By Jim Callis
July 30, 2001
The Cubs continue to hold their ground atop the National League Central, and they continue to make trades. Following deals for Fred McGriff and Michael Tucker in the previous 10 days, Chicago decided on Monday to add some pitching. The Cubs picked up David Weathers and minor league righthander Roberto Miniel from the Brewers for two minor leaguers, righthander Ruben Quevedo and outfielder Pete Zoccolillo.
Milwaukee had attempted to sign Weathers, a pending free agent, to a long-term contract. Both sides agreed on a three-year deal worth about $7.5 million, but talks broke down over his desire for a limited no-trade clause. The 31-year-old righthander has been strong over the last two seasons with the Brewers, going 3-5, 3.07 in 69 appearances a year ago and 3-4, 2.03 in 52 games (tied for fourth-most in the majors) in 2001. He has improved noticeably against lefthanded hitters during that time, holding them to a .216 average and four homers in 167 at-bats. He’s a sinker-slider pitcher who maxes out at about 90 mph.
Miniel, 21, was rated the 15th-best prospect in Milwaukee’s downtrodden system in Baseball America’s 2001 Prospect Handbook. Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 1996 by noted international scout Epy Guerrero, Miniel has size (6-foot-4, 160 pounds) and a 91-92 mph fastball. He has done well this year in his first extended shot at full-season ball, going 4-6, 4.08 with a 117-27 strikeout-walk ratio in 104 innings at low Class A Beloit.
Quevedo, 22, was signed out of Venezuela by the Braves in 1995 and traded to Chicago in a 1999 deadline deal for Jose Hernandez and Terry Mulholland. He bombed in his first shot at the majors last year, going 3-10, 7.47 with 21 homers allowed in 88 innings. Quevedo has rebounded nicely in 2001 at Triple-A Iowa, going 9-5, 2.99 with a Pacific Coast League-best 150 strikeouts in 142 innings. He can reach the low 90s with his fastball and generally pitches well when he keeps the ball down in the strike zone. Quevedo was the Cubs’ best option if they needed another starter this year, and the Brewers immediately will insert him into their rotation. He’ll start Saturday against Atlanta.
Zoccolillo, 24, is more of an organization player than a prospect. A 23rd-round pick out of Rutgers in 1999, he was batting .264-2-35 in 96 games at high Class A Daytona. The Brewers sent him down a level, assigning him to Beloit.
Both teams gambled somewhat on this trade. Quevedo isn’t in the same class as Cubs pitching prospects Juan Cruz, Carlos Zambrano and Ben Christensen, but Chicago may rue his departure if their rotation springs a leak. And while Quevedo can provide some immediate help to the Brewers, Milwaukee gave up a legitimate pitching prospect in Miniel, albeit one who’s not very close to the majors. It will be interesting to see how this deal plays out over the next few years.