I will always think about Angel Guzman the way I wrote about him earlier this year:

Chicago Cubs reliever Angel Guzman has had a cruel, if moderately successful professional career. For years, he was the top pitching prospect in the Cubs’ system – by way of comparison, Guzman was more hyped than either Chris Archer or Trey McNutt, and was so hyped for more than three straight years of development.

But the entire time – and for years thereafter – Guzman was plagued by injuries. Elbows. Shoulders. Forearms. Guzman was the picture of un-health. His future as an ace was effectively derailed, and few thought he would meaningfully contribute at the big league level.

And then 2009 happened. Guzman was a revelation out of the Cubs’ pen, throwing 55 relatively healthy innings of sub-3.00 ERA. He was easily the Cubs’ best reliever, and was being heavily counted on last year. But then his shoulder gave way, and he didn’t throw a pitch in 2010. The words “career threatening” were applied liberally.

From there, Guzman worked his way back to pitching in professional games – in High-A ball (modestly successful, too) – but couldn’t quite make it back to the bigs with the Cubs this year. He was always a guy you found it easy to root for in a Cubs uniform. He worked as hard as anyone, overcame the death of his brother, and kept coming back in blue time and time again. It was an inspirational, if sad, story.

But that story has ended, at least with the Cubs. Guzman won’t be back with the Cubs even if his story continues, and he does make the bigs in 2012.

The Los Angeles Dodgers have signed Guzman, 30, to a minor league deal, which includes an invitation to Spring Training. There, he’ll try to do what he couldn’t do with the Cubs in 2010 and 2011 – come back. I wouldn’t put it past him, as he’s come back many times before. I hope he makes it.

Guzman signed as a minor league free agent with the Cubs this past year, and why he was not brought back to the Cubs’ system for 2012 is a matter on which we’ll probably never have perfect clarity. The implication is that the new guys in charge (and those below them) don’t feel Guzman could come back this time around, or perhaps don’t have the same large heart as the previous administration. Again, the truth of the matter will probably never be for us to know.

  • Fishin Phil

    I wish him the best.  As you said, he was an easy guy to root for.

    • Wilbur


  • OHBearCub

    Loved the guy for his perseverance and dedication to his dream. He obviously has not given up the fight. I hope he makes it back with the Dodgers. I will always be a fan of Angel Guzman. He was part of the era when the Cubs had pitching talent coming through the system that could not hang on. Price, Hall, Wood and others got stuck in a lack of instruction on proper mechanics which led to careers made up of come back attempts that failed. Amazing how so many potentially dominant pitchers washed out of the organization during that era. Its funny how you still see Price, Hall and Guzman’s names in somebodies organization every year. Sometimes I think about how dominant the Cubs could have been with a rotation of Wood, Price, Zambrano, Hall and Guzman if they all stayed healthy.

    Good luck Angel.

    • Jim

      Price = Prior? Who is Hall?

      • ferrets_bueller

        maybe Hill? Lmao.

        • Jim

          Rich Hill, OK that makes sense. His hype overshadowed his ability.

  • Cubbie Blues

    I just hope he saved away his money. It’s tragic to hear about all the players that made even a little coin go bankrupt soon after ball is over. I wish him luck but the writing is on the wall that his career is soon to be over.

  • this old cub 2

    I met Guzman when he was an Iowa Cub.
    Autographed a ball for me.
    Then he had his first surgery and I met him again
    accidentally in Mesa. Was walking around the ball park and
    went by a door that was partially open. Peeked inside and there
    was Angel working out by himself.
    He remembered me from Des Moines and I wished him well.
    Wish the Cubs had given him ONE more chance.

  • ferrets_bueller

    Man…I hate to see him go.  I also can’t believe he’s 30 already! Hopefully he stays healthy now and makes it back.

  • MoneyBoy

    Bruce Miles told me that after Angel’s first surgery, while he was rehabbing, he took classes in English so he could communicate better with his teammates.

    I’m with you Brett … I rooted like crazy for the kid when he had that wonderful start in 09.  He had to be devastated … but he did the work and came back to the very beginning … the lowest levels.

    Proves how fragile a sporting career is … can’t do anything but wish him well.

  • http://www.frenchrocks.net Ian Afterbirth

    I’m bummed too.

    My 2K11 team is so gutted now.

    • Kyle L

      2K11? Seriously? Get a PS3 ASAP.

  • Frat Rat

    As a human being, you can’t help but pull for Guzman and hope he’s able to sustain some health and be productive. However, the Cubs new leadership has said, and appears to be backing with actions, that the Cubs Way will rule supreme. I can’t help but imagine this includes their research on the injuries he’s had, his arm angle, and the historical performance of those with similar experiences more than played a role in this decision. Cub Nation should find some encouragement in this move because when needed, it appears they’ll do what’s right……….

  • Dumpman

    I remember Bonds calling Guzman the cubs “scariest pitcher”. So much potential.. If we had just half of our front end potential guys pan out we’d have a much better recent history.

  • Timmy

    He definitely gave it his best — it’s a shame that he got injured so often. I hope he lands one last good contract before his playing days are over!

  • ty

    cub fans who were around Fitch Field in Mesa the last 3 years would have seen Angel rehabbing most days of the week. He has underwent painful surgeries and lengthy painful rehab way beyond the norm. But unlike most major league rehabers at fitch who show up and leave after their sessions, Angel would stay and watch the minor leaguers in extended spring training games, rookie ball, and instructional league. He would sit on the bench with them in that ll0 degree heat and dialogue and never ever major league anybody. Big Z has always had his back and they are like brothers. If that shoulder repair holds maybe just maybe some mlb days are still there, If not coaching job in future and his excellent bilingual skills so helpful.. One of the good guys!

  • fromthemitten

    That’s really too bad, I still have a program I picked up at a game 2003 where he was listed as their #3 prospect and had nothing but a bright future for him. He’s one of those guys that rooted and I feel like if he was on the team he would have really helped out with Big Z since they were close in the minors.