Lefty Rich Hill showed promise in 2007 when he went 11-8 for the Cubs, helping them reach the playoffs, before suffering a bout of “Steve Blass Disease” at the beginning of the ’08 season, in which he inexplicably couldn’t find the plate. He has never been the same since. Reliever Michael Wuertz, on the other hand, has always sucked. Both were shown the door on Monday, as the Cubs traded Hill to Andy MacPhail’s, “Former Cubs Rehabilitation Project” in Baltimore, and Wuertz was sent to Oakland for two minor league stiffs.

“We’re really going to miss Rich’s 27 MPH mph curveball,” said Cubs GM Jim Hendry. “And if base-on-balls, wild pitches and serving up tape-measure home runs were the name of the game, we’d certainly miss Michael as well.”

The off-season trades of Hill, Wuertz and Jason Marquis, along with free agent departures of Kerry Wood and Bob Howry have rid the Cubs staff of many of their more inconsistent hurlers, but also leave several holes to be filled in the middle innings. Hendry is confident that some of his leftover pitchers from last year will be able to pick up the slack.

“I am pretty certain that Chad Gaudin can serve up a 450-foot bomb just as well as Howry,” he said. “And Neal Cotts can walk the bases loaded just as easily as Marquis ever could.”

heckler editorial staff