Revenge of the Voodoo dolls
Although life is grand after a 7-0 homestand that saw sweeps over the severely injured Dodgers (Furcal, AJones, Garciaparra, LaRoche and 3/44) and the severely injured Rockies (Holiday, Hawpe, Tulowitzki and Barmes), I'm sensing strange karma that may be responsible for some weird happenings that are in the news.
To quote Ricardo Montalban, "Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold."
Former Cub, Shawn Estes got his only win so far this season as well as the Padres only win against the Cubs. He was slated to open the upcoming series in San Diego vs the Cubs monday night until he fell going from the clubhouse to the dugout friday in San Francisco, breaking the thumb on his left pitching hand. He will be replaced by Cha Seung Baek a 28 yr old Korean and former Mariner minor leaguer.
So if the Estes news is a bit odd, what do you make of the Mark Prior news?
If you haven't heard, Prior apparently has agreed to have more right shoulder surgery after esteemed Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. James Andrews diagnosed a tear in Prior's anterior shoulder capsule. This time, the surgery will be done in San Diego at the Scripps Clinic (by Hans and Franz...well actually Padres team physicians, Drs. Heinz Hoenecke and Dr. Jan Fronek). The surgery date will be set when he sees his doctors this monday. Prior started having a return of shoulder pain during his ongoing rehab in extended spring training in Arizona around May 10th and had to shut down his rehab followed by an MRI and a trip to Dr. Andrews about 2 weeks ago.
As you recall, Last April 2007, Prior has an anterior capsular tightening by Dr. Andrews although reports I've seen have varied as to the operative details of that surgery. From an AP story on 4/27/07:
According to a team statement, Andrews performed a debridement of Prior's rotator cuff and repaired labral and capsular injuries in the shoulder.
"It stayed in the arthroscopic stage. But I think he had some touch up work in a lot of places," Hendry said. "But at the same time there didn't seem to be anything so significant that it would require more than the scope. It didn't have to be opened up and have extensive surgery."
If Prior does have a tear in the anterior shoulder capsule, it means the tightening procedure he had back in 2007 has had a tissue failure in an area most likely to be near where it was previously tightened. Things like that happen, but what to do about it gets more complex if it's bad tissue and not looseness of the shoulder that's his problem now.
When Hendry and the Cubs cut ties with Prior, it wasn't as if they hadn't tried to re-sign their first round (2nd pick) draft choice of the 2001 amateur draft. Hendry had two options, one was to offer Prior arbitration which would have amounted to another year of rehabbing for $3-plus million salary for 2008. The other option was to negotiate a new deal that would keep Prior as a Cub for two years but at a discount compared to the 2008 arbitration salary possibilities while he was rehabbing from surgery and a club option for 2009 (if his rehab was reasonably successful). Hendry offered a deal that would have given Prior more money than he ultimately signed for in San Diego (which was $1M). The proposed 2009 club option was based on medical advice that pitchers who underwent the type of surgery Prior had often need 2 years to recover fully. The Cubs had been paying Prior $3.1M in 2004, $3.5M in 2005, $3.65M in 2006 and $3.575 M in 2007. Considering he didn't pitch in 2007 and only pitched 43 futile innings in 2006, Hendry must have been thinking that's alot of green to spend for a pitcher that wasn't able to pitch and probably wouldn't be competitively healthy again until 2009.
Prior apparently was advised he would be better off (financially) as an unrestricted free agent for the 2009 season assuming he showed any semblence of his old form as a starter. It would also be easier to recover in laid back San Diego without the Chicago media to unearth every bit of minutia that happened along that road to recovery. After signing with the Padres, he expected a full recovery and even had predictions he'd join the Padres staff by June 1. Oddly, today's announcement came on that date. It was a calculated risk on his agent's part and it has just turned sour.
So now what?
The Cubs have finally and it appears happily moved on. Having the best record in baseball as of June 1st and knowing that they haven't achieved such early success since 1908 will give the media plenty of fodder for the moment. Without Prior, yet getting strong contributions as closer from a so far so good and healthy Kerry Wood makes a Star Wars, Episode VI ending seem possible. Moving on meant giving Kevin Hart jersey #22. The Cubs don't owe Mark Prior a penny for 2008 (or 2009). The Padres just flushed One Million Dollars down the proverbial toilet. Sure that's peanuts to a ballclub, but it couldn't have happened to a nicer club (so says Lee Smith, Leon Durham and Rick Sutcliffe). Mark Prior is moving on to his second shoulder surgery and what HE gets to expect will not be sorted out until they re-explore his shoulder.
He won't even be the Padres concern come October.
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?
It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.
Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.
He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.
Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.
Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.
101 wins...most since 1910 (104).
neat. ...or sad. pick one. pick both. 'murica.
Just looked up Grimm's stats -- after a great run, he gave up 2 runs vs. MIL then didn't pitch for 10 days. Don't remember why?
Sean Rodriguez's helmet looks like it's taking a dump
Grimm not doing himself any favors lately re: making the playoff squad. Seems to have lost the feel for his curveball.
j.grimm is literally worse than hitler.
felix pena, your turn.