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They Shoot Horses Don't They?

Apparently Alfonso Soriano's cranky left knee was bothering him enough during his outfield play this past Friday that his plans to get an elective MRI (magnetic resonance image) in a few weeks got moved up to Saturday morning since he wasn't going to start today. In this video interview he says it's been sore for four months but with (approximately) 40 games left why can't he keep playing with the same pain? The pain seems to bother him more when he runs (rather than when he hits) so it's affecting his limited outfield abilities and I expect it's been a factor regarding his on and mostly off offense this season too.

Soriano was in no hurry to get the MRI as recently as this week.  He originally expected to take the time to get it on their next day off, Sept 10th (after returning from the trip to NY and Pitt), but his limp became more noticeable after his game winning 3 run HR on Friday so they moved it up to Monday and when it was clear he couldn't start today they sent him for the test this morning.

Carrie Muskat from reports that the MRI results just showed inflammation and the outfielder will likely get a cortisone shot (based on the manager's postgame comments) and be sidelined a few days. From the horses mouth, in the postgame interview, Lou Piniella said  the team orthopedic specialist (probably Dr. Gryzlo) will look at Soriano on Sunday, and he most likely will get a cortisone shot to alleviate the pain.

I've heard some recent mention that Soriano's knee symptoms started after bumping into the outfield wall in April and (props to Navigator for the link) here is the mlb page from the April 22nd, 3-0 loss to the Reds, that shows some of the possibilities. The most likely is a Joey Votto HR where Soriano doesn't actually hit the wall with his left knee but he does come up limping on the warning track. The other video, which is a Jay Bruce double off the wall has Soriano hit the wall with his knee. Unfortunately, I've watched it repeatedly and it's his right knee that whacks into the wall so maybe he just twisted the left knee on that one. I'll chalk it up as something happened during that Reds series at Wrigley,  and give it an April 22nd date mark.

There are mentions in the press (and TCR) about his sore knee at the end of May/early June but those mentions didn't include a specific injury and were more prompted because Soriano stopped hitting in May. From Tribune writer, Paul Sullivan's Hardball blog on June 2nd:

Soriano has not homered since May 17th. He hit .216 in May with five home runs and 11 RBIs, striking out 32 times in 111 at-bats. Since Aramis Ramirez went down, he's regressed at the plate instead of stepping up.
Will the knee soreness force manager Lou Piniella to sit him?

"He might have a little discomfort with it, but I've talked to the trainer about it, and I've talked to Soriano about it, and it's nothing that precludes him from playing," Piniella said. "I mean, if he was hitting the ball real well, I don't think we'd be having this conversation."
I'm not sure if Soriano had a previous MRI in May/June when we first heard about the sore knee but it does seem odd that it's taken this long to get such a basic test done, if this is his first MRI for a problem lasting months.

Inflammation in the knee (as seen on an MRI) can be localized to a specific part of the knee (i.e. patellar tendon) or it can be generalized as in increased joint fluid (an effusion). By telling us the MRI shows "inflammation",  we're getting (again) a very limited and non-specific amount of information. Still, if Soriano had a meniscus or ACL tear (aka something significant aka "structural") they probably would not have omitted mentioning those as specific findings.

If there was a direct impact to his knee in April, the problem may be something called chondromalacia. This translates as soft, blistered or frayed articular cartilage (arthroscopic image). If he banged his knee against the outfield wall, it probably is by the kneecap (patella) or the femoral condyle (trochlea) opposite the patella. Unless the damage is extensive it's often difficult to see mild chondromalacia on MRI imaging but it is a reasonable speculation as to the source of inflammation if the MRI isn't showing any structural damage, especially with symptoms persisting over 4 months.

At 33 years of age and with several more years on an $18M contract, I'd expect it will be recommended to have the knee looked at arthroscopically in the off-season, even if it's just to make sure they know more precisely what is causing the knee soreness this year. A cortisone shot might get him through the season but repetitively it can adversely affect the joint so it's not like they would be willing to do that time after time without a more precise diagnosis.

We all know the cliche that the season is a marathon. I know director Sydney Pollack should have ordered the MRI before shooting any of the contestants (with cortisone) in his 1969 film:

This is a sad tale of desperate people in desperate times trying to make a few extra bucks during the Great Depression years. Dancing in pairs, they literally risked their health by trying to stay on their feet by dancing longer than every other couple.

Actually, MRI's were just a twinkle in some physicists eye back in 1969. Studies on MRI's done on humans weren't  published until 1977. They didn't become accessible to most patients until the early 1980's.

OK, this was a goofy analogy but Soriano's desire to stay in the lineup at any cost seems to fit. Wasn't Soriano dancing with some Braves fan (Jane Fonda) in that movie? At least back then he could run and hop. Ah, that seems so long ago. Sori, please get your knee well for next season's marathon. When your bat is missing, it's tough on every one of us Cubs fans and I don't want the patented Soriano "hop" morphing into the Soriano wheelie in a wheelchair.


this qualifies as 3/44 but I haven't seen any mention of it here (initially from Aug 8th): The Dodgers wouldn't -- or couldn't -- say exactly what was wrong with Schmidt. Officially, the 36-year-old former All-Star was moved to the 15-day disabled list Friday because of what was called a "shoulder injury." (from the DL report: retroactive to Aug 6th...strained right shoulder),0,… **and as of Aug 27th, old 3/44 has been transferred to the 60 day DL (using an old Hendry roster trick?) ...and the 3 (in 3/44) ends in October anyway. Hence, hello Vincente Padilla.

Is it possible that Soriano is not actually 33 and instead 38? Aren't injuries subject to insurance claims? Any way you slice it the Cubs are better with Fox in the lineup and Soriano on the bench.

My extensive, nay exhaustive, research into the question of when ALFONSO SORIANO suffered the knee injury that has dogged him most of the season reveals that the injury DID NOT occur on April 23rd while chasing a Joey Votto home run as widely reported (or at least widely repeated---here for example-- after Carrie Muskat reported it in May). It was Kosuke Fukudome who was chasing that home run and he quit well before reaching the wall. No, the injury must have occurred in the 8th inning of the previous game April 22nd, a 3-0 Cub loss, when Votto doubled off the basket in left and Soriano clearly jammed his knee into the wall leaping for it. You can watch the play on this page The highlight is titled, "Votto's RBI double doubles the Reds' lead."

I thought Soriano hurt his knee when a professional wrestler broke a chair over it back in the spring. He hasn't been the same player since.

thanks E-Man, correction in place. appologies to Mr. Pollack's family. Wiki link to his career now included. (I'll wear my reading glasses next time I do a writeup) ...I thought Sydney's evil twin brother Stanley gave him a cortisone shot and had to finish up that film.

Thanks Navigator for getting the link to the games where Soriano supposedly injured his knee. I've edited the original writeup to include that info...including appropriate credit and a link to post #3 I agree with The Real Neal that on Votto's double he whacked his right knee pretty hard against the wall but maybe the left knee was injured as he pivoted away from the impact. If you look at the Votto HR though (labeled "Bruce's big blast adds to the Reds lead") as Soriano moves on the warning track, his left knee buckles and he starts limping. No wall contact but something happened to the left knee. I guess the question is if the knee problem really occurred with one event. Probably of small importance at this point though. The Muskat mention at the end of May was in the sequence of beat writer reports that I mentioned although I put the Paul Sullivan one in the article because of the Piniella quote and his including Soriano's May stats. I had forgotten about Cubnut's TCR writeup, so that was also nicely done.

ARam says he won't/doesn't need off-season shoulder surgery: "No, no, no," he said about the possibility of going under the knife. "The shoulder is in place. It's more muscle [soreness] than anything. I have to rest the ligaments and everything [in the off-season]. I should be good after resting in the off-season. "I have to put a lot of work in. I'll do whatever it takes to [avoid surgery]. I've never had surgery. Hopefully I can finish my career without having it." ---…

Waiver updates:… ----------- The Cubs would like one or two top prospects for Harden, but the Twins believe that is too steep a price without having Harden signed long-term. The chances of that happening in the next two days seem unlikely. The Twins, who are expected to give a first major-league start to Jeff Manship on Tuesday against the White Sox, are also in the hunt to add Brad Penny to their shaky rotation. Penny is going through the release waiver process. Part II: Meanwhile, the Cubs apparently continue negotiations with the Giants about a waiver-deadline trade for reliever Aaron Heilman. The Giants had a chance to watch Heilman pitch two scoreless innings Saturday. Heilman is eligible for arbitration after the season and probably would command as much as $3 million if the Cubs keep him.

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In reply to by Ryno

from the twins...the cubs will be lucky to get a guy with duct tape on his arm and a smile on his face. the twins are one of the most disgusting franchises in the game. they NEVER provide the team with mid-season pushes and impact players. they never give up the goods, they never push... it's one thing to not want to give up the franchise for a short-term rental, but the twins rarely mid-season upgrade with a guy like harden. the cubs have at least got a shot at a low-risk 1-year "rental" of harden in 2010 or a high draft pick they'd have to invest in. i dunno if MIN is willing to play the serious negotiation game...they've notoriously not played in the past.

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In reply to by crunch

You guys are missing the point, that if the Twins trade for Harden, not only do they get him, they also get the draft picks if they don't resign him. They're fully aware of that and so is Hendry. I took a look at their system though, and they don't seem to be a good fit for what the Cubs may want - second basemen and dominant reliever or 4ish starter.

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In reply to by The Real Neal

that kinda was my point...i doubt they'll actually give up what it takes because they rarely do. they don't like to pick up anything late-season unless it's cheap. they have to match his value in a lost draft pick, minimum...i don't think they have the balls for that, personally. the market is so thin for SP that harden can probably get a multi-year deal and not many would complain about him on a 1-year rental if that don't work out.

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In reply to by Ryno

This is going to be more stupidity from the front office, isn't it? Not at all. The Cubs would be lucky to get anything for Harden Sure... if two high draft picks are "nothing." It would be foolish for the Cubs to trade Harden unless they get legitimate talent in return. Without trading him they can (almost assuredly will) offer Harden arbitration to assure that either Harden pitches for the Cubs next near or the Cubs get two high draft picks.

Reed Johnson update and Tuesday, Sept 1 roster callups which are playoff dependent and the I-Cubs are only 1.5 games behind Memphis Redbirds. Iowa's regular season ends Sept 7th... ----------… Piniella said he expects seven or eight players to join the team, although some of them could wait until after Triple-A Iowa's playoffs are over. "The people we call up are [players] who have been here before," he said. Most likely to return are position players such as Micah Hoffpaiur, Andres Blanco and Bobby Scales and pitchers David Patton, Justin Berg and Esmailin Caridad. Outfielder Reed Johnson also could return from a broken foot, but probably not until he gets some minor league at-bats. *TCR link to RJ's original injury...

This might be your chance to dump Rothschild... Via Rotoworld Duncan is upset at the perceived handling of his son, Chris Duncan, by both the Cardinals media and front office. Tony LaRussa's right-hand man since 1983 has also lost influence with the front office, no longer being consulted on decisions and not seeing his philosophy mesh with the minor league philosophy. Duncan insists any decision will come in the off-season and be a professional, not personal decision. Color us skeptical. Duncan is possibly the best pitching coach in the game now that Leo Mazzone has retired. He won't have trouble finding a job. It would be a blow to the Cardinals' future as fantasy owners would no longer be able to pick up Cardinal pitchers and see them morph into world-beaters on a regular basis. Now if Duncan wants to bolt, where better to get back at the Cardinals than as the Cubs pitching coach? I think he is dumb to allow any decisions regarding his son to come between himself, the manager and the franchise. In the end its about playing winning baseball and his son while having good power is a negative in every other part of his game.

Hoffpauir has struggled since his demotion, but last night became the all-time I-Cub career leader in RBI's, pushing Joe Hicks even deeper into obscurity...

11 hits in 3 1/3 innings thus far against a AAAA Mets lineup after getting lit up by the Washington Nationals. Listen, you can defend Zambrano all you want but he's not anywhere near the caliber of an "ace" pitcher and is an average #2 at best. His contract is disproportional to his actual performance. Frankly, if there was a team out there foolish enough to claim his overused arm and under excercised body we should let him go. The injuries are only going to compile as he ages and takes worse care of his body and even when he's healthy the performances pale in comparison to pre-extension Zambrano.

Rockies lose...Renteria hit a grand slam for Giants feels like the glass is 1/16 full for you optimists or 15/16 empty for you pessimists.

So is Jay Cutler any good or not? I can't tell because the defense is all up in his face before he has a chance to do anything. The Bears offensive line is ... eh ... offensive.

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In reply to by Ryno

I think the rest of the game answered that, but those first two series with horrible field position can be blamed on Hester not having a clue on whether to catch a punt or not. The first series should have started around the 40, instead Hester let the punt drop and it got an incredibly lucky bounce down towards the 10. The second series Hester fair catches inside the 5.

Iowa Cubs catcher Chris Robinson will be leaving the team to join Team Canada which will be playing in the World Cup in a couple of weeks, so Robinson won't be the 3rd catcher called up to Chicago when rosters expand on Tuesday.

So if the Cubs do call up a 3rd catcher for September (and they may just consider Jake Fox to be the 3rd catcher and leave it at that), it will be either Steve Clevenger or Mark Johnson (the other Iowa catchers, except Johnson has been on the DL for several months with a neck injury), or either Welington Castillo, Robinson Chirinos, or Blake Lalli (the three catchers at Tennessee).

And as Navigator mentioned in an ealier comment, the Cubs have acquired veteran RHP Ezequiel Astacio (ex-Astros) from an Indy club and he will be assigned to Iowa, presumably as a replacement for one of the pitchers likely to get recalled by the Cubs on 9/1 (Jeff Samardzija, Esmailin Caridad, Jeff Stevens, and/or Justin Berg).

Also, I would expect the Cubs to recall Neal Cotts (July 2009 TJS) tomorrow and immediately place him on their MLB 15-day DL (he is presently on the Iowa Cubs DL), giving the Cubs at least two 8/31 roster exemptions for the post-season (should they somehow get there). Chad Fox is the other one, and David Patton would be a potential 3rd post-season roster exemptiion, as long as the Cubs leave him on the 15-day DL (he is presently on a minor league rehab assignment at Iowa).

Submitted by big_lowitzki on Sun, 08/30/2009 - 7:15pm.

It would be foolish for the Cubs to trade Harden unless they get legitimate talent in return. Without trading him they can (almost assuredly will) offer Harden arbitration to assure that either Harden pitches for the Cubs next near or the Cubs get two high draft picks.


BIG LO: It all depends on whether the Cubs and/or the Twins plan on offering salary arbitration to Rich Harden on 12/1. That makes all the difference in the world as far as whether the Cubs should trade him or keep him, and likewise influences whether the Twins should give up two of their top prospects to get him.

The fact that the Cubs placed Harden on Trade Waivers tells me they are leaning toward not offering him arbitration on 12/1 (just like with Kerry Wood last year).

There would be no point in trading Harden now (prior to the 8/31 post-season roster eligibility deadline) unless they think they probably won't offer him arbitration, and with the 2010 payroll projected right now at $135M even if all the Cubs potential free-agents leave (and who knows what Ricketts will do regarding the 2010 payroll), I think that it's fairly likely (as of now) that the Cubs do not plan to re-sign Harden or offer him salary arbitration.

That doesn't mean the Cubs would necessarily trade him, though, because Hendry may think the Cubs are just close enough to the Wild Card leaders where they can still pull it out, as long as Harden, Heilman, Gregg, Grabow, et al remain with the team through to the end of the season, even if none of them are offered 2010 contracts or salary arbitration.

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In reply to by big_lowitzki

Unless Harden gets hurt between now and the end of the season he's going to be the #2 FA pitcher on the market. There's 0 risk in the Cubs (or the Twins) offering him arbitration if they don't want him. He'll most likely be signed by a team that has a protected pick or already coughed up their first round pick for another FA. He'd be a helluva fit for Washington behind their two studs, especially with his pitching that doesn't require so much defense.

Submitted by big_lowitzki on Sun, 08/30/2009 - 8:30pm.

I would be shocked if the Cubs didn't offer Harden arbitration.

And it would be idiotic.


BIG LO: Unless Hendry doesn't know what his 2010 payroll budget will be.

If Ricketts is OK with increasing the payroll to $145M in 2010, then the Cubs can safely offer Harden arbitration post-2009 and not worry about it. (If it were to go to arbitration, I would figure Harden gets about a $10M salary in 2010).

But what if Ricketts wants the payroll held at $140M, or maybe even wants a "modest" 5% cut to around $132M? If it goes down, then offering arbitration to Harden probably can't happen.

It possibly could happen if the payroll budget holds at $140M, because the Cubs could save about $4M by not re-signing Gregg, Grabow, and R. Johnson, and by non-tendering Heilman, Cotts, Fontenot, and Baker on 12/12, getting the payroll down to around $131M. (They could save around another $5M by non-tendering Theriot, Marmol, Gorzelanny, Marshall, Guzman, and K. Hill, but I think those six are probably safe).

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In reply to by The Real Neal

TRN you are dead right. Harden has been the Cubs best pitcher the second half. But just so we have the whole page, Harden's 1st half numbers: 5-6, 5.47 ERA, 1.541 WHIP. Harden's been the best pitcher in the second half, and I'd say keep him an offer arbitration I suppose, but I'd have too many concerns about durability, and the fact that he's been lit up in Wrigley this season, 3-5 and a 5.98 ERA. Interesting decision coming from Hendry on this situation I'd say.

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In reply to by Dusty Baylor

But just so we have the whole page, Harden's 1st half numbers: How is that the whole page? Why do you factor in his first half, yet ignore the fact that it is an outlier to the rest of his career. Harden is one of the best pitchers in baseball, and has been for a few years. He had a rough first half, but that is not more indicative of his ability than the rest of his career.

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In reply to by big_lowitzki

My point was more that Harden's 2nd half numbers tend to indicate he's pitching really well and could win 4 games in September (increasing his value) and that GM's tend to have short memories. If he finishes the second half with a 2.00 ERA and 6 or 7 wins, that's going to boost his FA value more than if his first and second half numbers were transposed. Right now the pitching FA class probably ranks something like: Lackey Harden Marquis Bedard Sheets Washburn Escobar

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In reply to by big_lowitzki

The first half is not the whole page. However, it is not the whole page to show his second half numbers only. I did not say that the first half is the whole page. I gave his first half numbers to go with his second half numbers. 2 halves make a whole. Rich Harden is not one of the best pitchers in baseball. He has very good stuff. He has pitched very well over 8 starts in the second half, and for those 8 starts has been one of the best pitchers in baseball. For a pitcher with his injury history, would you sign him to a long-term deal? He's never won more than 11 games, and has made more than 30 starts once. Isn't a full season considered about 31-33 starts for a pitcher? I'm not saying he should be traded to the Twin s. Offering him arbitration? Sure. Signing him to 4 years, and ..say $50 million? Asking for trouble.

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In reply to by Dusty Baylor

Dusty, Aggree 100%. Harden is a good pitcher, not one of the best. Also, haven't we relied on enough pitchers in the recent years who can't give us 200 IP or 30 starts. This guy has injury written all over him. We don't need another long term contract, with likely NT clause to tie our hands even further for a guy who will likely never be healthy for a full season.

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In reply to by mannytrillo

I think it's probably time to point out that no one here is proposing the Cubs sign him to a four year contract. His career ERA+ of 131 would rank him 8th among active starters, and two of those starters are Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson. "One of the best" depends entirely on where you make your arbitrary cut off, but, again assuming he makes it to the off-season healthy, he's going to be one of the top five pitchers on the market.

If the Twins make a solid offer, which I would consider to be 2 top 30 prospects one from the top and one from the bottom half of the list then I think we should deal him. Yes, if he stays healthy then arbitration is a no brainer as someone will give him atleast Pavano money (circa his NYY contract) and we get the 2 picks in the top 60-70 picks for him, but if he gets hurt then he accepts as 1/10 is likely the best deal he will get. As for Heilman, if he is not Giants property by noon CT or whenever the waiver time on him is up then Hendry is a moron as he is useless. Save the 240k for a signing bonus on a late round draft flier and giving his innings to the kids in Sept to see if any of them can help next year.

So Soto is officially the back up catcher per comcast chicago? I would hope this would be a motivational tactic for Sotos off season.

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In reply to by Craig A.

I second that yes. I was thinking about that today. I really would like to keep Zambrano, but he desperately needs an enforcer (like Hank White and in the past, the late Oscar Acosta), to set him straight. Last year, he showed signs of maturing a little bit. This year, he's completely regressed. We could use a new pitching coach anyway, so I say get Hersheiser, Mazzone, Duncan, or Roberto Espinoza. A grown man shouldn't need this,but we are talking about Soto and Zambrano who apparently need someone to kick their asses to get them to focus. This teams is unlikeable because they appear to be so indifferent. Too many of them are phoning it in this year. Dempster lost his focus and desire to win it all when his daughter became ill. Rightfully so, but it kills a team when a leader of sorts isn't really there much.

For what it's worth, the Cubs have 34 games left this season and they are currently 5.5 back in the Wildcard race. A possible point of optimism is that the Cubs have a much easier schedule going forward that the teams they are chasing. For instance, of the Cubs remaining 34 games, only seven are against teams with a record above .500 (and four of those games are against SF who they are chasing). Colorado has nine games left against teams above .500, San Francisco has 16, Atlanta 13, and Florida 16. Of course, this guarantees nothing, but it is a reason for hope.

It doesn't matter who the Cubs play because their worst enemy is themselves. They lost the slim lead they once had, no one took it from them. Although the Cardinals played great the last month, it only made the Cubs games behind that much more. The Cubs are beating themselves.

#73 This sucks at least if you keep Harden,Hielmann should at least go. Another screwup by Hendry what a awful year he has had.

I'm not sure, I would have gotten something for Harden since it's unlikely they'll offer arbitration. (Though it sounds like many TCR'ers think he should be given arbitration. Maybe I'm confused.)

wow...twins never even requested harden's medical records. they never got close. it was probably just a block. that's so twins...

Maybe this has been mentioned before, and it caught me by surprise today, but Felix Pie has started to hit major-league pitching. On the year he's .272/.335/.457/.791, with 7 homers.

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In reply to by VirginiaPhil

Pie has more than turned it around this August. 63 AB, .333 .394 .651 1.045 And of course he did it playing part time as the fifth outfielder/pinch runner most of the season after losing his starting job with another weak April. Of course Hendry never thought it was possible even though Pie hit .300 .391 .450 .841 for him after being brought up last September:
"At this point in his career, he hasn't been able to shorten his swing, and when you play part time it's hard to make the adjustments," Hendry said. "It's hard to paint a scenario where he's going to take at-bats from Milton Bradley, Reed Johnson or [Kosuke] Fukudome." "Obviously, Felix has a lot of good qualities, and at his age, even if he was the fifth outfielder, it's hard to paint a scenario where he would've gotten enough at-bats to finish off his development," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said Sunday. "Once [Joey] Gathright came, it was going to make it tough."
Joey fucking Gathright....I'd fire Hendry for those quotes alone. But the Orioles showed great patience with Pie and assigned Terry Crowley to work with him on a daily basis. Pie had something interesting to say about that. He said Crowley had to help him UNlearn everything the Cubs had taught him. If you recall, the Cubs sent the now-fired hitting coach Gerald Perry to the Dominican Republic a couple of times to personally coach Felix. They also gave roving hitting instructor Dave Keller a try at the same thing. Apparently all theydid was mess him up.

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In reply to by navigator

It's hard to say they messed him up. What they did not do was give him an opportunity to adjust to big league pitching, which someone with his skill set needs. You can't strike out once in every 5 PA's in the minors and immediately become a successful ML hitter. As I mentioned the other day, the Bradley signing may a lot less sense after Pie was traded for half-a-Hielman.

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In reply to by navigator

It's a serious indictment of the Cubs coaching staff. Curtis Granderson kind of went through this. He struck out a lot, had a terrible, long swing, yet Tigers hitting coaches were able to teach him to hold his bat level with the ground, a trick that took much of the extra motion out of his swing. Clearly that worked for Curtis Granderson. The Cubs minor league system has not turned out a serious hitter in a long long time. Sure Soto or Fox if you want to count them... who else? Carlos Zambrano?

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In reply to by navigator

you should watch the guy swing a bat. i wouldn't be counting on this hot streak if i were you. nor would i be burying the careers of 2 others while promoting others based on some press and assumptions based on a streak. whatever he's unlearned he seems to be doing nearly the exact same thing. he is getting regular play. ...and hendry did sell him too cheap for a kid his age.

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In reply to by crunch

Suddenly Pie is a success? People waited 3 years for Pie to do something... anything to say, "See he is good!" Like crunch said, nothing really has changed with his approach. Pie is one of those players that should have been left alone and mature in the minors. He was 21 years old and being hailed as the new CFer despite having no ability to hit breaking balls. But fans wanted him now, and management listened and he was needlessly rushed to the majors where instead he could have still been sitting in our minors. At worst he sees the majors at age 25 or 26 if his game matures? Would that have been so bad? At age 24 he is still hell of a young player, but i don't see any improvement in him either as a ball player. Which is probably why the Cubs gave up on him.

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In reply to by navigator

I think it was Von Joshua who went to Licey with Pie one winter. Joshua usually had great results with Pie, but not in the DR. I didn't bring up Pie to criticize the Cubs, where he simply ran out of minor-league options and had to be traded. Sooner or later, he was going to improve as a hitter. If anybody, including the Cubs, really wants him, I'm sure he's available. I just hope he doesn't play for the Cardinals for eight seasons.

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In reply to by Dr. aaron b

"Heavy downgrade"--I'm not so sure. Rasmus is two years younger, I'll give you that. Offensively, they are about the same this season, though Rasmus's power numbers look better with twice as many at bats. Defensively? Rasmus has fewer outfield assists in almost twice the innings. I doubt he covers as much ground as Pie, although I haven't watched him play. LaRussa makes his players look good. Chris Duncan looked good when he was a rookie. Aaron Miles looked good in red. Felix Pie might look better than good.

The deadline has passed, and bizarrely Heilman is still a Cub.,-Cubs… Obviously Harden makes sense. It was actually smart for Hendry to put those guys up when he did, creating a second 'deadline' with pressure to get the deal done. Unfortunately the Twins were probably the worst match of the playoff contending teams. I am really puzzled why the Braves, Giants, Rockies, Marlins and Dodgers all passed on Harden. Just the draft pick compensation is worth the salary.

Wrongway Phil Rogers caught making up shit... (from Rotoworld): Joe Crede said Monday that he has "no plans of retiring" and doesn't know how such rumors got started. Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune reported over the weekend that Crede was considering hanging up his cleats after the '09 season due to chronic back issues. "I don't know where they based that off of," the 31-year-old third baseman said Monday. "I know I have more years in me left. I still love the game. ... I have no plans of retiring."

Recent comments

  • Arizona Phil (view)

    Childersb3: I can see right away that Cots did not set-aside the $4.25M in potential performance bonuses for Smyly, Gomes, and Imanaga. 

    While Cots doesn't count potential performance bonuses when determining available AAV, clubs do, because if they don't they could find themselves over the CBT threshold at the end of the year. The only time you might not count 100% of a player's potential performance bonus is if two bonuses would cancel each other out (like if two pitchers have a bonus based on Games Finished and the combined total of GF exceeds the number of games In the season so that there is no way both pitchers could max out their bonuses).

    So I subtract potential performance bonuses from available AAV (just like clubs do), even though the bonuses might not be reached. 

    Otherwise, I have $1.67M for the Pre-arb pool, an estimated $17M set-aside for Player Benefit Costs, "dead money" at $13.25M, the estimate collective aggregate minor league "split" salaries for players on the 40 who are on optional assignment to minors at $2M, pre-arb players on 26-man roster collectively at $6M, and season-long off & on aggregate salaries for players replacing players who are on MLB IL estimated at $5M.

    I'd have to look and see if there is a difference in AAV for contracted MLB players' salaries on my list, but if I remember correctly I have it at somewhere around $187M, because when I added the dead money I remember the total was just slightly over $200M.

  • Childersb3 (view)

    AZ Phil, the Cots Baseball Contracts 2024-28 Cubs Spreadsheet shows the following tax numbers for 2024:
    Contract salaries - 186.372mil
    Buyout dead salaries - 13.250mil
    Pre-Arb Players - 5.215mil
    0-3 yr Bonus Pool - 1.67mil
    Injured List - 5.215mil
    40man Players in MiLB - 2.25mil
    Estimated Player Benefits - 17mil

    Cots has the total CBT amount for the Cubs in 2024 at 230.969mil.
    CBT Threshold is 237mil, so 6mil is space.

    Where is Cot's estimations wrong to allow for this 6mil in space?

  • Arizona Phil (view)

    With the $26.67M AAV hit on Bellinger, the Cubs are almost exactly at the CBT threshold if you add the $5M needed to be set aside to pay salaries for players called up from the minors during the course of the season to replace players on the IL and $4.25M in potential performance bonuses (Smyly, Gomes, and Imanaga). 

    It's almost as if the Cubs went to their (self-imposed) absolute max in 2024 payroll AAV space by signing Bellinger to this contract, because going any higher on the Bellinger AAV would mean taking a risk that the team could potentially go over the CBT threshold.   

    So if the Cubs self-imposed 2024 payroll AAV limit is the CBT threshold ($237M AAV), the Cubs are right there right now, with no payroll AAV space available for additional free agent signings and/or players acquired in trades and/or roster additions at the Trade Deadline. That is, unless the Cubs trade Hendricks ($14.5M AAV) and/or Smyly ($10.25M AAV plus an additional $3M in potential performance bonuses). It would also help if the Cubs could somehow jettison Bote's contract ($3M AAV hit). 

    The Cubs could also pick up as much as $10M in AAV space by trading Almonte, Madrigal, Leiter, Wisdom, Merryweather, and Tauchman (or outrighting them and then hoping they elect free-agency and forfeit their contract and salary). 

  • Childersb3 (view)

    Tax issues? Roster Crunch? Securing bullpen (always an issue, no matter how good it is)? Cooper might be better than Wisdom vs LHers (less pop but better hitter). 

    It might be a small deal. Nothing significant.

  • Bill (view)

    What makes you think that a trade is on it's way?  Other than a minor "free up a 40 man slot" trade.


  • Childersb3 (view)

    Cubs sign Garrett Cooper to minor league deal and ST invite.

    Supposed platoon competition for Wisdom.

    Peralta and Cooper are interesting vet guys. 

    Especially if a trade occurs here soon.

    Seems like things are headed that way.

  • crunch (view)

    appreciate these when you get the chance.  thanks.  good stuff, as always.

  • Arizona Phil (view)

    Here are the pitcher reports from Sunday's Padres - Cubs game at Sloan Park if anyone is interested: 

    FB: 91-94
    CT: 87-90
    SL: 79-81
    COMMENT: Allowed three runs (two ER), surrendered three hits (two doubles and a single), and walked two in 1.1 IP (39 pitches - 24 strikes)... recorded no strikeouts... four swing & miss (two on FB and two on CT)... too much hard contact... really labored (slogged) in his second inning of work especially and was relieved after a one-out two-run bases-loaded single... 

    FB: 91-93 
    SL: 83-85
    COMMENT: Relieved Assad with one out in top of the second and runners on 1st & 2nd and retired both of the batters he faced (L-7 and K-looking) on eight pitches... two swing & miss (both on SL)... has a mediocre FB so he relies heavily on the SL...  
    FB: 95-97 - T-99 
    CH: 89
    COMMENT: 1-2-3 nine-pitch inning (L-5, 4-3, 4-1) although he was behind on the count against every hitter he faced and threw only four strikes... threw eight FB (no swing & miss)... was helped by a spectacular diving catch by Christopher Morel at 3rd base on a frozen rope headed toward LF to retire the inning's lead-off hitter...  

    FB: 93-94 
    SL: 83-86 
    CH: 81 
    COMMENT: Surrendered a screaming line-drive HR pulled over LF fence to lead-off batter (RH-hitting Jose Azocar) on his third pitch of the inning (94 MPH FB), then retired the next two hitters (a 5-3 GO and a seven-pitch K-swinging on SL), then walked two and was relieved after throwing 24 pitches (only 11 strikes - two swing & miss)... FB has decent velo but it is very straight & hittable... the two batters that he walked were both LH-hitters... he obviously struggles to throw strikes and so he would probably have difficulty pitching out of an MLB pen...    

    FB: 93-94 
    CH: 81 
    COMMENT: Came into game with two outs and runners on 1st and 2nd and immediately threw a WP, and then retired the one batter he faced on a 6-3 GO on his fifth pitch after starting the AB by throwing three consecutive balls... no swing & miss... 

    FB: 97-98
    SL/CT: 88 
    CH: 83
    CV: 80 
    COMMENT: Mixed high-octane FB with three different secondaries... worked fast and retired the side 1-2-3 on nine pitches (K-swinging, 6-3, K-looking)... threw eight strikes and only one ball... If he can throw strikes while maintaining velo like he did today he could be a high-leverage MLB RP...

    FB: 91-93 
    SL: 82-84 
    CH: 81 
    COMMENT: Nibbled his way through the inning... needed 27 pitches (18 strikes) to retire the side... five foul balls and only one swing & miss... allowed two runs (both unearned thanks to a Moises Ballesteros boot at 1st base to start the inning) on three hits (all singles)... no walks & no strikeouts... he is a "pitch-to-contact" type and he fits the profile of a pitcher with the ceiling of a AAA 5th starter... can't see him being of any use working out of the pen... 

    FB: 95-96 
    SL/CT: 89 
    CH: 83
    CV: 78-81 
    COMMENT: Threw a shutout inning although he did allow a hard-hit two-out double... needed 21 pitches (13 strikes - only one swing & miss and six foul balls) to retire the side... has the pitch repertoire of a multi-inning "bulk" guy... 

    FB: 93-94
    SL: 81-84 
    COMMENT: Threw a shutout inning (13 pitches - only seven strikes - no swing & miss).. allowed a hard-hit two-out double... alternated FB/SL...  

    FB: 94-97 
    SL: 83-85 
    COMMENT: Worked one inning and allowed a run on back-to-back two-out doubles (one smoked into the CF-RF gap and the other looped into short RF)... threw 12 pitches (11 strikes - two swing & miss)...

  • crunch (view)

    busch and suzuki start monday.  busch had minor shoulder soreness early in camp.  no idea why suzuki was held back until game 3, maybe nothing.

  • Bill (view)

    PCA is almost certain to go to Iowa, so Tauchman has likely made the team.  They may be able to get something in trade for madrigal or Mastrobone, but not much.