What’s up, Cubs fans? Just a couple hours until game time here, so I’ll get right to the point. The Cubs are doing better and, well, most of the goings-on regarding the team remain centered on guys who throw the ball really hard at the catcher. What are they called again? Oh, yeah – pitchers! And there was a bombshell of sorts dropped last night that caused me to restart my laptop (which I’d just shut down), log back into my Twitter account and tweet two simple words before finally heading off to bed…
BOB HOWRY?! Yes, CSN Chicago apparently broke the story last night that Jim Hendry has reportedly “come to terms” with former Cubs reliever Bob Howry (veteran of the ’06, ’07 and ’08 campaigns), who was recently released by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Really, Jimbo? Really? Wasn’t it pretty clear two years ago that Howry’s fastball had flattened out to the point where it was really just a batting practice pitch that major league hitters waited on and crushed?
I mean, some of Howry’s numbers did look better last season. He posted a quite respectable 3.85 FIP (though a 4.95 xFIP, the highest of his career) and kept his HR/9 to a scant .71. Then again, he was pitching for the Giants at their pitcher-friendly park. Plus, I get the distinct impression from the Giants bloggers/fans I follow on Twitter that Howry was still viewed as a pariah out of the pen.
In all fairness, Bob Howry seems like a standup guy, so I don’t take any joy in ripping on him. I’d imagine Hendry will probably cite his “veteran leadership” as a plus for the team’s young bullpen. But when your veteran leaders are John Grabow (who got blasted for a couple hits and gave up a run last night) and Bob Howry…I’m really not sure how effective that leadership is. It’ll be interesting to see how and how often Lou uses Howry if this deal does, in fact, go through.
Caridad DL’d, Jeff Stevens called up. In case you missed this news yesterday, Esmailin Caridad, who seems intent on challenging Angel Guzman as the Cubs most oft-injured pitcher, was put on the disabled list with a right elbow strain. That explains the four-pitch walk in Tuesday night’s game. Right-handed curve ball specialist Jeff Stevens, who came to the Cubs in the Mark DeRosa deal, is Caridad’s replacement. Stevens struck out 21 batters in 17.1 innings with the Iowa Cubs so far this season, which sounds good to me.
Big Z to play the Sims on Monday. Oh, sorry – that should be, “Big Z to pitch a simulated game on Monday.” This is because apparently there’s a rumor going around that CARLOS ZAMBRANO WILL BE RETURNING TO THE STARTING ROTATION. Really? You mean he’s not going to be vying for a spot on the All Star Team via the highly coveted long reliever’s role? Shocking.
Welcome to Wrigley Field brought to you by Viagra! We could be seeing a sign like that at Clark & Addision sometime in the not-too-distant future. Tom Ricketts told Bruce Levine this week that naming rights are “a real possibility.” My guess is the Ricketts wouldn’t let a corporation completely rename Wrigley Field, just add itself to the Friendly Confines’ sobriquet somehow.
The Toyota sign is just about ready to go. So reports Greg Hinz in his Crain’s blog. Apparently making the sign “more horizontal than vertical” helped convince Alderman Tom Tunney to back off. Interesting political stuff in this blogpost.
Mark Prior injured pitching batting practice. That may sound like something you’d read in The Onion or The Heckler, but it really happened to Ol’ Number 21. Hey, could be worse – he could be headed for the Cubs bullpen.