Thursday, August 12, 2010

Prior is Back (Not With the Cubs Though)

Mark Prior has returned. Sort of.

Last week it was reported that Prior had signed with an Independent League team in Orange County.  Last night he made his debut.

According to Bruce Levine:

Prior, who was signed by the [Orange County] Flyers last week, worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam by striking out the next two batters to get out of the inning. He struck out the side in the sixth.

That's a pretty good outing, especially when you consider he hadn't thrown a pitch in a professional game since before Lou Piniella was manager of the Cubs.

Now this is one outing and I'm not ready to say that Prior will ever be able to climb back to the major league level to be effective and healthy in any capacity.  But let's suppose he can.

Wouldn't it make a great story if he returned to the Cubs?  He could start out as a set-up man to complement Marshall and Marmol, and then when Marmol inevitably loses the ridiculous bite on his breaking ball while still not being able to locate his fastball, Prior can step in as closer.  How perfect.

The problem is that scenario is all but impossible.  If Mark Prior comes back, I'll put money on him coming back as a Cardinal before he comes back as a Cub, just so he can stick it to the Cubs.  I'm sure all the years that the media and the fans called him a pansy as his arm was falling off has not been forgotten.  I'd be a little pissed if the Cubs media relations team did nothing to protect him and his sore arm as everyone piled on.

I'm not innocent here either.  I've made more than one towel drill joke over the years.  Now it looks like I could end up paying for my crimes.

Of course, I am assuming that the Cubs media relations team wasn't helping to push along those sentiments of Prior's alleged wussiness.  It's not like they are above that sort of thing.  *cough* Sosa *cough* Zambrano *cough* Bradley.

It isn't like the Cubs didn't have a reason do go and assassinate Prior's character.  I remember sitting at the convention shortly after the Cubs had tried to trade Prior to the Orioles for former MVP shortstop, Miguel Tejada and upcoming lefty pitcher, Erik Bedard.  As it turns out, the Cubs didn't really miss out on much since Tejada had all but stopped taking the steroids and Bedard has ended up being a left-handed version of Prior with all the injuries, but at the time that was a huge bounty in return for Prior (and I'm fairly certain the Cubs knew his arm was coming off.

Cubs fans were not impressed.  I think the only reason they weren't more upset about Hendry trying to trade Prior is because they were still pissed as hell that he was also trying to trade Todd Walker.  You would have thought they had tried to trade a 500+ homerun hitter for the worst Hairston ever and a garden gnome (oh wait... we were all OK with that trade).

So the Cubs could have easily trashed their own player (or at the very least allowed the trashing to go on without intervention) so that the eventual dumping of Prior would be more palatable to the fan base.

However it happened, I can't imagine that Prior would be eager to return to a fanbase that was so willing to mock the physical pain he endured while trying to apply the craft he was practically bred for. 

Prior coming back could have made a nice story.  It may still... just not in Chicago.


hey_sue said...

What is the over/under on games before Prior can't pitch again?

Aisle 424 said...

I would like to see him succeed. If nothing else so that Kris can understand why I get depressed when he comes up in cenversation. She wasn't paying that close attention to the Cubs when he was the second coming. She's always known him as the injured guy that everyone called a wuss, and then he got surly about it.

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