hayden simpson name plateI’d heard chatter about it, and now Phil Rogers confirms: the Chicago Cubs have released 2010 first round pick, pitcher Hayden Simpson.

One of the more bummer-inducing stories in recent years, Simpson was supposed to be the Cubs’ diamond-in-the-rough pick that year, when they went off the board for a D-II pitcher they’d quietly scouted, and seen throwing in the high-90s. He came to the Cubs, got a vicious case of mono, lost 25 pounds, lost 10 MPH off his fastball, didn’t pitch for almost a year after he signed, didn’t pitch well, maybe hurt his arm, and never had “it” ever again.

The writing has been on the wall for Simpson for quite some time now, even as the Cubs gave him every opportunity to re-establish himself. It’s a sunk cost, but sometimes you’ve just got to let a guy go. Best of luck to him, and hopefully he invested that signing bonus.

The Cubs also released Dontrelle Willis, whom they brought in this year on a minor league deal. The former Cubs prospect, who found success with the Marlins before a variety of issues derailed his career, may end up retiring once again, as he did last Summer. Like Simpson, he simply lost “it.”

Surprisingly, the Cubs released minor league catcher Michael Brenly – the son of former broadcaster Bob Brenly (and, no, I don’t see any connection between Brenly’s departure and his son’s release) – who had the look of, at a minimum, an organizational catcher for the next few years. He had the upside of a big league backup if everything broke right, but I guess the Cubs didn’t see it. There’s a serious dearth of catching bodies – not talent, just bodies – at the upper levels of the minors, so we’ll see if there is any corresponding movement (especially if Steve Clevenger is on the bench for the big team). The Cubs did pick up 26-year-old catcher Jair Fernandez this offseason.

  • http://www.wavesoftalent.webs.com tim815

    Boscan is better than Brenly. Gibbs is better than Brenly. Very moderate surprise, but nothing more. I hope he catches on elsewhere.

    • Tobias

      Arizona will, most likely, pick him up as a favor for his dad.

      • matt

        Arizona did pick him up

  • Die hard

    Maybe they will be hesitant to take a risk on another pitcher in draft as No 1

    • Timothy Scarbrough

      Considering that this is an entirely different font office, and that it isn’t like people just discovered that pitchers are risky, I would certainly hope this changes no one’s mind.

      • Edwin

        I know, the old front office was all “Arial Narrow” all of the time, thank goodness Theo is more of a Calibri fan.

  • Alex

    Hurts only if you think we could have had mike oly or someone along those lines, that was a solid draft. Ironically barret loux got drafted 6th that year, so it looks like theo got his guy instead just a a few years later

  • Spencer

    Don’t really understand releasing Brenly.

    • AB

      MLB backup catchers can hit in the minors. Look at Koyie Hill’s minor league numbers.

      Brenly never showed the ability to hit minor league pitching at an even average-level.

  • Cheryl

    With Simpson it was bound to happen. The guy has had his share of bad luck, If he hadn’t had mono who knows how good he might have been.

    • http://401klogic.net Westbound Willie

      You really believe mono and its after effects can last two years? I’ve seen athletes come back from mono full speed in 3 months tops.

      If Epstein had drafted him he’s still be on the cubs

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Not all mono cases are equal. For most people, it’s basically just irritating for a while. For a minority of people, it is much more serious, and it can permanently damage people in rare cases.

        • http://401klogic.net Westbound Willie

          I understand that it affects people differently. If you’re under five or over sixty five then there is a chance that it could have a pretty big impact. For a top flight well conditioned athlete to not get on track leads me to believe that there were other components that came into play here.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Conditioning would not be relevant: how “in shape” you are rarely (if ever) has much effect on how viruses affect you.

            • Cheryl

              Also, I think there were reports he tried to come back too soon and the bone and muscle structure in his pitching arm had been weakened and he had an njury there.

          • RoughRiider

            I find it interesting that you have all this knowledge about Mono. I myself got it when I was 28. I’m still effected by it to some extent 30+ years later. I look forward to reading your paper in JAMA.

      • Chet Masterson

        “If Epstein had drafted him he’s still be on the cubs”

        I think your point is that the drafting GM would give up a busted 1st rounder only as a last resort. I don’t think that point is worth debating… in fact it’s probably true, because it’s human nature.

        The more noteworthy point is that an Epstein led front office would never have drafted Simpson in the 1st round. Ever.

        • YourResidentJag

          Then again, that may also be said for Junior Lake, Brett Jackson, and even Javier Baez.

      • Edwin

        I had mono when I was 10 and I still haven’t been able to hit 90 on my fastball.

  • Marc N.

    I tried to understand that Simpson pick from the start so I can say I empathize with the whole situation. He had a pro arm until mono sapped strength, size, and obviously then velocity. Weird thing is you saw Simpson you could understand why they might have liked him at one point. He wasn’t tall but he was athletic with a really loose arm with velocity and the ability to spin a ball…Oh well, that’s the way it goes with pitchers.

    • Marc N.

      Also picking him landed him other interesting arms anyway…Austin Reed and Ben Wells were overslotted partially because they saved money picking Simpson….both still have ML upside.

  • http://www.shadowsofwrigley.com TC

    Just wish he woulda failed on his own merits, not lost so much weight & velocity due to the mono. Its tough to criticize the pick too much because we never got to see what Cubs scouts saw in him at whatever Arkansas DII school he pitching at, but at the same time there were some very real talents that the Cubs passed up on. I don’t really know what to feel about him

  • Dustin S

    With every failed pick I think…


    • DarthHater

      Kenneth, what is the frequency?

      • DocPeterWimsey

        You said that mono was the shackles of youth, ah-huh….

  • cedlandrum

    Bummer all the way around.

  • preacherman86

    worst part of the simpson pick…three guys taken well after him in that draft are three guys the cubs would give the farm for…figuratively speaking. Taijuan Walker, Mike Olt, and Nick Castellanos, man what a bummer, thanks for the D2 Reach Jim(Hendry)!

    • TheDynastyStartsIn2016

      You can say that about 95% of the guys every drafted (in any sport)…if only we would have taken….so and so…First, even if the Cubs approached the pick as taking the best player available, who knows if Walker, Olt or Castellanos would have been their pick. What we should be mad about is the fact they probably took because of money issues.

      • preacherman86

        right, taking a d2 almost certain to be there a round or 2 rounds or 3 rounds later!

      • terencemann

        Yes, if only the would have taken one of the consensus best players availble, things would be different. AKA, if they had not taken a player only they believed in….

        AKA, it was a bad player to take with that pick.

        • YourResidentJag

          And the same may be said a few years down the road with Almora. Considering the weight and importance now that the Cubs are placing on SP, I could say to two or three years from now “If only Theo and Co had picked up Appel in 2012 and then Manea with #2 pick in 2013, they might have had two TOR starters. Now we have to spend an exorbitant amount of $$ in FA to procure another one.”

          • terencemann

            It’s a different story with Appel. The Cubs weren’t the only team that punted on Appel. They were probably the only team interested in Simpson for quite some time in the 2010 draft. He might not have been available with their next pick but there were players who were far more valued at the time with that pick.

            • YourResidentJag

              And yet they could pick him with #2 pick in this year’s draft.

    • wvcubsfan

      Never mind that Zell still owned the team and was drafting on the cheap. Chances are neither of those would have signed for the money they were willing to spend. Tough break with the mono, no one will ever know if he might have been a good player or not.

      • Kyle

        Simpson signed for $1,060,000
        Walker signed for $800k
        Olt signed for $717,300

        Castellanos did require $3,450,000

  • Bill

    Not that I condone it but he needs to take some time off and juice/take PEDs to get that strength back… Maybe he could even find a way to get it prescribed to him if an illness really zapped his strength! It’s the only way I can see him continuing his baseball career.

  • Kygavin

    Completely off topic but the only player remaining on a MLB roster from the Stewart-Colvin & DJ deal is…………………….. Ian Stewart. But yes the Cubs got robbed on that deal

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Yeah, I’m sort of surprised that has not gotten more attention here. I mean, it’s not like the Rox are a good team: they might just give the Astros a run for the money as worst-in-MLB.

      Of course, bad tactical decisions always help make a team bad, so maybe we can just write it off as the Rox FO not recognizing that Colvin is a HOFer! :-)

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Colvin was mentioned in the Bullets …

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Sorry, I meant I was expecting more discussion by the posters, given the opinions many have/had of the trade and players in question.

          Oh, and you forgot Doctor Who! New Doctor AND new Game of Thrones in one weekend? Call me piggy and bury me in feces……

          • hansman1982

            Eh, people don’t like to discuss things when they are wrong. Hence the reason I will discuss anything…

            • pete

              Out of curiosity, what was the rationale for his demotion? Wasn’t he second on the Rox in rbi’s last year?

              • DocPeterWimsey

                Colvin was “awful” in ST, and the Rox are such a poorly run organization that they decided to take ST “seriously.”

                • Kygavin

                  might be the best comment i have seen on here

            • DarthHater

              You mean you’re not people? 😛

          • D.G.Lang

            by your command piggy

        • Kygavin

          I guess the better place to have posted that is in the “bullets” but i just picked the first roster related post I saw. Its the weekend, Im allowed to be lazy

    • Kyle

      Same complaint as always: It wasn’t what we gave up, it was the fact that we wanted to waste a starting job on Ian Stewart.

    • King Jeff

      For production and pay, so far, yes the Cubs have been ripped off on that deal. I know Colvin and LeMehieu don’t amount to much, but Stewart has been even less valuable while making a lot more money than those two combined would have. If Stewart comes back and plays even solid this year, you can come back and throw this deal in everyone’s face. Until then, I’m not sure how you can possibly think this is something to gloat about.

  • JBarnes

    It’s about time they got rid of Simpson, never liked the kid on or off the field…maybe he was worthy of taking at some point in the draft but he was a huge waste of a 1st round pick.

    • Cheryl

      So you knew him? Can you add more to what’s been said?

  • Die hard

    Jonathon Gray would be a good choice and easier to sign

  • http://bleachernation.com hutch

    just another typical old cubs draft pick

  • jeff

    No offense, but Mike Brenly is a horrible catcher. Took him half a season in AA ball to throw out his first baserunner stealing last year. His bat was subpar as was his arm so unless pitchers just loved having this guy catch them, we aren’t gonna miss him a bit. It wouldn’t surprise me that he had only been retained because Bob was here and now he’s gone sooooo…..

  • Cheryl

    A little off the subject but doesn’t it happen fairly often that the players who don’t really make it in the majors or to the majors become the better coaches and managers? Maybe that will be the case with Brenley and Simpson? I think Casey Stengel was in that catagory, but I’m sure there were others.

  • Jp3

    What’s Sveum’s excuse, he got to the majors but wasn’t any good? WHY NO PLAY BACKUPS IN FAKE GAME?

  • SalukiHawk

    Hayden Simpson was a terrible pick at the time and it looks even worse now. Sure, you can’t predict injuries, but this guy was on most boards as a tenth rounder at best, and the Cubs looked absolutely silly for drafting him so high. It was a typical case of panicking, and that “we’re smarter than the rest of the league” mentality that almost never works out (see: Al Davis and the Raiders). They could have reached for him in the 3rd or 4th round and no one would have talked, then or now. But to take a guy like this with your first pick, shows some serious hubris and lack of intelligent scouting. I almost wonder if Hendry or someone at the top at the time really wanted this guy, because I can’t imagine Wilken making such a clear bonehead move.

    • Jp3

      That’s the 2nd time I’ve heard the word “hubris” in a month. Boyd crowder on Justified anyone?

  • chuck

    His “mono” coincided with his cycling off. Worst kept secret in Arkansas.

    • Jp3

      I thought Bobby Petrino being on the prowl was the worst kept secret in Arkansas at that time?

  • Bric

    Anybody else remember when Jason Giambi claimed to have gotten food poisoning in Japan? Then it turned out the food poisoning he claimed to have had like a 99% mortality rate? Woops, I guess he should’ve read the whole Wikipedia article first. Anyway, I always thought of that story whenever anyone brings up Hayden Simpson’s losing 20 pounds and his fastball. We’ll never know now, but one thing’s clear, Hendry apparently knew to read the whole web MD page before speaking to the media. The symptoms of mono are very similar to someone coming off a roid cycle without the 99% mortality rate.