Dr. Joseph Hecht's Archives

Once Upon a Time, When the Cubs were Bought by a Family

The Ricketts Family owns the Cubs. That sentence has a certain lasting ring to it. We've all followed the travails of how the Cubs ownership has transitioned from the now bankrupt Tribune company and was midwived through the gnarly fingers of real estate magnate Sam Zell, finally getting delivered into our proud new Papa's (Tom Ricketts) loving grasp. To celebrate this rite of passage, I decided to learn more about the events that took place over 90 years ago when the last dynastic family came into control of our Chicago National League franchise.

Sherman, set the Wayback Machine to 1916.

Angels & Demons & Wings

I'll leave it up to the media to tell us what's going on with Angel Guzman's shoulder problems.

On second thought, I'd better not.

Once again the media doesn't get it. From Howard Schlossberg's piece in the Daily Herald:

While surgery is a possibility, the Cubs are aware that most major rotator-cuff surgeries, while successful in and of themselves, don't always enable the player to make a comeback.

Thank God it wasn't Bruce Miles writing this (I love Miles work). It does show, once again, a lack of understanding regarding what gets reported.

To quote Dan Aykroyd, "Just the facts, ma'am":

1. The Cubs.com article reports, Angel Guzman's MRI showed a "significant tear in a ligament in his right shoulder" which medically speaking translates into a torn inferior glenohumeral ligament (see diagram, item C). If the glenoid or socket's labrum is also torn, this means the entire front of his shoulder is very loose and may be detached. This is an injury that leads to instability, as in shoulder dislocations or subluxations (partial dislocations). This is what Aramis Ramirez had last season in his glove side shoulder (not his throwing shoulder).

Running a Yellow Light

Will Carroll, BP's staff writer focusing on team health had this very interesting recent quote, from his "Cubs Team Health Report":

Age is a poor predictor of injuries. Younger players get hurt more, but they heal more quickly. Older players get hurt less, a variant of the survivor effect, but heal more slowly.

The media that follows baseball does it's best to understand and decipher sports injuries. It's a tough job for them and much gets lost in translation of medical terminology. Injured athletes often don't understand what they are being told about an injury or they are just afraid to fess up that their ache might be a significant problem until it goes on for weeks or longer. Trainers and medical staff are often reluctant to discuss information on the grounds of patient-physician confidentiality and some teams are just less open to giving what information they have to the media. The information is important to us fans, since key players dealing with even minor injuries and not performing to their best ability can drastically affect how a team plays. In 2009, Alphonso Soriano apparently had a knee injury that he tried to work through until it was so obvious that he couldn't run, leading to his arthroscopic knee surgery in September. An injury that flies under the radar screen of the medical staff, as in Soriano's case was costly and not in a way you can put the usual "days lost" analysis to.

Knee High to the Hall of Fame

"Andre Dawson, the Hawk...no player in baseball history worked harder, suffered more or did it better than Andre Dawson. He's the best I've ever seen. The Hawk, I watched him win an MVP for a last place team in 1987. It was the most unbelievable thing I've ever seen in baseball. He did it the right way, the natural way and he did it in the field and on the bases and in every way. I hope he will stand up here one day."

                          --Ryne Sandberg, in his Hall of Fame Induction Speech

No matter what hat his hall of fame plaque has, Andre Dawson will represent the Cubs honorably into Baseball's Shrine. This is a man who overcame his own obstacles, or more specifically his own knees. We all know that Dawson came to the Cubs in 1987 to flee the hard artificial turf of Montreal Olympic Stadium which was playing havoc with his knees.

Dawson might have never made it to Chicago, where he said he rejuvenated his career, were it not for the encouragement of his wife, Vanessa. Dawson was in so much pain in his fourth big league season because of a “fractured knee” that he told her he didn’t know if he could play any longer. Pain medication was barely getting him through games.

“The third (Darvocet) took the pain away but it came back at night. That’s why I didn’t want to do it anymore,” Dawson said. “And she looked at me and said, `You know you’re hurting now, but just see what the problem is because a year, two years from now you are going to regret walking away.”’

The last 10 years of his career (including 6 with the Cubs) were based in home parks where right field had mother natures own soft grass turf. This prolonged his career well beyond what most of his early teammates could have projected.

In 1985, then-Expos teammate Tim Wallach said of Dawson's perpetual struggles with his knees, "It hurts me as much as it hurts him. Sometimes I wish I could give him my knees. He never moans. He never complains. He has no excuses. Everyone here respects him."

Most watched in awe at the agony he put up with but few knew why Dawson had to methodically prepare for games and baseball seasons. He made it onto the field for 2627 games over 21 seasons.

When the Baseball World Slows to a Halt

Who do you turn to?


It's been really slow in the Cub universe of news. The baseball winter meetings were a horror show as far as this Cub fan could tell.

I'm incredibly news starved when you consider that I took running notes on BL's "Talking Baseball" show on ESPN-1000 radio. This week, his 2 hour baseball gab session with sidekick Jonathan Hood covered three main Cub topics: CF, 2B and the bullpen.

So here's an IV dose of baseball, Bruce Levine "Talking Baseball" style. What follows are my notes and occasional commentary from the Saturday post-Christmas program. After the jump...

Chips Ahoy

According to Sun-Times beat reporter, Gordon Wittenmeyer, with the signing of John Grabow to a 2/7.5 contract (backended as only Jim Hendry can do) and the trading of Aaron Heilman to the Snakes, the Cubs have supposedly made their final bullpen move of the offseason.

The deal appears to secure the final key piece to the Cubs' projected 2010 bullpen, coming one day after the team traded veteran Aaron Heilman to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

I'm pretty happy to see Heilman move out of town but replacing him with Grabow seems kind of blah. It's a Hendry thing to get a grizzled veteran for that 8th inning setup role and since Grabow is able to get lefty and righty hitters out (i.e. not a LOOGY), he's the heir apparent for the crusty veteran out of the bullpen for 2010.

List em. Since Jim Hendry was given the reins to the GM job in 2002, he's added through trade or free agency the following veteran bullpen lugnuts: Antonio Alfonseca, Mike Remlinger, Dave Veres, Mark Guthrie, Alan Benes, Phil Norton, Joe Borowoski, LaTroy Hawkins, Glendon Rusch, Cliff Bartosh, Scott Williamson, Chad Fox (twice), Bob Howry, Scott Eyre, Neal Cotts, Chad Gaudin, Jon Lieber, Luis Vizcaino, Aaron Heilman and lastly Grabow. I'd say for the most part, that's the ugly underbelly of MLB pitching although I know the Cubs are far from being alone in accumulating pitchers like these. Hence, I'm hoping the 2010 Cubs get more out of their young pitching so we don't see Chad Fox (round three?) ever again. Esmalin Caridad, Jeff Stevens and Justin Berg, I'm talking to you. It would be really nice to see productive seasons out of the recent 40 man roster additions including John Gaub, Blake Parker and even longshot/hotshot Raphael Dolis.

Ted Lilly Complains of Knee Pain and Gets His Shoulder Scoped

Ah, another new adventure in Cubbery.

Sorry for missing the day's rampant speculation on Ted Lilly's left pitching shoulder arthroscopy. I was in the OR all day and connecting hip bones to...

So in one hour what can you see during a shoulder scope? Dr. Yokum puts the scope in from the posterior portal, low and behold he sees a caricature of Sean Marshall smiling face on the anterior capsule. He then puts in a Wissinger rod to create an anterior portal and whoa, is that a Tom Gorzellany autograph on his biceps tendon?

As we all remember from a report right here at TCR, the Ted Lilly Chronicles...


Cubs Hitting Coach Jaramillo Gets 3/2.4

Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!

It looks like Jim Hendry accomplished the first splash of the offseason. Rudy Jaramillo is the new Cubs hitting coach. The highly respected Jaramillo has signed a 3 year, $2.42 million deal (according to a David Kaplan tweet and a Bruce Levine/ESPN post) to spin his 5 point hitting magic on Cub hitters both young and old ($800K a year, but we all know you-know-who likes to write back loaded contracts). Bruce Levine reports that Jaramillo will fly to Chicago Wednesday to meet with Cubs officials and after he officially signs his new contract, will attend a mid-afternoon press conference. Jaramillo has spent the last 15 seasons with the Texas Rangers and sports the resume of helping the likes of Mark DeRosa, Michael Young, Lee Stevens and early in their careers, Sammy Sosa and Jeff Bagwell. He won the Baseball America's Major League Coach of the Year in 2005.

The Cubs hope he can fix whatever was broken last year with Alfonso Soriano who still has 5 years left on his contract. Soriano in his 2 years with the Rangers loved working with Jaramillo.   Soriano said, ‘We had very good communication because he speaks Spanish. He’s very good and smart. He works very hard, too.’’

Stubhub gets a 15 Yard Penalty

NFL rules include (at the referee's discretion) flagging a 15 yard penalty for Taunting. MLB umps just give 'em the "yer outta here" thumb. Even Carlos Zambrano occasionally gets into the fun.

I received this e-mail today from Stubhub:

Where do you want to sit?

Hey Joseph,

Be there alongside your Chicago Cubs as they chase baseball immortality. Go to StubHub, where you’ll find a fantastic selection of tickets to every playoff game – so you experience the championship chase live and in person. Check it out. Go to StubHub and get the seats you want today.


Recent comments

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  • You have angered the baseball gods. Now Lester will lose and Hendricks will win.

  • Cubs go home 1-1, with Arrieta starting game 3, I like our chances in this series. Tomorrow's pitching matchup is lousy on paper, so today is obviously crucial.

    Will be fun to watch. My two keys are scoring early, and keeping Lester's pitch count below 15 per inning.

  • Hopefully Der Kaiser won't be doing this until December

  • So, yes, I have been quoting your, "mediocre pitcher" label all year in jest - good or bad.

    He has been pretty filthy against the Cards, and this is the game they need to "steal".

    I am hoping against hope that Pedro Strop only sees the mound if the Cubs are up 8 in a game.

  • I've been pretty harsh with Lester here at various times but that's how it is when you pull in that kind of money, and besides, it's not like he reads my posts or would care what I have to say if he did read them for some reason. If I was him, the first thing out of my mouth would be, what level have you played this game at, pal?

    Anyway, he's really looked good lately, and overall his body of work turned out pretty good, too. I'm glad his worst struggles were in April. This is such an easy team to like that I even like the overpaid free agent.

  • Gordo's lede today:

    ST. LOUIS – Whether it’s a year early or right on time, Jon Lester’s $155 million moment arrives just after 5:45 p.m. Friday.

  • *checks pulse*

    *checks pulse again*


  • Who are you? Andy Rooney?

  • K-DUB: I get a chance to see the other MLB clubs Player Development operations out here and I have talked to scouts and other baseball people about it, and I can tell you that the Cubs Player Development program has gone from being almost a joke to one of THE best. 

  • how did ej martinez go from asking for $10m, to supposedly mulling over $7m offers, to eventually signing for $3m?

    ...and what happened with him and the giants a few days ago?

  • Its not official until AZ Phil adds him to the Cubs Depth Chart!

  • Just freakin love it!

  • From Keith Law:

  • This from a Kiley McDaniel chat a couple weeks ago...

    "Comment From Wrenzie
    Who has more ceiling between Yusniel Diaz or Eddy Julio Martinez?

    Kiley McDaniel: Martinez. I have Eddy (20 years old) as a 65 runner with a 55 arm and 50 raw power that profiles as an everyday CF that could be above average depending on if the bat is a 45 or a 55. I have Yusniel (19) as a 60 runner with a 55 arm and 40 raw power that can be an everyday guy if he hits enough (50 or 55)."

  • "Per Jesse Sanchez at mlb.com, Cubs reportedly have signed 20-year old Cuban OF Eddy Julio Martinez for $3M bonus.
    Arizona Phil 7 hours 23 min ago"