The Texas Rangers have traded Cole Hamels to the Chicago Cubs for Rollie Lacy and Eddie Butler, along with a player to be named later. While we have to wait and see who the PTBNL is, we can examine the new additions now.
Rollie Lacy isn’t on anyone’s Top Prospects in Baseball List. He isn’t on anyone’s Cubs Top 10. Hell, he isn’t even on many, if any, Cubs Top 30 lists. But I asked a few scouts about him...and got a couple big league grades! That’s a happy a surprise. (Full disclosure: I got a couple “non-prospect” grades too) Long man/middle-reliever projections were most prevalent, but that doesn’t mean we can’t sit here and dream about more. C’mon, we’re Rangers fans; our next pitcher is our best pitcher. An 11th Rd pick in 2017 outta Creighton, the 6’4” lanky righty isn’t gonna blow anyone away with an eye-popping repertoire. He throws a CH and a SL, but apparently, those ain’t the money makers. He’s racked up a salty 84Ks in 71.1ip this season thanks in large part to a bowling ball sinker. Reports are this thing has big league weight and that helps to explain the 6 homers allowed to 452 batters. Rollie has been both a starter and a reliever this year, and has done well since grabbing a spot in the rotation in early May. He pitched the first 5 innings of a 7-inning no hitter for low-A South Bend last month and you can see here how his whippy mechanics help his FB play up as it jumps on hitters late:
Rollie turned 23 about a week ago and was promoted to High-A Myrtle Beach. Assuming he stays at that level, it means a quick jump over to Kinston to join Down East and Emo Martinez and Joe Palumbo. Alright, Rollie, you and your double-plus name and your mega-sinker, welcome aboard!
I’ve seen Eddie Butler pitch a lot. He’s 94-97 with a stunning 90mph CH. Wait. Those are my notes from 2014. Damn. Well, I have seen him pitch a lot and had some fun conversations with him when he was a Rockies farmhand plying his trade with AA Tulsa, but a lot has happened since then, most of it not very good. Eddie’s just come off the 60-day for the Cubs after a groin injury derailed most of his season. Look, Eddie’s not the Top 100 prospect he once was. There’s no shortage of theories why and the great Eno Sarris over at Fangraphs wrote up a bunch here: https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/eddie-butler-then-now-and-in-the-future/ Here’s what to like about Eddie. He’s still got some mojo in that right arm, and he’s not a free agent until after the 2022 season. The Cubs had been eyeing Butler for their long-man role, but then our ol’ pal Jesse Chavez rolled into town with the intention of grabbing that job. As for what to expect from Eddie? Short term, I’d say he’ll get some run as the long-man here and maybe even a few starts. Long term remains to be seen. Is this a project for the Rangers rotation for next season? Is he gonna be given a shot at a WIIIIIIIDE open starting pitching lineup for the 2019 Rangers? Who knows? Well, hopefully Texas’ front office knows, and we’ll all find out soon enough.
Anyways, so there’s 2 of the 3 players we don’ got for Hollywood Hamels. Seems Texas threw in some good cash for Hollywood’s payroll hit in exchange for an uptick in the return package. Got 2 dudes, maybe relievers, and a big league lotto ticket. I’ve got no idea what happens to these kids going forward, but I know it was probably time to hit the market for Hollywood. His 4.59 ERA over his last 33 starts has crystallized his regression for many in the game. My memories of Hollywood are favorable and he helped some damn good Rangers teams win games. But I’ll most remember the time he pitched on a rehab assignment in Frisco. Finished his abbreviated outing. Did his post-game presser and his post-throwing excercises...then quietly slipped into board shorts, flip flops and a non-RoughRiders cap. He pulled the cap low, damn near over his brow, slipped on some sunglasses and snuck out to meet his wife and kids already enjoying themselves alongside throngs of others in Frisco’s Lazy River. I walked out there a few innings later and there he was, wrapping up a kiddo in a towel and laughing. Hat still low and sunglasses still safely concealing the superstar among the masses. No one recognizing him. And he seemed to be loving it. Good pitcher, good teammate, good man, that lefty. Godspeed, Hollywood.
As Always, Enjoy Baseball!