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Hello, Walk 'N Willy
by Derek Smart
Either I missed it or it hadn't happened by the time I posted about the team passing on Burniz, but the Cubs have picked up the options on Todd Walker and Scott Williamson.
I am both pleased and unsurprised by both of these moves. Williamson was a genuinely nasty reliever before he was hurt, and we saw flashes of that when he joined the team late in the year. He was inconsistent, but that's to be expected when a guy is coming back from Tommy John surgery, and since the Cubs very much need a shut-down guy for the vicinity of the eighth inning, Williamson's a good gamble to do that.
As for Walker, I don't think the Cubs had much choice. While they're likely to pursue Rafael Furcal in the offseason - with a possible result of success in the endeavor being that they would move Ronny Cedeno to second - assuming that you're going to get the job done would be very dangerous, considering how hotly pursued Furcal is likely to be.
Had the team turned down Walker's option, then lost out on Furcal, they'd have Cedeno at short and then...what?...Tony Graffanino at second? D'Angelo Jimenez? Mark Bellhorn? While those guys are potentially useful players, just try imagining Dusty Baker dealing with them. Or don't. Really, it's not worth the headache, and I think that's the conclusion Jim Hendry reached.
Better to have an embarrassment of riches and an opportunity in a best case scenario to turn an inexpensive, good stick middle infielder into something you need later on, rather than find yourself scraping the barrel for somebody not named Neifi! whom your manager's willing to field at the keystone.