Trade Analysis: Who Is Michael Wuertz?

On Monday, the Oakland A's made a move to improve the depth in their major league bullpen, acquiring reliever Michael Wuertz for minor leaguers Richie Robnett and Justin Sellers. We spoke with's Chicago Cubs' beat reporter, Steve Holley of Inside the, to get his insights into Wuertz and what A's fans should expect from him next season.

OC: I wanted to get some thoughts from you on what kind of pitcher Michael Wuertz is and what you think he might bring to the A's.

II: Michael is a guy that was a sixth, seventh inning pitcher for the most part with the Cubs over the course of his career. He was a guy that really wasn't a big prospect per se when he came up through the system. In fact, he kind of surprised a lot of people when he made the opening day roster in 2004. But he was pretty consistent over the course of the next four or five years in terms of not being a guy that really will blow you away with his stuff.

He has a couple of different looks with his slider. He's got a hard slider and then he's got something that's more of a slower slider. He actually spent some time in the minor leagues last year, even though he didn't really pitch that bad. He had one bad out where he gave up something like four runs over the course of an inning and then I think the next day or the next couple of days, they sent him down to Iowa. They explained later that they'd sent him down to work on his slider and he pitched pretty well there after struggling initially. He came back up in September and had a pretty OK month. He's a guy that I think will again be a sixth- or seventh-inning guy for the A's.

Certainly he's got a durable arm; I don't think he was really injured at all in his time with the Cubs. He gets along well with everyone in the clubhouse and the front office never had a problem with him as far as character goes. He makes friends in the clubhouse easily and I would expect he'll do the same with the A's. I think he's a guy that could be a pretty solid addition to any bullpen right now. I think the A's will be glad they made this trade and they'll look at this as a success if he has the kind of numbers that he had with the Cubs, which were not always great, but often pretty efficient.

OC: Did he actually pitch on any of the postseason teams the last two years?

II: He was on the roster in 2007, but just missed the cut last year. He was one of about three guys whom the Cubs sent to Arizona, sort of on ‘standby' mode to stay sharp in case they were needed. I don't think he did much playoff pitching (in '07). He was a guy that didn't come back up with the team last year until September, but he did pitch with the team from opening day all the way through about the middle of July when they sent him down to work on that slider. When rosters expanded, he came back up. I think he could have pitched in the postseason. He's a guy that you know what you're going to get from him pretty much every time out.

OC: I noticed that he walked like 20 guys in 44 innings. Would you rate his control as being pretty good or average, or below-average?

II: That kind of depends on what you get out of him on a certain day. I think a lot of it is, he's not really going to go after you with a strikeout, so he doesn't have that big meaty strikeout-to-walk ratio in his favor. I think his problem was just inconsistency. It seemed like some days he'd pitch like a guy you might consider to help with a late-inning role and then some days you'd think this was why he's more of a sixth-inning guy that sometimes gets brought in for mop-up duties. I think his big problem was inconsistency, but he's not really a guy that's going to struggle for too long with control. If you look at his numbers, he never walked more than one or two guys in any of his appearances. I think the slider was really what did him in last year when he went down to work on that and he pitched better when they taught him to make some adjustments. He really didn't have time to adjust at the big league level. He was able to do a few things in the minors and the adjustments he made I think paid off for him.

OC: Is he a guy that's primarily best against right-handed hitters or is he someone you can use against righties or lefties?

II: I would say he's pretty much open-ended in that sense; he could go either way. He's not really a right-handed or left-handed specialist. I don't really think he'd be an ideal guy that you'd necessarily remove if a lefty is coming up or insert with a righty coming up. I don't think he's necessarily been considered by Lou as a guy that's really geared one way or the other. I think the odds are about the same.

Steve and Melissa also spoke about what the Cubs received in the deal. To view that conversation, please click here.

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