bryan lahair cubsHow about some feel-good stuff? Checking in on three former Cubs with nice stories …

  • Bryan LaHair (“The Hair”, “LaDiculous”) is coming back to the States! A year and a half after the Cubs arranged for LaHair to score a payday in Japan when it looked like his time in the big leagues had come to a close, the big first baseman is coming back to MLB on a minor league deal with the Indians. LaHair was an All-Star for the Cubs in 2012 after putting up stupid early-season numbers, but, as is often the case with older guys who’ve not broken through in the bigs by the time they’re 28/29, the production didn’t last. His numbers in Japan were OK, but not great, so back he comes. However things wound up, I really enjoyed following LaHair’s story, and it was something nice to remember about that otherwise dismal 2012 season.
  • Koyie Hill is getting yet another chance! The on-again-off-again Cubs backup catcher has signed a minor league deal and is getting an invite to Nationals’ Spring Training. We joke about Hill quite a bit, but he must be doing something right to keep getting chances. He is living proof that “replacement level” is erroneously determined or that there’s just something special about him: Hill’s WAR for each year he’s been in the big leagues is 0.0, -0.1, -0.1, -0.5, -0.4, 0.7(!), -0.5, -0.5, -0.1, -0.5. Also, whatever you think of him on the baseball field, he’s something of a badass off of it.
  • Adam Greenberg has officially retired, after his latest comeback attempt, and after getting his OneAtBat. You will probably always remember Greenberg as the young man who was hit in the head in the first big league pitch he saw, but his whole story was pretty impressive (if a little sad). I suppose the retirement is, itself, not a “nice story,” but he did get his second chance. Hopefully he moves on to the next stage of his life – whether it involves baseball in some way or not – and has great success.
  • Smitty

    Wow, that is amazing about Hill. The fact he is playing baseball at all is amazing.

    • JB88

      I think it is more proof that statisticians haven’t found the proper way to measure a catcher’s value and that, instead, they are trying to fit a square peg (catcher’s defense/calling a game/framing/etc.) into a round hole (WAR’s focus on offensive stats, mainly, and poor analytical tools for measuring defensive value).

      • MichiganGoat

        Yeah a catcher that can call a game and make pitchers happy will always be needed, and Hill can do that. What he can not do is hit much better than a pitcher, but he can catch and call a game good enough to be a 3/4 catcher on a teams depth chart. It shows how desperate teams are for catcher and also how teams are removing talented hitters away from catcher. Once the DL comes to the NL catchers will be the weakest hitting part of a lineup. Koyie Hills will always have a job.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Alternatively, it might simply mean that getting even a reserve catcher is not easy, which means that the variance on what is acceptable is both higher AND that this distribution is skewed relative to other positions.

        Yet another alternative is that FOs are simply ignoring the data indicating that things like “catchers ERA” vary wildly from one year to the next, and that the old model of catchers calling games went extinct with the proliferation of heat charts.

  • itzscott

    Koyie Hill?

    All I can say is that he must have a vastly under rated agent.

  • terencemann

    As I scan the text on this post, all my brain sees is: “Pitchers and Catchers in 6 1/2 days. Hurry up, for the love of God!”

    • Brett

      Rest easy – plenty of good stuff still on tap for today.

      • college_of_coaches


  • cubs2003

    Nice post, Brett. It reminds me of the human element of the game. For every $100M contract there are a million people trying to just stay in the game or figuring out what’s next.

    And terencemann, I gotta agree:
    “Pitchers and Catchers in 6 1/2 days. Hurry up, for the love of God!”

    • MichiganGoat

      I just hope the snow stops in 6 1/2 days but alas snow is forecasted FOREVER!

      • cubs2003

        No kidding! The ass end of winter always sucks in the Midwest and it looks to be especially bad this year.

        • ChrisFChi

          How about it. I haven’t seen clean dry concrete since I don’t know when.

  • TWC

    It takes a real man to mangle his hand on a table saw.

    • Brett

      And play professional baseball thereafter? Darn tootin’.

      • TWC

        Or to architect landscapes. Just sayin’.

        • Brett

          That makes one a real man for its own set of reasons.

    • MichiganGoat

      And some become career back up to back up catchers and others fiddle on a mandolin and cut grass 😉 – both are quite impressive.

  • Kyle

    Can’t wait until Greenberg gets bored and tries to whine his way into something else, probably a coaching job.

    • FullCountTommy

      And it’s official, Kyle has no soul

    • TWC

      Just OneBuntSign!

  • CubsFaninMS

    I think Adam Greenburg and Tony Campana should go into business together and create a new Chicago-style pizza chain!

  • DarthHater

    “You will probably not remember Greenberg but will forever reminded that he is the young man who was hit in the head in the first big league pitch he saw”