Bye-bye, Blanco

Addendum: If the Cubs do, in fact, replace Henry Blanco with Paul Bako (per all the rumors) and the explanation is tied to the team wanting to "become more left-handed," these numbers might be of interest:

Paul Bako's lifetime batting line against RHP: 2015 PA's, .240 / .317 / .321 / 638 OPS
Henry Blanco's lifetime batting line against RHP: 1708 PA's, .222 / .281 / .352 / 633 OPS

Not much of a gain, especially considering all of those intangibles that Blanco was said to have contributed to the team--the same intangibles that are cited by the Padres upon their signing him.


The Padres signed 37-year-old Henry Blanco to a one-year, $750K deal on Wednesday. Blanco will back-up and mentor young Nick Hundley (no relation to Randy or Todd).

Cubs Invite 21 to Camp; Sign Michael Wuertz

The Cubs signed Michael Wuertz for $1.1M today, thus avoiding any ghastly arbitration cases with any of their players. Not including auto-renewals - which Arizona Phil on the right sidebar estimates at around $3.5M total -  the Cubs payroll for 2009 is at $134.1M, so they still have a few million in wiggle room.

They also released their NRI list for spring training.

17 Cubs on WBC Rosters

MLB has released the 45-man provisional rosters of the national teams that will be playing in the 2009 World Baseball Classic (WBC).

Rosters will need to be cut-down to 28 (with at least 13 pitchers) by February 24th. 

There are presently a total of 17 Cubs major leaguers and minor leaguers on the provisional rosters of the WBC teams:  

Orioles Order Pie to Go, Leave Two Pitchers Behind

In what may be a precursor to an eventual trade for San Diego Padres ace RHP Jake Peavy, the Cubs have traded OF Felix Pie to the Baltimore Orioles for LHP Garrett Olson and minor league RHP Hank Williamson. Olson was thought to be one of the pitchers Padres GM Kevin Towers wanted back in a Peavy deal.

The 25-year old Olson was a Supplemental 1st round pick (48th overall) of the Orioles in the 2005 Rule 4 Draft out of Cal Poly (he was selected with the compensation pick Baltimore got for failing to sign their 2004 #1 draft pick, RHP Wade Townsend), and was rushed to the big leagues by the Orioles after being named their Minor League Player of the Year in 2006, logging MLB time in both 2007 and 2008. A scouting report from his senior year in college showed him having three quality pitches, including a fastball that sits at 88-90 MPH but has touched 93, a 12-6 "hammer" curve (his "out" pitch), and a decent change-up. He has performed very well at AAA over the past two seasons (he was a AAA IL All-Star at Norfolk in 2007), although he has been hit hard to the tune of a 6.87 ERA and 1.82 WHIP with 21 HR allowed in 165+ IP in 33 starts so far at the big league level. Olson was a college teammate of Cubs prospects RHRP Rocky Roquet and 3B-turned-RHP Josh Lansford, and he supposedly wants to be an FBI agent if his baseball career doesn't pan out.

S***

''His arm action's good; he's throwing free and easy...He's not close to throwing off a mound yet. There's some issues
there, no question.''

No, not a reprint of a 2005 article or 2004 article or 2006 article, but rather Larry Rotschild talking about Rich Harden at the Cubs Convention on Saturday. Don't worry though, the Cubs have the spin ready.

 Cubs insiders say Harden is right on schedule toward a strong, on-time
and well-conditioned start to spring training and the season
.

Of course they believe that...but what about this?

Update on The Latest Cub Unicorn

There is this article in today's Sun-Times about Rich Harden's winter rehab. He's working on a  6 day a week strengthening program that could be the most rigorous of any Cub this offseason. It's designed to "ease" him up to pitching conditions "by the end" of spring training. Fine. I remember this somewhere in the not too distant Cub past (including the Larry Rothschild quotes). Flushed with a strong sense of Déjà vu, I finally saw some new information in the article:

But sources also confirmed Saturday that Harden has a tear in the joint, just severe enough that some players might seek surgery but slight enough to be in a range often treated effectively with a strengthening program, therapy and a well- managed work schedule.


Gordon Wittenmyer in the Sun-Times doesn't give enough info to make me absolutely certain but the implication is Harden is putting up with a "Kerry Wood type" rotator cuff tear. I do recall that Harden underwent an MRI/Arthrogram after the season to better assess his shoulder issues and before the team decided to pick up his $7 Million option. The press was told this on October 8th:

General manager Jim Hendry said an MRI-arthrogram on Harden's shoulder revealed no tears of the labrum or rotator cuff, referring to Harden's problems as "subtle instability in the shoulder."

At the Cubs Convention yesterday GW's article says "sources" confirmed Harden has "a tear in the joint." This implies the rotator cuff tissue has an area that is showing structural damage on the MRI/Arthrogram, but not involving the full thickness of the cuff tendon and thus without any detachment from it's insertion on bone (greater tuberosity). Any surgical repair has to take down some degenerative tissue that is worn but not detached. The results of surgery on that type of situation would be iffy for a high end starting pitcher, especially if they were counting on him for 2009. Hence he's on a non-surgical treatment protocol analagous to what Kerry Wood went through after his MRI/Arthrogram in July 2006.

Free Agent Frenzy Update and More...

I always had this idea about the phrase "and more". When I first started out here in Los Angeles, I was editing commercials for musical artists, not really my thing, I'm more a movie guy, and it didn't help that about 99% of the artists were trash and the music industry is darker than a snuff film.

So we did a lot of compilation albums, soundtracks for stuff like "The Matrix" or all the Grammy artists, etc, stuff you're sure to have seen at some point. And all these albums would list like four to eight of the more popular artists or songs , something like (in your best Don LaFontaine voice) - Marilyn Manson, Deftones, Rob Zombie, Rage Against the Machine, And More!- acknowledging the bands whose agents weren't as good to get them advertised, but at least they made the album. So the sort of inside joke I always had with my bosses at the time was that if I were to ever start a band, I would call it "And More".

Think about it, you'd be listed on nearly every music soundtrack or compilation CD commercial ever done. Do a little viral Internet video and instant buzz for your group.
So to the would-be rock stars in our readership looking for a band name, you're welcome, let me know how it goes. And if you don't like "And More", I recommend "Skull-Fuck Cedeno", "Gay Witchcraft", "Bees" or "Johann's Mom".

FA Frenzy update "and more" after the jump...

Cut and Paste

We're in a bit of lull here until spring training or at least until the new owner is chosen. Luckily, The reporters found Hendry yesterday and we have some soundbites and speculation to dissect.

When the Cubs traded Mark DeRosa to Cleveland the same day they signed free agent Aaron Miles, conventional wisdom suggested Miles would be DeRosa's replacement.

I question this conventional wisdom...I thought everyone assumed it would be Fontenot? If Miles gets regular playing time versus righties over Fontenot, I'm predicting he'll be the new Neifi! whipping boy.

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