Greetings from the VFTB Newsroom, Cubs fans. Just ignore that guy behind me. He’s not really looking at porn – just shopping for a bathing suit for his girlfriend. There are a number of interesting items coming across our teletype machine, so let’s get right to it:
Marlon Byrd takes supplements. Now, that in and of itself, probably isn’t news. I’m guessing almost every baseball player takes vitamin supplements of one sort or another. But that Yahoo! sports article by Steve Henson from today reveals that Marlon’s supplements come from a controversial (and rather shifty-looking, if I do say so myself) gentleman by the name of Victor Conte. The article also reports that, a little over a year ago, Byrd was called to New York to discuss his supplement use by Major League Baseball. Apparently, neither the trip nor an agreed-up follow-up phone call ever happened.
Now Marlon is an All-Star having a remarkable – and I mean, really remarkable – career year for our Chicago Cubs. And though Henson’s article makes no accusations, it does come with a worrisome undertone that this story won’t end here. Could we see Byrd’s 2010 season go down in the fiery flames of controversy? Could we see Marlon finally lose his cool if a couple of our tactless local beat writers pick up the story and start running with it? I guess we’ll have to see.
It would seem absolutely ridiculous for any ballplayer to dare indulge in a banned substance in this day and age. But, as Jane’s Addiction famously sang, “Nothing’s shocking.” I hope Marlon is in the clear. If there’s one thing Cubs fans don’t need more of this season, it’s disappointment.
In other controversial news, the Cubs have gone to war with Time Magazine. At issue: Time’s portrayal of the team’s baseball training facility in the Dominican Republic. A writer for the venerable news publication criticized the Cubs compound for cramming prospects into small dormitory rooms. Cubs player development director Oneri Fleita vociferously denied the accusations and offered clarifications to the story. In addition, the Time writer allegedly showed up unannounced and made no effort to get the proper credentials.
Big Z in the AZ. In case you didn’t hear, Carlos Zambrano threw one inning of scoreless baseball yesterday, striking out one hapless AZL Royal on three pitches. (“I’m Carlos Zambrano and you’re frakkin’ out!”) Big Z’s anger management therapy apparently worked, too, because he was all smiles and chummery in the dugout. (I’m pretty sure I just made up the word “chummery.”)
Fearless prediction:We’ll see the Cubs’ two Carloses switch places in the not-too-distant future. Carlos Silva will, eventually, go to either the DL or the bullpen (or both), with Carlos Zambrano (again, eventually) reassuming his place in the rotation. And, barring a trade of either, we start the whole dance over again in spring training next year.
Speaking of the bullpen, something is going to change … soon. Multiple mainstream media sources are reporting that the Cubs will make a roster move today to bring a fresh arm up for its ailing, addled bullpen. You could really take your pick of Atkins (who’s pitched only seven innings under difficult circumstances), Berg and Russell at this point. I might give Berg a little more time as he seems to be striking out a few more batters this time around and hasn’t given up home runs to quite the extent that Russell has. The Cubs could also simply release Bob Howry, who’s had a few decent outings but looks remarkably old all of the sudden. Oh, and let’s not neglect to mention that his overall numbers are just ungodly bad.
I wonder whether we’ll see a resurfacing of the Jeff “The Shark” Samardzija. For the season, Samardzija is 6-1 with a 2.85 ERA with 52 strikeouts in 53.2 innings pitched. Are the Cubs ready to give him yet another shot? Or maybe it’s Jay Jackson’s turn? We’ll see. Getting back to Samardzija, check out this interesting football piece on whether he might just return to the gridiron after all once his Cubs contract is up.
UPDATE: Carrie Muskat tweets that Mitch Atkins has been sent down and Jeff Stevens recalled from Iowa.
And finally today … the Cubs’ first round draft pick kissed a girl. Or maybe Hayden Simpson got mono some other way but, bottom line, the diminutive and much-maligned hurler won’t be playing baseball this summer. That should keep his arm fresh for his September call up next season.
BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: Cubs manager Lou Piniella officially announced his retirement today. Here is the Cubs official press release on the matter.