Jim & Bob's Palatial Baseball Blog

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Oh to Be in Des Moines, Now That April's There

In a move that shocked nobody, the Cubs sent Mark Prior back down to Iowa of the Pacific Coast League to get his act together. So now instead the usual snarky debates over when Prior will get hurt, we can now have snarky debates over What It All Means.

Here's what I think it means: the Cubs' front office and coaching staff got together and decided that Prior wasn't one of the twelve best pitchers in camp. Ironically, he must not be hurt enough to hit the DL (not even with an inflamed ERA), so their choices narrowed down to: (1) carry him on the Major League roster and hope he doesn't flush away too many games before he rights the ship (if I may mix a somewhat disturbing metaphor), (2) punt him back to Des Moines and let him work out his problems in a more low-pressure environment than Wrigley Field, or (3) wash their hands of him and ditch him (with little chance of getting anything more in return than a box of baseballs, given how low Prior's stock is right now).

Given what I've heard from the Chicago punditocracy and the Cubs message boards, a dismayingly large number of fans and "experts" would be more than happy to go with option (3). I don't agree with that sentiment quite yet; in for a penny, in for a pound, as they say.

Jim and I had a nice chat about this situation, and he mentioned that someone on a Reds broadcast he was watching (and correct me if I'm wrong, buddy) said that the Cubs would get rid of Prior because he wasn't "Lou Piniella's kind of player."

I'm not sure if that means that Lou's kind of player is a guy who gets people out, or if it was an oblique reference to what must be the second-most-speculated-about psyche in the game today. The Trib has been questioning Prior's toughness for the last two years. And I think it's a safe bet that those questions will come up again after his rather defensive responses at this press gaggle.

I'm not a mind reader, so I don't know if Prior's too wussy to pitch through the pain. And I'm not Bill Frist, so I can't determine if Prior's problems stem from physical injury.

But I am a Cub Fan with a slight tilt towards Zen, and that means I'll do what I always do: wait for events to unfold, and hope for the best. In for a penny, indeed...



  • Well, by "getting rid of him" they were referring to the idea of sending him to Iowa, not dumping him completely. Although I suspect, as you do, that the Cubs would do so for a decent offer.

    As I told you, I think that Prior probably isn't impressing Lou very much. I suspect that Piniella's chain of thought goes something like this: I'm in a win-now situation, Prior is always hurt, either (a) he's a malingerer and not helping me by claiming to be unable to pitch, or (b) really hurt, and thus not helping me either. So I'll ship him out and start someone who is at least nominally healthy and able to pitch.

    I think that's a defensible attitude, given the situation of the Cubs franchise at this time.

    By Blogger Jim, at 8:39 PM  

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