in what might be the first step toward dismantling this team, latroy was dealt to the giants for jerome williams and david aardsma. a reliever with latroy's stellar statistics should command a reasonably good price from a contending team will bullpen problems like san fran, and it looks like the cubs did pretty well.
opinion on aardsma seems to be warily optimistic. a two-pitch reliever with a low-to-mid-90s sinking fastball and a knucklecurve that can be great but has been inconsistent, he was seen as a first-rank prospect to contribute in 2005 for the giants. aardsma seriously struggles with control, as many younger (born in 1981) guys do, but his hits/9 and the fact that he simply doesn't give up the long ball indicate major-league quality stuff.
williams had been considered one of san fran's Big Three Pitching Prospects, along with jesse foppert and kurt ainsworth. things have changed, as one might suspect, but williams' numbers in the majors have been very impressive on the whole. he's 24 and already has 277 major-league innings in with quite respectable numbers, and can easily be considered the most successful of the three. in fact, san fran had expected him to be a reliable starter for them this year -- and there had been whispers of a breakout season after the high style he finished 2004 in. but he's suffered a relapse of sorts this year, has been sent down to triple-a fresno -- and now moved out. many would consider that just part of the trials and tribulations of being a young starter.
this seems quite a handful of potential to get for hawkins, who is an excellent reliever -- the best the cubs had, certainly -- but has his drawbacks. at least it would seem that hendry has taken reasonable risks with a proven reliever.
more importantly, the trade demonstrates clearly, i think, that cub management has come to the same comclusion this blog and others have -- the cubs year is over -- probably was over already, but prior's trip to the disabled list destroyed any remaining doubt.
2006 has started for this club.