As you head into work, I want to provide you with a trip around the news and offer some commentary on it.

  • Kerry Wood’s blister is going to keep him out of the Milwaukee series – This has me bummed. We could really use him in the 9th for this series, but if it means that it will be completely healed when he comes back, then by all means rest it until it’s fully healed. I just hope that after all this rest, he doesn’t try to come back to soon, irritate it, and then have to be shelved essentially for the year. It’s quotes like this that have me worried. “Woody’s the kind of guy – that if he has to – he’ll throw through it.” Let’s not do that unless we absolutely HAVE to.
  • Cubs will probably be fined $500,000 – This stems back to the violation in the draft this year. They apparently signed two players over slot, which is the recommended amount set by MLB for the particular pick in the draft, and then failed to report the signings in a timely manner. I wonder if the over the slot thing makes MLB a little more angry and less likely to be merciful to the Cubs. They seem dictatorish like that some times.
  • Jeff Samardzija could be a gift from above – Looking at him yesterday compared to his first outing, he seemed a good deal more composed and much more dominant. Could he be the answer to the bullpen need? Is he enough to curb the idea that Jim Hendry needed to go out and get another arm for the pen? I think so. He’s got great stuff if he can just harness it. Control has been the main issue for him as he’s progressed. If working with Larry Rothschild can help fix that, look out!!! Baseball America had this to say about Samardzija

Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote a column about the enigma that was Jeff Samardzija Premium At the time, he wasn’t doing much to distinguish himself in high Class A, where opponents batted .323 against him while he averaged a mere 3.8 strikeouts per nine innings. For a guy with mid-90s velocity and plus sink, not to mention a $10 million major league contract, this just didn’t compute.

At the time, the Cubs maintained their faith in Samardzija’s huge upside. He was more famous for his football exploits at Notre Dame, where he set every notable receiving record, and he didn’t become a full-time pitcher until 2007. The Cubs believed that once he refined his delivery, his slider and an offspeed pitch, hitters wouldn’t be able to sit on his fastball. Ed Wood movie

Samardzija continued to struggle with those tasks in Double-A at the start of this year. He went 3-5, 4.86 in 16 games (15 starts), and his velocity and sink still weren’t enough to miss bats. Opponents hit .252 off him, which was an improvement, but his 44-42 K-BB ratio in 76 innings wasn’t inspiring.

His secondary pitches started to click in June, earning him a promotion to Triple-A, where he suddenly took off. He had a 40-16 K-BB ratio in 37 innings over six starts, and when he allowed just six hits while fanning 18 over 12 innings in his last two outings, the Cubs summoned him to Chicago.

Though Samardzija gave up a game-tying run to the Marlins in his major league debut on Friday, he rebounded two days later to record a two-inning save. He also looked spectacular, topping out at 99 mph and pitching in the mid-90s with his fastball with ease. He also showed a mid-80s slider and mixed in a splitter, and retired 12 of the 14 batters he faced during the weekend, striking out five.

With Kerry Wood on the disabled list again and Carlos Marmol struggling, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Samardzija could emerge as the Cubs’ closer down the stretch. That formula of a rookie closer coming out of nowhere worked pretty well for the other club in Chicago three years ago. (Source)

  • Jim Hendry elects to stay – No hitting for the Cubs means no hitting for Hendry in the game of 21 down the stretch. Sorry, I just watched 21 yesterday so I had to try to work in a reference. Dave Van Dyke mentioned that Hendry doesn’t plan to add before Thursday’s deadline, but if you know anything about GM’s, what they say and what they think are always two different stories.
  • Oakland makes a switch – Eric Patterson has been recalled and Matt Murton demoted for the A’s. Murton had been royally stinking up the joint and deserves to be back in AAA.
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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers as well as host of VFTB Radio. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail