When we last saw Angel Guzman, he was walking off a mound (or an approximate facsimile thereof) while leaving bits and pieces of his shoulder behind on the rubber. Like Prior and Wood before him, pitching for the Cubs must have Guzman experiencing post traumatic stress disorder. Any time he stands on piece of slightly raised ground, he must feel nauseous just from the memory of arm injuries passed.
So, consider this a retrospective more than a preview. Guzman will not be pitching in 2010 for the Cubs. Or, realistically, 2011, or 2012, or ever again (unless he wants to emulate the masochist Chad Fox, who seems to derive pleasure from the pain of an in-game arm injury).
Let's look back at the olden days, when Guzman was a fresh faced prospect who threw with thunder and filled the 4th spot of Jim Hendry's dream rotation, behind Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, and Carlos Zambrano. Hendry said in 2003 that, had Guzman stayed healthy*, the Cubs would have won the World Series that year. Strong stuff for a youngling like Angel.
(*that's right, folks. He was suffering from a series of nagging, prolongued arm injuries as recently as a time before we invaded Iraq!)
In later years, as he made small stabs into a world without arm soreness, Guzman made all kinds of impacts on the Cubs. My favorite memory of him comes from 2006-or-so, when he described Carlos Zambrano as being a sort of "dad" to him. I don't know how the Big Moose must have felt about that, seeing as how he's not even 2 years older.
After finally getting healthy enough to pitch for the Cubs in 2006, Guzman did his best to preserve his blossoming career by pitching his way to an 0-6, 7.39 ERA record in the last days of Dusty Baker. Sadly it was too late. In '07, he managed to give Lou Piniella all of 12 games pitched and 30.1 innings of work. But the numbers were better -- 0-1, but with a 3.56 ERA.
He returned in 2008 to pitch all of 9.2 innings -- detecting a pattern here? -- this time posting a 5.59 ERA. But arm injuries struck again.
Finally, last year, Guman did the unthinkable. After cracking the riddle of cold fusion and inventing the first-ever perpetual motion device, Guzman did something even more awe inspiring: he stayed healthy. Yes, friends, Angel Guzman finally woke up one morning and said "pip pip, I shall be a reliable asset for my team, cheerio!"
He delivered upon his promise, strangely made in a contrived and non-believable British accent, by pitching 61.0 innings in relief and posting a 2.95 ERA. The Cubs were finally hoping that his arm had somehow grown immune to injury, and they were relying on Angel to be one of perhaps three trustworthy arms in a bullpen that will likely consist of seven total relievers. In other words, his "middle relief" pitching role could have just as easily been described as "essential."
But, alas, it was not meant to be. While rehabbing from knee surgery, Guzman fell into that old pitcher's trap of screwing up his mechanics and hurting his shoulder. It's a tale as old as Betty White, with Guzman's misfortunes being just another chapter.
So, he's done. Finito. Toast. It's over, Johnny.
Better luck next year, Angel, we wish you a speedy -- if not insanely unlikely -- recovery.
Angel Guzman, back in his prospect days
What's more appropriate -- calling him Frankenguz, or Guzmanstein? Should we change the term from surgery to guzery? Nah, that last one's too much. Regardless, by this point, the frail body of the former Cubs prospect Angel Guzman has to be riddled with more scars than a lazy serf's back.
The story out of Chicago has Guzman about to go under the knife, again, because his body has failed him, again, leaving the Cubs with their dicks in their hands, again, putting even more pressure on an untried-but-hopefully-true young Cubs pitching staff to shore up the bullpen.
We'll still be featuring Guzman in the Season Preview series, although he very well may have thrown his last pitch with the Cubs. After all -- how many times can he get hurt before Hendry realizes that his attraction is a fatal one? How often can Guzman disappoint the team before Jim comes to understand that, even though they are sharing an apartment together, it isn't appropriate for Hendry to change his look to more resemble a single, non-white Angel?
We get by now that Hendry has his obsessions, and he tends to stockpile them beyond belief, but Guzman should no longer be one of them. To rely on him beyond this point will just leave Cub fans in Guzony. ...Guzzorrow? Eh. I give up.
(Note to the moronic: we know that a. he hurt his shoulder, not his elbow, and b. his real life arm isn't loaded with stuffing and springs. ...then again, maybe it is. Clearly Guzman should've bought Sealy)
On a team with very few impact trades, signings or other acquisitions, the legitimate media is picking up on the terrible news that reliever Angel Guzman lost his brother this winter, a victim of a shooting in Caracas, Venezuela. Caracas has been listed by one world agency as the most crime-ridden city on Earth, and although Guzman has managed to move his mother and younger sister somewhere nice and safe (the Dominican Republic?!?), he has not yet able to afford to move the rest of his brothers and sisters, so there they stay in Venezuela.
I am going to go ahead and write this, even though my gut tells me to just drop it.
This was Guzman's first arbitration-eligible year, and he received a raise for 2010 to $825,000, after at least three years of making close to the major league minimum. He made $420k last year, $400k in 2008 and $380k in 2007, a mere pittance in major league standards, but I am sure all here (maybe except Chuck) would trade places with Guzman right now. As a resident of the Cubs' 40-man roster since his big minor league season of 2003, he has presumably made more than the $800 a month most minor leaguers start with. I am sure he was signed for next to nothing, but in the past three years, Guzman has made over $1.2 million, not including any bonuses, endorsements, or other subsidies all the big leaguers enjoy.
1 million might not be enough to relocate his family to, say, Barrington or Bannockburn. But I can't imagine it would cost that much to fly them all to the DR and set them up in a house there, if it was a matter of life and death, as he is now making it out to be. As of right now, his remaining siblings still live there, even though his brother was murdered.
Pardon my cynicism, but this little story just doesn't pass the sniff test. I think perhaps his siblings remain in Caracas because they want to be there. I realize, also, that Venezuela is a very violent place where the families of athletes are targeted, but that is usually kidnappings for ransom, and other methods of extortion. Generally, even in Caracas, people aren't gunned down entirely at random. Fact is, although I know nothing about these people, or their lives, it is just as reckless and false for someone to assume this crime was random as it would be for me to assume that it was not done at random.
My point? I guess it is that major league ballplayers are just as full of crap as we are. I mean, we know about all the felons, the drug abusers, the wife beaters, the steroid cheats, and the guys like Milton Bradley who are just plain pains in the ass. Until today, all anyone knew about Angel Guzman was that he was a guy who undeniably had talent once upon a time, spent the next few years constantly injured, and has rather surprisingly become a durable member of our pen. We all figured that at some point, he would fall apart physically, because that was what his history suggests. So far, he really hasn't.
But other than that, he was rather non-descript in terms of his clubhouse presence. But even the most mundane of players are capable of having profoundly stupid opinions. I am not faulting him for saying what he said. I am faulting him for his lack of judgment. If a man who has made over a million dollars the last three years really believes he could not afford to have 'saved' his family from almost certain death in the world's most dangerous city, then how do we trust this person to know what pitch to throw to Albert Pujols with men in scoring position?
I know there are a bunch of you who are just FOAMING at the mouth right now because I have "made a leap", but you are the same bunch of lip-twiddling newbs who completely DISCOUNT the human factor in sports. Baseball players are not a bunch of robots who have their projected production programmed inside them for a given year, and then they just propel themselves out onto the field to fulfill their pre-destined numbers. You same people had the nerve to tell me that human factors don't matter in life - that you are capable of doing your job perfectly day after day while your co-workers who exist in the cubes 1 meter away from you snivel on about their miserable lives day in, day out?
We don't live in vacuums; we don't all walk through life with horse blinders and iPods stuck over our eyes and ears, and are completely oblivious to everyone else's human failings. No, the Cubs don't all have to love each other, holding hands, and singing. But if THIS team is ever going to make it over the 102 year hump they are stuck behind, everyone involved has to work hard AND smart.
And, based on today's story, Angel Guzman is either dumb, or full of crap. Or a tremendously poor handler of money. Which falls under dumb.
I know this sounds less than sympathetic to a man who lost his brother to gun crime. I do feel sorry for the crime having taken place, and I do feel sorry for him, his mother, and the rest of his family. But this story as it is just don't ring true, and it raises a red flag on a team that cannot afford one.
Quick, how was the best pitcher for the Cubs in 2009? Carlos.... yeah right.....the other Carlos.....not really.....Ted Lilly.....maybe. Seriously, who had Angel Guzman in the pool in April? I'm wrote in my player preview of Guzman that he was 50/50 to make the roster. Really? Well, I missed on that one, but so did everyone else.
Other than a few injuries, Guzman was the one good bullpen guys the Cubs had in 2009. Overall, I really think Guzman was the best pitcher the Cubs had period. The key with bullpen guys is repeating their success the next year. Carlos Marmol was lights out for two years, but was all over the place this year. Angel needs to find a way to repeat his success this year.
He threw 61 innings this year with a 2.95 ERA, and a 1.05 WHIP. This was by far his best year as a pro, and it gives the Cubs some options next year. The Cubs can do a few things now. They can either let Marmol close and slot Guzman up in the pen, or they can sign a Billy Wagner type and let Guzman keep pitching the 7th. Either way, I think the Cubs win with this method. He is one of the few guys that I'm not really worried about going into next year.
I'm not sure if Guzman is still pre-arbitration, but if not he shouldn't cost too much next year.
Update: The moves have been announced.
Fuld and Hart have been sent to AAA, and Patton is on the DL with a groin strain.
As for the line-up, here's tonight's:
At some point today, the Cubs will announce their recall of Aramis Ramirez, Reed Johnson, and Angel Guzman to the major league club's active roster. They'll also announce the corresponding roster moves they've made to make room for these three bona fide major league players.
In my opinion, roster and line-up speculation is what makes sports blogging fun. Not only do you get to play GM, but you also get nearly instant feedback from other passionate fans with interesting ideas of their own.
With that, let's try to get some opinions in the comments on what folks are thinking would be ideal for the club at this point. There are two questions to answer:
1) Who should be sent down?
2) How should Lou line the hitters up now that Aramis is back?
Randy Wells (0-1, 1.69 ERA) vs. Bronson Arroyo (7-4, 5.37 ERA)
I saw Randy Wells pitch in person on Tuesday in Atlanta, and I thought that he was finally going to get his first victory.
I had an internal debate whether or not that I should pull out the camera to shoot the final couple innings. That debate was ended when Chipper Jones slapped a single to left. In the end, Wells was once again the unluckiest pitcher in Major League Baseball History as Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg blew the game.
As for Bronson Arroyo, he might be the luckiest pitcher in the NL. Somehow he's won 7 games with a 5.37 ERA. What gives? Wells has been almost perfect and can't buy a win, while Bronson's won 7. It just doesn't seem fair.
Last night the Cubs defense allowed 3 unearned runs, and now they find themselves 4.5 games behind the Brewers. The Cubs still have a chance to win the series.
Derrek Lee - Lee had two more hits yesterday as his average moved closer to .270.
Geovanny Soto - Ok, it's a stretch that he's really hot, but he hit a home run. That's good in my book.
Angel Guzman - After years of frustration, Guzman has gotten his act together. In my book, he's been the biggest surprise this year.
The Cub Defense - Two errors and a bad route by Mike Fontenot in the 11th caused the Cubs to drop a game they could've really won.
This has been an up and down week for the Cubs. So, they might as well end on a positive note with a series win over the Red.
Tell me if this sounds familiar? A can’t miss project with all the talent in the world has injury problems, a surgery and now is struggling. Who is it? Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, or Bobbie Brownlie. Well, all of those names could work, but we are talking about Angel Guzman today.
Guzman was touted since the Cubs signed him in 1999. Right off the bat, Guzman looked like a sure-fire prospect that was destined for greatness. He finally, arrived in 2006 and made 10 starts for Dusty Baker’s team. It didn’t go well, as he posted an 7.39 ERA in 56 innings, while walking 37.
Injuries caught up with him and he only pitched 40 innings in the next two seasons, including last year’s 5.59 ERA in 9 2/3 innings.
I would seriously consider getting out of the Cubs organization if I was a pitching prospect. It just doesn’t work out for the most part (Brownlie, Sisco, Veal to name a few).
Coming into the season, Guzman had a fair shot to win a bullpen spot. He still has a good fastball, but his control is still hurting him. Guzman has a 9.00 ERA in 8 innings so far this spring. Of course the main problem is that Guzman is out of options. The Cubs choices are carry him instead of somebody pitching well, placing him on waivers, or trading him. None of the choices are that great, and I have a feeling that Guzman will be sent packing before the Cubs break camp. Also, Lou Pinella stated that Chad Gaudin is still slated to start the year in the pen, even with his 10.03 ERA.
Right now the pen looks like this (if we carry 7 in the pen)
Closer/8th Inning – Carlos Marmol or Kevin Gregg
7th Inning – Aaron Heilman
Lefty – Neal Cotts
Long Man – Chad Gaudin and Luiz Vizcanio (Both make millions of bucks, so they are probably staying unless they come down with an injury.
With six guys already penciled in, that means there is 1spots left for Guzman, David Patton, Chad Fox, Jeff Samardzija, Kevin Hart and Mike Stanton.
Stanton hasn’t been great this year, but he is lefty. Patton is a Rule-5 guy that has looked great. Hart is going back to Iowa. Fox is just a moment away from his arm falling off. Samardzija is probably the front-runner for one of the spots, but he could easily be headed back to Iowa to start as well.
So, if the Cubs don’t trade Guzman there is probably a 50/50 chance he makes the roster.