AAA has folks like John Sickels speculating about injury, but he also got a late start to the year due to family illness, so pick one that makes you feel good and go with that for now), and he can get himself throwing well again, he could help the Cubs get through some of their current issues in the starting rotation. If not, he's nice to have around to compete for a fifth starter's job down the line, or act as the sixth starter waiting his turn in Iowa.
Aardsma not only has the distinction of displacing Hank Aaron at the top of the alphabetical list of Major League players, he's also a legitimate closing prospect, having spent a good deal of his time at Rice finishing ballgames. He has control issues, but he strikes guys out and doesn't give up the long ball, so with a little more minor league time, he could turn into a very useful part of a future Cub pen.
I'm both happy and sad for LaTroy, sad that he was treated with such disdain by Cub fans (booing is for slackers and jagoffs, not for players who work hard but struggle), but happy that the team could find a way to get him to a place where he had a chance to succeed, and do so while getting a decent return.
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The pendulum that is the storyline on Mark Prior's elbow injury has swung back to the more positive side. Apparently, Prior has a compression fracture, not a hairline fracture, which basically means that while there's no real timetable for recovery, rather than waiting for bone to mend Prior will only have to wait until he's pain free.
He'll still likely be out for a while, but this news means that he could be back sooner than the 2 months that was being tossed around, and at this point, I'll take any good news I can get.