From a purely impersonal point of view, I agree with you. But in the real world, guys who have been with the club most of the year and have made some contributions aren’t going to be completely cut off. They’ll get tossed a bone here and there.
And yes, I realize that one can debate whether Smith or Wilkerson “made some contributions.”
It was intended as a wisecrack. The mores of 1976 weren’t the same as today. Believe me, Weaver said a lot worse.
As to Cuellar, I understand Weaver made the remark after Cuellar complained about not getting enough starts in 1976, a year in which he went 4-13 with a 4.96 ERA (66 ERA+). To me it was just Weaver’s colorful way of saying that he felt he’d given Cuellar plenty of chances that year. Not a comment on Cuellar’s overall performance during his career. And my point in quoting Weaver was that Cuellar got a lot more chances that year than a pitcher without his track record would have gotten. Even Earl Weaver believed that a guy who had earned it over a long period of time deserved some rope. Buck was far from alone in that regard.
I haven't done the full 40-man eval but I'd protect him over the other guys you listed. Would the plus curve and the slider that is more slurrvy, I think he's got a pretty good chance of being a solid bullpen arm. From July to the end of the year batters slashed .147/.284/.206/.490 off him with a 0.47 ERA over 19.1 IP with 22 Ks and 11 BBs. Agreed the fastball command needs to tighten up a bit but at 93-95, it has enough on it to keep guys honest even when he not commanding as well.