1. Game Notes (Cubs win, 3-2)
It was a bit of a relief to see the Cubs win with relative ease yesterday afternoon after the mild embarrassment that was Tuesday night’s game. Jon Lester was absolutely the highlight of yesterday afternoon’s game, recording 14 strikeouts in 8 innings and giving up just 2 runs. It is worth noting that after pushing many Cubs fans to the brink of frustration, Lester has put together a very nice string of starts lately. In his last 7 outings, he has pitched an average of 7 innings each game and has 55 strikeouts in those 47.1 innings. He also has had a 0.87 WHIP during that span. Lester’s next start will likely come in game 1 of a very important series against the Pirates next Monday. After Lester left the game following 8 full innings, Hector Rondon pitched a very nice 9th inning to get his 13th save of the season.
On the offensive side of things, Dexter Fowler and Anthony Rizzo combined to drive in the 3 runs the Cubs needed to win the game, and Addison Russell had an excellent day at the plate, going 2 for 3. Russell has hit safely in his last 4 games. He got the start at shortstop yesterday, giving Starlin Castro a day off. After Castro was pulled early on Tuesday night and then wasn’t in the lineup on Wednesday, this fueled some obligatory speculation about a trade. It was clear before the game started, however, that his day off was not because of a trade.
It was also worth noting that Kyle Schwarber got his first career start in LF yesterday, and his first start in the outfield since A ball in 2014. It was good to see the effort in keeping him in the lineup, even on a day when David Ross was a given behind the plate with Lester pitching. Schwarber had an excellent day at the plate, going 1 for 2 and drawing 2 walks.
2. Trade Updates
Another top pitcher is off the market, as Cole Hamels is heading to the Texas Rangers. I had somewhat high hopes that the Cubs might be able to put together the right offer to get him, but the Cubs front office has made it clear that they are looking to build for more than just 2015 at this trade deadline, so I would assume that that placed a cap on what they were willing to offer the Phillies.
After the Padres had expressed interest in a trade involving Castro earlier this week, it appears that Javier Baez is also in the discussion. This obviously, would mean that Castro would be staying here, which is probably not the popular outcome these days. In either case, a trade that brings Tyson Ross to the Cubs and sends the Padres one of our middle infielders seems very possible.
With just today and tomorrow left of the trade deadline, the Cubs have stood pat so far. I still don’t expect them to do nothing, but as more of the bigger names on the market head to other teams, it seems less likely that the Cubs are going to make a big splash. David Price is still out there, but the Cubs have not been considered favorites lately.
3. Roster Moves
Mike Baxter was designated for assignment yesterday to make room for the call up of Ben Rowen, who was brought up to add a fresh arm to the bullpen. Baxter will have time to decide to either accept the assignment or pursue free agency. Yoervis Medina and Dallas Beeler were also optioned back to AAA Iowa.
4. Injury Updates
No major news here, other than the disappointment of learning that Neil Ramirez is headed back to the DL after experiencing soreness in his abdomen. This is not long after returning from being gone for 2 months because of shoulder issues. This is a frustrating development, and a surprise even to Ramirez, because the bullpen has been used heavily lately, and his arm is much needed as the season heads into its last 2 months.
Otherwise, Tommy La Stella is headed to AA Tennessee to begin his rehab again. He had barely made it into the second week of the season, going down with an oblique injury on April 8. If he can return soon, he would provide some much needed help off of the bench and would provide better flexibility with the middle infield.
5. Down on the Farm
The excitement and attention is focused on Baez right now, not only because he could be a trade piece, but also because he has done so well since returning to game action in Arizona and then to AAA Iowa. Baez did go 0-4 with 3 strikeouts last night, but he was able to draw a walk and score a run.
In Eugene, a surprise early exit from the game for Eloy Jimenez fueled a great deal of speculation that he was a part of a trade yesterday morning, but so far no news has come to that effect. The Emeralds shared that he was pulled because of shoulder discomfort, thus killing (for now) rampant speculation that he is a part of a trade package.
THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY
2003: The Cubs obtain center fielder Doug Glanville from the Rangers in exchange for cash and outfielder/first baseman prospect Jason Fransz, who will not appear in a major league game. The Chicago flychaser will play in only 28 games, hitting just .235 for his new ball club.