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The Cubs sign Ryan: low risk, potentially high reward, still kind of depressing

Jul 17, 2009, 10:24 AM EST

The Cubs made it official and signed B.J. Ryan to a minor league deal:

Left-handed reliever B.J. Ryan’s loss of velocity and command might
be the Cubs’ gain if he can regain his form in the minor leagues. The
Cubs signed the two-time All-Star to a minor-league contract Thursday
after the Toronto Blue Jays released him last week. Ryan had 1½ years
remaining on his five-year, $47 million contract. That’s a sign of how
far Ryan’s stock has fallen during his second season after having Tommy
John surgery on his left elbow. His velocity is said to be in the low
80s. But for a Cubs team that needs left-handed bullpen depth, the move
represents a no-risk, potentially high-upside signing if Ryan can
regain some level of major-league form.

Definitely a low-risk move for the Cubbies that, if it pays off, will
pay off handsomely. I mean, it’s not too long ago that Ryan was a
fantastic pitcher and stranger rebounds have happened. Even with the
Cubs very recently: remember how bad Jim Edmonds was with the Padres at
the beginning of last year (.178/.265/.233) and remember how good he
was after coming to Chicago following his release (.256/.369/.568)?
That’s certainly the analogy/wish smart Cubs fans I know are making today.

Another analogy: this is the Cubs trying once again to solve a problem
they didn’t need to have. Just as they signed Ryan Freel and then Jeff
Baker in an effort to fill the hole left by the absence of Mark DeRosa,
the Ryan move, among others, is aimed at filling a bullpen hole created
by the absence of Kerry Wood. Which isn’t to suggest that the Cubs
should have kept those guys — they would have been really expensive to
keep around — but it must be disheartening for Cubs fans to see the
team continuing to shovel dirt into the same holes, over and over
again.

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