Somehow Jeff Samardzija has more upside than Randy Wells, despite the fact that Wells posted back to back 3 WAR seasons in 2009-2010 before last year's injury rattled season. Wells hit the DL the same day as Andrew Cashner last April, and when he came back in June he clearly wasn't the same pitcher. The Cubs had great need of him though, as they had been piling up outings from sub-replacement level starters like James Russell and Doug Davis. He was missing several MPH off of his pitches and didn't seem to start picking it up again until late in the year. Maybe something is different, I'm not sure, but everything with Wells seems to scream "came back too soon" add in the rep he had for partying too much in 2010 and he's largely been underappreciated and forgotten since the beginning of last season. Even last year, coming off his second solid season (in everything but ERA) there was rumbling of him moving to the pen, though a decent amount of that chatter may have been media driven, and it looks like it will happen this year. At least for a little while.
Sveum announced that Volstad had won the last starter spot yesterday while talking with Jim Bowden, then later backtracked and said the job was still open. Still, the writing is on the wall for Wells. He was brough in mid-inning in yesterday's game, and only went 1 2/3, which also screams bullpen.
Here are his projections:
Over this inning amount (and being used as a starter), Wells would be worth 10.66 RAR, or 1.09 WAR. For the reasons mentioned above there are a lot of reasons to be higher on Wells than this 1 WAR prediction. Certainly more reasons than there are for Jeff Samardzija. He'll probably float around as the long reliever for the first few weeks, though if he ends up stuck in the pen longer term I wouldn't be surprised to see him usurp Kerry Wood's role as the primary setup man.
There was some jumping to conclusions-y chatter on the twitters yesterday about the rotation decision meaning that the Cubs might trade Wells. I'm all for trading anyone on this team that can get something back, but moving Wells right now would be dumping him at his lowest value. If we're talking about developing long-term assets, leave Wells in the rotation, hope that he's closer to the 3 WAR pitcher he was in 2009 and 2010, and trade him for some better prospect and let Samardzija and fallback Rodrigo Lopez take his spot at that point.
Previous pitcher projections