Are Any Cubs Not Injured? And Other Bullets

nomar injured cubsLacking for a clever thing to say up front today, I’ll just suggest that you follow BN on Twitter and “like” BN on Facebook, if you haven’t already. Gracias.

  • Matt Garza’s throwing program continues, though he’s not yet back on the mound after suffering a lat strain back in February. He threw from 75 feet Sunday, and has to keep stretching that out before he can get back on the mound. “We went to 75 feet yesterday for the second day,” Garza said of throwing on Sunday, per ESPN. “Twenty throws, no pain. I’m trying to speed it up but they have me on a real set pace right now.” From Dale Sveum’s perspective, things are going well. “He’s doing great,” he said. “We’re finally over the hurdle – knock on wood – the smallest hurdles of throwing and coming in and feeling great and not feeling any little thing. Now it’s the stage of getting on the mound.” Sveum said, though, that he doesn’t expect Garza back until the beginning of May.
  • Garza added, per CSN, that he could see the lat injury being something of a blessing in disguise. “My elbow was fine in December when I first started throwing. I wouldn’t have started if it wasn’t OK,” Garza said. “But that was not even a thought when this happened. I was just like, ‘Man, something awesome happened and now this happened.’ But maybe that was the blessing in disguise. Twenty-four days off not throwing is more time for it to rest. So it’s kind of a bonus, but not the bonus I wanted.”
  • Sveum isn’t quite yet ready to close the door on Ian Stewart opening the season with the Cubs, but he doesn’t sound optimistic. “It’s definitely stalled,” Sveum said, per ESPN. “We have a small window for him to be ready, but obviously that window is getting ready to shut [as far as being ready] for Opening Day.” Stewart was to get a second MRI on his strained quad yesterday, and we’re still waiting on those results. If he’s had a setback, physically, it’s basically impossible to see him not starting the year on the DL (assuming the Cubs keep him, which I’m assuming they will).
  • (We’re also still waiting to hear the results of the MRI on Scott Baker’s sore elbow. Dale Sveum is hoping the soreness was just the normal post-throwing soreness, and Baker was just being vigilant since he was coming back from elbow surgery.)
  • Alfonso Soriano continues to be a quality leader and mentor for young players. His conversation with Jorge Soler before the top prospect departed big league camp, per CSN: “Sori told me: No matter what kind of money you get, whatever your signing bonus is, you still got to work hard every single day. And when you go down to the minor leagues, you got to be the example for the young kids.”
  • Soler mentioned in another interview that he has to adjust to the idea that pitchers over here can throw off-speed stuff for strikes in a 2-0, 3-1 count. It’s a telling reminder that he isn’t used to seeing that kind of thing, which is going to be a very basic adjustment for him.
  • Phil Rogers says the Cubs may use newly-signed Cuban pitcher Armando Rivero as a starter this year in the minors, but mostly so he can work on his pitch mix more. (Frequently, prospects who are known to be future relief pitchers are used as “starters” in the minors so that they can be certain to get in a set number of pitches or face a set number of batters.) It sounds like, right now, he’s got a decent fastball and a good splitter, but that’s it.
  • I was on the Midway Madness Baseball Today podcast yesterday, discussing all manner of pressing Cubs topics.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

65 responses to “Are Any Cubs Not Injured? And Other Bullets”

  1. hansman1982

    “…he’s had a setback, physically, it’s basically impossible to see him not starting the year on the DL (assuming the Cubs keep him, which I’m assuming they will). ”

    At this point, Stewart doesn’t really have enough game experience for them to be able to cut him without the MLBPA getting upset.

  2. db kyle

    So wait, is Garza implying that his elbow was fine in December and then not fine at some later point?

    They are moving awfully slow.with his re-buildup. Something smells a bit fishy.

    1. cubchymyst

      That isn’t want Garza is saying, He said his elbow wasn’t even a thought when he hurt his lat. He just said that this is now added rest time and he trusts the elbow now.

    2. arta

      no, he is saying his elbow has been fine since DEC and that hasn’t changed. it’s the lat that’s keeping from pitching, so the extra rest can only help. that’s how i read it.

  3. Morken

    There are a few reasons why Stewart will not be cut:

    1.) The Cubs are devoid of anything closely resembling a viable option at 3B.

    2.) Theo and company are human. They understand that as of right now, the Colvin/Stewart trade reflects poorly on them. Thus, Stewart will be alloted extra slack.

    3.) Stewart is still relatively young. There’s always hope that a player with his talent, could figure it out.

    4.) The Cubs aren’t going to contend this season. What do they have to lose in giving Stewart time to heal?

    1. db kyle

      5) If you can’t prove you have a legitimate baseball reason for cutting him, not injury related, you have to pay him his full salary for the year, so there’s no point to cutting him while injured.

    2. CubFan Paul

      1.) I’ll counter with a Valbuena & Lillibridge platoon

      2.) Saying Theo&Co’s ego is keeping Stewart on the roster is just asinine

      3.) They just want him to figure it out quickly so he can be flipped at the deadline to a desperate team needing a 3B

      4.) Development time of Vitters and Lake on the major league level could be blocked this summer if Stewart is healthy and mashing (and untradeable because of the injuries)

      1. Luke

        4) Would be a good problem to have. If Stewart is playing so well the Cubs can’t bear to bench him, I’m not going to complain.

        1. CubFan Paul

          I’d complain a little if Vitters & Lake are “ready”. Maybe Lake goes to the OF (DeJesus will be traded), but Vitters would still be the odd man out. Lets hope Josh mashes the first half (again).

          1. hansman1982

            If Stewart is hitting .250/.350/.450 (not ENTIRELY out of the realm of possibilty) Lake and Vitters can be stuck in Iowa for all I care.

            Also, if he is hitting that well, a team out there will trade for him because most other 3B options just stink.

            1. Silly Rabbit

              IF . IF IF IF if IF IF iF IF IF IF. Is the only reason Stewart has a paycheck And HE knows this already. Better to have a paycheck than none at all.

              Time will be the Cubs best friend with this enigma he will fail and the cubs will drop him by midseason. and yes he will latch on some other team make a brief comback to earn a cents on the dollar but he be a back up 3rd option when that happens and noone will care.

      2. Morken

        I simply stated that the trade may have “allotted Stewart more slack”.

        It’s asinine to believe that going with a Lilibridge/Valbuena platoon, is excepable. I’d much rather give Stewart all the time that he needs, than give that platoon a life.

        1. CubFan Paul

          “It’s asinine to believe that going with a Lilibridge/Valbuena platoon, is excepable”

          Talk to Dale, because that’s what third base will be in April.

    3. Coldneck

      I scored you at 2/4. I agree with #3 and #4. While not perfect, I think that Valbuena is a decent replacement at 3B. He’s probably replacement level, but so is Ian Stewart. In regards to #2, I don’t think Jed and Theo really care about how they look. If they did, they wouldn’t be taking the slow (and sound) approach to building a winner.

      1. CubFan Paul

        “wouldn’t be taking the slow (and sound) approach to building a winner”

        Sound? This approach is proven? Been done before? I can’t find any examples of this approach *working* (sustained success).

        1. Coldneck

          Tampa Bay for one, Texas may be a better example since they are large market and have done it with a blend of home grown talent and spent to acquire the necessary pieces once the home grown talent was ready.

          1. hansman1982

            Nationals is another.

            Now it depends on how you define what it is the Cubs are doing. It would also depend on if you view the Cubs as a big market team (Red Sox, Phillies, Dodgers, Angels) when they have never acted like a big market team.

        2. Norm

          Didn’t the Giants have like 19 homegrown players last year?

          1. CubFan Paul

            But how many seasons did the Giants throw away to have your 19 homegrown players? He said the approach Theo&Co is doing is ‘sound’, yet he list the Rangers & Rays, two teams that do it completely different from Chicago Theo and each other ..that was my point

            1. hansman1982

              Most good teams in any given year will have a mix of “home grown”, FA and traded for players.

              1. CubFan Paul

                Thank You Captain Obvious.

            2. Norm

              So you don’t think its sound because the Cubs will be under .500 for 4 years (assuming 2013 is a sub-.500 year)?

              Either were the Giants in 2005-2008.

              1. CubFan Paul

                for clarity: i do Not think it’s sound to throw away Major League wins on purpose for draft/money positioning (Theo&Co approach). That’s different from your question Norm.

                But to your point, The Giants were trying to win (they signed Barry Zito to the largest ever pitching contract just before the 2007 season), but shit happens.

                1. Norm

                  So do you think a major league win has equal value, no matter the amount of wins a team has? (does that make sense?)

                  In other words, do you think a win for a team expected to win 88 games and compete for the division is worth the same as a win for a team expected to come in 4th/5th with 72 wins?

                  1. CubFan Paul

                    ..I’m not sure i understand the question. Maybe i’m thinking too hard

                    But either way, I think we’re off topic ..I also quit drinking coffee (6wks to the day!) so my morning thinking may be off (, y’ll should ignore my morning rant(s)).

                  2. db kyle

                    No. But if you have the resources to make sure your team isn’t expected to win just 72 games, you should do it.

                    1. CubFan Paul

                      Or at least keep the ML payroll respectable ($130Mish).

                    2. Norm

                      So, is 77 wins better for you? Would that make you happy? That’s another $20M a year, on the conservative side, and also locked in for what, 3 or 4 years? Because what players at that salary are going to sign for one or two years?

                    3. db kyle

                      Depending on how you get to that 77, yes. But 87 would be even better.

                    4. Norm

                      Fair enough…I just don’t agree that a 77 win team is any better for the organization than a 72 win, or 67 win team is.
                      I’ll take the 67 win team over the 77 win team rather than spending $20M-$40M more on free agent veterans who will be in decline phase of career

                2. BT

                  This is a logical fallacy. The Cubs are not throwing away wins on purpose. They are trading away players who are not going to help them win a world series. This is evident from the fact they are willing to trade Soriano in the same year that they offered big money to Anibel Sanchez. They traded Dempster, Maholm, and all the spare parts from last year because none of those guys are going to be around when the Cubs are contending for a title. They paid Starlin Castro money because he WILL be around when they are.

                  1. CubFan Paul

                    And? Paging Right Field Starter Nate Schierholtz.

                    When you purposely field an inferior noncompetitive team (when you have the *resources* to do better) you’re throwing away the season.

                    Its not apples and oranges. it is what it is. Draft Bennies (before that’s gone too).

                    1. BT

                      You are right. they should have signed that young superstar right fielder that was on the market. Maybe sign Nick Swisher to a 4 year deal (what he eventually signed for)? That would have shown everyone that they really “want to win”. It would have been even smarter with Soler, Almora, and Jackson in the minors, and with Lake possibly moving there as well, having an overpriced mediocre outfielder blocking them in the coming years would really show everyone how “committed” the team is. As an added bonus, we could win an extra 2 or 3 games, not make the playoffs, and draft lower. It’s a win any way you look at it.

                    2. CubFan Paul

                      BT, its not just the 2013 ML team and the available free agents that just got signed.

                      Theo&Co got the job in 2011. Had they had a plan to compete on the Major League level in 2011 for the 2012 season, who knows, maybe Nick Swisher would have been attractive for the 2013-2016 seasons.

                    3. db kyle

                      We already had a right-fielder. We mysteriously moved him to CF, a position he makes little sense at, to make room for Schierholtz.

                      And there *was* a young superstar center fielder on the market that we showed befuddlingly little interest in. I wonder if that rumor that we were shut down by one FA this offseason before we could even make a pitch was true and it was Upton.

                    4. BT

                      Oh Kyle, is the superstar you are referring to the one with the career 105 OPS+ and the top 10 similar batter scores to Corey Patterson and Milton Bradley on Baseball Reference? The guy with the .298 OBP last year? THAT superstar? I can only imagine your comments about the idiocy of signing him had Theo and company actually pulled the trigger once you had a gander at those stats. But since they didn’t, now he’s the one who got away.

                    5. db kyle

                      Stick to making your own arguments. Don’t worry about what you imagine I would or would not have said in hypothetical situations, especially since you aren’t very good at it.

                      I think I praised every FA signing they made this offseason. I don’t know why he would have been different.

                  2. db kyle

                    It’s a circular argument. They aren’t winning a World Series in the near term because they aren’t doing enough for the MLB team, but it’s okay that they aren’t doing enough for the MLB team because they aren’t winning a World Series in the near term.

                    1. DarthHater

                      No, the argument is that there is NOTHING they could do to win a World Series in the near term and, in light of that fact, it makes more sense to sacrifice the near-term prospects of the ML team in the interest of developing a foundation for longer-term success.

                      It may or may not be a good argument, but it’s not circular.

                    2. BT

                      It’s not a circular argument. The team they inherited was not capable of winning a world series, was overpriced, and was aging, and had very little coming through the pipeline to fix it. The free agents coming on the market were not going to change that, unless you jack the payroll up to 300 million. They had to clear out the Sorianos, Dempsters, Zambranos, before they can start building the team up. Throwing hundreds of millions of dollars at Josh Hamilton isn’t going to fix that when the minor league cupboard is bare.

                      This isn’t rocket science. It’s common sense. Spending money so they could stay mediocre while simultaneously NOT building the minor leagues would be a continuation of what they have done in perpetuity. Why is this so difficult to grasp?

                    3. db kyle

                      It’s not difficult to grasp. It’s just wrong on almost all the facts.

                      The team could have been a World Series contender immediately by just not dropping payroll commitment (including the money freed up from amateur acquisitions due to the new CBA).

                      They didn’t clear out any money from Zambrano, and why would we want to clear out productive players like Soriano and Dempster?

                      The minor league cupboard was not bare.

                      Nothing they did at the big league level would have had a significant impact on their ability to build from within at the lower levels. “Parallel fronts,” someone once said.

                    4. CubFan Paul

                      “…Spending money so they could stay mediocre while simultaneously **NOT building the minor leagues** would be a continuation of…”

                      Don’t put words in my mouth. Why would my plan of fielding a competitive major league team NOT include funding/rebuilding the Minors? Its stupid to think that only one can be done at a time. Or at least don’t assume i’m that stupid, please.

                  3. BT

                    Relax Francis. The point is the “superstar” you are touting has a ton of warts.

            3. jt

              1997 through 2004 The Giants avg 92 wins
              2005 through 2008 they avg’d 73 wins
              2009 through 2012 the avg has been 90 wins

        3. Cubsfanforlife

          I don’t really understand what you are saying? Are you suggesting that building a team from the farm up has never been proven? If this is what you are saying, you are very wrong, there are tons of examples.

          I don’t understand the idea of giving up on Stewart. 2013 is not going to be a playoff year for the Cubs. Therefore, the goal is to keep adding pieces to a future roster. If Stewart gets healthy and performs he brings value to the team, whether it be through trade or playing a position that is lacking depth throughout the organization and in baseball in general.

          All they have to do is DL him, he doesn’t cost them much money or a roster spot until healthy. What is the downside?

  4. Brian

    Morken, I agree with all your points but #2. I doubt very highly that they are worried about saving face on the trade. You win some you lose some.

    1. Morken

      I could be wrong. I just believe that GMs in large markets are ultra-conscious of the perceptions, over their acquisitions.

      Anyway, I liked the trade at the time. So it would be hypocritical of me to bash it.

      1. DocPeterWimsey

        I think that it’s more the other way around: in large markets, there are a lot of people to rehash trades and other deals that did not work out. Brian Cashman certainly does not worry about how the Pineda-Montero trade looks: but Yankee fans and the NY sports media are not going to let that issue die any time soon. That same media and Mets fans are not going to let Sandy Alderson forget about “letting” Jose Reyes go any time soon. Dodger fans were bitching for years about trading Paul LoDuca (at least until the MItchell Report). Ranger fans will be bitching about this awful winter all season.

        Conversely, nobody in Tampa Bay complains about Andrew Friedman’s less sterling moves because only 7 or 8 people there know who he is or have any idea who the players are opposing the Yankees or Sox when their teams deign to visit Florida.

        All of the GMs know that each deal is something of a crapshoot. They all have bad ones under their belt. Most of them have some good ones, too. The problem comes from fans and sports media who don’t pay attention to other franchises and assume that the Other Team’s GM never makes mistakes.

      2. DocPeterWimsey

        Oh, and one thing I would also add: it’s improbable that many other GM’s consider the Stewart for Colvin & Lemahieu a “mistake.” I know that there are still Cubs fans who think that Colvin is a future Ted Williams (which probably is why Teddy’s head is rotting), but he’s a 4th OFer who had a good month last year. Lemahieu is a backup IFer. Stewart is a guy who never panned out. It was junk for junk that benefited neither team.

        1. King Jeff

          I don’t agree with this at all. Lemahieu can play all 4 infield spots, and still has a decent bat. At the least his small sample size is much better than Ian Stewart’s. Colvin, even as a 4th outfielder would have been a value to the Cubs because he has decent speed and can play all 3 spots. Oh, and Lemahieu is on a minimum salary and Colvin his first year of arbitration, which means that both combined are fairly cheaper that Stewart. While neither is going to be an all-star any time soon, both could have helped the Cubs on the field this year and last, and keeping them would have saved the team some money.

          1. DocPeterWimsey

            Amend that to “ever” on the All-Star front. Lemahieu has no batting eye and no power, which makes it hard to describe him as a decent batter. He can be a utility IF because of his versatility and that’s about it. Colvin’s decent speed doesn’t improve his value any and his fielding in RF was OK, but he was unimpressive in CF.

            And the money that they would have saved the Cubs is small relative to the amounts that they’ll want to spend in the future. It’s not like it was the difference between the Ranger’s bid on Darvish and the Cubs, or even what the A’s offered Cespedes and over what the Cubs offered him. It might not quite be pennies on the pound relative to the Cubs upcoming financial concerns, but it certainly dimes on the dollar. Of these three guys, Stewart is still the one with the best chance (tiny though it is) of actually helping anybody win games ever.

  5. Castro's Attention Span

    That picture is hilarious…when is it from?

    1. Coldneck


      1. fromthemitten

        oh man I remember seeing him tear his groin live it was bad

        1. CubFan Paul

          It was horrible…I think I cried…nothing hilarious about that pic at all

        2. Castro's Attention Span

          Ooooh yeah. Ok. Nevermind.

          One thing that is hilarious is Bill James’ 2013 projections for Vitters. LOL.

          1. yield51

            Why is that funny? It’s not Bill James’ job to determine how much playing time a player gets, that is up to management. If Vitters were to get 515 PA, I think those numbers seem pretty fair.

            1. Castro's Attention Span

              Dude’s not gonna get 515 PA. That’s why.

    2. hansman1982

      HOW DARE YOU SAY THAT. That trade was a GIANT highlight of the 2004 season. Him tearing his groin was a moment that, when you saw it live, you knew the season was done.

  6. Lou Cub

    I wish Matt Garza would get completely healed and ship him and his big friggin mouth down to the Rangers for Olt and some prospects, stupid comments like that are not needed especially from a guy rehabbing….

    1. Silly Rabbit

      If I was the Rangers or any other MLB team., I would stay away from Garza he has proven to be injury prone and not worth a top 15 prospect in any teams system. Now if Garza can show that he can still pitch and accumulate effective innings. he might have some value by the trading deadline ,but because of free agency and the dollars required to retain his services- its just not worth the gamble.

  7. Dustin S

    I am sure there are a few lazy Chicago writers with articles already written about how awful the Stewart trade was, and they are ready to hit send the instant he’s released if it happens. Thankfully Theo and Jed have been much less susceptible to being influenced by the media than Hendry was, so I don’t think that will affect the decision process.

    A couple of weeks ago I was leaning towards thinking they’d keep Stewart, but I’m really at toss a coin on him now. Is a low-cost, incredibly injury-prone, at best .240/20hr 3B worth stashing on the DL as a minor trade chip? The scale probably just slightly tips towards yes. But seeing a “Stewart Released” BN headline won’t surprise me a bit either.

    1. Dustin S

      Actually it looks like the Stewart question was answered today. They’re putting him on the DL, so the saga continues and he’ll be around. Hopefully he comes back strong and surprises us all.