December 23, 2011. That was the day that Theo Epstein and company made their first “big” move to signal a shift in the direction of this organization, it also meant the beginning of starting over. Theo Epstein signed on with the Cubs just two months prior to the Travis Wood deal, so he acted quickly, and gave a change hungry fan base something to chew on, and for the most part, they hated it. Sean Marshall was the centerpiece of the deal for the Reds, and Marshall was coming off two brilliant seasons out of the Cubs bullpen. Fans were borderline outraged that Theo could come in here and trade the Cubs best reliever, and lefty as well, some of us were thrilled though, as it meant that the Cubs just acquired a 24 year-old left handed starter for an aging bullpen arm that meant more to a contending team than to one starting over.
This was my take on the Travis Wood trade, it was in our very first blog post (1/29/2012)
“The fact that the Cubs could trade a relief pitcher and get three players, including a left handed 24 year starting pitcher is tremendous. Sean Marshall has put up stellar numbers out of the Cubs pen the last few years, but given the direction of the team, and the fact that Marshall had only one year remaining under team control it was a no brainer to take this deal. Furthermore, the fact that the new CBA eliminates compensation from MLB for the type of FA Marshall would be after this year played a big role in the deal. Acquiring Travis Wood seems like a no lose situation for the Cubs, as he will be in the rotation or given every opportunity to be in the rotation. He has shown the ability to have plus stuff at the Major League level, and it’s hard to pass that up given his upside.”
Here was Epstein’s reaction to the deal from the Sun-Times
‘‘No doubt our bullpen just got weaker,’’ said Epstein, who also acquired rookie outfielder Dave Sappelt and infield prospect Ronald Torreyes in the deal. ‘‘But I think our starting rotation just got stronger and our farm system got better. And if Wood bounces back to pitch like he did for that half of 2010, you could even argue we got better for 2012.’’
The trade was a calculated risk by the Cubs as they knew that they had very little use for Sean Marshall at the time, but trading away a guy like him could very well come back to bite them, especially given the fact that the main piece they were getting back (Wood) was coming off a rough year. So far, the return on investment has been fantastic, and the real payoff is still down the road a bit. Travis Wood has cemented himself in this Cubs rotation not only right now, but also when the Cubs are contending, and that’s all that Theo and Company could have hoped for. Let’s take a look at the numbers since this deal happened.
Dave Sappelt – Sappelt did some good things within the organization, unfortunately the thing he was best at was messing around on Twitter. He is no longer with the Cubs, and is currently in the Philadelphia Phillies organization.
Ronald Torreyes -Roni hit at every level before coming to the Cubs, but struggled a bit once he was here. He has moved on to the Astros organization, and at 21 years old is having a solid season at the Triple A level. I wanted him to stay here because I thought he was someone the Cubs could have used, but losing him was not the end of the World.
Travis Wood – I really couldn’t be any happier with how Wood has performed on the North Side. He has started 62 games over the last three seasons for the Cubs, his record over that time is 16-27, which is more of a reflection of the teams he’s been on than himself. Wood has worked 381 innings, giving up 161 runs, 150 earned (3.54 ERA) on 323 hits, while walking 124, and striking out 291. That is pretty solid right there, excellent number two, or number three stuff on a contending pitching staff.
Sean Marshall – Marshall did exactly what the Reds wanted him to do in 2012 in his first season in Cincinnati, unfortunately he was bit by the injury bug and hasn’t been able to be on the mound consistently. Marshall has a 5-6 record with the Reds over the last three years with nine saves, and a 2.36 ERA. The issue, as I mentioned, has been his health, he has only worked 72.1 innings for the Reds, giving up 21 runs, 19 earned, on 61 hits, while walking 18, and striking out 85. Those are solid numbers for what he is, and that is something the Cubs just didn’t need at the time he was traded.
Is it a little early to declare a winner in this trade? Probably, but when things are all said and done, I think Travis Wood will mean more to a great Cubs season and future than Sean Marshall would have. Sean Marshall can still be a weapon for the Reds, and if healthy, has plenty of years left on the mound, but I don’t think anyone is too upset that he is no longer pitching for the Cubs, and those same fans that were outraged earlier are most likely thrilled with Travis Wood.