You’ve probably seen by now the news that the Chicago Cubs reportedly agreed to a one-year contract with Jason Hammell. While it might not set your heart aflutter, the best case scenario is that the Cubs have another Scott Feldman on their hands and can get a couple prospects for him at the deadline.
Hammel, 31, posted some of the best numbers of his career in 2012, going 8-6 with a 3.43 ERA in 118 innings over 20 starts for the Orioles. He took a step back in 2013, however, finishing 7-8 with a 4.97 ERA in 139 1/3 innings over 26 appearances (23 starts). Part of the problem may have been injury as Hammel was on the disabled list because of tenderness in his right forearm.
Of course, having been on the disabled list, he might turn out more like Scott Baker and end up making $6 million to rehab at Cubs facilities this year. The Cubs also signed James McDonald to a minor league contract.
McDonald, 29, was limited to six games last season with the Pirates because of shoulder issues, and posted a 2-2 record and 5.76 ERA. The right-hander was designated for assignment in September, and outrighted to Triple-A Indianapolis but refused that assignment, and elected free agency.
It hurts a little that he chose free agency over being with me in Indianapolis, but maybe he’ll pitch well enough to make the roster and mend my broken heart.
Bill Mueller is already working hard as the Cubs’ new hitting coach, and one of his first pupils is already in Mesa. Darwin Barney is out west trying to become a better than .208 hitter.
“[Mueller] and Brumley work together very well,” Barney said. “Their ideas are simple: ‘Let’s stabilize the base, let’s release some tension and let’s be the same every at-bat.’ That’s just a simple version of what they’re trying to do with me. I really believe in it and I feel good moving forward. Hopefully things work out for our offense this year. I think it will.”
“I got to the big leagues with my offense, as most guys do,” Barney said. “The defense came. You have to remember that this game is hard and you’re not always going to play as well as you want. Unfortunately, nothing came together last year, and I’m very confident that’s not going to happen again.”
Mueller sounds like part hitting coach part life coach.
“It’s a matter of getting these guys in the cage, getting some work in and really being good listeners to start,” Mueller said. “Once we establish a relationship, we can have an understanding of where they place value on things as far as their approach, their emotions and their swing — ‘swing’ meaning their mechanics. That’s the process. We’ll start implementing and trying to impact these guys as soon as possible and try to tell these guys how we feel about any particular situation.”
Only 10 more days until pitchers and catchers report, and it can’t come soon enough.