Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Lieber returns to Cubs

-Courtesy of the Chicago Cubs

CHICAGO – The Chicago Cubs and right-handed pitcher Jon Lieber have agreed to terms on a one-year contract for the 2008 campaign. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“We are thrilled to welcome Jon back to the organization,” said Cubs Vice President/General Manager Jim Hendry. “Jon was an All-Star during his four outstanding seasons in Chicago, he has excelled throughout his career at Wrigley Field and has continued his success since his first stop with the Cubs.”

The most-recent Cub to win 20 games in a season, Lieber went 48-36 with a 4.03 ERA (371 ER/827.2 IP) in 121 starts for the Cubs from 1999-2002, including a 20-6 record with a 3.80 ERA (98 ER/232.1 IP) in 2001 en route to a spot on the National League All-Star team and a fourth-place finish in Cy Young voting. He has a career 29-18 record with a 3.62 ERA (191 ER/474.2 IP) in 70 appearances (67 starts) at Wrigley Field.

Lieber, 37, is 129-121 with two saves and a 4.28 ERA (1022 ER/2151.1 IP) in 375 major league appearances, including 321 starts, with the Pirates (1994-98), the Cubs (1999-2002), the Yankees (2004) and the Phillies (2005-07). He has four seasons with at least 200.0 innings, has averaged better than 6.1 innings per start in his career, and has 175 career quality starts, 53.1 percent of his outings.

The righthander has walked only 416 batters in 2,151.1 innings pitched, an average of just 1.74 bases on balls per nine innings. Lieber boasts the fourth-lowest walks per nine innings ratio (min. 1,500 IP) of any pitcher since 1994, the year of his big league debut, trailing only Greg Maddux (1.34), Brad Radke (1.63) and David Wells (1.67). He has walked two batters or fewer in 282 of his 326 major league starts (87 percent) while his 3.67-to-one strikeout to walk ratio ranks fifth among active pitchers.

Lieber has reached at least nine wins in eight of his last 11 seasons, including a 17-win campaign in 2005 with the Phillies when he matched his career high with 35 starts and eclipsed 200.0 innings for the fourth time (218.1). Lieber has missed time due to non-arm related injuries in each of the last two seasons. He made 27 starts in 2006 after missing six weeks with a strained left groin and last year missed the final three months of the campaign with an injured tendon in his right foot, necessitating surgery and ending his campaign on June 20 following 14 appearances, 12 as a starter.

Lieber has won 43 games with a 4.49 ERA in 103 outings since undergoing Tommy John ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow on August 8, 2002, forcing him to miss the 2003 campaign. In his first season back, he helped the Yankees to an appearance in the 2004 American League Championship Series by going 14-8 with a 4.33 ERA in 27 starts, leading to a three-year contract with the Phillies prior to the 2005 season.

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