Just as the deadline was passing, I decided to log on to Twitter to see if I missed anything; after a few seconds of scrolling, all I could think was, "holy s#!t!"
Big names and contracts were being swapped with all of the discretion of a used car auction lot - Beltran, Bruce, Lucroy, Liriano, Miller, Niese, Nova, etc. etc. etc. Add that in with all the deals that had gone down in the days leading up to the madness and it felt like players were bouncing around like a dumped bucket of super-balls in a concrete basement.
Now, the Cubs made their big deal for a shutdown closer with Chapman (still mehhh) a few days prior, as well as securing a reliable lefty in Mike Montgomery. Still, rumors persisted that Theo, Jed and crew were still in the market for any sort of upgrade they could find for a reasonable price. Young, cost-controlled starting from Tampa (Moore, Odorizzi), bench help from Oakland (Reddick), hell, they allegedly even stuck their nose in on the Lucroy sweepstakes. As the warning bell sounded, did they end up with any more new faces?
Hmmm... Joe Smith... what a generic sounding name. Are we sure that this is a real person?
I'm being told (by Baseball Reference) that yes, Joe Smith is indeed a bonafide Major League reliever. In a trade with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in Orange County, California, United States, North America, Western Hemisphere, Earth, Milky Way Galaxy, the Cubs gave up an A-ball lottery ticket arm in Jesus Castillo to secure the services of the Mr. Boilerplate. So, that's.... something.
After a little bit more digging. I can certainly get behind this move, which was basically made purely for adding a little more depth to the 'pen; you know how volatile they can get in a hurry. The righty is a side-armer and offers a much different look on opposing batters. Joe Maddon loves this kind of "funk" and dramatic changes in arm slot from pitcher to pitcher can really upset a batter's timing. Overall, Joe's numbers are pretty pedestrian, but he also offers a good bit of experience, having been around since 2007 with the Mets.
On the other hand, after three trades involving relievers, the activation of Joe Nathan from the DL and the emergence of the young Carl Edwards, Jr., the 'pen has suddenly become quite crowded. In fact, the team already had to send down the reliable Justin Grimm, solely because he had minor league options, to create roster space. Did we really need another arm?
The answer is no - but, a playoff team like the Cubs can afford this kind of luxury. It's important to keep auditioning arms for spots on the October roster now, when the division lead is fairly large and there's still a good amount of time left in the season. You never know who will implode or emerge. Furthermore, if Smith comes in and stinks up the joint, they can just send him on his merry way; he comes with minimal financial commitment and only cost a fringe-prospect. No biggie.
In summation, Joe Smith is now a Cub become he came cheap, has experience and provides a different look out of the pen. Here's hoping that he can become a nice secret weapon for Joe to pull out when the team faces a tough righty in the late innings or needs a groundball.
No matter how this experiment winds up, Mr. Smith goes to my binder (not Washington). Of the three stray singles I was able to dig out of my trade stacks, I think I'll go with this '07 Topps '52 Rookies card - I'm biased against horizontal cards because they upset my OCD and I've never been a huge fan of designs which entirely obliterate the background. Therefore, the one you see above comes away as the victor, to much applause.
While it would have been nice to secure rotation depth with a return of Rich Hill or shore up the bench with a Brandon Guyer, I'll accept this move as a viable alternative. Apparently, the returns being demanded by selling clubs were a bit too ridiculous for Theo. After all, they'd already dealt four top prospects (one of which was their no. 1) in the Chapman and Montgomery deals.
He may just be an average Joe - however, if the movie Dodgeball has taught us anything, it's that you should never underestimate an Average Joe: