Archive - Jan 2011

Date
Type

Once again my childhood hero's birthday has rolled around and he's turned the calendar on quite a milestone.

Mr. Cub is Eighty Years Old today.

When one's childhood hero hits such a milestone it means that when this Cub fan looks in the mirror, that reflection isn't the young Cubster that used to be, but... well, I still feel like a kid when I think about Ernie Banks unique batting style, fingers wiggling and bat upright. Crack, ball hits bat, fantastic wrist action. Remembering just one more Jack Brickhouse Hey-Hey!  All baseball heros candles fade and real life takes over. But Eighty? That can't be correct.

So Ernie, here's my birthday toast to you: may your birthday cake with 80 candles be as GRAND the impact your Cub greatness had on me.

January 28th

Man, when you see that Augie Ojeda is 36 you know it’s getting late.


Last night my son was megabussing home from college when he e-mailed me the news about Augie inking a minor league deal with the Cubs. A decade ago Augie was our favorite player in Des Moines. Eventually he would hit three homers playing for the Chicagoans. We saw one of them in a game at Wrigley the only other aspect of which I can recall is that the Cubs lost. The rest of the details aren’t important enough to go looking for. Later Augie came back to annoy if not exactly haunt the Cubs when he hit .444 for the Diamondbacks while they were sweeping us out of the 2007 playoffs. Ojeda’s real first name is Octavio. His initials have more potential than he ever did.


Todd Wellemeyer is a yawn. But Augie Ojeda is like magic words that reopen a closed passageway.


His playing days are numbered. Mine are long gone. The kid’s just hitting his stride. Hard to believe we were all part of the same ballclub in 2001. And now we are again.

January 26th

The rush of major league prospect rankings are about to make their way out and MLB/MILB.com and Jonathon Mayo is the first out of the gate. OF Brett Jackson is the only Cub and is listed as the #46 best prospect in all of baseball. Just traded Cub, Chris Archer, finished one spot below Jackson at #47. You can always view past rankings at Wiklifield, where you can discover such things as Starlin Castro being rated #22 last season.  From the video clip on Jackson they had this to say...

"Each tool may not wow you, but he can do a little bit of everything and has the potential to be a 20/20 type player in the future."

In other news, if you care to call it that, the Cubs signed Todd Wellemeyer to an $800K non-guaranteed deal with another $400K in incentives. Hendry must be on a contract quota or something.

Clay Rapada ended up where you'd expect an ex-Cub minor leaguer to end up.

In Bruce Levine's weekly chat, he says the Cubs may add a veteran middle infielder with Orlando Cabrera, Julio Lugo and Chirstian Guzman being named. He calls out the two Jackson's (Brett and Jay) as the most likely call-ups in 2011.

January 24th

Some my own, some inspired by others...something to distract from the Jay Cutler bashing.

January 22nd

I'm planning on a series of articles to update our readers on some of the current concepts in pitcher related injuries and diagnoses that most fans have not heard much about.

We've all had our fill of reading about pitchers with rotator cuff and glenoid labrum tears. There are some interesting trends in sportsmedicine that have lead to changes in exercise programs throughout the majors and minors in an attempt to protect pitchers from a cascade of preventable injuries most fans don't know about.

Diagnoses such as:

GIRD: (Glenohumeral Internal Rotation Deficit...not to be confused with the stomach malady also known as GERD which Cubs fans get from watching too many losses). Pitching (both cocking phase and deceleration phase) leading to a tight or thickened posterior shoulder capsular ligament plus a loose anterior capsule and loss of internal rotation of the shoulder. Extra external rotation of the shoulder develops at the expense of internal rotation.

Scapular Dyskinesia: Shoulder blade weakness with altered kinematics.

Internal Impingement: Thought to be related to posterior shoulder contracture from GIRD with subsequent instability of the shoulder as the humeral head (ball of the shoulder joint) which shifts back/posteriorly and upward/superiorly). This is a different entity from subacromial or rotator cuff impingement which is more common and typically occurs from friction outside the shoulder joint.

...and finally connecting the dots, sorting out how the the injured or weakened shoulder (scapula) leads to severe strain on the elbow and tearing of the Ulnar Collateral Ligament (aka the Tommy John injury).

My attention to this topic started last summer, when  I heard a remarkable interview on XM radio with renown Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. Craig D. Morgan with hosts Jim Memolo and Rob Dibble. The focus of the interview was Stephen Strasburg's shoulder tightness and the subsequent ulnar collateral ligament elbow injury that lead to "Tommy John" reconstruction of that ligament last summer. Dr. Morgan said that he had predicted elbow problems in Strasburg by watching the way he held his shoulder.

More on how the arm bone is connected to the...after the jump.

January 20th

Jonathan Mayo, MLB.com's minor league guy is running a list of top 10 prospects for each position in the minors leading up to his top 50 minor league prospects that will air on Tuesday on the MLB network. It appears he's gone through everything but the pitchers so far and two Cubs can be found - Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters.

January 18th

According to an NFL draft analyst Tony Paulino and confirmed by Jim Callis of Baseball America, the Cubs have signed Matt Szczur. The deal is reportedly for $1.5M (triple their original offer) and he will not participate in the NFL draft of course.

As long as a 40-man roster spot and a no-trade clause don't come with it, sounds like a wise deal.

Tags: 

 

 

The Cubs traded Tom Gorzelanny to the Nationals yesterday for 3 minor leaguers. This will make the road to the rotation a little easier for Carlos Silva. Phew. 

The three prospects the Cubs received were 24-right hander A.J. Morris, right fielder Michael Burgess and lefty Graham Hicks. Baseball America has a write-up on each of them.

To the excerpts...

 

 

Morris

Morris pitched effectively enough as a starter for Potomac, going 3-2, 3.16 with 49 strikeouts in 57 innings, but he came down with a sore arm in June and missed nearly a month. The Nationals shifted him to the bullpen upon his return to Carolina League action in mid-July and Morris showed improved velocity, hitting 95 mph, if lesser results—he notched a 12-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 15 innings to go with a 6.60 ERA.

Burgess

Burgess ranked among Washington's top 10 prospects every year from 2008-10, but he had dropped into the 11-20 tier heading into 2011 after a second straight season in high Class A. He's taken 937 at-bats for Potomac in the past three years, batting just .245 but with above-average power output in the form of 37 homers and an isolated power figure of .182. Stocky and strong, Burgess concentrated on making more contact last season, which he did at the expense of a bit of power.

Hicks

Hicks compiled steady strikeout and walk rates for Hagerstown but proved far too hittable because of poor command. A tall, lean lefty, he sits in the high 80s with his fastball, touching 91 mph, and shows the makings of an average curveball and changeup. If it all comes together for Hicks, he could have a future as No. 5 type starter.

Gorzelanny was out of options and the Cubs clearly felt he could net them the best return while still having plenty left to withstand the demands of a 162 game schedule. No big loss or impact in my opinion. The rotation now stands at Dempster, Zambrano, Garza, Wells and Silva with Cashner and Russell trying to force their ways in with a good spring.

January 15th

January 13th

We've had a bit of a discussion lately about back-up catchers with the trading away of Robinson Chirinos, the signing of Max Ramirez and the head-scratching re-upping of Koyie Hill via the arbitraton process. Reader WISCGRAD put together a spreadsheet of catchers by Baseball Reference's WAR values which does include a defensive component.

January 12th

ESPN's Bruce Levine reports that the Cubs have signed 34-year old free-agent OF Reed Johnson to a minor league contact with an invitation to Spring Training.


The right-handed hitting Johnson played college ball at Cal State - Fullerton, and was a 17th round draft pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1999. He made his big league debut in 2003, and is a career 281/340/408 hitter in MLB. He was released by Toronto at the end of Spring Training 2008 (the Jays wanted to avoid paying him the $3.2M salary he won in arbitration), and he was immediately signed by the Cubs. Johnson played for the Cubs in 2008 and 2009 and did a nice job, hitting 303/358/420 with six HR and 20 doubles in 109 games in 2008 while platooning with Jim Edmonds in CF. and 255/330/412 with four HR and ten doubles in just 65 games in 2009. 


Johnson signed with the Dodgers after leaving the Cubs, and hit 262/291366 with two HR and 11 RBI in 45 games last season.


Johnson has a chronic back problem that his landed him on the DL for extended periods over the past two seasons, but when healthy he is a decent 4th OF. Ryan Dempster had lobbied to bring the popular Johnson back to the Cubs when he was a free-agent post-2009, but the Cubs chose to let him look elsewhere.  


Johnson will battle Fernando Perez, Brad Snyder and James Adduci for a back-up OF job in Spring Training. and while he is signed to a minor league contract, Johnson probably has an opt-out clause in his contract allowing him to demand his release if he does not make the Cubs 2011 Opening Day 25-man roster.


The Cubs have also agreed to an $850K 2011 contract with 31-year old back-up catcher Koyie Hill, avoiding arbitration. The switch-hitting Hill has been with the Cubs since 2007, and has been the team's primary back-up catcher for the past two seasons.  


Hill is a career 215/276/302 hitter in the big leagues, and has hit 211/271/299 in 206 games (642 PA) as a Cub. He has thrown out 28% of opposing base-stealers in his career (but only 18% last season). The veteran backstop has good receiving skills and is a smart and savvy game-caller and handler of pitchers, and that has kept him in a Cub uniform despite a weak bat,


Hill played college ball at Wichita State, and was a member of Team USA in 1999. He played 3B at Wichita State and 2B with Team USA, and then was converted to catcher after getting drafted and signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2000. Once a Dodgers Top 10 Prospect, Hill suffered a broken ankle in a home plate collision after being acquired by the Arizona Diamondbacks in a trade for Steve Finley in 2004, and then he sustained a near career-ending hand injury when he cut off his thumb and two of his fingers of his right hand (throwing hand) with a table saw after the 2007 season. Doctors were able to surgically reattach the thumb and fingers in a way that allowed him to continue his baseball career.  


The Cubs originally signed Hill as a Rule 55 minor league FA after the 2006 season.

January 10th

The Cubs have claimed 26-year old C-1B Max Ramirez off waivers from the Boston Red Sox.

January 8th

With yesterday's trade for Matt Garza, the by-product that caught my eye is the fact that the Cubs seem to have cornered the recent market on Ivy Leaguers. Fernando Perez studied creative writing and received a degree in American Studies at Columbia and now joins the exclusive Cub club of four.

Perez has published in Poetry Magazine.

Perez says he turns to poetry when he's "after displacement, contrast" from the game of baseball. "The thick wilderness," he continues, "of, say, late Ashbery can wrangle with the narrowness of competition."

From his Poetry Magazine article, titled: Para Rumbiar

Like poetry, baseball is a kind of counter culture. The (optional) isolation from the outside world (which I often opt for); the idleness about which—and out of which—so many poems are written or sung: I see this state of mind as a blessing.

...and if you haven't seen the Fernando Perez You Tube video on "The Working Poor" here's the link.

"nobody talks about the Fernando Perez(s), Jason Nix(s), Emilio Bonafacio(s), all these great players, playing for the minimum, that keep these guys (the stars like ARod) afloat."

Growing more Ivy, after the break...

January 7th

UPDATE #2: Make it Archer, Guyer, Lee, Chirinos, Sam Fuld for Garza, Fernando Perez and and a minor league pitcher. Nothing is official yet according to Morosi.

 

UPDATE: Levine says it's Archer, Guyer, Lee, Chirinos, Sam Fuld for Garza, and a minor league outfielder and pitcher. I can't really evaluate the trade till we know the names the Cubs are getting.


Bruce Miles is reporting that the Cubs will send Chris Archer, Brandon Guyer, Hak-Ju Lee and Robinson Chirinos for Matt Garza, with possible other pieces still being involved. I realize as a fan of the Cubs I'm probably a little bias towards their own prospects, but that sounds like as good or better package than what the Royals just got for Zack Greinke.

Now I realize Greinke costs more than Garza at the moment, but in terms of talents, it's not even close. I suppose there's the worries over Greinke's social anxiety issues and whether he would approve a trade to the Cubs, but he seemed to just be interested in trying to win.

On the other hand, they're just prospects and only Archer and maybe Lee have much of a chance of being better than league average players. Folks and myself have freaked out before on trade packages including prospects to eventually discover those prospects end doing nothing. But man, it's quite the stomach punch if they do end up being good.

January 5th


MLB.com's Carrie Muskat reports that the Yankees have claimed RHP Brian Schlitter off waivers. The 25-year old Schlitter was dropped from the Cubs 40-man roster to make room for recently-signed free-agent Kerry Wood.


Schlitter will be reunited with former Cub (and current Yankee) Pitching Coach Larry Rothschild in New York. It's very possible that Rothschild recommended Schlitter to the Yankees, or at least was consulted before the Yankees made the claim.


A Chicagoland native, Schlitter was born in Oak Park, and attended Maine South HS in Park Ridge. He was selected by the Phillies in the 16th round of the 2007 Rule 4 Draft out of the College of Charleston, and was acquired by the Cubs from the Phillies for LHP Scott Eyre in August 2008.


Schlitter was the Iowa Cubs closer the first half of the 2010 season, and went a combined 2-1 with 13 Saves and a 3.15 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, and 21/42 BB/K in 45.2 IP (37 Games) over two AAA tours in 2010. He made his MLB debut this past June, going 0-1 with a 12.38 ERA and 2.88 WHIP with 5/7 BB/K in 8.0 IP (7 Games) with the Cubs. He was placed on the 15-day DL for three weeks in July with a "right shoulder impingement," and was optioned to Iowa on August 5th. He was placed on the Iowa Cubs Disabled List with recurring shoulder soreness on August 25th, and was not recalled when MLB Active Lists expanded in September. He was healthy enough to pitch in winter ball for Los Senadores de San Juan in the Puerto Rico Baseball League last month, however, putting up a 4.15 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in four PRBL games.


The MLB office was closed from December 24th through January 2nd because of the NYC snowstorm (the office ordinarily would have been open Monday through Thursday between the recent Christmas and New Year's holidays), so clubs who would normally have had to make roster moves involving waivers last week were given an extension that ended today. That's why Joe Martinez (Designated for Assignment by the Pirates on 12-22-2010) and Wil Ledezma (DFA'd by the Pirates on 12-23-2010) did not need to be traded or outrighted until today's deadline, and that's why the Cubs were able to wait until this week to make a move to open up a roster slot for Kerry Wood.

Pages

X
  • Sign in with Twitter