How Many ‘Tommy John’ Pitchers On Cubs Roster?

  • Chang-yong Lim
  • Hector Rondon
  • Marcos Mateo
  • Arodys Vizcaino
  • Robert Whitenack
  • Scott Baker
  • Rafael Dolis
  • Scott Feldman

Eight. That’s the current number of Cubs’ pitchers on its 40-man roster who’ve undergone Tommy John surgery during their careers.

It’s far from an official count. But it’s the best list I could manage after scouring Google searches and player bios. If I missed a player, give me a shout and I’ll update the list accordingly (I already had to update it once!).

It wouldn’t surprise me if a pitcher did slip my radar. Finding a complete list of the major leaguers who’ve undergone TJS was more challenging than I anticipated.

You’d think as commonplace as the surgery has become in baseball there would be a TJS listing readily available aside from the two I found here & here.

Both sites provide a very good listing, but are self admittedly incomplete. So, if you’re aware of a Tommy John register that I haven’t mentioned please feel free to share with us in the comment section below.

As for the Cubs’ love affair with the recovering TJS survivors, it’s fair to assume this number will grow as it did on Wednesday with the signing of Chang-Yong Lim, a 36-year-old side arm reliever from Japan, to a 2-year, $5M deal. His recovery from Tommy John surgery is likely to keep him out the entire 2013 season.

With roughly 60-days before spring training I’d bet we’ll see Team Theo sign at least one, if not two, Tommy John add-ons before the end of winter.

It’s hard to fault the Cubs’ approach in becoming a TJS shelter. The pitchers need an opportunity and the Cubs need affordability. If it doesn’t work out, no big deal. It’s little more than low-risk, high-upside on the Cubs’ end, which fits the early stages of the rebuild quite comfortably.

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Kerry Wood’s Goatee

Kerry Wood

Cubs fans remember Kerry Wood’s goatee just as much as they do his once blazing fastball. Wood’s tufted chin beard was a staple throughout his 14-year career not long after the peach fuzz wore off from his rookie season in 1998.

However, when the Indians traded Wood to the Yankees in July of 2010 the goatee became a casualty of New York’s clean shaven policy. Wood had to go slick, and it wasn’t a site to behold.

The same can be said of Kevin Youkilis, who signed a 1-year, $12 million deal with the Yankees on Tuesday. So much for the manly, bushy goatee Youkilis displayed during his career in Boston and on the South Side of Chicago. 

As if watching Woody, Johnny Damon (among other formerly bearded ballplayers) play in Yankee pinstripes wasn’t bad enough. Seeing them void of their predominant whiskers was even worse. And now the ‘Youker.’

Johnny Damon & Kevin Youkilis

Only in Gotham city would they pillage the game’s best players and strip the league of its most recognizable chin chillers, too.

What’s a major league cookie duster to do?

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Name That Cub!

CT CityHall2.JPG

Selected by Cubs from Cardinals in Rule 5 Draft.
Made 2 All Star appearances and won 1 Gold Glove with Cubs.
Became a huge fan favorite on the North Side.
Finished his career with the Braves.
Later managed in Cubs’ minor leagues (Peoria, Daytona & Boise).
Name that Cub! (Answer after jump)

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Why Cubs Are Waiting To Spend Big

Cubs Pie 5

Here’s a visual reminder that it’s not about how much the Cubs spend, but how they spend that’s important.

Only twice in the past 10 years have the Cubs seen an increase in payroll translate to more wins. However, four times they spent more on player salary than the year prior–only to lose more games.

The result of careless spending ultimately limits roster flexibility. It makes it tougher to acquire players and increasingly difficult to trade underperforming ones signed to gaudy contracts.

Doubling down on payroll can open a small window to win a championship, as it did for the Cubs in 2007-08, but we know it’s no guarantee to winning a ring and the long-term effects makes it virtually impossible to maintain any success.

That’s why Theo Epstein is taking a more careful approach with team payroll than his predecessor Jim Hendry. Building the Cubs into a consistent winner, one that reaches the postseason year-after-year, gives the club its best odds of winning a World Series.

To build that model Epstein has to first relieve the pressure of what became a suffocating team payroll and roster gridlock under Hendry. It means making smarter investments, taking fewer risks and practicing more patience until some roster flexibility returns.

Of course building a core player group won’t come on the cheap. Neither will supplementing the core group with the best available free agents. No doubt Tom Ricketts realizes it’s going to take significant dollars to build a championship roster. It’s just important the payroll and roster talent grow together and not apart.

A staple of smart investing is discipline and patience. It’s understanding there’s no penalty for making smarter, smaller moves. But there are, however, severe consequences for losing sight of the long-term goals with greed and impatience.

What better way to sum up the chart above.

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Is Ryan Dempster Worth 3-Years?

Ryan Dempster has turned down 2-year offers from the Royals and Red Sox. He’s wants a 3-year deal.

Teams are so desperate to sign quality starting pitching you can’t blame Dempster for holding a hard line. But it makes perfect sense why teams are hesitant to sign him. He’s already in the backend of his career and will be 39 at the end of a 3-year contract.

We saw how patient Dempster was during last July’s trade deadline. His endurance then, however, didn’t pan out as the Cubs shipped him to the Rangers instead of his preferred choice to play for the Dodgers.

A similar scenario could unfold this offseason if Dempster is stead fast in holding out for a third year. Although I believe some team will ultimately meet his demands, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best fit for Dempster the pitcher.

Texas certainly wasn’t an ideal fit for Dempster. He was lit up to the tune of a 5.09 ERA in his 12 starts following the trade. By the time the Rangers coughed up its division lead to Oakland and limped into the postseason as a wild card Dempster had virtually pitched himself out of the rotation.

So maybe that partly explains why he’s turned away two American League teams. But what about the Brewers? There’s reportedly a mutual interest, the team trains in Arizona (another sticking point for Demspter) and there’s his familiarity within the National League and Central Division.

I guess that’s what surprises me most. You’d think a guy still chasing a ring and entering the sunset of his career would be more intrigued by quality vs. quantity. Signing with the first club to simply offer a third year would appear to go against such logic. That doesn’t make Dempster wrong, just some food for thought.

Based purely on speculation, here are a few places (in no particular order) I think Dempster could land–and no, the Cubs don’t make the list.

  • SAN DIEGO. The Padres still need rotation depth, they train in Arizona and have money to spend with its newly inked $1.5 billion TV contract.
  • LA ANGELS. Despite the additions of Tommy Hanson and Joe Blanton, the Angels, who also train in Arizona, could use more quality starting pitching. The money is there, the team’s competitive and Dempster wouldn’t have to face his long-time nemesis Albert Pujols. Bonus.
  • BALTIMORE. The Orioles are desperate to add a quality starter. Perhaps enough to kick-in that third year. However, the O’s train in Florida and play in the always tough AL East, which is even tougher now that the Blue Jays are a formidable division threat.
  • MINNESOTA. The Twins are also spring residents of Florida, but they are closer to one of Dempster’s homes in Chicago and need to upgrade a very thin rotation.
  • CLEVELAND. The three-years and roughly $35-million it would take to sign Dempster seems unlikely for the cash-strapped Tribe. However, the Indians need starting pitching and they could view Dempster as a valuable trade piece down the line.
  • MILWAUKEE. For all the reasons stated previously and with the thought one side will cave; either Dempster settles for a 2-year deal or Milwaukee extends itself for three.

Is Dempster worth a third year? You tell me…

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Will Dale Sveum See Cubs On Right Side Of Rebuild?

Any idea who’s currently the longest tenured manager with one team in MLB? It’s Mike Scioscia. He’s been at the helm of the Angels the past 13 seasons.

In the long history of the Cubs only one of its managers lasted as long as Scioscia has in Anaheim. Cap Anson skippered Chicago for 19-straight seasons from 1879-1897. Quite awhile ago.

Meanwhile, the present runner-ups to Scioscia include Twins manager Ron Gardenhire who’s lasted 11 seasons in Minnesota, Charlie Manuel with 8 seasons in Philadelphia, Jim Leyland with 7 seasons in Detroit and Joe Maddon with 7 seasons in Tampa Bay.

Outside the Top 5, however, there’s a noticeable decline in manager’s staying power. In fact, the average length of time spent on the job for current managers heading into 2013 is less than 3.5 seasons.

Only five managers exceed that average: Ron Washington in Texas (6), Bruce Bochy in San Francisco (6), Bud Black in San Diego (6), Joe Girardi in New York (5) and Dusty Baker in Cincinnati (5).

Otherwise, two-thirds of the league’s managers have been on the job three seasons or less. Six begin their inaugural season with their respective clubs next spring, half of which are rookie bench bosses: Bo Porter (Houston), Walt Weiss (Colorado) and Mike Redmond (Miami).

I became interested in this topic thinking about how much string Dale Sveum will receive as the Cubs manager? Epstein and Hoyer reiterate they envision Sveum as‘the guy’ when the team finally turns the corner from rebuilding, which still appears several seasons away.

If we project the Cubs to be .500 or better in 2015 Sveum will have already been on the job three years. And if he’s lasted that long there’s reason to believe he’ll be retained with a team poised to compete for the postseason.

That could put Sveum on path to near the head of the class for the league’s current list of longest tenured managers with one team, assuming the Cubs continue to win.

On the other hand, as the Cubs climb closer to being competitive the patience of the rebuild will have worn thin on Team Theo and the fans. Everyone will expect a winner given the talent on the field and the tedious wait to assemble a competitive roster.

Sveum, needless to say, will have little room for error if he’s to become the Cubs’ version of Mike Scioscia vs. the latest quadrennial skipper. Of course, all he needs to do is win a World Series. And how hard can that be?

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Cubs Staying The Course, Sign OF Nate Schierholtz

Nate Schierholtz? Didn’t see this one coming, but it falls right in line with the Cubs’ course of action this offseason–patching up holes with affordable stop-gap players.

First Scott Baker ($5.5M), then Dioner Navarro ($1.75M), next Scott Feldman ($4.5M) and now Schierholtz ($2.25M).

The upside for Schierholtz is his left-handed bat and ability to play both corner outfield positions. He’s also in his prime, 28, and could stay under team control for a second season if all goes well in 2013…or could be used as trade bait come July.

In the meantime his signing adds outfield depth with the likelihood Soriano is dealt before Opening Day. With David DeJesus moving to center Schierholtz projects as the starting right fielder leaving Brett Jackson, Dave Sappelt, Tony Campana and Bryan Bogusevic filling-in as needed.

Schierholtz is far from a splash signing, but he does fill a need and comes with low-risk, high-reward potential.

Given the Cubs’ track record this offseason it appears we should expect a similar signing for third base and at least one more bullpen arm; the two biggest remaining needs.

Perhaps the relief arm can be filled by RHP Hector Rondon (Indians) who the Cubs selected in the Rule 5 Draft this morning. Nonetheless, there’s still plenty of time this winter to find a couple more serviceable players before the spring.

Of course none of the players the Cubs have added this winter can be considered a sure-thing, including Kyugi Fujikawa, but those they have signed should help stop the bleeding of a 101-loss team. That’s an important first order of business and a reminder patience is a virtue.

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