On Wednesday, salary arbitration-eligible players exchanged salary figures with their respective clubs. The club comes back with their number and ususally they end up somewhere in the middle. Two of the big names on the Cubs who were arbitration eligible were Mark Prior and Carlos Zambrano. Carlos has been one of the most underpaid and underappreciated guy on the team. Zambrano, who led the team in wins again, made $6.5 million in ’06. Everyone knows that Carlos will be seeing Zito money soon. Zambrano filed for a club-record $15.5 million in arbitration. Zambrano’s filing figure was the highest of any arbitration-eligible player this winter. The Cubs are going to want to lock him up at the start of the year since this is his walk year. Next year Zambrano is eligable to become an unrestricted free agent. The Cubs are not solid enough to lose him. The Cubs countered with an offer of $11.025 million, meaning Zambrano probably will do no worse than a $13 million salary for ’07 if the two sides settle before his hearing. The Cubs have not gone to a hearing with a player since 1993. The Cubs need to lock up Carlos now. This instant.
On the Flip Side
Prior also submitted his figure, asking for $3.875 million, a slight raise from his $3.65 million salary in ’06, despite going 1-6 with a 7.71 earned-run average in nine starts. The Cubs were allowed to offer up to a 20 percent cut from his ’06 salary, but instead wound up offering him $3.4 million. This was a huge step for the Cubs. It is a statement that they have finally cut the Prior cord. Since his dazzling debut in 2002 and his 18 wins in 2003, Prior has been injured most of the time. By offering less then what he made last year, the Cubs look like they may be looking beyond Prior. It will also be something that Prior and his agent won’t soon forget. Although he has been working out this off season, he seems to be an injury waiting to happen. In 2006 he had injuries to his rotator cuff and subscapularis muscle, along with the strained left oblique muscle from a batting-practice session in July in Milwaukee, that sent him to the disabled list three times. Orthopedic specialist James Andrews discovered looseness in Prior’s shoulder joints that trainer Mark O’Neal said was genetic. O’Neal said the looseness could cause "arthritic changes" but surgery was not an option for now. The Cubs are optimistic because he " is throwing off the mound and making good progress". Does that sound like a guy you want to invest your future in? It seems like this will be Prior’s last year as a Cub, which means that he will probably have an amazing year. Even if he does, I doubt he would resign with the Cubs, with relations between Prior and the organization being strained. I just hope that it isn’t a lose lose situation. I wish Mark a successful year and hope that he stays healty.
Congrats to Will Ohman, who avoided going to arbitration by signing a new a two-year, $2.5 million deal. Since Ohman is in so much, he may not seem that impressive, but set career-highs in 2006 in games (78), innings (65 1/3) and strikeouts (74). He led the team by stranding 80.5 percent of inherited runners and limiting hitters to a .208 batting average. Ohman held opponents scoreless in 63 of his 78 appearances, and he struck out at least one batter in 51 of his 78 outings. Not bad.
Juiced Part Deux?
So, I have tried to avoid the Sammy talk in this blog because all he want is attention. I heard him whine about not being a hometown hero, about how the Cubs mistreated him, blah,blah,blah. It looks like Sammy will be playing ball again with the Texas Rangers. After a year away from the game, Sosa is going to give it another try. I really hope he has learned the concept that baseball is a team game. I don’t know if time will ever heal the wounds between Sammy, the Cubs, and their fans.
Bon Voyage Jacque?
Jacque Jones will miss the Cubs Convention this weekend because he is being honored by San Diego High School during their "Athletes of the Century" banquet on Friday. Righhhhyt. Like they didn’t know when the Convention was or couldn’t work around it. Doubt will be seeing old Jacque too much longer.