The Arms of Summer

Come ONE, Come ALL, Come to beautiful Mesa, Arizona!

If you have had shoulder or arm surgery in the past year, you too can make millions. The Cubs are now asking for anyone under the age of 50 with a torn labrum to report to camp. Seriously? I know, it sounds kind of funny, but is it all that far from the truth? No. Okay, well maybe you had to have prior Major League experience, which eliminates about 99.7% of us that were already booking plane tickets, but how many ‘chances’ are the Cubs going to take?

So Ryan Dempster worked out, great, I am as excited as anyone. How about Chad Fox? I was there the night his arm went flying towards home plate, it was one of the most stomach-churning sounds I have ever heard, absolutely gross. Scott Williamson has this year to prove himself, but I did not forget last September, so let us all hope he looks a LOT different than that.

I like Wade Miller, I like this signing, it could turn out well, it may not, but $1 million on a proven MLB starter is nothing. His career numbers are superior to Jon Garland, now I know that he had one great year last year, but they are rather close in age, and unfortunately, Cubs fans are all to familiar with what Wade Miller is capable of doing.

This brings me to Jason Simontacchi and that guy from the Japan league, Matt Skrmetta. Neither was close to decent when they were first healthy. Sure, Simontacchi had a decent year or two, but that was on the Cardinals. This is the same team that made Jeff Suppan and Jason Marquis look like Cy Young award winners. What real expectations can one have for either of these guys?

Finally, there is Kerry Wood. I drink more “Kerry Wood” kool-aid than anyone else, but I just bought my last pitcher. I kept thinking about the ’03 postseason and praying that he would finally realize his potential for a whole season, but alas, his body failed him, time after time. Maybe it is bad mechanics, maybe it is just bad luck, but whatever it is, it is simply NOT good.

So, with all of that being said, what do you expect? What can be determined successful? These are the questions that the Front Office MUST answer. When you sign this many surgically repaired arms, there has to be a goal. What is the over/under on innings pitched, or victories, or how many actually pitch half of the season?

I will be happy with “two and a half” successes. However, it is more specific than that, not any “two and half,” but Kerry Wood, Wade Miller and Scott Williamson. I do not care about the ex-Card or the guy from Japan. If you really think about it, the Cubs season hinges on this success. If Kerry Wood and Wade Miller return to form and both pitch at least four months, this team is for real. See, there I go again, believing in surgically repaired arms among everything else. The Cubs can keep signing recovery-room All-stars, but why not Barry Zito? There was an interesting caption under a picture of the 2004 Red Sox celebration on ESPN.com yesterday. It said,

“There were no prospects on this team.”

That really made me think. We protect Rich Hill, Angel Guzman and Felix Pie more than Mark Prior. For what? Sure Dontrelle Willis hurts today, but do you think he makes all the difference? Maybe. But I can assure you that the Cubs would not have made it to the NLCS in ’03 without Clement or Alfonseca. And if that team won, who would give a ‘you know what’ about Dontrelle today?

So it all comes down to hindsight, and as we all know, that is 20/20. If we trade Rich Hill and Felix Pie for Barry Zito, and he does not help the Cubs win a World Series, well then, it has already been 98 years. The truth is, I am not a MLB General Manager, sometimes I may think I am, but I am not. However, we have been risking each of the past three seasons on one or two surgically repaired arms, now; we are risking an entire season on six surgically repaired arms. When does this end? Can it even come close to working? Do you think the Bartman ball was bad, imagine Wade Miller’s right arm ripping out of place instead, you may think that is impossible, but this is the Cubs!

Oh, where have you gone Alex Gonzalez?

Please feel free to drop me a line at brian@chicagocubsonline.com, thanks for reading, and until next time,

Stay Classy Cubs Fans

Quote of the Day

"A mind troubled by doubt cannot focus on the course of victory." - Arthur Golden
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