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gods-wrathWhen the results of Kyuji Fujikawa’s MRI weren’t immediately available, I started holding my breath.

And I don’t know what the opposite of exhaling is, since eventually you have to exhale, but, whatever it is, that’s what I’m doing. That’s because Fujikawa, whom the Cubs just signed a two-year deal in the offseason, needs Tommy John surgery.

Fujikawa went down earlier this year with a “muscular” forearm strain, with the quoted word heavily emphasized by the Cubs because of the implications of a forearm injury – it is often the precursor to/signal of structural problems in the elbow. In Fujikawa’s case, no amount of wordsmithing could change the fact that, apparently, his elbow had some problems.

And when, on his 30th-plus pitch on Sunday, he felt something pop in his elbow, that was all she wrote. Presumably he’ll have the surgery as soon as doctors are able, and then he’ll be on the typical 10 to 14 month recovery timeline. It’s possible he’ll be a useful piece in the second half in 2014, but you can’t count on it.

This sucks, as Fujikawa clearly is very talented, and the Cubs could have used him in 2014.

  • Kyle

    The 8 millionth data point in why “just a forearm strain” always makes me snicker/cringe, depending on the team involved.

    And yet another reason why going into a season with 10-12 MLB quality pitchers isn’t really enough.

    • cms0101

      Am I imagining it, or does it seem like he came in from the beginning with arm issues?

  • #1lahairfan

    This sucks!

  • Coop

    Balls

  • EQ76

    I think farting while exhaling could qualify for the “opposite” in this case because this stinks!

  • DarthHater

    Always thought $4.5 million per was way too much to pay for a 32-year-old relief pitcher with no MLB track record. This makes it way worse. Sad.

    • Justin

      A month of Fuji’s hair highlights and mound visits by his interpreter were well worth the $9 Mill in my book..

      • Kyle

        Opening Day fist pump alone was worth most of that.

    • Die hard

      Not surprised

    • cms0101

      I am a Jed/Theo apologist… But there is nothing to be said about this signing that can defend it. Older Japanese relief pitcher doesn’t seem like a great investment at $4.5 mil per even without an injury. I know they were thinking he’d be the closer, but still. I guess now they move him to the 60-day and move Clevenger off.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Actually, there is a fairly long track record of older Japanese relief pitchers coming to the States and having success. Fujikawa’s performance further supported that until his elbow exploded. Folks look at the ERA and think he was junk, but the underlying stats were solid. He was probably going to do well.

    • JulioZuleta

      Eh, he’s the 25th highest paid reliever in baseball. Also, he has had injury issues all year. it’s impossible to say this would have been a bad deal had be been healthy. It was probably a little bit of an overpay, but nothing that really hurts a team. It’s not like the Marmol deal.

  • Justin

    Not a shocker. Why do pretty much all pitchers have tommy john surgery now a days? Hell, if this surgery was never created they would have make baseball pitchers throw underhand. It’s utterly mind blowing how common this surgery is…….

    • Will

      Some medically induced performance enhancements are O.K., I guess…

  • Dustin S

    My desire to trade Garza before something similar happens just went up a few notches. Hmm, ambiguous arm strain that just needed rest…where have we heard that before?

    • Justin

      Yeah I would love to see the statistics on guys who have had stress fractures in their pitching elbow staying healthy or needing future surgeries on the elbow. No one seems to have any info on this.

  • cubchymyst

    Well that sucks

  • Jp3

    Well at leasts it’s not serious though…(mocking someone about A Vizcaino yesterday)

    • Kyle

      I’ve had a sore elbow before, and it’s fairly common, so I’m telling you guys this isn’t a big deal.

      • Jp3

        Haha, exactly what I was referring to😄. Yeah it’s not a setback either because there is no need for concern when someone hasn’t thrown a competitive pitch since 2011 and the way things are headed probably won’t throw another one until 2014

      • MikeW

        but its calcium, its not the ligament. Totally not a big deal Kyle, dont be worried, its ok. *rolls eyes*

      • Jp3

        He’s not Dr James Andrews but he did stay at a holiday inn express last night

      • Rich H

        In High School I use to throw side arm A LOT. I would even drop down to 3/4 Dan Quisinberry style submarine jobs. After about halfway through my senior year my elbow began to bark and moan at me when I wasn’t pitching ( 3rdbase). Eventually there was fluild build up and a lot of swelling. The doctor at the time told me it was calcium build up from my throwing motion. I only rested about 2 weeks (played 1st because we did not have a DH) then was able to throw from 3rd again in about a month I was on the mound. This was over 20 years ago. Today they would probably be able to diagnose it a lot quicker and set him on PT after his surgery to remove the build up (I never did because I was not going to be playing baseball in college no matter how much I wanted to). So 6 weeks is probably just a ball park figure. On a side note I have never had a problem with my throwing elbow since.

  • http://www.cwsnaturally.com Evolution

    You know, BN…if you don’t report the news, there’s a good chance that it will never have happened.

  • Spencer

    This blows.

  • Tyron

    Nice work Jed an theo!, now u trade garza
    An draft kris Bryan

  • oswego chris

    I can’t blame Theo and Jed for this…

    • cms0101

      Bad signing. Older guy, unproven in the majors. If he was 25, I think you can take a chance with some money like this, hoping for the future. I know it wasn’t a ton of money in the overall scheme of things, but I questioned it when they signed him and I regret it now. The whole point of dumping a guy like Sean Marshall was you didn’t want to pay a reliever a bunch of money. He was a proven reliever. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great trade in the end, but they only made Marshall available because they didn’t want to pay him.

      • BluBlud

        I honestly don’t care why they made him available, but if I was offer a decent MLB ready, starting pitcher, and utility OF with upside(Has since disappeared) and a very decent minor league 2B, i make that trade everytime. I could careless if Marshall was making league minimun.

      • Noah

        Marshall’s contract has another $7.5 million guaranteed on it than Fujikawa’s does. It’s not just a matter of money, but a matter of number of years.

        You can’t look in hindsight at a player getting hurt and say it was a bad signing because he got hurt.

        By the way, Sean Marshall is also hurt with a shoulder problem.

        • cms0101

          I didn’t think it was a good signing from the beginning, I’m not just looking at this in hindsight. Bringing up Marshall, I was only trying to make a point of which relief pitcher would be more worth signing to a bigger contract. Honestly, I love the Marshall trade, and I wouldn’t have given any money to a 30+ Japanese pitcher, at least not in 2013.

          • willis

            I get your argument on this. I don’t think it was a bad signing, but I understand your point of if you aren’t going to do it with one guy, stay consistent and don’t do it with another.

            • cms0101

              If this team were realistic competitors for the division, I still wouldn’t like this signing. Put aside my argument of Marshall vs. Fujikawa. He’s an older Japanese pitcher that has never pitched outside of Japan. In bullpen dollars, $4.6 million isn’t minimum wage. If you’re going to spend that kind of dough for a bullpen guy, you really need to get a guy that is proven. Now if he were a little younger and had the same performance history, maybe you take a chance and overpay a little, if you project he’ll be as good or better.

      • hansman1982

        You trade guys like Sean Marshall because they are in the last year of their deal (and doubly so when someone is offering you a haul).

        BTW, Marshall has pitched all of 7 innings this year and is presently on the DL.

      • BT

        They traded Marshall because he served no purpose. Rebuilding teams don’t have a huge need for expensive middle relievers. He was going to be a free agent, and the Cubs weren’t going to sign him. Therefore, they traded him. No big mystery.

        Why does arithmetic get turned into algebra on a daily basis on this site?

        • cms0101

          That was my point exactly. He was wasted on this team. So is a 32 year old, $4.5 mil a year Japanese reliever. I was only bringing up Marshall to make the point. If you were going to pay one of the two, wouldn’t you rather pay the younger left-hander that was actually proven in the major leagues? I don’t think they should have paid either of them, and trading Marshall worked out perfectly. My point was if they had to pay a reliever, Marshall would have been a better choice. Seeing what they’ve found wtih Gregg so far, I really don’t believe this team needed to pay any relief pitcher going into the 2013 season. Just keep picking up scrap heap guys and try to find the diamonds in the rough.

          • Kyle

            What’s happened to the bullpen as a whole should show you that you can’t depend on finding enough scrap heap guys to fill out a pen.

            You might get one or two successes, but the failures will sink your season.

            • cms0101

              I don’t disagree with that premise. If you can get good bullpen guys, that is ideal. If they had given the money to a proven ML relief pitcher versus a 32 year Japanese reliever, I would probably squak less. Going into 2013, I personally didn’t want them to spend any significant amount of money for the pen, but I understand why they had to try and bring an arm or two in. Villanueva was a great signing, both for being able to start and improving the bullpen depth. I just didn’t like giving bigger dollars, in bullpen terms, to an unproven Japanese veteran.

              • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

                what does Japanese vs. “proven ML relief pitcher” have to do with anything?
                It was an injury, not talent.

                • cms0101

                  Historically, older Japanese relievers that come over to the States have not been good signings. There have been a couple of good ones, but mostly they are average at best. Forget the injury for a second. Take out the fact that he pitched in Japan. I question the logic of signing a 32 year old relief pitcher that has never pitched in the ML to a 2-year $9mil deal. I questioned it at the time and now that he’s back in the news I’m questioning it again.

              • Kyle

                American pitchers get hurt too.

                • cms0101

                  I know that. The injury is what brought this topic up again. I’m not focusing on the injury, just the logic of signing a guy like this for that amount of money. They should spend the money. I just don’t think it was well spent here. And now we’re still going to have to rely on scrap heap guys to fill his spot.

                  • D.G.Lang

                    based on what I have read, he has been suffering with similar arm problems for several years now. It seems like it wasn’t properly diagnosed and treated while he was playing in Japan and it finally completely failed while here.

                    I don’t know if he had told the Cubs before they signed him about his history of arm troubles or not. If would be very important IF he knew his arm was bad and agreed to the contract knowing it was bad.

                    If he truly believed that it was a minor thing because his Japanese medical team missed the diagnosis and mislead him, I wouldn’t hold it against him because he was mislead and he didn’t try to mislead the Cubs.

                    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

                      Can you share a link to where you read about this history of arm problems?

          • BT

            ” If you were going to pay one of the two, wouldn’t you rather pay the younger left-hander that was actually proven in the major leagues?”

            No, I’d rather trade Marshall for a young left handed starter (which, as you said, worked out great so far), then pay only money for the free agent Japanese reliever.

            Marshall was an expiring asset, which we used to get another, non-expiring asset (Wood). Since we can’t magically conjure prospects out of thin air, our only other recourse is to buy assets, which is what we did with Fujikawa. If he did well, he either helps the team win, or we use him to acquire another asset which was previously unavailable to us. If he does poorly, or gets hurt, we are out only money, and in the grand scheme of things, not that much money. It’s a fairly reasonable gamble to take.

            This is what we did with Maholm. It worked.

            This is what we did with Baker. It appears to not have worked.

            This is what we did with Feldman. It appears to have worked.

            • MichiganGoat

              Well said BT, there is no reason to get all chicken little apocalyptic with ever single injury. The FO has won some and loss some and I’m sure they didn’t expect to win them all. Relax everybody.

              • Kyle

                They’ve lost enough that I look forward to the day when we don’t have to rely on significant outside help to fill out a pitching staff.

                • MichiganGoat

                  Agreed but until that happens your options are to sign reclamation projects, dig through the wavier wire for a lucky scrap, or sign FA to deals that don’t align with their project future value. We’ve done a little of each this year and really hard to give a full evaluation.

                  So far:
                  1-Feldman – Win
                  2-Baker – Loss
                  3-Fuji – Loss
                  4-EJax – ?? (undefined? still too early to call a loss plus he’s healthy)
                  5-Gregg – Win (its tough to say that right)
                  6-The revolving door of RP Wavier pick ups – Loss (but with one good find its a win)

                  Not the best luck this year but none of these losses really hurt (in the rebuilding plan) and hopefully one day we have more “home-grown” talent to replace these losses

                • cms0101

                  Amen

          • ssckelley

            Fujikawa was signed to be a flipable asset just like Feldman and Baker. I the Cubs went into this season half hearted trying to win but looking to have assets at the trade deadline if things did not pan out. If the Cubs were sitting in contention for the wild card then no one would be complaining about these kinds of signings.

            Look at what this front office has done in the past, with the BSox Theo used to trade for players that were going to be free agents just so he could gather compensation picks in the following draft. They took that away from him so now he signs middle aged free agents to inexpensive contracts and flips them at the trade deadline if the team is not competitive. They did it last year with Maholm and this year it will probably be Feldman.

            • cms0101

              I get signing guys to be flippable assets. I question signing THIS guy as a flippable asset. I wish I could take back my Sean Marshall reference because that has taken away from the point I was really trying to make. I love what they did with Marshall. I was trying to tie thier logic to this signign to ask why it was different. They didn’t want to sign a bullpen guy, even an effective one like Marshall, to a bigger contract because it was wasted dollars on a rebuilding team. I tried to tie that to the Fujikawa signing to ask why it was different with him, but my attempt clearly didn’t work. That aside, I don’t understand the logic of signing an unproven player, at age 32, to a bigger contract than most bullpen guys normally get. He was paid more than any bullpen arm they have, except Marmol, and he never pitched an inning in the big leagues before. If he were younger and they were buying a little potential, it would make more sense to me. I just feel the chance they took on him was unnecessary when they could have taken that same money and bought another major league bullpen arm. I think they overpaid to sign Baker coming off an injury too, but that’s a different argument for a different day.

              • ssckelley

                Actually I think you make a better argument for Baker than for Fujikawa since Baker was damaged goods before they even signed him. Fujikawa seemed like a good deal since they did not spend a ton of money and veteran bullpen players, especially ones that can close, go for a premium at the trade deadline. Where you and I may disagree is I do not feel 4.5 million is a lot of money to spend for a veteran pitcher that can close. Marmol is getting paid more than double that amount. Bad luck for the Cubs that he ended up getting hurt and now requires TJ surgery.

                • cms0101

                  I think where we really disagree is I don’t feel Fujikawa is a veteran reliever. He’s a veteran in Japan. Technically, he’s a rookie in the U.S. I agree that $4.5 mil is not a large sum for a veteran reliever with skill. I don’t think, and I didn’t when they signed him, that Fujikawa is a proven veteran. Marmol is clearly overpaid (thank you Jim Hendry), but that’s not the issue I’m disagreeing with. I’m a Theo/Jed fan overall, but this move just felt like they were trying to be smarter than everyone else and bring over this unknown quantity to take over their closer role. A term they would use is undervalued asset. I don’t feel like this is what they got, and now he’s hurt so the plan to flip him is dead. Say he didn’t get hurt. Would he end up being the closer? He had enough bad outings to remove him from that job early on. What value does he have as a set up guy on a bad team? Does he pitch enough to build any trade value at all in that role? We’ll never know now. Listen, if he came on at the beginning of the year like gangbusters, threw 98mph and stole the closer role right out from under Marmol, I would clearly have to recant my intial thoughts on his signing. That didn’t happen.

                  • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

                    The guy had TWO bad outings.
                    Your opinion is that Japan baseball essentially doesn’t count and he should be paid based on experience and not talent.

                    I don’t think Theo/Jed agree with that opinion.

                    • cms0101

                      My opinion is why take a chance on a guy of that age, with no major league experience to boot, when your team is bad. If they were a veteran laden team and they were trying to catch lightning in a bottle to push them over the top, it might make more sense. We keep hearing how the budget will be tight until the renovation. If that’s the case, why take a chance on an older guy like this when they could have spent the same money on a more known quantity? Maybe even just grab a guy on a one year deal, if you have to sign a 32 year old. The guy has had 3 bad outings out of a total of 12. The rest of the time we’ve been waiting on him to get healthy. Age may not be the only factor. I specifically remember in one of the articles talking about the Cubs being interested where they cautioned that Asian relievers have heavy workloads typically. This injury seems predictable.

                    • cms0101

                      Correction. It was two bad outings out of 12, not 3.

                    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

                      There is no such thing as a “known quantity” in the bullpen outside of Mariano.
                      I don’t think your definition of “Taking a chance” is the same as the front office’s. I don’t think they saw the signing as taking a chance. He was never hurt. They liked his stuff. And he was successful in Japan. Even if you want to discount that like its meaningless, it’s not.

                      He’s got 10.5 K/9, 1.5 BB/9 so far in his 12 innings. If he weren’t injured, it seems to me like he could have been far more valuable than most other $4.5M/year RP’s.

                    • cms0101

                      Norm, I don’t discount he had success in Japan. I discount whether that success could be sustained at age 32 in the major leagues. Statistically speaking, there is a far greater chance for a Japanese pitcher brought over as a posted player, at a younger age, to have success than there is for an older Japanese veteran reaching free agency and coming to the States. I just don’t like the overall idea of signing 30-something Japanese veterans for this team in 2013. I acknowledge he has had some success, but there were also bouts of bad, followed by injuries.

                  • ssckelley

                    Had he not gotten hurt he would have been the closer. Did you see any of his outings? He only had 2 bad ones and 1 of them he was clearly pitching hurt. Anybody that seen him pitch knows that is closer stuff, the movement, control, speed, arm motion, all of it would have made an effective closer.

                    Your entire argument only works because he got hurt, which is an unlucky break for the Cubs. It is easy for you to say the Cubs should not have signed him, but he is not pitching because he was ineffective he is not pitching because he threw his arm out.

    • North Side Irish

      Don’t worry…someone else will do it for you.

  • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

    Why couldn’t the Front Office predict this injury? And why couldn’t they trade Garza last year before he was hurt, didn’t they see that coming? I hope they’ve learned their lesson and don’t sign any pitchers to a contract in the next few years.

    • Will

      I don’t think I’m gonna cross any streets for the rest of year either… just to be safe.

    • another JP

      Know what- you’re exactly right. Theo and Jed should just quit signing pitchers entirely and let position players pitch instead. Predict injuries? Tell us all how that’s possible.

  • RoughRiider

    Murphy’s Law always seems to apply to the Cubs.

  • 70′scub

    What ever happenned to the concept of incentitives? 4-5 milion another 4 million based on innings or games played.

    • BT

      Because players don’t sign contracts in a vacuum? It’s called a negotiation. The Cubs offer 4 million and another 4 million based on incentives, and another team says we will give you 4 million and another 4 million guaranteed. The Cubs didn’t randomly arrive at 8 million over 2 years. That’s what the market dictated. I would have liked to have seen them sign him for 15 dollars and free tickets to a taping of “The Price is Right”, but my guess is that wouldn’t be enough for him.

  • cubmig

    Do any of these things make any sense?

    ——–Scout and recruit as many kids who show promise to “make it”.
    ——–Require diligent arm strengthening program as a condition of their signing. (ala Dr. Mike Marshall or other well know experts in that field). The cream of the crop will rise to the top.
    ——-Bring up the best arms sooner rather than later to the ML club to utilize peak operative “readiness” (in quotes because of interpretation).
    ——Stop with the reclamation projects. The investment in pitchers carry enough risk as is.
    ——Institute a program of review of the club’s ML pitching staff to document risk or reward potential outcome.

    note: my ignorance of baseball is flawed. so if these sound stupid, I won’t be offended. just thought the problem of pitcher risk and how that impacts draft picks (pitchers vs position players; e.g. infielders, etc) when signing merit this off-the top-of-my-head list.

    • http://ehanauer.com clark addison

      Mike Marshall is a controversial figure. It’s no coincidence that nobody has hired him as pitching coach.

      Bringing up the best arms before they have experience is a recipe for lots of losses.

    • cubmig

      ooops.

      *knowledge of baseball is flawed (not ignorance!—lol)

  • The Dude Abides

    How’s the other Japanese reliever (forget his name) we have doing coming off of his TJ surgery? Any chance for him this year?

  • http://ehanauer.com clark addison

    Fuji, if healthy, was the closer in waiting when Gregg is either traded or regresses to his mean. Outside of a couple of early appearances when his arm was barking, he was excellent. This is a huge blow.

    But I’ll defend his signing, because he was the fallback when Marmol was to be traded or wasn’t up to closing (which he obviously isn’t).

    Now Gregg is our only fallback. And probably (if he continues to do it with smoke and mirrors) our top trading chip.

    • willis

      Yeah, it wasn’t a horrible signing that will haunt this organization for years to come, it just blows because he had some talent and in a position of huge need for this team. Unless there were injury concerns that came attached to this contract, which we never really heard about, then it’s hard to get too bent over this signing. Just dumb freaking luck.

  • itzscott

    Just wondering how many more times the Cubs are going to update injuries before they lose all credibility in that regard?

    • OCCubFan

      Smith has a minor arm problem and may miss one or at most two starts. We’ll just sew his arm back on and have him throw a side session. If he feels okay the next day, then he will be good to go.
      Jones sustained a minor bruise when he ran into the wall last night. To be on the safe side, just as a precaution, we’ll hold him out for a day or two and replace his knee. No big deal.

    • BT

      Because once they lose their credibility in that regard….what, exactly? What are the ramifications?

  • willis

    Ouch, but who didn’t see this coming. Forearm strain usually equals a worse problem. You hate it because he did show some promise of being able to be an effective back end reliever at this level, and damn does this team need that. Instead he’s on the elbow shelf with other promising arms, maybe to never throw another pitch in a cubs uniform again. And the way things are going with other elbow projects, that’s probably what I would expect.

    Sucks.

  • 5412

    Hi Guys,

    Let’s boil this discussion down a bit. He was signed because the Cubs were desperately trying to dump Marmol. If he looked good, then the Cubs could dump Marmol for even less in return. Didn’t work out.

    My feelings are we are in the zone of Pinella termed “Cubby occurances”, and when our luck turns, which it will, look out it will be fun!

    regards,
    5412

  • Stevie B

    As Stering Archer would say:

    “Eat a dick, billy goat!!!!”

    • OlderStyle

      “…danger zone…”

  • Die hard

    It’s no coincidence that Stewart and now this latest comes on Theos watch- he’s like a gambling addict going deeper into hole with each roll hoping for big score– but he’s playing with house money. He should have to pay 30% of each such contract where player doesn’t play at least 1/2 his contract– then he has skin in the game

    • JoeyCollins

      You think Theo doesn’t have skin in the game? He came here to win, he came here to end the WS drought. He knows if he is able to do that for both the Red Sox and Cubs he will go down in baseball history as one of the best executives ever. Also Why Wouldn’t he gamble on a couple guys like stewart at this point in the rebuild? Having Ian Stewart at AAA isn’t hurting this team at all. It’s not as if we passed on some big name FA in order to sign Stewart. And being mad at Theo because Fuji needs TJ surgery makes no sense at all.

      • Die hard

        He just threw away 7 million of the owners money- how much more rope will he get?

        • JoeyCollins

          A lot.

    • DarthHater

      What a great idea. Here’s another: Every time you post an idiotic comment, you have to shut up for one week.

      • Die hard

        If that were the rule we won’t hear from you til 2020

        • Jp3

          Ewwwwww burrrrnnnn!😝

        • JoeyCollins

          Except for the fact that if it was the rule you would be able to come back after a week and post another comment. So if you wanted to post nothing but idiotic comments you technically could once a week for as long as you wanted.

        • DarthHater

          I do not speak. The Dark Side of the Force speaks through me. And the Force has no skin and does not play games. :-P

  • Cheryl

    Wait until the draft and you’ll see more money go. I would think a pitcher has more chance of being injured than a position player but even with Gray or Appel being a consensus choice for the cub by draft experts I’d still go with a position player like Bryant.

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