Tom Gorzelanny was acquired by the Cubs along with John Grabow in the team's weak attempt to bolster their roster at the 2009 trade deadline. Grabow was the key piece in the deal, posting a 3.24 ERA down the stretch for the fading Cubs, and Gorzelanny struggled in 13 games including seven starts.
Gorzelanny would make 23 starts in 2010, posting a solid 4.09 ERA while notching more wins than Ted Lilly and just one fewer than Randy Wells. You never quite understood how he was doing it, but doing it he was: he won four straight starts in July despite the fact that he never went more than 6.2 innings and issued 15 walks during that span. He was the definition of a fifth starter, though not the Ramon Ortiz/Doug Davis "Maybe we could get by with four starters?" kind of fifth starter; more like the Jason Marquis/Joe Blanton "We're going to win about half the times this guy starts" model.
The Cubs thought they had a glut of starting pitchers heading into this season after adding Matt Garza to a staff that included recent additions such as Gorzelanny and Carlos Silva, so in January they shipped him to the Nationals for three minor leaguers: righty A.J. Morris, lefty Graham Hicks and outfielder Michael Burgess.
Gorzelanny missed some time in June and made 15 starts on the year before being moved to the bullpen. He averaged under six innings per start and has posted a below-average 4.46 ERA as a starter, though he increased his strikeouts and lowered his walk rate from last season. The Nats didn't support him much--he's lost three shutouts--and he's just 2-6 on the year. He has posted a solid 3.12 ERA out of the 'pen.
Here's how the minor leaguers the Cubs obtained are doing:
A.J. Morris: Morris had offseason surgery and has not played this season.
Graham Hicks: At Single-A Peoria, Hicks posted a 4.01 ERA in 14 starts before being demoted to the Arizona Rookie League. He's not a strikeout guy and has never put up big numbers since being drafted in 2008.
Michael Burgess: The key piece of the Gorzelanny trade from the Cubs' standpoint, Burgess has a .224/.322/.411 slash line with Single-A Daytona. He has a good eye and has drawn 55 walks, and he's got pop: 16 HR and 62 RBI. The 22-year-old has come on strong since the All-Star break--he already has more hits in the second half than he had in the first--and is worth keeping an eye on.
With every member of the Cubs' Opening Day rotation having missed time due to injury this season, the Cubs absolutely could have used Gorzelanny and his solid if not spectacular pitching ability in 2011. It seemed like a strange trade when it was made (relying on guys like Silva, Todd Wellemeyer or Braden Looper never felt comfortable) and it came back to bite them. With that said, the Cubs obviously weren't going anywhere this season, and Burgess's development will tell the tale of this trade, but not for a few years.
Current grade on Cubs' trade of Tom Gorzelanny in January 2011: C-