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cubs mark priorThe Hall of Fame will welcome each of Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox, and Joe Torre next year. Quite a managerial class.

  • After comeback attempts spanning the better part of a decade, Mark Prior has finally decided, officially, to hang ‘em up. Prior’s last big league appearance came in 2006, and it remains painful to think of what might have been. In 2003, Prior’s first full season, he was worth 7.5 WAR. By himself. He wasn’t the same after that, and we can argue all day about whether it was the freak collision or line drive, or the rampant overuse. All we know is how good he was and how fleeting the feeling. Prior, 33, will probably head into some kind of front office/baseball job, assuming that’s what he wants to do.
  • Chicago Cubs GM Jed Hoyer addressed the media in Orlando last evening, and, among other things, he noted that the bullpen in 2013 was one of the front office’s great regrets (ESPNChicago). It’s frustrating to look back at how poorly-composed the bullpen looked … but only in hindsight. Going into the year, there were reasons for optimism. Remember, Carlos Marmol was coming off of a fantastic second half in 2012, Kyuji Fujikawa was a top Japanese reliever, and James Russell was James Russell. Call me a fool, but I have that feeling once again this offseason, especially if the Cubs add another solid back-end arm.
  • Hoyer also spoke about veteran leadership on the team (and the apparent lack thereof right now), and how someone like first base coach Eric Hinske – who played in 2013 – can help in that regard.
  • Sahadev Sharma writes about Hoyer’s comments on not labeling the organization’s top prospects as “untouchable.” I’ll have more on that in a bit, but, in the interim, read Sahadev’s piece, because he’s good at writing things.
  • Love hearing from Carrie Muskat that those who saw Junior Lake play in the Dominican Winter League this year were raving about his outfield defense. He played mostly left field, though he also saw some time in center field. There were no problems with the bat, either: Lake led the league with a .343 batting average (at the time his season ended (presumably so he could rest and prepare for Spring Training), per Muskat), and also got on base at a .386 clip and slugged .457. His .843 OPS was seventh best in the competitive league. If the Cubs aren’t going to add a big bat in the outfield, then I would just as soon see them give Lake a full-time chance (preferably in center field, but I am assuming that will be Ryan Sweeney’s gig). He’s got the physical gifts to “click” into something special, even if his minor league history suggests his bat simply won’t carry a corner outfield spot. The Cubs have little to lose in 2014, and maybe a little something to gain.
  • Kris Bryant made the Arizona Fall League’s top prospects team, featuring 22 players from 20 different organizations. I tend to think that the fact that Albert Almora and Jorge Soler didn’t make the team, despite prospect-y-ness being factored into the decision, doesn’t really mean a lot. Looks like there was a lot of love spreading going on.
  • The Mariners outbid themselves for Robinson Cano. Probably not really, but it makes for a funny story.
  • BN’er Chris’s contest (free books!) is still going strong over at the Message Board.
  • And the Bears! They won big over the Cowboys last night, tying them atop the division. Jay has you covered if you want to follow a Chicago team that’s kinda-sorta doing all right. They’re in the playoff hunt, at least.
  • Curt

    No Ty on the bears but Ty anyways, Brett if u had to guess will the cubs make abig move at the winter meetings .

    • gratefulled

      No kidding. Can we keep the Bears talk off this sight. I’m assuming only a fraction of the readers of this sight give two $hits about the Bears, and possibly football in general.

      • CubFan Paul

        +1

      • Eternal Pessimist

        Easy there fella…I’m sure the quick mention of a Bear’s link won’t burn your eyes too much.

  • http://mccarronlegal.com jmc

    poor prior…I just have to wonder if is arm would have been used less what could have been

    • http://bleachernation.com woody

      His shoulder was hurt when hit bay a ball. He returned after something like 4 weeks and it was basically down hill from there. If you want to blame Baker then blame him and management for not shutting him down for the season.

      • Ken

        You’re thinking of the time in 2005 when Brad Hawpe of the Rockies hit a line drive off his pitching ELBOW, not his shoulder.

        No one knows exactly when his shoulder got hurt but the most likely cause would have been when he collided with Marcus Giles in 2003 while running the bases and landed on his shoulder…and then went out to pitch the next inning.

    • itzscott

      …. and I have to wonder if Prior would’ve had a HOF career had he not been part of the most snake-bitten team in sports?

  • mdavis

    hard to believe Prior is only 33. damn shame, he was special.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    I read somewhere that the billionaire owner of Tanaka’s team will be arriving at the winter meeting today. I find that to be odd.

    • Rebuilding

      I told you the buffet was good

      • The Mayor

        Holy damn.. well played!

      • Steve Ontiveros’ Mustache

        You win the comments. Free internets for you, Rebuilding. Nice work.

  • Mike Feeney

    Growing up close to Seattle I always had two teams. Loved the Cubs on WGN with Grace and Sandberg and Dawson. Plus i watched the M’s as the local team. Then Griffey Jr, Randy Johnson, Jay Buhner and Edgar Martinez came along. So I was always kind of a two teams guy. Until Mark Prior. I was born in 1980 as well. Grew up a pitcher. And I just loved to watch his stuff. Then the next year was 2003 and I hardly watch a Mariners game anymore. Prior is the reason I went from a more casual type Cubs fan to a diehard. Today is a sad day even though it’s been coming for several years.

  • Rebuilding

    Woulda, coulda, shoulda – it would have been interesting to see how this FO would have handled Prior with pitch counts. The injuries were just freaky, damn you Marcus Giles. He was about as good as you can be in 2003 – too bad it all finally unraveled in Game 6 (obviously aided by the strangest confluence of events I’ve ever seen)

    • Rebuilding

      And he should have never made it past 2 batters in the 8th. You could see the velocity declining. He just wore out

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        And if remember right, wasn’t Clement up and ready in the pen at the time?

        • Rebuilding

          Not at that point. He should have been. With 1 out Pierre doubled and then an ugly walk to Castillo. That should have been it. Pudge then hit a rope single. Only then did Clement get up. The next play was the Cabrera double play ground ball that Gonzalez botched. Then Derrek Lee roped a first pitch 90 MPH fastball. Baker finally decided to go get him

          • Rebuilding

            Also, Baker went to Farnsworth, who had only thrown about 3 warmup pitches on a cold night, instead of Clement.

            • Jay

              Gonzalez makes the routine DP–Cubs go to WS and nobody’s talking about any of this. THAT was the game right there.

  • Werner

    Remember all those comparisons of Prior to Clemens and his smooth delivery and easy gas. 2003. Goodness. My heart hurts now.

  • SenorGato

    Anytime Mark Prior’s name is mentioned within 5000 miles of me:

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ErIHFtEZHhA/UB5ojUXSNaI/AAAAAAAACGU/eA0wS0AhEyA/s1600/crying-indian.gif

    His injuries killed the whole 2000’s of baseball for me.

    • SenorGato

      I should say the second half…except for 2008…and even then I was gd’ing not having Prior.

  • Required

    It’s sad to get veteran leadership we hire a first base coach instead of signing it. Just saying.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I would argue that isn’t sad at all. Why waste a bench spot on a guy that you want solely for veteran leadership?

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        I actually think it is really smart, especially given how young this team stands to be over the next few seasons.

      • Required

        True but there are veteran leader types all over the league helping other teams win games.

        • Brains

          yeah i would say we need veteran coaches and veteran players. and for that matter, “players”.

  • The Logos

    Was that an .847 OPS or .843?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Math!

      • The Logos

        Honestly, I wasn’t trying to be … that guy … I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing something there. That being said, I was excited when I thought it was .847, but now that it’s .843 I think they should cut him loose. That .004 meant a lot to me.

  • http://mccarronlegal.com jmc

    yeah I blame Baker blame Baker for wood too

  • Eric

    I’m just speculating here on just that tiny tidbit about how our top prospects aren’t untouchable.

    Of all the top 4, Baez is the only one this FO didn’t have a hand in getting. He also doesn’t really fit the mold of who this FO drafts. I tend to believe that if Theo were here during that draft, we may not have selected Baez at all.

    I say alllll of that to say this: Hoyer may not be as keen on keeping Baez around as we are. If Seattle called and offered Walker, would we listen? What if Houston called (and enough time had passed) and offered Appel?

    • Mike Feeney

      I understand your point and it makes sense. (and if Walker was offered you would make the move in heartbeat) I just wonder about trading Baez now. I mean, how many shortstops with 40 home run power and maybe 20 stolen base speed are there in the world?

      • CubFan Paul

        Yeah, Baez ain’t going anywhere. Theo&Co could care less who drafted him.

      • Eric

        Yeah, I totally agree about Walker. You make that trade and never look back.

        • CubFan Paul

          I don’t think the Cubs Front Office is that desperate for pitching (to trade Baez).

          It would have to be a bigger deal with other parts for sure.

        • Mike Feeney

          I was reading that one NL GM said he wouldn’t trade Walker for Price straight up. He’s thought of that highly in some circles.

    • http://bleachernation.com woody

      I think people over play the fact that Theo didn’t draft Baez. Considering that Vitters and Jackson whom were first round picks during Hendry regime were failures. By comparison the Theo regime picks of Almora and Bryant would seem to be much better. But all that considered I don’t think these guys are stupid. Baez has super star potential and is a top 10 prospect in all of baseball. The fact that Baez and Castro are both shortstops is over played. There has been speculation for quite sometime as to if Baez would stick at that position. And most think that Baez is more suited to third base. Reportedly Castro is working hard on his strength and conditioning this winter. The unknown is how Baez fares in AAA ball and how Castro bonces back. I would be pissed if the FO traded Baez.

      • Matt

        “Reportedly Castro is working hard on his strenght and condition…”

        Cream or clear? Or something new probably? Cream and clear are so 2000.

        Sometimes I tell a cynical joke, then feel sad when I wonder how true the statement is, perhaps not for Castro but tons of players around the game.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Vitters is a failure?

        An OPS of .869 in his first full year of Triple A at the age of 22 is a failure?
        A Triple A wRC+ of 137 in his 100 healthy PAs last year is a little better than what we generally see from failures.

        Sure, he struggled in his first taste of the majors, but I’m not sure that’s grounds to dismiss him completely.

        • Mike Feeney

          Keep banging the drum Luke! I am behind you 100%. I really hope Vitters has a healthy spring and is given a long look and lots of ABs in the bigs this year. Lake in center and Vitters in left is fine with me for most games. As a fan watching on TV or MLB.tv, I’d rather watch 22 and 23 year old players win, and more often lose, than guys like Sweeney do the same.

        • MikeW

          100 PA! 100! He couldn’t stay healthy!

          • BT

            That’s his point!

  • Jason P

    This was probably mentioned somewhere already (or maybe it wasn’t because it’s not Cubs related) but Roy Halladay is retiring. He’ll probably be one of the best non-HOF pitchers of his era.

    • Mike Feeney

      You don’t think he’s a HOFer?

      • Jason P

        I guess it’s possible but he doesn’t have the super high win totals or super low ERA that hall voters like to see. At the very least, it will probably take him a while. I guess if Jack Morris can almost get in, Roy Halliday should be able to.

        • Mike Feeney

          I mean, wins? In this day and age? Hopefully we’re moving away from that. Plus, if 300 wins, or close to it, is what it takes to get in we are fast approaching a time when no starting pitcher would ever get into the hall.

          • Matt

            I think we’re still 10 years or so away, when an older generation is well… too old… to substantially resist advanced metrics, before we stop using silly hallmarks like 300 wins as a sole basis for a pitcher getting into the Hall. It’s frustrating.

            On the flip side of that, 300 wins in baseball as a pitcher is still nothing to sniff at. And I do not like that some saber-heads who never watched Nolan Ryan discard him as an average pitcher. Sometimes, the “eye test,” thing and “intangibles,” do matter, at least a little bit. And everyone who played against him said “Nolan Ryan was the best they ever had to face.”

            • Mike Feeney

              There are some “saber-heads” who say that? Cause his career numbers, even the “fancy stats”, don’t support that argument. I mean his career war is 106 on fangraphs. He has a career FIP of 2.97.

              • Matt

                Definitely. Pro sports daily was the worst for a while. 100 pages of numbers (usually around Hall voting time), purporting that Nolan Ryan’s “numbers never matched his stigma,” blah blah. I’m a fan of advanced metrics in baseball, but I was just… come on. It’s Nolan Ryan.

                It’s funny; even with advanced stats, you get inner-quarreling with respect to what numbers are more valuable than others, what they mean, and how they should be interpreted.

                I always felt, in that sense, that it wasn’t much different than two scouts arguing over so-called “subjective,” traits like batting eye or hustle.

      • Spriggs

        I think he’s a lock to get in. Maybe not first ballot, but he should get in for sure.

    • Required

      You don’t think he HOFer? They compared his numbers to Sandy Koufax yesterday. It would be a shame if he doesn’t.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        I’ve got a few years before I really need to start thinking about it, but my initial reaction is probably not.

        Excellent pitcher, but probably not HOF.

        • hansman

          If he doesn’t get elected, that’ll be a shame. He only has a smidge over 200 wins, didn’t K a lot of batters (only 179 per 162 games) and played in the redheaded stepchild of the AL East.

          The dude was good but really needed to pitch for another 2-3 years.

          • Mike Feeney

            For what it’s worth, which may not be much, his baseball reference HOF monitor stats have him as a clear HOFer.

    • Eric

      I think he’s a 2nd ballet HOFer for sure. He was far too dominant to be overlooked. No, he didn’t cross any of those magic auto-HOF lines like 300 wins or 3k strikeouts, but I think we live in a time where those things aren’t looked at as closely as they once were.

      Halladay had nasty stuff. I had fun watching him and I’m thankful he played this game.

      • Mike Feeney

        Lead the league in CGs 7 times. Innings pitched 4 times. SO/BB ratio 5 times. 2 time Cy Young award winner. Career ERA+ 131. Career WHIP 1.178. Those look like HOF numbers to me.

        • Eric

          In 2010 his SO/BB was 7.30. Good grief, that doesn’t even seem fair.

          • Mike Feeney

            I live in Canada. So I can’t get away from the Jays no matter how much I hate them. Every game is on TV here. And Halladay was worth watching. He had a Maddux like ability to hit his spots. Great stuff. But pinpoint control to go with it. In 2003 he walked 32 batters….in 266 innings pitched.

      • Required

        Probably right about second ballot. Agreed it was fun to watch him pitch.

      • Eric

        *ballot

        Didn’t realize I spelled it wrong until I read Required’s response…

      • Rebuilding

        I think he gets in eventually. Top 5 pitcher in a decade of massive offense

  • Required

    Anymore it’s hard to say who gets in and who doesn’t. It’s really just a popularity contest. Politics should be left out of a lot of things, and baseball for darn sure is one of them.

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

    Dammit – I have NFL Rewind which doesn’t allow us to watch the Bears’ game for 24 hours after the end of the game!!!!

    I hate knowing the outcome beforehand, even if we’ve won…..

  • David

    I disagree with the mindset regarding Lake’s predicted production in a corner OF spot would not cut it or be optimal. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone hit .275/ .280, OBP of .360, 25 homers, 85 RBI’s REGARDLESS of his defensive position??

    Especially true seeing that we’ll have an infield putting up some awesome offensive numbers in a few years – assuming Baez and Bryant stay in the infield. We can “afford” to “put up with” production like Lake’s.

    Thoughts …??

    • CubFan Paul

      A .360 OBP for Lake generous.

      A line of .260/.320/.420 is more in line for the near term, but add in average or better defense & stolen bases and I agree that it doesn’t matter where he plays

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        I wouldn’t be surprised if that .420 SLG clocks in closer to a .445. I suspect Lake has a little more power than what he showed in the majors last year.

        But regardless, if he can play at least average defensive in center an OPS of .760 isn’t a bad thing at all.

        • Mike Feeney

          Luke, this is off topic but I was just poking through some scouting reports on Cubs prospects. What’s your take on Neil Ramirez? Does he project a #4 type starter? And will we see him in the major leagues in 2014?

        • CubFan Paul

          I think Lake could be a doubles machine with his speed, so .445 is definitely possible.

  • YourResidentJag

    If the Diamondbacks get Trumbo, that could be real bad in the Cubs trading Shark there.

  • YourResidentJag

    Neat photo of Wrigley Field first getting its ivy in 1937: Ballpark History ‏@MLBcathedrals 4m
    Wrigley Field get its Ivy for the first time, 1937. #Cubs pic.twitter.com/LjCdHDNqmE

    • Ron

      That is awesome.

  • Aaron

    Junior Lake deserves a shot as the Cubs everyday left fielder. I was happy to hear how well he played in the Dominican Winter League. The team has nothing to lose, and all to gain with this plan.

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