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In the News: The Final Edition (For Now)

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

 Cubbie kool aid

Greetings, Cubs fans. Well, first things first, some sad news (uh, depending on how you feel about me): I’m afraid this will be my last “In the News” report for a while. I’m heading out on vacation this Thursday and will miss the last week or so of the Cubs’ season. And, after that, I’m going to be focusing more on my contributions to SB Nation Chicago. If you’re fan of Chicago’s other sports teams, please check it out.

I do want to thank Joe for giving me the opportunity to write here. Even though the 2010 Cubs haven’t exactly made it easy to stay inspired and motivated, it has been fun keeping everyone up to date on the some (most?) of the major team-related story lines as well as getting in my two cents regarding various issues. I’d also like to thank Lizzie, Chet, Mark, CubbieDude and everyone else who’s been so welcoming. I hope to be back again to contribute at some point, and I’ll definitely be checking in via the comments section when I get a chance.

And now … on with the news:

Tyler Colvin is recovering. It appears the Cubs’ young outfielder’s gruesome impaling hasn’t been officially covered here, so let’s get up to speed: Tyler was nailed in the upper chest by a piece of catcher Welington Castillo’s broken bat on Sunday afternoon. Colvin was rushed to a local hospital where he will remain for another day or so. You can see the injury and read Tyler’s statement from his hospital bed here.

As it should be, Colvin is done for the season. And what a season it was. After making a very brief appearance as a defensive replacement in 2009 (he may have gotten one start), Tyler showed up to spring training with those now-mythical “extra 25 lbs.,” and absolutely crushed the ball throughout the team’s Cactus League schedule. Although his plate discipline problems didn’t exactly evaporate at the big league level, he hit for a remarkable amount of power, earning him a decent (if slow to materialize) amount of playing time under Sweet Lou and then Mike Quade.

Tyler ends his 2010 campaign as follows: .254/.316/.500 (.816 OPS, .350 wOBA) in 295 plate appearances, good for a 1.8 WAR. Although the low OBP is (and will remain) concerning, he hit for enough power to counteract its shortcomings. (That’s what wOBA is for.) As rookie campaigns go, I’d declare his a success — if for no other reason than he forced the team to keep him in consideration as a starting player next year. Whether he’ll actually be one will, in part, depend on what becomes of Fukudome next season. If Kosuke is dealt, Colvin should get the nod as the starting right fielder.

I’m sure you’ll join me in wishing Tyler all the best on a speedy recovery and restful off-season. In a season that turned out to be more about the future than the present, he’s given us all some hope.

Also done for the year: Geo. A few hours before Colvin’s horrific on-field accident, the news came down that Geovany Soto, in consultation with the Cubs’ training staff, has decided to undergo arthroscopic shoulder surgery. As detailed in this Bruce Miles’ blogpost, the successful surgery went down yesterday and Geo has already been discharged from the hospital. The team (and player) decided to go forward with the surgery now to enable Soto to be fully ready for baseball-related activities by January 1st. That should have him fine playing shape by spring training.

Geo ends his 2010 campaign as follows: .280/.393/.497 (.890 OPS, .385 wOBA) in 387 plate appearances, good for a 3.5 WAR. Those are, in my humble opinion, spectacular numbers for a catcher. I was hoping throughout the season that Geo would be able to keep his OBP at or over .400, but I’d say a slugging percentage that flirts with .500 makes up for the .007 shortage. Among all MLB catchers with at least 300 plate appearances, Soto placed 5th in value (WAR). And, among NL catchers under those criteria, he still leads all in wOBA, though the Giants’ Buster Posey or perhaps the Braves’ Brian McCann could still pass him.

So, again, we thank you, Geo, for doing pretty much everything you could to quell any remaining suspicions that your rookie year may have been a fluke. It wasn’t. You are a good and valuable player at a premium position. May you also have a speedy recovery and restful (though not too restful) off-season. I’d like to see the Cubs go into the 2011 season with a Soto/Castillo catching crew.

A couple remaining questions as the season winds down:

1. Can Big Z keep it up? Since returning to the rotation from the restricted list on Aug. 9, Carlos Zambrano has won six of eight starts, struck out 42 batters in 51 innings, surrendered only one home run and has a 1.59 ERA in that time. He’s lowered his overall season ERA to 3.75 (.381 FIP, 4.45 xFIP). A strong finish to the season may either convince Jim Hendry to say, “Aw, shucks, Z. I can’t stay mad at you,” and keep him around. Or it could boost Z’s trade value enough to enable Jimbo to work out some sort of deal with another team, though that still seems pretty unlikely given how much money is involved. And I don’t feel a bad contract swap is justified at this time. Then again, I’ve always been able to let Z’s bad/strange behavior roll off my back better than others.

Again, at this point, assuming Cliff Lee is not a viable option (which he probably isn’t), the Cubs don’t have many viable options for the top of the rotation. So they might as well hang on to the anger-management-mellowed Z for another year of his deal.

2. Can Marmol pull it off? And by “it” I don’t mean one of his patented, filthier-than-thou sliders. I’m referring to the single-season K/9 record. The Cubs wiggly armed closer currently has a K/9 (ratio of strikeouts to nine innings) of 15.64 (124 Ks in 71.1 innings pitched). That’s well ahead of the MLB record, which I believe is held by Eric Gagne, who compiled a 14.98 K/9 in 2003 with the Dodgers. I guess it’s a little too early to call it, but Carlos is still on the road to making history. He’s been a 2.7 WAR pitcher in the closer’s role and, I believe, is due for an arbitration hearing this off-season. So that should be interesting.

And, last but not least, one more…

Cubs Next Manager Power Rankings

1. Ryne Sandberg. What the hell — I’m just going to leave Ryno in the top spot. If only because of the comments Tom Ricketts made at a recent sports business event hosted by a local Chicago sports radio station. He basically said the next manager needs to be someone who:

  • Knows the team’s history, culture and general atmosphere,
  • Who’s young enough to stick with them for a while, and
  • Who can still act as a coach (not just a manager).

That pretty much describes Sandberg, though, on the other hand, it also describes …

2. Mike Quade. Yes, I think the former third base coach has built up his resume quite substantially since taking over. He has all the qualities that Ricketts mentions — and even more minor league coaching experience. He also has a 17-7 (as of this writing) record since taking over, including the best road trip (in terms of winning teacher) IN CUBS’ HISTORY. I have to admit, I like Quade a lot more than I thought I would. He’s intense, focused, engaged and, in particular, I like how he gives a round of applause to a starting pitcher he’s about to pull from the game. I just dig little things like that.

It would not surprise me at this point if the Cubs shocked the universe and offered him the job. He’s youngish (53), from the Chicago area, very familiar with the current players and Wrigley atmosphere, an accomplished minor and major league coach, and now, in an admittedly very small sample, a successful big league manager.

3. Bob Brenly. The Sun-Times reported last week that BB will interview for the job. He’s not exactly young — he’ll be 57 next year. But he could conceivably stick with the team for a good 10 to 12 years at that age. Brenly is presumably well-acquainted with the players as well as Cubs culture at this point, so he fits the bill. He’s also a fan favorite who would bring a certain amount of butt-kicking to the table. I’m just not sure that’s what the team is looking for and why I think a more “positively motivational” guy like Quade has the edge.

4. Eric Wedge. Baseball guru Peter Gammons caused a kerfluffle this past week by supposedly “predicting” that the former Indians manager would become the Cubs next manager. He actually said Wedge would be the “best fit,” which isn’t really a prediction. It’s just an opinion.

Still, Wedge will be only 43 next year, so he has youth on his side. I don’t really know how familiar he is with Cubs history or the fan/media atmosphere around Wrigley, however. I guess if Hendry does want to go with an “experienced” choice, Wedge seems fairly feasible as he’s younger (as noted) and available.

5. Bob Melvin. ESPN has reported that Hendry will be interviewing the former Mariners and Diamondbacks field general sometime around “the end of the season.” Melvin turns 49 next month, so he’s not as old as I suspected and still younger than Brenly. But he’s another outsider who I can only assume is being given a shot for due diligence purposes. He’d make for a boring choice in my opinion, but I guess you can’t count him out.

6. Joe Girardi. I know I should count ol’ Joe out, but I just can’t. He’s a dark horse. He probably won’t escape the clutches of the playoff-bound Yankees. But you never know.

Eliminated: Alan Trammell and, reportedly, Fredi Gonzalez.

Naturally, there are probably a variety of other candidates I’ve neglected to mention. (I simply can’t imagine Torre or LaRussa coming here.) But those are the guys on my radar at the moment. Feel free to chime in with others in the comments section.

OK, guys and gals, that’s all I’ve got. Enjoy the rest of the season and … yeah, I’ll say it … go Cubs!

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In the News: We’ve got Aramis!

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Good day to you, Cubs fans. And I don’t mean that in a snide way. Well, we haven’t had much to cheer about as of late, but the win last night (Monday) at least put the St. Louis Cardinals a full seven games behind the division-leading Cincinnati Reds and it gave us at least some modicum of hope for Mr. Jeffrey Alan Samardzija.

I managed to catch some of his innings pitched on TV and, well, there’s something there. (♪♫ What it is ain’t exactly clear. ♪♫) He still gave up some walks, though four isn’t too bad and, with Pujols and Holiday in the lineup, perhaps a base on balls isn’t the worst result. His breaking stuff did look a little better than I remember it being — especially a pitch he kept landing on the outside corner to left-handed hitters. And he’s still got the mid- to upper-90s fastball. So, though I’m far from completely sold, I’d say he made a nice first step toward respectability. The Shark will pitch again this weekend against the Marlins.

And now on with the rest of today’s news:

“Hey, Aramis Ramirez, would you like to stay for dinner next season? We’re serving Stove Top stuffing!”

“Stove Top Stuffing? I’m stayin’!”

Or so the conversation went, sorta, between the Cubs’ third baseman and Sun-Times beat writer Gordon Wittenmyer. Aramis mumbled something over the weekend (or maybe it was late last week) about perhaps testing the free agent market after this season, citing the fact that, despite his many problems at the plate, he’s hit 20 home runs and 70-some RBI this year. Granted. In fact, to be exact, he’s hit 22 home runs and driven in 73 runs as of this writing.

But that conveniently ignores his ghastly .295 OBP (.322 wOBA) and 18.8% strikeout rate — both the worst in his Cubs career. And I’m not sure whether WAR has made it into contract negotiations yet, but Aramis is currently a 0.9 WAR player with just a couple weeks left to go. That’s just flat-out embarassing for a player of his caliber. He’ll be putting up his lowest WAR since his 2002 campaign with the Pirates. (Was he injured or something that year? He got 570 plate appearances. Clearly, I need to brush up on my Aramis Ramirez history.)

Long story short, given his value as a player this season and the economy in general, he and his agent probably don’t want to spend the off-season getting low-balled by various big league GMs. So expect to see Aramis back at the hot corner next year. This may not be a bad thing if he’s fully healthy and can somehow get back to the player he was from 2004-2008. Those were all 4+ WAR seasons (i.e., good ones).

Chris Archer: A name to remember. The news came down yesterday that Chris Archer was named the Cubs minor league pitcher of the year. And that’s a name to file in your mental rolodex and expect to hear mentioned a lot during spring training next year, much as Tyler Colvin was last year.

I’ve heard from a couple of credible sources that Archer is being fast-tracked through the Cubs system and could be a surprise addition to the rotation in 2011. Of course with Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells, Carlos Silva, Tom Gorzelanny, Casey Coleman, and Jeff Samardzija already either claiming or vying for a rotation spot, it’s hard to see how Archer could find a toe-hold. But there’s a whole off-season to go, and we don’t know who might be traded.

Also, let us not ignore the Cubs 2010 minor league player of the year, Brandon Guyer. A fifth round draft pick in 2007, Guyer put up a .986 OPS (.398 OBP, .588 slugging) in 410 plate appearances for the Double-A Smokies this season. Sadly, he appears to be a dedicated outfielder and the Cubs currently have plenty of those. I can’t help wondering whether the Cubs would shock the world and convert him to a first baseman for next season. Seems highly doubtful, but it would make a great story, would it not?

Oh, and in case you haven’t heard, the aforementioned Tennessee Smokies are facing the Jacksonville Suns in the Southern League Championship Series. Game one is tonight (Tuesday)! You can listen in here. Go Smokies!

Speaking of Tyler Colvin … He got nailed by a Jaime Garcia pitch in last night’s Cubs-Cards game and is day-to-day with an elbow contusion. I really hope he can play through the pain and make it to an even 20 home runs. Just because. It seems unlikely he’ll be able to tie or break Billy Williams’ record of 25 bombs for a Cubs rookie. But I guess you never know.

In “Aw, Isn’t That Sweet?” News … The Portland Tribune is doing an occasional “DARWIN BARNEY WATCH” feature to track their hometown boy’s triumphs and travails with the Cubs. I love stuff like this.

Hendry interviews Bob Melvin. This was the “big” news today. Mr. Melvin shall have a place in my next “Cubs Next Manager Power Rankings,” assuming I find the energy to resurrect that feature at some point.

And, last but not least …

The Boston Red Sox have called up former Cub Rich Hill. He’s a bullpen guy now who struck out 55 batters in 53 innings pitched for the Pawtucket Red Sox this year. His walk rate was still pretty high.

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In the News: Catching Up With the Recently Traded

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

‘sup, ‘sup, Cubs fans? Whew. Did our boys get pwned last night or what? OK, raise your hands: Who was kinda/sorta hoping Brett Myers would pitch a no-no just so it would make the game more interesting? Don’t be ashamed. C’mon, get ’em up there.

YOU TRAITORS! GET OUT!

Ha, just kidding. I had mixed feelings throughout the first five innings. One major factor was, well, I just don’t like Brett Myers or his caveman hunter shtick, so I was more than happy to see the walk followed by Soriano’s line single. Would’ve been nice to score at least a run off of him, though. Sigh … the sad, waning days of a losing season. In any case, let’s get on with the news:

How is Derrek Lee doing? Not too well. Click on that link and you’ll find that Braves manager Bobby Cox is already fielding questions as to why DLee is in the lineup at first base over Troy Glaus or rookie Freddie Freeman. In 18 games (69 plate appearances), Derrek is hitting .250/.348/.350 for a .698 OPS. He’s grounded into three double-plays, including the rally killer mentioned in that article. And, of course, the Braves have now fallen out of first place — they’re a half game back of the Phillies as of this writing.

Of course, DLee still has time to turn things around and finish the season hot. But that particular trade is looking good for the Cubs. A couple of questions come to mind, too: 1) Is this the end of Derrek Lee’s career? 2) Should the Cubs invite him back on a one-year deal if they intend to pursue one of the Big Three in the 2011-2012 off-season? The Magic Daver 8-Ball says, “Seems doubtful,” in both cases.

Derrek’s struggles also got me wondering about how the other recently traded Cubs are doing. Let’s find out:

Ted Lilly. He’s probably gotten the most press of any of the Cubs’ recent tradees. Lilly was lights out in his first four starts for the Dodgers. He struggled a little bit in his fifth one against the Brewers (who’ve seen him a lot over the last few years) but still got the win. It was in his sixth start vs. the Rockies that Ted hit a wall, getting lit up for seven earned runs. But he bounced back this past weekend, going seven strong (in a loss) against the Giants. Overall, his Tedness has a 3.18 ERA over 45.1 innings pitched for L.A. with a 8.5 K/9. I’m predicting right here and now that he signs on to stay in L.A.. His flyball tendencies make the NL West a good place to wind down his career.

Ryan Theriot. In 35 games (147 plate appearances) for the Dodgers, The Riot has played a touch better than he did in the 96 games (412 PAs) he played for the Cubs this season. Unfortunately, a “touch better” doesn’t mean “good.” He’s hitting .281/.354/.344 for a .698 OPS. OK, that is a decent OBP and, interestingly, he has hit a home run for L.A.

Meanwhile, Blake DeWitt has hit .271/.326/.398 for a .724 OPS in 35 games (129 PAs). Blake does have four home runs, however. I still think this particular trade was a break-even at the least, with the Cubs still in line to come out ahead if DeWitt can flourish under Rudy Jaramillo.

Mike Fontenot. Lil’ Babe Ruth is a lil’ ole bench player for the contending San Francisco Giants. He’s appeared in only 11 games (35 PAs), hitting .281/.343/.313 for a .655 OPS. The good news is I got a few amusing tweets from the minor leaguer, Evan Crawford, whom the Cubs got in trade for Fontenot, before, inexplicably, he blocked me. Let’s call that trade a break-even, too.

An Adam Dunn update. According to one report, the Nationals won’t be re-signing the Big Donkey — mainly because of his poor defense. This clears the way for the Cubs to sign him, which ESPN’s Bruce Levine is predicting (in this live chat) to happen. So if the idea of Dunn in a Cubs uniform excites you, get excited (at least a little bit). And if it worries you, get a bit concerned. Assuming Hendry either has no interest or confidence in acquiring one of the Big Three, Dunn on a three-year deal would be a relatively acceptable pickup (uh, assuming one can live in denial about his defensive shortcomings, which aren’t as pronounced at first base as they are in the outfield, though still present).

Call-ups, Caridad and Grabow. You’ve heard about the Cubs’ September call-ups right? Say it with me: Berg, Samardzija, Fuld, Scales (!!!) and Snyder. Shameless self-promotion: I wrote about Samardzija and Scales here. (Warning: Contains White Sox content.) Berg we’ve seen plenty of. Fuld is, um, speedy. Snyder has had only one at-bat that I know of – his MLB debut. I happened to see it on TV and let’s just say he struck out on three pitches, looking awful against Astros LOOGY Byrdak. Honestly, Brad looked like a local college student who’d won a contest. I’d be curious to know what the team intends to do with him. Bruce Miles also notes in that article that two notorious ’10 no-shows, Esmailin Caridad and John Grabow, have been transferred to the 60-day DL.

Joe Giradi: All but out. Well, Joe was, in an ideal world, my top choice to take over as Cubs manager. But I’ve read a couple items recently that have led me to believe that what was unlikely initially is now all but impossible.

First, recently I read something from a New York writer (can’t remember who or where, sorry) that Girardi is on excellent terms with Yankees management. So not only is he being well compensated to manage a winning team, but he likes his boss. (And that wasn’t the case in Florida.)

Second, buried in this Bruce Levine post, is a mention that the Cubs want to be settled on a candidate by Nov. 2, and the Yankees could very well still be playing the World Series by then. So, perhaps if the Yanks are eliminated earlier in the postseason, Girardi may take a little more time to reflect and maybe even interview for the Cubs job. But, odds are, he’s going to be too occupied to even consider it.

That’s all I’ve got for the moment. Enjoy this day off from the agony. We bid adieu to the NL Central this weekend and next week with two series against the Brewers and Cardinals, respectively.

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In the News: Are the ’10 Padres the ’69 Cubs?

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Good day, Cubs fans. Well, I seem to be suffering from an acute case of the post-Labor-Day blues. Despite the fact that the Cubs have, overall, played decidedly well under manager Mike Quade (whom I’m liking more and more with every postgame press conference), winning three of the four series they’ve completed thus far and, dare I say, in position to take yet another from the Houston Astros, I feel … edgy, dissatisfied, irritable, sad. (Wow, was that a ridiculously long sentence or what?) Nonetheless, I shall forge ahead with another “In the News” broadcast:

Schadenfreude, indeed. It’s been with some bitter, acrimonious delight that I’ve watched the downfall of the San Diego Padres as of late. Oh, I know; “downfall” is a bit strong with another three weeks of baseball to be played. But the young fathers have been the darlings of the NL all season, outperforming many, if not most, pundits predictions.

But then, from Aug. 26 until yesterday (Sunday) Sept. 5, they went on a staggering 10-game losing streak. The San Francisco Giants are now a mere game back in the standings. So I ask you, Cubs fans of a certain age as well as historical buffs: Are the 2010 Padres the modern day equivalent of the famous 1969 Cubs? Will the Padres crash and burn in the waning weeks of the regular season as that legendary North Side team did? (And in this day and age of carefully regulated playing time and pitch counts?!) Do you want them to fail (because of lingering bitterness over 1984, perhaps, hm?) or don’t you care either way?

I don’t possess the wherewithal at the moment to do an in-depth comparison of the two teams. ‘Twould seem an imposing task. But it’s a storyline worth following as September winds down, and we head toward another Cubs-less postseason.

Interestingly enough, much of the Padres’ success can be attributed to our own wonderful NL Central. The Padres are 16 games over .500 vs. the Central (23-7), while being two games below .500 vs. the East (16-18) and just one game above vs. their own division (29-28). They’re a perfect 4-0 against the Cubs so far. But there’s the rub: Our guys finish the season with a four-game series against the Padres. Could we knock them out of postseason? Or at least the NL West? Like I said, it’s an interesting storyline to keep an eye on.

The Castro question. Don’t look for rookie phenom Starlin Castro in tonight’s (Tuesday’s) game against the Astros. Mike Quade is letting young Starlin serve as an observer rather than a participant for at least a couple days. A certain contingent of Cubs fans are up in arms over this decision, mainly because of the public way the team seems to be punishing young Castro for some recent missteps on the field.

Although the hearts of these fans may be in the right place — hey, I miss seeing his name in the lineup, too — I don’t think a mountain should be made of this molehill. The position of shortstop on a major league team is a huge responsibility. It’s referred to as a “premium” position for a reason. And while Starlin can surely handle the workload physically, he may be struggling to keep up mentally. And I certainly don’t blame him for that. I have trouble remembering my keys in the morning.

So let him rest for a day or two, maybe get him back in there against the ‘Stros in the series finale — especially if the Cubs lose today — and let that be the end of it. I personally like seeing Darwin Barney out there. Again, we probably shouldn’t expect Barney to be a starting player anytime soon, but he appears to be a strong defensive backup that could bring some nice depth to the Cubs 25-man for several years to come.

Hi-ho Silva, away! No, it’s a home game! Tonight (Tuesday)! And the other Carlos will be back on the mound! His is another interesting “Silva lining” (ha, do you see what I did there? I’m so sorry) story to follow. He’s thrown 108 innings and his ERA sits under 4.0 (as does his FIP and xFIP). Can he finish the season strong, making the Milton Bradley trade perhaps one of the most remarkable deals in our respective lifetimes? (I guess that depends on the lifetime, eh?) I’m rooting for Carlos, for sure.

It’s good news/bad news for Ryne Sandberg. On the plus side, he was named Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year last week. You gotta believe he fired up his laptop and updated his resume after that announcement. On the downside, his Iowa Cubs dropped a heartbreaking “play-in” tiebreaker game yesterday (Monday), losing 7-6 to the Memphis Redbirds. That effectively ends the Iowa Cubs excellent 2010 season, which means two things: 1) Ryno can now presumably concentrate on winning the heart (um…?) and mind (yes!) of Jim Hendry for the Chicago Cubs managerial job, and 2) We may actually see some September call-ups in the next day or so.

Mark Prior Update No. 6,450.  I feel like I’ve been doing Prior updates in every post but, in case you missed the news, here it is: Mark has been signed to a minor league deal with Oklahoma City RedHawks, a Texas Rangers farm team and has already made his “affiliated” debut. Check out the photo in that article — Prior’s “crafty vet” status is absolutely cemented by that beard.

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In the News: Another Focus On The Future Post

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Good day, Cubs fans. Well, we’ve finally reached the last month of an agonizing season that has most of us focused on the future. So, if you’ll forgive my brevity, here’s a rundown of some pertinent “focus on the future” items:

Here come the callups! The concept of September callups is a little laughable this year, as the Cubs have been calling up (and sending down and calling up and sending down and …) guys since, like, May. But, nonetheless, we should soon get a look at, well, one new face: outfielder Brad Snyder. He’s expected to be called up along with Mitch Atkins (seen him), Justin Berg (seen him), Sam Fuld (seen him) and, gulp, Jeff Samardzija (oh boy, have we seen him). The reason they aren’t up for their respective cups o’ coffee yet: The Iowa Cubs are in the Pacific Coast League playoffs.

The Arizona Fall League beckons. The Cubs are sending seven players to the prestigious Arizona Fall League, where some of the better prospects in both leagues get a chance to get a little extra playing time. Representin’ for the North Siders this fall will be pitchers David Cales, Chris Carpenter, Jake Muyco and Kyle Smit as well as position players Josh Vitters (rehabbing from a hand injury earlier this season), Ryan Flaherty and Brett Jackson. They’ll be playin’ for the fightin’ Mesa Solar Sox.

And now, appropos of nothing and for no particular reason, my …

Top Five Awesomely Named Cubs Minor Leaguers

  1. Rebel Ridling 1B, Peoria Cubs
  2. Trey McNutt, RHP, Tennessee Smokies
  3. Austin Bibens-Dirkx, RHP, Iowa Cubs
  4. Cameron Greathouse, LHP, Boise Hawks
  5. Arismendy Alcantara, SS, Boise Hawks

Ahem. Back to the news …

A dark horse from the south. Most of us have dismissed Fredi Gonzalez as a viable candidate for the Cubs manager job but, in case you missed it, check out this recent Sun-Times article. It reveals that, though Gonzalez does indeed have a long-standing relationship with the Atlanta Braves, he also has one with Cubs GM Jim Hendry. Could he unseat Ryno for the top spot? If I were feeling a little more ambitious today, I’d do another “Cubs Next Manager Power Rankings” and tell you. In any case, perhaps we should not count Fredi out entirely. One thing about him I like: He speaks Spanish, which is likely a useful communication skill for any big league manager these days.

 The future for statues in general vicinity of Wrigley Field: Bright. Harry’s has been moved. Billy’s is comin’ in. So the Noodle is cursed — who cares? We shall line the streets with them. And the people will like it.

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