Archive - Jan 2007

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TCR's guest correspondent Joseph Hecht, M.D. is back with a look at the wild and wacky side of baseball injuries. ---- Now that Mark Prior may be the only player in the arbitration process to receive a slight pay cut, he should be embarrassed but definitely motivated to make more money from here on out. No more excuses as to some wacky injury this year, correct? After all, he’s covered every possible thing that can go wrong, right? (Image courtesty of Jeff Roberson/AP) To paraphrase Johnny Carson’s line to Ed McMahon, “Wrong, oh traumatized Cub one”. Take a look at a few of the baseball injuries he’s yet to suffer. Our pitching prodigy is explicitly forbidden to see this stuff (just in case his ailments are psychosomatic). I “stumbled” onto the True Baseball Injuries website that has some beauties. Lets start by preventing him from talking to ‘70’s Cub outfielder Jose Cardenal at the next Cub convention. As a kid, Jose Cardenal must have had some great excuses to get out of school. He wouldn’t dare come up with a lame excuse like, my dog at my homework. He missed a game in 1972 because he was kept up all night by chirping crickets outside his hotel room. Two years later he missed a game because he couldn’t blink, reporting that his eyes were stuck, “open”.

Next I “bumped” into a website called The Baseball Injury Hall of Fame. Their list includes over 30 of the weirdest injuries that have happened to baseball players and of course our Cubs and their maladies have been able-bodied in their representation.

Some of these injury reports are the party line as to what happened. If the truth came out, some of these players just might have violated something in their contract or even worse been the laughing stock of the clubhouse and the whole baseball world. I’m sure they were the latter from those in the know.

Here are few of my favorites, but I’d love to see more from our readers:

Mark Prior and the Cubs have agreed on a one year deal, terms have yet to be disclosed. I imagine they'll just agree in the middle and Prior will get the same that he did last year which was $3.65 million. The Cubs should demand from Prior a public apology for even thinking he deserved a raise, but the MLBPA would probably shoot it down. Hendry will have to close a substantial gap between Zambrano and the Cubs numbers($15.5m to $11.025m) to keep the Cubs streak of avoiding arbitration alive (14 years running since Grace in 1993). UPDATE: The Cubs played hard-ass and got Prior to agree to $3.575 million, but he can earn an additional $150,000 if he makes 27 starts and another $150,000 if he makes it up to 30 starts, which if I add it up correctly means he could make $3.875 million next year which is exactly what he asked for when the two sides exchanged arbitration numbers. Isn't that cute?

January 30th

Beyond my normal day job, I'm working on a bunch of other stuff for the site from articles to some permanent features to new contributors and so forth, so you'll have to bear with a few slow days until spring training starts. In the meantime, Scout.com released the Top 100 prospects for the 2007 MLB draft and with us picking third (and 31st I believe), I'd imagine that would interest us all. Any of the first four picks sure sound interesting : David Price (LHP): ...electrifying, 6-foot-6 lefty who not only has the projectability and explosive stuff, but the college polish to go along with it. Andrew Brackman (RHP): ...the towering 7-foot righty... (What else do you need to know?) Matt Wieters (C): He has thunder in his bat and has an outstanding arm behind the plate that scouts are already raving about. He's one of the best hitting prospects to come along in recent years. Rick Porcello (RHP): ....armed with a 96 mph fastball and a hard curveball, and his 6-foot-5 frame gives him a huge amount of upside. For an added bonus, three of the four (excluding Porcello) are in college right now so the road to the majors should be a little shorter.

January 29th

No, this isn't a betting column although I've never been able to figure out what the gambling lines on a baseball game mean. I had this wonderful post all ready to go running down the various prospect lists that have been circulated over the last few months. We're talking pictures, animated charts, flash demos, in-depth interviews, a whole streaming webcast with Tim Wilkens and Oneri Fleita set-up so they could answer your questions live and then Baseball America moved back the release date of their top 10 Cubs prospects for a week. (And much like a Cubs injury report, about half of that last sentence is true). So instead, I'm wondering if you guys could help me out with a problem that's got me baffled? A certain website asked me to do a write-up on our beloved Chicago Cubs (hint: I recently reviewed one of their books). So I'm supposed to provide a name for the most overrated Cub and the most underrated Cub and I just can't pin it down. The most underrated Cub seems easy enough, find a guy that flies under the media radar or is overshadowed by a bigger name, but quietly gets the job done. But do I go with an unproven no-name like Ryan Theriot with less than 150 major league at-bats or someone with a little more seasoning whom the spotlight passes over such as Bob Howry who quietly got it done quite consistently last year with little fanfare. The overrated player really has me racking me brain. First, how can anyone on a 66 win team be overrated? Second, it seems like such a slap in the face to the unfortunate player tagged with the label. For example, that certain team that's going to be playing in the Super Bowl this upcoming week has a middle linebacker who seems to find his way on the most overrated list every once in awhile. And everytime he's on one of those lists, I immediately think to myself, "What the hell? Urlacher doesn't suck, you people are morons." Of course, that's the problem I'm having, you see someone on an overrated list and you start equating that with a "These players suck" list, rather than it's intended meaning which is that they're just not as good as the hype machine has made them. (But just to be clear, those people are morons, Urlacher is worth the hype.) So there you go, who are the most underrated and overrated Cubs players? Now hopefully they're different players, although I bet you I could make a pretty convincing case for Carlos Zambrano on both accounts. And give me some reasoning behind the choices because I'm going to have to justify them somehow.

January 26th

The Arizona Republic is reporting that late yesterday or early today, someone broke in to Bob Brenly's home to steal the emmy he won for his work with Len last year. This demands a serious investigation. First of all, how did Bob Brenly win an Emmy? Ok, maybe it would be better to start with an easier problem: Who stole Bob's Emmy?

I actually wasn't going to do one today, but after spending all morning working on something for the site, I felt the need to unveil it upon you all. But first... - Dayn Perry HATES the Cubs. The article ranges from the absurd to the obvious. My favorite gem:
(Derrek) Lee must stay healthy. While it's not likely he'll ever again be as dominant as he was in 2005, he is capable of returning to his typical "very good but not great" self. Provided he avoids injury.
While certainly there's truth behind the statement, who's really worried about him getting injured? A bad luck broken bone last year and we're walking on eggshells with him all of sudden? Didn't Sammy Sosa get hit by a pitch in 1996 that prematurely ended his season? Was everyone freaking out that he'll never be able to play a full season again?

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January 25th

Butterball Rusch's days as a Cub are over, the team has released him to make room on the 40-man roster to fit in Cliff Floyd and Jeff Samardzija. There were no statements from Rusch or the team as of yet, so I'll just make some up.
"Did you see him pitch last year? My apologies to Cubs fans everywhere." (Jim Hendry) "I've fooled 4 different teams over 9 years, convincing them that I could pitch in the majors. So yes, I consider my career a success." (Glendon Rusch)
All kidding aside, best wishes on recovering from the blood clot that ended your season Glendon and I hope you continue your career with the St. Louis Cardinals one day. The fact that I defended Glendon on far too many occasions (conveniently I can't link to any of them right now as our archives are in Internet limbo) makes this move even better in my book, since he won't be around anymore to make me look bad, which I can do all by myself anway. AZ PHIL: Rusch is owed $3.25M for 2007, and the Cubs are on the hook for the entire bag of coins unless some other MLB GM chooses to sign him for the MLB minimum, in which case the Cubs will only owe Rusch $2.87M. My guess is that Rusch will sit-out the 2007 season and make sure the blood-thinner medication is working, and then maybe mount a comeback in 2008. After signing Jeff Samardzija and Cliff Floyd and adding them to the 40-man roster, the Cubs will still need to remove one more player from the 40-man roster. My guess is that player will probably be Buck Coats.

January 24th

TCR is happy to announce the addition of Joseph Hecht, M.D. as a guest contributor to the site. You may recall his detailed insights in the comments as "Cubster" on the various medical woes that our team has suffered throughout the years. He's a board certified orthopedic surgeon with over 20 years of experience, currently running a private practice just outside of Chicago, in Munster, Indiana. He'll be providing us with insight on the various ailments that will undoubtedly befall the boys in blue as the season progresses. --- Cliff Floyd, the most recent Cub addition will immediately fit in with the Cub tradition as he’s been a walking wounded athlete much of his career. His current malady for which he had surgery last October is Achilles Tendonitis. Recent Cubs surviving this Epic Malady include the “Marks” Grudzielanek and Prior, although neither of those athletes needed surgery for the condition. From Greek Mythology and Homer’s Iliad come the origin of the concept that the Achilles tendon is the weak spot of many a legendary hero. Thetis (Achilles Mother) held the young Achilles by the heel and dipped him in the river Styx; everything the sacred waters touched became invulnerable, but the heel remained dry and therefore vulnerable. I don’t believe Cliff Floyd’s mom’s first name is Thetis although she might have listened to a song or two from the band Styx. But seriously folks, this stuff hurts…

UPDATE: Here are the contract details, Floyd gets one year, guaranteed at $3 million. He has a vesting option that kicks in at either 425 plate appearances or 100 games started for 2008, and if it does vest, it becomes a player option and Floyd can opt-out and become a free agent once again. If it does not vest, the Cubs hold the 2008 option. He can make up to $7.5 million this year by reaching all of his games-played, plate-appearance and roster incentive levels. If he has 550 PA's in each of the next two season, he can make up to $17.5 million. If he gets to only 500 PA's in each of the next two years, he'll make up to $15.5 million. And now we know why this deal took so long to complete. ----- As AZ Phil pointed out, the Floyd deal is finally done. As I've mentioned in previous comments, I'm not completing against this deal despite it likely taking at-bats away from Matt Murton. Floyd can most definitely hit the righties (281/368/496 career) and that's likely all he'll be asked to do. It's certainly better than trotting out Todd Hollandsworth off your bench or as a starter, that's for sure. There is no doubt though that he's in a slow and steady decline though. Here are his charts (courtesy of Fangraphs.com) for his ISO and RC/27:

After what only seems likes months or perhaps years, the Chicago Tribune and numerous other Chicago media are reporting that the Cubs have (finally, at long last) signed FA OF Cliff Floyd. Terms are being reported as $3M for 2007 plus some type of mutual option for 2008. Although Floyd was rated an MLB Type "A" free-agent, the Cubs will not lose a pick in next June's Rule 4 Draft because the Mets declined to offer arbitration to Floyd.

January 23rd

In addition to signing Jeff Samardzija to a major league contract last week and INF Tomas Perez to a minor league contract (with an NRI to ST) the week before, and while waiting for Cliff Floyd to decide what he wants to do, the Cubs have signed several additional FAs to minor league contracts recently:

January 22nd

I received a 2007 Cubs desk calendar that every once in awhile comes up with a good trivia question. If there's one that stumps me that I need to go search for the answer on google(well actually I just have to look at the bottom of the calendar), I may post them on the slow days. So try and answer without a web search:
"Who was the first member of the Cubs to hit an All-Star Game home run?"
If you're the first to answer correctly, you'll win eternal fame and glory without having to give up your soul.

The AP is even picking up on the story now and says that Cliff Floyd deal is going to happen any time now. It looks to be a one year deal with the possibility of some type of player option for 2008.

Reader MannyTrillo was kind enough to give us his take on the happenings at Cubs Convention. 

Friday- Opening Ceremonies:

-          Hendry said “I am going to promise two things.  We will be good and we will stay good.”

-          Kerry Wood looked great. Definitely lost some weight.

-          The video highlight from the previous year was pretty weak, but not surprising coming off a 96-loss season.

-          Loudest cheer was for Barrett’s punch to AJ.

-          Biggest boos were for George Bush, Larry Rothschild and Dusty Baker.

-          Video was mostly about offseason stuff and quotes about offseason or next year.

 

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