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.