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Old Jan 6th 2013, 10:15 am
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SkullKey SkullKey is offline
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" ... On March 27, 2002, the Cubs traded Willis (then a minor leaguer), fellow pitchers Julián Tavárez and José Cueto, and catcher Ryan Jorgensen to the Florida Marlins, in exchange for pitchers Matt Clement and Antonio Alfonseca. The plan was to start him with the Class-AA Carolina Mudcats. The hope was that he would make the leap to AAA, and potentially be available for a spot start in Florida or a back-of-the-bullpen job late in the season. ..."

He surprised everybody (maybe except Florida) by going 14–6 with a 3.30 earned run average in 27 starts in winning R.O.Y. for 2003. Must have had a heck of a Spring Training. Also: " ... Willis showcased his remarkable (for a pitcher) hitting ability by going 3-for-3 with a triple while scoring a run during Game 4 of the 2003 National League Division Series, which the Marlins won 7–6 over the Chicago Cubs. ... " Talk about biting the hand that once fed you. He was terrific in 2003. I wondered now and again how that season might have ended up differently if he had remained a Cub. He was traded mainly for Alfonseca somewhat out of desperation for a closer. Alfonseca was never quite what the Cubs hoped.

Hard to believe it's been 10 years. Remember, fitting the Cubs plan of acquiring players entering their prime years he's still 6 foot4, 225 lbs and only 29 years old (he'll turn 31 on 12 January). Maybe the coaching staff can reduce his WHIP or they can find some role for him - we'll see. Interesting twist.
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