Scott Baker

Rock Shoulders homered, singled and walked, and Garrett Schlecht ripped a two-out two-run double and walked, in a Minor League Camp intra-squad game played this morning at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa.


Because the Cubs had a day off from their MLB Cactus League schedule, Carlos Villanueva and Scott Baker traveled a half-mile down Center Street to Fitch Park and were the starting pitchers in the game. Villanueva threw three shutout innings (46 pitches - 29 strikes) and struck out five, and Baker allowed one run on four hits (the Shoulders HR the only run) in his three innings of work (36 pitches - 25 strikes).


Baker threw strikes but didn't fool the kids, however this was just his first actual game action (not including "sim" games) since having Tommy John Surgery on his elbow last April.   


Barret Loux (who is technically still on the Cubs MLB Spring Training roster) made the trip to Fitch with Villanueva and Baker and threw a couple of innings, although he was not effective, allowing three runs on five hits and a HBP in 2.0 IP.


Rob Whitenack (optioned to AA Tennessee yesterday) had control issues in his two innings of work (31 pitches - only 14 strikes, with three walks). He also allowed two hits and commited a throwing error on a pick-off attempt.


William Hill (2012 NDFA - Chicago State) and Bobby Buckner (2012 NDFA Texas A&M - Corpus Cristi) played in the game. Hill is the grandson of Cub great Billy Williams, and Buckner is the son of ex-Cub (and current Boise Hitting Coach) Bill Buckner.


Here is the unofficial box score:


What happens when the Doctor Says "Oops?"

You become a Cub.

Lookie here. The Cubs get an early holiday present under their tree in 31 year old starting pitcher Scott Baker. In typical Cub fashion, the wrapping paper is a bit discheveled and the bow on the gift is a little off kilter. Scott Baker toiled on the mound for the Twins from 2005-2011 including his best year in 2009 with 33 starts, 200 IP, a 15-9 record and a WHIP of 1.190. He had Tommy John/Ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstructive surgery on his elbow last April, missing the entire 2012 season. Fitting Jedstein's Modus Operandi, it's a one year deal at $5.5M with $1.5M in incentives. According to XM Radio's Jim Bowden, the Cubs have made an offer to lefty Francisco Liriano, so maybe they are just going after ex-Twins. Matt Garza should soon be tweeting: "Collect em all."

Baker was supposed to have the (quicker to recover) flexor-pronator muscle attachment repaired in his right pitching elbow (compared to Tommy John ligament reconstruction) , but there was a change of plans decided intraoperatively...

The Cubs have signed RHP Scott Baker for $5.5M, plus $1.5M in incentives. He became a free agent after the Twins declined his $9.5M option for 2013.

The Good: Baker will be playing his age 31 season and has a career 63-48 record and 3.44 K/BB ratio. His career rates are: 7.2 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 1.2 HR/9. He only costs $5.5M in guaranteed money which is pretty cheap for a starter that threw 170-200 innings in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

The Bad: Baker is coming off "surprise" Tommy John surgery last April. He also missed time in 2011. His ERA+ for his career is just 102.

The Judgement: While most pitchers are back on the mound a year later or less after Tommy John surgery, it's my personal and casual observation that it takes a good 2-3 months after that for the pitcher to regain their full control and consistency. We may see some flashes of his old self, but I don't know if we'll see it start after start at the beginning of the season. And if they are attempting another Paul Maholm signing to try and flip him at the deadline, a good first half is a key part of that successful equation. Also, he's pretty damn mediocre before the injury (ERA+ starting from 2007: 101, 122, 100, 91, 129). It's not a lot of money, but this seems more like pitching depth than any type of solid foundation. Regardless of the Cubs likelihood to not be very competitive in 2013, I don't think it's wise to make unwise decisions. Sure the risk is moderate, but it's hard to see where the upside is any greater in this case. And while the Cubs new regime may have their moments of brilliance, they've also misfired on their evaluations as well (points and laughs at picture of Chris Volstad).  So ultimately it's a big old shrug of the shoulders on this one for me.

 

 

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