Monday, March 2, 2009

Everybody Take a Breath

Nothing perks up a fairly boring Spring Training season like some over-reaction to something that Curt Schilling says. There has been some heated debate in Cubs Blogland about the possibility of Curt Schilling pitching for the Cubs. There have been some nasty exchanges over at Goat Riders of the Apocalypse and a bit more civil debate over at Bleed Cubbie Blue.

There is clearly a camp that wants to have someone with the playoff experience and talent of Curt Schilling on the roster when the playoffs roll around. The Cubs' withering under the glare of the playoffs in the last two seasons is undoubtedly a large consideration for those in the Pro-Curt category.

The Anti-Curt folks point to his age, his lack of pitching in a major league game since 2007 because of injury, and his overall dick-esque personality as the main reasons to not want him on the roster.

It is important to note that the signing of Curt Schilling is not as imminent as the signing of Jim Edmonds was last May. Its not like he is anywhere close to joining the team, so nothing about the spring training race for the fifth starter spot is going to change.

He states himself in his own blog that he has not even decided if he wants to pitch again. If we make the assumption that he will eventually decide that he does want to pitch, there are a few things we can assume about the situation:
  1. Hendry will not throw bags of money at Schilling like the Yankees and Astros did for Roger Clemens - Clemens had not had any significant injury issues, had a longer and better track record of being durable than Schilling, and Roger was still a gate draw.
  2. No deal will be struck with Schilling until a few different eyes see him throw from a mound at least once - whether it is Hendry himself, Randy Bush, or a few other scouts, the Cubs aren't going to sign a guy who hasn't thrown a baseball since 2007 without someone seeing some room for getting him back to close to his pre-shoulder injury capabilities.
  3. If Schilling is going to pitch for anyone this year, it will be someone in a major market - I'm sure he threw Tampa out as a possibility to give himself some negotiating leverage when talking to other teams (he mentions the Red Sox are also always a consideration). Schilling knows he will make the most money in someplace like Chicago that has both the payroll resources to pay him his salary, and will also provide more lucrative endorsement possibilities to supplement that salary.
  4. If Schilling is signed, it is because the Cubs want an insurance policy -does anyone think that Schilling would start any game of the playoffs if injuries aren't a major factor? Does any sane person start a 42-year old with declining velocity over a healthy Zambrano, Harden, Dempster, or Lilly? The only way he sees the light of day in the playoffs or anywhere else this year for the Cubs is a season-sending injury to one of the Big Four.

Personally, I did not want Jim Edmonds last year because his skills seemed to be gone, he was having injury issues, and he has always been kind of a dick. That worked out pretty well (for awhile).

I don't think the Cubs are as interested in signing Schilling as they were in getting Edmonds, so it seems to be a lot of worrying over nothing. But if they do, it doesn't really hurt the team in any significant way, and could potentially help them significantly.

But after all of the hemming and hawing, name-calling, and statistical analysis supporting both the Pro-Curts and the Anti-Curts, the ball is still ultimately in Schilling's court to decide whether he will even look to join any team at all. That is exactly how he likes it, so I'm not expecting a decision anytime real soon.


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