A League of Her Own

Thursday Headlines: Sczcur Is Not Your Everyday Samardzija

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(Photo: Cape May County Herald)

Poor Matt Sczcur (pronounced "Sczcur") has taken something of a good-natured beating from Cubs fans in the past week since announcing he's ditching his football career for a shot at being the next great home-grown Cubs outfielder. Everywhere he turns, it's Samardzija this and Samardzija that.

But apart from a funny name and the two-sports college thing, Sczcur and Samardzija don't share too much in common. Different positions, different backgrounds, etc. While pitcher-WR Samardzija spent his Notre Dame career fawned over by the national sports media, Sczcur has had something of a lower profile at 1-AA football school Villanova. Which is too bad, because it allows great stories like this to fall through the cracks:

Matt Szczur may someday patrol center field at Wrigley Field and thrill Chicago Cubs fans with his baseball skills. On Wednesday, he did something more important. Something likely to help save lives. The Lower Cape May Regional graduate came back to his old high school and helped sign up 191 people to be bone marrow donors.

Not a lot of fanfare, media, or PR junk here - just a guy working for a good cause for all the right reasons. Turns out he's got a pretty good reason to care about bone marrow donation, too.



Szczur has already helped save the life of a young girl. He made a donation last May under the National Marrow Donor Program.

Szczur, who hit several shots over the famous ivy-covered walls when he took batting practice at Wrigley Field last year, said helping the 19-month-old girl with leukemia was a thrill beyond compare.

Cynicism...melting...can't make fun. Seriously, good for him. The Cubs could always use more good guys and good outfielders, so let's hope we see Szczur tearing up the North Side tater-mashing and bone marrow-donating circuit soon.

In other news, uh, license plates and Wellemeyer? Ugh. Only 18 more days until pitchers & catchers, folks. Bear with us....or rather, CUB with us! No? OK, nevermind.

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35 Comments

baturkey said:

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LOL at '(pronounced "Sczcur")'.

sloan peterson said:

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So how do you say Sczcur? Skee-cur?Skez-cur? We need a nickname for him ASAP...

Teebob2000 said:

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His nickname is also "Sczcur". You just can't do better than that.

berselius said:

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It's actually pronounced as "Ceasar"

Carl Heartscubs Gierhan said:

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Do you think he's an Eastern European descendant of Caesar?

HackWilson09 said:

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Hail, ScZcur!!!

I tell you this right now. If this kid becomes a major force, everyone in the bleachers is going to be wearing togas and those little wreathes on their heads.

Teebob2000 said:

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And there'll be rampant drunken debauchery, God forbid!!

Oh, wait...

sloan peterson said:

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When isn't there drunken debauchery in Chicagoland?

Teebob2000 said:

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Top 50 prospects came out... Cubs top guy (and ONLY guy on the list) is number forty-freaking-six with a big splashy announcement on the team front page. I would think you'd try to bury the shame down on your site somewhere nobody will find it.

Of the teams with only 1 player, of course ours is the lowest-ranked.

Guess that means ALL our talent is already on the field, right? Which means we'll go all the way this year, right? Well done, Hendry.

HackWilson09 said:

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He's a question for you - where did they rank Castro last year?

The good news? Chris Archer is ranked behind him, and neither he nor Hak Ju Lee made the top 10 at either position.

I don't think Brett Jackson is getting a fair shake. I think if he came up on April 1st, he would instantly play at least as well as Fukudome, but with more speed. He's young, still developing, and of course, cheap! He's been drawing more walks and scoring more runs than any prospect I can remember coming up through the ranks.

berselius said:

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IIRC Castro was somewhere in the teens. But my memory sucks (laughing).

JulieDiCaro said:

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I think he was lower than that.

Doc said:

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Seventeen seems to ring a bell in my mind....but I'm too lazy to look it up.

Doc said:

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Dammit...I had to look it up...

MLB.com had Castro as 22 last year...
Baseball America had Castro as 16.

JulieDiCaro said:

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I was actually surprised we had even ONE guy in the top 50. There were a couple years there when we had no one.

Doc said:

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If we hadn't traded for Garza, we would have had two players...Chris Archer was ranked just below Jackson at 47.

That being said, it is a little sad that the Cubs really have no top prospects sitting in the minor leagues at the moment. And for those of you looking for this team to try to rebuild with minor league talent...well, they need to find some minor league talent before they rebuild with it. This, of course, is all assuming the Colvin really isn't all that much more than he showed in the second half last year and Cashner isn't anything more than a good relief pitcher.

HackWilson09 said:

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I'm gonna go out on a limb here, and say that the Cubs will have 3 guys in this top 50 next year. Brett Jackson, (if he still qualifies) Caesar, and McNutt.

I see McNutt freaking everyone out this year. I think he's an ce.

Doc said:

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I wouldn't freak out from a list of only the top 50 prospects...

With 30 teams in the major leagues, that would mean the average is less than 2 prospects per team on this list.

The prospects list to what for will be the Baseball America list that usually comes out near the end of February. The Cubs had 5 players on that list last year (and Colvin wasn't one of the 5). Archer and Lee didn't make that BA list last year either. If the Cubs could get 3 to 4 players on the BA list, I would say that it would indicate a pretty positive direction for the Cubs...especially since Colvin, Castro and Cashner all in the major leagues now and Archer and Lee are in Tampa Bay.

Teebob2000 said:

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No freaking out involved; just noting the general suckitude of our minor league system.

Gzeeb said:

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I keep wondering why Hendry didn't try to trade with the Royals at some point over the last 3 years....They are loaded throughout their system, with a log jam of good players at the AA & AAA levels...I see the Naturals play at least 4 or 5 times a year & they are loaded from top to bottom, but their players can't advance, due the AAA team be the exact same way...

Doc said:

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Exactly who would the Royals have wanted from the Cubs?

Yes...the Royals are loaded with young players...but they aren't trying to unload them. They've been trying to unload the major league talent that has priced itself out of their price range.

In order for the Cubs to have been able to make a trade with the Royals, they would have had to take someone the Royals could no longer afford and give up our own young players.

The Royals would never be willing to take the players the Cubs would be willing to trade like Fukudome, Soriano, Zambrano or Ramirez (or even Derrek Lee last season).

The log jam would mean the Royals would want to trade away their major league talent to make room for the minor leaguers...not trade away the minor leaguers.

That's been their philosophy for a number of years now...and it has worked quite well for them. Oh...wait...

Doc said:

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speaking of prospects...

Does anyone have a subscription to ESPN Insider? I'm curious about Keith Law's top 100 prospects.

Doc said:

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Nevermind...

Got it...

Law only has one Cub prospect in the top 100...Trey McNutt.

But of the 10 players on his "just missed" list, the Cubs have 4 of those positions.

Brett Jackson
Josh Vitters
Chris Carpenter
Jay Jackson

HackWilson09 said:

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Geez.... that ain't right.

I wonder if Hayden Simpson will pitch this year. Hope he doesn't get Steve Stone Fever.

Doc said:

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Well...let's keep in mind that Keith Law has typically shown an extreme East Coast bias over his career. I haven't looked at the whole list, but I would bet that the AL East and the NL East both have more prospects on that list than any of the other divisions.

JulieDiCaro said:

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The Cubs have invited Augie Ojeda and Braden Looper to camp.

Um?

Doc said:

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Well...we were a little short on crappy middle infielders...

...and you never know when you will need another starting pitcher.

I don't get bringing in Ojeda...I guess he is to fill the huge void that was left when the Cubs send Hak Ju Lee to Tampa Bay.

I thought Looper had retired. I know that the last couple years that he pitched, he was a starter, but spent most of his career as a relief pitcher.

It seems to me that the Cubs were considering bringing Looper in last year as well and passed on it. Not sure why they would do it now.

JulieDiCaro said:

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I think. . . I mean . . it's probably because.. . uuuuuhhhhhh. I got nothin'.

Doc said:

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Time to list out the potential starters for your 2011 Chicago Cubs:

Carlos Zambrano
Ryan Dempster
Matt Garza
Randy Wells
Carlos Silva
Todd Wellemeyer
Andrew Cashner
Braden Looper
Casey Coleman
Thomas Diamond
James Russell
Sean Marshall

and you'd have to add Trey McNutt and Chris Carpenter to that list...

and if you really had to...I guess you could add Jeff Samardzija too.

That brings my count of starters to 15.

Nice.

HackWilson09 said:

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Wow! Thomas Diamond's name in print! His season last year was VanPoppelrific!

Jim Hendry has a Samardzija for Thomas Diamond. Samardzija is a boner. You do the math. Still, I think you can jettison him from this list.

There is no way Sean Marshall is in the hunt, and I doubt that JJackson, McNutt or Carpenter are being brought up before their time.

So that gives you like 11. After the top 3, the best pitcher on your list is Tom Gorzellany...

I think Wellemeyer and Looper are obvious "veteran presence in the bullpen" guys, if they make the team at all. That would cut it to 9, and I think we all know Spellcheck is not going to make it, and Russell? Geez. Coleman has options.

It's a 3-man race between Cashner, Wells and Silva.

Doc said:

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There are two very good reasons why Sean Marshall should be on this list...

First, no one on this list that is a serious contender (sorry James Russell) is a left hander.

Second, while Marshall was extremely effective as a setup man, the Cubs are paying John Grabow $4.8 million this season to set up Carlos Marmol...he's going to get every shot at regaining the spot in the bullpen leaving Marshall meaning the Cubs, who consider Marshall as significant asset (hence the 2 year contract), need to find a significant role for him.

Wells is the #4 starter right now...so you can already ink him in. I believe the Cubs believe the true battle for the #5 spot will come down to Silva, Cashner and (gulp) Samardzija. I think we would all agree that Samardzija is a huge, mammoth, inconceivable long shot, and if he doesn't make the rotation, I don't think the Cubs will want to clog up the bullpen with him, so I would expect him to be DFAd before the end of April.

The question mark is Coleman, who did a serviceable job last season. I could see him coming to spring training and impressing the heck out of everyone.

I still believe the Cubs are trying to shop Silva...his value will probably never be as high as it is right now (which isn't very high) and if he doesn't make the rotation, he will be worthless. Don't be surprised to see a whaling ship brought in to transport his fat ass to another team before spring training is over.

With all that said, I believe that could put a number of these other guys into the competition for the job.

sloan peterson said:

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Let's have them all live in one house and call it Survivor:Chicago....

Doc said:

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That could be dangerous. Silva might eat them all up.

Doc said:

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You know...I keep making fun of Silva...and, watch, he'll come to spring training having shed like 350 lbs bringing him down to around Prince Fielder's weight and silencing all of his critics.

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