Prior Commitment

Mark Prior gets his final ST start tomorrow, facing the Colorado Rockies at HoHoKam Park. But with Wade Miller's outstanding outing at Scottsdale Stadium last Saturday (5 IP, three hits, no runs, no walks, and four strikeouts), it appears that Miller has all but nailed-down the 5th spot in the Cubs starting rotation. Even if Prior has a great outing tomorrow and Miller falters (implodes) in his last start (probably Thursday), Wade Miller is NOT a candidate for the bullpen. He has made that very clear himself. And although he does have one minor league option left, he also has five years-plus of MLB service time, so he can't be optioned to the minors without his permission. And I doubt VERY much that he would agree to go to AAA, even if the Cubs offered to guarantee some of his $3.75M in 2007 performances bonuses to entice him to do so. In fact, Jim Hendry probably promised Miller when he signed him last November that if he doesn't begin the regular season in the Cubs starting rotation, he will either be traded to a club where he will have a chance to start, or he will be given his release so that he can make his own deal. But I would think Hendry probably wants to retain as many MLB-caliber starting pitchers in the organization as possible going into the regular season, so he would probably prefer to retain both Miller and Prior. At least for a while. The problem is, Prior says he feels fine, which makes it kind of tough to place him on the DL. Of course he could suddenly claim his shoulder hurts, or I guess the Cubs could put him on the DL with some "right shoulder weakness" mumbo-jumbo and send him to Extended Spring Training at Fitch Park for a month or two and then on a 30-day minor league injury rehab assignment in May or June, but so far there is no indication they plan to do that. And what happens if, after Prior completes his minor league rehab, he feels "OK," but he's just not getting good results? Or if there isn't a spot for him in the rotation, is Prior a candidate for the bullpen? As of now, Piniella says he is not. Prior has 4+131 days of MLB ST right now, which means he is 41 days short of the five years of MLB ST he would need to refuse an optional assignment to the minors. He has two minor league options left. He would have to clear Major League Waivers to be optioned, but this time of year, getting a player through Major League Waivers is usually just a formality, because Major League Waivers are revocable, and a club can pull a player back if he gets claimed. And I doubt that any MLB GM would put in a "nuisance claim" (forcing the Cubs to either keep Prior on their Opening Day 25-man roster or place him on the DL), because next time, that GM might want to send one of his guys to the minors. (It's also possible that the Cubs put Prior through Major League Waivers at the very beginning of the current waiver period--which started on February 16th, in which case the waivers remain good through April 30th, when the current waiver period ends and the waivers expire). So the Cubs could (without having to get Prior's OK) very likely option Prior to the minors right now. As long as Prior accrues at least 41 days of MLB service time in 2007, he's still in good shape as far as entering the 2008 season with five years of MLB service time (so the Cubs would not be able to option him to the minors without his permission out of ST next year) and so he could stay on target to be a FA after 2008. Which means Prior could spend most of the 2007 season at Iowa, and as long as he is recalled to the big leagues prior to August 22nd, it won't cost him a chance to be a FA after 2008, and in either case, he will be eligible for salary arbitration (again) after the 2007 season. Prior won't like it (although he gets his $3.575M whether he's pitching in Chicago, Des Moines, or Boise), and I'm sure the Cubs wouldn't be exactly thrilled having to pay a pitcher $3.5M+ to pitch in AAA, but the Cubs probably will consider optioning Prior to AAA to start the season and leaving him there for as long as it takes for him to get the velocity back on his fastball and the bite back on his curve. And if he does get the mojo back at Iowa sometime during the '07 season, then the Cubs can decide where he fits at that time (even if it means working him out of the bullpen). And if he doesn't get it back, the Cubs can either try and trade him after the season, or (more likely) just non-tender him in December.


Go with Miller until he gets hurt, then bring up Prior.

Who give a damn about his pride?

And for Prior next year if he doesn't have a strong consistent finish to 2007 I would be p.o.'ed at the Cubs if they bring him back in 2008.

The way Marquis has been pitching, Prior should set his sites on the #3 spot in the rotation. Which brings up the question, AZ PHIL, what do we do with Marquis if he picks up where he left off last year with St.L and really sucks?

Z shoots one across the Cubs bow-

Chicago Tribune (registration required): "With six days left to reach a contract extension before Opening Day, Carlos Zambrano is discussing the possibility of wearing a New York Mets uniform next year."


some Trib speculation on Prior starting on the DL


Barring a trade, I think your answers are (in order): Angel Guzman, Sean Gallagher, Donnie Veal, and Jeff Samardzija (in early 2008).

Miller is moving up on the depth chart, and may not have much to do with Prior any more. Can Lilly keep up with Miller? I doubt that Marquis can. I suspect that Marquis is the number 5 starter at best, and if his ERA stays over six (as in 2006) he'll be doing long relief until his contract expires.

Not that Marquis was a terrible signing. He was just insurance in case of arm problems and problems with young pitchers (Guzman, Mateo, Marshall, Gallagher) not maturing quickly.

Next time Prior pitches, compare him to Marquis, not Miller.

cubswinthepennant — March 27, 2007 @ 10:46 am
The way Marquis has been pitching, Prior should set his sites on the #3 spot in the rotation. Which brings up the question, AZ PHIL, what do we do with Marquis if he picks up where he left off last year with St.L and really sucks?


CWtP: If Jason Marquis turns out to be as bad for the Cubs as Russ Ortiz (for instance) was for the D-backs, the Cubs will give him more than a few chances to get things turned around, and if that doesn't work, then he gets the "garbageman" job in the bullpen and has to work his way back to the rotation.

If Marquis has an absolute nightmare season in 2007 (or let's say the '06 nightmare just continues), the Cubs will probably try to move Marquis during the off-season and eat a large chunk of his salary, or else take back somebody else's high-priced problem in a trade, hoping to maybe pull-off another Todd Hundley for Eric Karros and Mark Grudzielanek-type deal.

I'm sure there are many GMs in MLB who would LOVE to see Hendry's post-2006 FA "recruiting class" fall flat.

the chances of Marquis having another putrid season are pretty slim, he was hung out to dry to save the bullpen a few times last year and at age 29, I can't see him being washed up. He does need a good defense behind him and let's hope the Cubs oblige.

His GB% the last 3 years starting from 2004 ...
55.5, 52.3, 42.9

Assuming he's back to keeping the ball down which it appears he has been so far in spring, he'll give us exactly what we expect which is a league average ERA and a bunch of innings.

Count me among those who think Prior's now chasing Marquis. Or Rich Hill.

Who would of thought that Wood and Prior will both very likely not be on the Opening Day Roster? SHOCKER I tell ya'!!

And the first opening day since 2004 without Neifi.


I had to change the pic on you AZ Phil, it was just too pixelated. Hope you don't mind....

For future reference, if you're using the horizontal image tag, MVN will blow-up or shrink it to 440 pixels in width, so it's best to find something close to that size.

MANNY: "Who would of thought that Wood and Prior will both very likely not be on the Opening Day Roster? SHOCKER I tell ya’!!"

No. No. He has been annointed the closer here (by some).

Can't you read, man!

Get with the program!

Gee Rob, I thought Az Phil was just making an artistic point about how Prior's future is not in focus.

Will HENDRY pull the trigger on Big Z?

I was not optimistic at all on the A-Ram deal.

Don't know what to make of this one either. Seeing as he potentialy could have signed him to a long-term extension during the season last year, but didn't, could the team afford to not have a #1 for the next couple years?

If I remember correctly he signed Aram right before the game opening day 2004, same type of situation.

The E-Man:
"Will HENDRY pull the trigger on Big Z?"

Honestly I have no doubt in my mind that Hendry will get this deal done at some point. Maybe not before Opening Day, but like Lee and ARam, he will get it done.

Unless Z gets hurt this year, there is just absolutely no excuse not to resign him, since all indications is Z wants to stay and Hendry just spent like over $300 million this offseason, how could he justify not giving Z $100 million or so?

D-Lee was signed early in 2006, I think it actually was a few days in.

Aramis signed in November of 2006. It was first reported no deal was done and he'd hit the open market, but by mid-day (a Sunday I believe), the deal was announced and if I recall correctly it was struck minutes before other teams could start officially start making offers.

But after 2003 Aram was a fa and they signed him opening day correct?

I mean he would be a Fa after 2004.

oh maybe your right, I forgot about his original extension. The details escape me though...but I'm sure your right.
Brownlie got released

Rob G.:
"Brownlie got released"

WOW!!! The Cubs had 4 first round picks that year and NONE of them panned out even remotely.

Luke Hagerty - LHP
Matt Clanton - RHP
Bobby Brownlie - RHP
Chadd Blasko - RHP

What idiot was in charge of that draft??? :)

Miller 5th starter officially...

hagerty/brownlie/blasko were considered coup/steals for the cubs at the time for what its worth.

injuries happen.

that's why they're prospects, not pros.

Rob G. — March 27, 2007 @ 11:49 am

I had to change the pic on you AZ Phil, it was just too pixelated. Hope you don’t mind….

Rob, look at Prior's face on the two pictures side by side.

The new one (Prior: I'm happy)
AZ's original: (Prior: Did you hear that?)

'Miller 5th starter officially… '

OK Manny, canI I get room on the Piniella doesn't know what the fuck he is doing bandwagon?

"The other kid [Miller] has pitched well. In fairness, what do you do?"

What you do, moron, is ...
1. Keep your word and let Prior compete for the job at least through his scheduled start
2. Choose the guy who is most likely to help the Cubs win, not the guy who has the best ERA in Spring Training. We're not talking about Marshall vs Hill and Guzman like we were last year, these are pitchers with a ML track record.

Not that I am saying that Prior should be the guy, but he was effective his last start and scheduled to pitch tomorrow, why not let him pitch tomorrow, then make a decision? What possible harm could there be? What advantage are you possibly hoping to gleen from this decision?

The Real Neal:
"OK Manny, canI I get room on the Piniella doesn’t know what the fuck he is doing bandwagon?"

Hold on a second. Where did I say that? While i am sure there are going to be thing Piniella does that I don't agree with, I am not on any bandwagon knocking him.

Real Neal,

Why is Piniella a moron for seeing that Miller has been consistently better than Prior. Even if Prior throws tomorrow as well as he did last time it is obvious that he is not ready to pitch MLB. Miller has shown he can change speeds effectively making his high 80's fastball look better than it is. He also hits his spots. Prior has not shown that he can change speeds nor can he locate what he does have. He might be able to in a month but it is pretty obvious that he is not ready to start on the 25 man roster right now. If that make Lou a moron then 90% of the posters are morons too.

|Why is Piniella a moron for seeing that Miller has been consistently better than Prior.|

He's a moron for not doing what he says he is going to do. That's pretty much the worst thing a manager can do.

'I am going to make the final cuts before we head to Vegas'
'There's competition for the 5th starter spot'

Technically, he is following his word, but the first implies that he is going to wait until then to settle the final roster, and the second implies that if you're in the starting rotation - well you should be a candidate. If Prior isn't a candidate- why is he starting tomorrow?

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