Echos of Long Toss and Towel Drills Past

Rich Harden was all the news yesterday even though there was nothing new going on. Harden was newsworthy because he's starting the spring camp with long toss rather than work off the mound like the other pitchers. He's been on an off-season strengthening program for an achy-breaky shoulder that everyone in Cubs camp is still struggling to label. It's kind of like having a family member with a psychiatric diagnosis in the 1950's. Nobody wants to label the poor fella because of the stigma and gossip. Sun-Times beat reporter Gordon Wittenmyer, in his blog, was irked that once again there was misinformation delivered this off-season regarding what the diagnosis of Harden's shoulder issues are.

Can anybody tell me what the advantage is in omitting those details and being vague about these things? It's not like the Cubs have to protect the information for the purposes of shopping Harden or for any on-the-field competitive reasons (scouts have eyes).

I've covered three other teams in my career, and the ones that were most up front about these kinds of things had the fewest headaches with the way the information got out. And the fans stayed well informed, without the yo-yo effect.

Spring Training Narratives: The Mad-Libs Edition.

I was meaning to write a nice update of spring training storylines like Rob has done in the post below, but I'm too busy reading rejection letters from Universities being chased by spurned Valentines to scour the globe for the informative content that you, the reader deserve.

Then I remembered that it's spring training, and the stories write themselves.

So here are your Mad Libs that need filling in.  The story itself is below the fold.  (No peeking until you've entered your words!)


1. A Cubs Player

2. A number

3. A celebrity

4. A food

5.  A gerund (a verb + ing) 

6.  A noun

7. A Cubs Player

8.  A body part

9.  A medical procedure

10.  A number

11.  A roster position

12. A Cubs Player

13. An adjective

14.  A Cubs Player

15.  An Adjective

16.  A player from another baseball team

17.  A sports reporter

18.  A retired player

19.  An adjective

20.  A roster position

21.  A feature of Wrigley Field

22. +  23.  Two corporations

24.  An occupation

25 + 26.  Two Celebrities

27.  A tragedy

28.  A Cubs Player

29.  A noun.

TCR Friday Notes

- Bruce Miles and the beat writers are back in business with the start of spring training. Miles says Geovany Soto has come to camp in great shape, Z is sporting a 'stache and will not pitch for Venezuela in the WBC. He also says that Z is holding off on laser eye surgery due to an infection and some odd eye geometry on his behalf. There appears to be some video at the Trib of Z and the Cubs in Arizona on the sidebar, but I can't get it to load.

- Fangraphs takes a look at the best outfield arms and comes to the shocking revelation that Alfonso Soriano is good and Juan Pierre is not. 

- An interview with the Phils former GM, Pat Gillick, gives some insight on the Cubs corner outfielder pursuit this winter.

--On whether the Phillies may have overpaid for Ibanez (three years, $31.5 million), given the one-year, $6 million deal that Bobby Abreu
just signed with the Angels: "The Cubs were after [Ibanez] pretty
thick. Lou [Piniella] and he had a good relationship, so I think Lou
was plugging pretty hard for him. I don't think [the Phillies could've
waited]. The Cubs were searching for left-hand hitting. My opinion is I
would prefer Ibanez to Milton Bradley, just from an
injury standpoint. Milton Bradley to me is an American League player, a
DH/part-time outfielder. He's not a day-in, day-out player in the
National League."

I've Just Experienced a Sudden Increase in Affection for Aaron Miles

From Tracy Ringolsby... 

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa began lobbying last fall for the release of second baseman Adam Kennedy, wanting to keep Aaron Miles instead. Now he winds up with neither, the front office letting Miles go back in December, and then this week giving in on Kennedy and his $4 million salary when it became apparent there was no trade market for Kennedy.

Kerry 20K Viewing Party Plus Other Odds and Ends

We've been meaning to do this most of the offseason, but I think we've finally settled on a date. So Sunday, February 22nd at 9PM CST, we're going to gather in Parachat and watch the Kerry Wood 20K game. We know a lot of you own the Chicago Cubs DVD set and that's what most of us will be watching. I believe they showed the game on MLB Network recently, so maybe you Tivo'd it. Considering we normally have people watching from various different feeds during the season, we'll figure out how to sync it up to everyone's satsifaction. If you don't have access to the game and want to partake in the festivities, drop a note in the comments and I think we can work out something.

So come join us and get your Parachat fix on, Transmission will be doing one of his game recaps. I believe it's Oscar night as well, so that should give us some good material as well.

UPDATE: One of our dear readers points out that you can purchase the game from Itunes for about $2.

More fun after the jump...

Garrett Olson Reflects on the Garrett Olson Era

Oriole-turned-Cub-turned-Mariner Garrett Olson talks about what it was like to hear he was Chicago-bound in the deal that sent Felix Pie to the O's.

From the Fresno Bee:

"Going to the Cubs, I had talked to the GM, talked to the pitching coach, a few other guys in the office. You definitely get excited for that. The thing is everybody knows the story about Chicago: haven't won a World Series in 100 years, and playing at Wrigley [Field], that's kind of like an icon in baseball. The opportunity developing in front of you is exciting."

Now Olson is with the Mariners, who have only gone 31 years without winning a World Series.

(Note: seems that we have reached the point in this country where it is physically impossible for someone from outside Chicago to say the word "Cubs" without saying the words "100 years" in the same sentence.)

Cubs Win All Important Simulated 2009 NL Central Crown

Baseball Prospectus updated their team depth chart with new PECOTA information and the Cubs are hands down the class of the simulated National League Central. The Cubs come out with 96 wins and an easy division crown with the Brewers being their closest competition at 83 wins. That's also the best record in the NL and second best in the league behind the 98 imaginary wins that Boston has under their belt.

A Random Walk before Cubs Pitchers and Catchers Report

Some interesting storylines developing this weekend.

Alex Rodriguez, Donald Fehr and Bud Selig are going to have some splainin' to do with Sports Illustrated breaking a blockbuster HERE regarding ARod testing positive for two anabolic steroids in 2003 while with Texas. In fact, it's not just ARod but 104 players in total are on this list, which led to MLB adopting a random testing program for steroids in 2004. More than 5% of players tested were showing positive results in what was hoped to be proof that steroid use was nothing more than a rare situation. When the games biggest stars get pantsed as cheaters, in this case as defined by ARod turning his talents into $25-30 million/year contracts, the steroid era stain just keeps on spreading. Kind of like that pink spot in "The Cat in the Hat Comes Back".

When approached by an SI reporter on Thursday at a gym in Miami, Rodriguez declined to discuss his 2003 test results. "You'll have to talk to the union," said Rodriguez, the Yankees' third baseman since his trade to New York in February 2004. When asked if there was an explanation for his positive test, he said, "I'm not saying anything."

Primobolan, which is also known by the chemical name methenolone, is an injected or orally administered drug that is more expensive than most steroids.  According to a search of FDA records, Primobolan is not an approved prescription drug in the United States, nor was it in 2003.

Rodriguez finished the 2003 season by winning his third straight league home run title (with 47) and the first of his three MVP awards.

Because more than 5% of big leaguers had tested positive in 2003, baseball instituted a mandatory random-testing program, with penalties, in '04.

Truth or Consequences? This is the Katie Couric Interview with ARod after the Mitchell Report was released last year where he flat out denies using PED's. Here are three blunt questions he was asked in that interview:

Q: For the record, have you ever done steroids, Human Growth Hormone or any other PED's?
Q: Have you ever been tempted to use any of those things?
Q: Who do you think has the real HR record, Hank Aaron or Barry Bonds?

Bruce Levine
was on vacation (at the Dunes in Vegas) for his regular ESPN radio
"Talkin' Baseball" show. Jonathan Hood substituted and Len Kasper was
interviewed. Len did say they will have 9 Cub games on TV this spring starting with two from Las Vegas begining March 4th. ESPN-1000's website now has downloadable archives
to Levine's weekly show for those who need a "BRUUCE" fix.

The Waddle and
Silvy show, daytimes (locally in Chicago) on ESPN-1000 radio has a similar site that has archives.
Their show from Feb 4th has an interview with Steve Stone who typically
is critical of the Cubs (this time for trading DeRosa and not signing

In a separate interview (same show) they talk to Todd Hollandsworth who will
now be doing the pre/post game duties for the Cubs on Comcast Sports
Network. Hollandsworth should be a nice addition, replacing Dan Plesac who has moved on to the new MLB network. Hollandsworth had been a weekly feature on David Kaplan's WGN radio Sports Central show, which essentially turned into a test run for him getting the CSN job. Color me a big fan of Plesac's work and the new MLB network which just added Bob Costas to their talent pool this week.

Rock on Len. Roll on Bruce.

Ben Sheets Work Comp Case

Free agent Ben Sheets is hurt and has a torn flexor tendon origin at the elbow. The injury happened last August, he tried to play thru the injury and his last Brewer appearance was 2.1 IP against the Cubs on Sept 27th. Missing the playoffs after 8 seasons as the Brewer ace plus being in a free agent year must have been nearly as painful as his elbow. Yet circumstances of impending free agency may have created some controversy as to who is responsible to pay for treatment of Sheets elbow malady. After all, if Sheets was still under contract with the Brewers and if they thought his injury needed surgery,  wouldn't he have already undergone the surgery that is now proposed for him? The Brewers did offer Sheets arbitration, which he declined and no surgical decision was made as his season ended nor at the time he declined arbitration. This implies that the Brewers medical staff didn't think his elbow needed surgery and would heal with rest. So in looking for a new employer, the Texas Rangers were readying a 2 year deal when Sheets physical exam (functionally a second opinion) set off alarms.

From the above article:

Talks between the Rangers and Sheets reached an impasse within the past several days, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions. The two sides were close to agreement on a two-year deal, according to a major-league source, but they already had concerns regarding the right-handers' checkered health history. It is believed that the physical examination revealed the tear and caused the Rangers to scotch the deal.

The surgery, to repair Sheets' partially torn flexor tendon, is expected to be performed by noted orthopedist Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala. Sheets' agent, Casey Close, could not be reached for comment, but sources say that he maintains Milwaukee should pay for the surgery since the injury stems from his time with the Brewers. While that dispute is resolved, Sheets now hopes to have the surgery next week, sources say.

Brewers assistant GM, Gord Ash in an article added:

We're working our way through all of the details and we don't know the answer yet," Ash said. "Major League Baseball has regulations related to workers' comp and there are procedures and protocols that have to be respected. We're working our way through those so I can't give you much insight other than that.

I always wondered if pro baseball players who get injured are covered under workman's compensation? 


Recent comments

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  • Except that he gave up Russell and McKinney for a half-season of Hammel...

  • Beane cam at least point and laugh at Hammel.

  • The genius Angelo traded Olsen at Martzs request

  • Maybe Theo will sign Shark just so he can call Billy Beane and say: "Let's see...Russell? Check. McKinney? Check. Hammel? Check. Ninja? Check. Any other deals?"

  • To be fair to Emery and Trestman the foreshadowing of last year started happening well before them with the failure or mismanaging of multiple draft classes forcing the team to overspend in a free agency market that is even worse than baseball. Kyle Long seems like a good pick but they traded away another good one in Olson because of Martz's stupidity and inability to change his offense to fit the team talent.

  • HAGSAG: I think Domonic Brown does fit the criteria of a reclamation project, but unless he is willing to accept a minor league contract with an NRI to Spring Training, I don't think the Cubs would be interested given where the Cubs are right now. A couple of years ago? Yes. But probably not now.

    Brown would be better-off going to a club that is rebuilding and re-establish his value there, like Chris Coghlan did with the Cubs. And if he can re-establish his value, he could get traded to a contender at the trade deadline and take it from there.  

  • "they just fade away"

    (Except in the cases of no-fade lefties like Moyer, Orosco and Rich Hill.)

  • Amazing to me how quickly it fell apart under Trestman. Year 1, they were a Chris Conte brain fart away from making the playoffs. Year 2 -- coach, staff and GM all fired.

  • I am sure Jonathon Mota will be signed next.

  • AZ Phil, what is your thoughts on Domonic Brown as a reclamation project?

  • He also played LF in deference to Curtis Granderson.

    Meh... other moves to make...hope to see a move or two soon.

  • I haven't seen much Bears football this year - difficult to watch the games out here, but the game I saw the week before I was watching in shock as I saw them actually make tackles. And Cutler has looked really good, too.

    I guess people can quibble about play calling, but the team I saw is way more than 50% better coached (my only very minor disagreement with your comment).

    Under Trestman, the team didn't do anything right. This team played like a well coached team when I saw them play the Rams.

  • "What is sometimes overlooked about Vogelbach because of his "bad body" and because he has struggled so much defensively is that he is a hard worker, has a great attitude, loves to play the game, and is very well-liked by his teammates, and while that may not seem important, teams do actually value stuff like that. "

    As well they should. Replace a word here and there and you are describing any worker someone would hire.

  • Hak-Ju Lee signs a minor league contract with SF Giants.

    Some closure on the 6 degrees of Separation for Matt Garza/Chris Archer

  • Hahahahaha

  • -0.3 WAR in 7.1ip last year...

    -3 WAR projected over the course of a season.

    the cubs just added an all-star reliever's worth of work by losing b.schlitter.