The Roster Shuffle Continues and Other Cubs News and Notes

The Cubs made more changes to their big league roster on Friday. The Cubs added outfielder Julio Borbon to the mix after they claimed him off waivers from the Rangers. To make room on the 40-man and active roster, Alberto Gonzalez was designated for assignment.

Borbon arrived at Miller Park on Friday night and was inserted into the game as a pinch runner for Dioner Navarro in the ninth inning. Borbon reported to his new team about five minutes before entering the game.

The Cubs made a host of roster moves earlier in the week that included designating both Brent Lillibridge and Hisanori Takahashi for assignment. Takahashi cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs announced Brent Lillibridge also cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Iowa.

The Cubs will likely stick with the current roster until Ian Stewart is ready to come off the DL … which could happen soon.

Matt Garza

Matt Garza completed a simulated game on Friday afternoon at Miller Park. Garza was rusty, for obvious reasons, but completed two innings without any problems.

Garza will throw a bullpen on Sunday then catch up with the Smokies to pitch in a Double-A game on Wednesday, April 24. The Smokies host the Montgomery Biscuits (Tampa Bay Rays) with first pitch scheduled for 12:00pm CDT.

The Cubs would like to see Garza complete three innings and throw around 45 pitches on Wednesday. Garza is scheduled to make four-five starts in order to build up his pitch count and innings.

Ian Stewart

The I-Cubs were able to play a game on Friday … and Ian Stewart manned third base for the entire nine innings. Ian Stewart went 0-for-2 with two walks and a run scored on Friday night. Stewart remains hitless in his rehab appearances with Triple-A Iowa. Stewart is 0-for-9 with three walks, a run scored, a RBI and six strikeouts.

Dale Sveum mentioned Friday that the Cubs would like to see Stewart play nine inning games for a week before they activate him from the 15-day DL.

Stewart could be activated during the next homestand, which begins on Monday, April 29 with the first of three against the Padres. Stewart is expected to take over the everyday third base job pushing Luis Valbuena to the bench in the utility infielder’s role.

News Bits

Kyuji Fujikawa played catch on Friday for the first time since landing on the DL seven days ago. Fujikawa will go out on a rehab assignment before the Cubs activate him from the disabled list.

Alfonso Soriano credits using a lighter bat, as recommended to him a year ago by Dale Sveum, as the reason for his improved production at an advanced age. Gordon Wittenmyer also reminded all that Soriano is in the Crane Kenney years of his eight-year contract. Kenney is believed to be the executive that added the final two years on Soriano’s contract to seal the deal.

The Cubs are planning to stick with the way the roster is currently constructed until Ian Stewart is ready to come off the DL.

The Cubs released RHP Jensen Lewis on Friday. After a rough spring, Lewis was 0-1 in five games with a 17.18 ERA and a 3.55 WHIP (10 hits, four home runs, one strikeout and three walks in 3 2/3 innings) for the I-Cubs this season.

The Cubs are 5-10 over the first 15 games of the season. All but two of the 15 games have been decided by three runs or less. The Cubs are 2-4 in one run contests and their biggest margin of victory was a four-run win over the Rangers last Thursday afternoon. The Cubs have scored 54 runs this season while allowing 65 runs.

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Quote of the Day

"Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again." – Bob Feller

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  • Ripsnorter1

    Soriano looks to me like he’s going to repeat–or even exceed–last year’s production. He’s swing that bat with authority these days.

    • GaryLeeT

      As long as there is nobody on base. With what’s hitting behind him, he will continue to get pitches to hit.

      • Tony_Hall

        Schierhotlz is batting 5th, and hitting 326/383/605 and I don’t expect him to keep this up to that level, but right now I would rather take my chances with Soriano.

        Castillo is next and hitting 386/413/523 and he won’t keep this up either.

        But right now, the approaches both of these guys are taking are very good and it is producing offense behind Soriano.

        Right now 5 of the 8 starters are batting 300 and Valbuena has a 375 OBP.

        The other 2 spots are Rizzo with 12 RBI’s and 2B.

        The Cubs numbers aren’t as bad as you might expect, they just need to have it produce more runs.

        • Theboardrider

          Somebody posted a few days ago about how Theo and co. being frustrated at the season was their own fault for a bad roster. But I think Tony’s point illustrates why they’re frustrated. With their numbers they should have a better record. Too many mistakes are happening. But throughout the lineup guys are exceeding espectations. Bodes well for the trade deadline…

    • Tony_Hall

      How does he have only 1 RBI (11 pace)?

      Rizzo batting in front of him has 12 RBI’s (130 pace)
      Schierholtz batting behind him has 8 (86 pace).

      I know he can’t just put runners on base in front of him, but he is hitting 083 with RISP, in 14 opportunities to drive in runs, and he has zero RBI’s to show for it.

      Now, I am pretty confident he will end up with more than 11 RBI’s, but having only 1 rbi through 15 games and that one being a solo home run is just not good. It’s not that he isn’t hitting, he has a 300 average, just not driving in runs. Last year, when he had a terrible start to the year, he had 8 RBI’s already, while batting only 229.

      So, while you may be thinking he will even exceed last years production, he is falling short in driving in runs, something kind of important for a middle of the order bat.

      • Ray Ray

        He didn’t hit his first home run last year till May 15th. On pace for 0 last year. You really need to not waste your time with on pace at this time of season. Giancarlo Stanton has 0 RBI right now. Remember PuJols last year. Don’t waste your time with these silly on pace stats on April 20th.

        • Tony_Hall

          RayRay – I pretty sure that everyone knows that stats are skewed at the beginning of the season and that ridiculous on pace stats mean nothing. What I was trying to show (obviously lost on you) was that the guy in front of Soriano and the guy behind Soriano seem to be at normal range of RBIs yet Soriano has driven in no one other than himself one time. I also gave his stats for RBI’s at this point last year. The on pace was just to put into perspective the numbers, and I don’t believe my post was about the pace they were on. I know you are RayRay, but you really don’t need to find a negative in everything.

          • Ray Ray

            With the insults again Tony? You are an angry young man some days. How is that negative? I am saying that Soriano has a track record and to say that he won’t put up the numbers he did last year because he has 1 RBI on April 10 is negative on your part. Explain to me how I was being negative defending Soriano?

          • Tony_Hall

            No insults, you just always find the negative slant to everything. My post was not about the “on pace” numbers, but you had to tell me to stop wasting my time with “on pace” numbers.

            And thanks for the compliment, I haven’t been called young for awhile…..see how easy it is to find a positive even when it had negative intentions.

          • Ray Ray

            I am defending Soriano’s track record. You say he won’t exceed last years production because he has 1 RB1 at this point of the season. Isn’t that what you are pointing out? PuJols had 0 HR and 4 RBI the entire month of April last year. I know Soriano is not PuJols but PuJols hit 30 HR and drove in over 100 RBI last year. Rizzo has only had 1 game this year where he had more than 1 hit. 1 game he had 2 hits this year. So, he is not getting in scoring position in front of Soriano. I know you don’t like Soriano. I know you wanted to cut him in April last year and eat his entire contract but the guy is usually a slow starter and he heats up with the weather. Enjoy the weekend and try not to be so confrontational all the time.

          • Tony_Hall

            I don’t think Soriano will meet his production from last year, because he is 1 year older. What he has done so far is way too small of sample.

            I also never said in this post that he wouldn’t meet last years production. You just ran with it anyway and then stated how I was wasting my time, and yet still had to add to it by finishing with ” Don’t waste your time with these silly on pace stats…” and yet you think I was insulting you and being the confrontational one….and you wonder why people react to you like they do.

          • Ray Ray

            hahaha. have a good weekend.

          • triple

            Not trying to argue anything here, but I don’t get how you think that just because Soriano is one year older that he can’t meet or exceed his production from last year?

            We live in a day and age where people who take care of themselves are more strong and fit than humans have ever been. I am 2 months older than Soriano and have gotten myself in the best shape I’ve been in now, since I was in my early 20’s, and I find myself even more capable of doing it now than I was then, mostly because I’m more insightful and in tune with myself. I know 37 is up there for a baseball age, but age is relative and different for everybody, and Soriano is also the healthiest he’s been since he’s been a Cub, so I really don’t see why he couldn’t provide a .270/30/100 clip for another year or two, as long as he avoids injury.

            And no, I’m not making a comparison to him as a player, but Hank Aaron was capable of hitting 30-40 HRs a year until he hit 40, and even from ages 37-39 he wasn’t even playing everyday and managed 40 HRs in 120 games at the age of 39. But the comparison I will make is that both of them have/had very similar builds.

          • Tony_Hall

            He just might, but I don’t think so.

            In today’s age when you the players are not able to take steriods, which helped so many players of the 2000’s play better well into their 30’s and even early 40’s and since the players of the 70’s and 80’s had amphetamines that helped them to keep playing are no longer able to be used, baseball players have now slowed down in their 30’s. Personal fitness and baseball fitness are just 2 different things. Take a touch off a fastball and the best pitcher for a few years (Lincecum) becomes a 5th starter soon to be bullpen arm. Slow your swing down a touch and those Home Runs become warning track outs.

  • Tom U

    Some more roster related bits:

    Ian Stewart also committed a throwing error on a fairly routine grounder yesterday.

    While Brent Lillibridge was outrighted to Iowa, he hasn’t been placed on their roster yet. With the roster full at 25, someone will either be released or get “hurt”.

    Paul Sullivan, through Phil Rodgers, speculates that OF Dave Sappelt could be in trouble when Stewart is ready to join the Cubs.

    However, this takes a little more thought. While Sappelt is currently only hitting .053, losing him would give the Cubs 7 left handed hitters, including switch hitter Dioner Navarro. If the Cubs wanted this, they would have included veteran left-hander Brian Bogusevic on the opening day roster. Bogusevic had a better spring than Sappelt and would have backed-up 1B Anthony Rizzo. Of the 6 OF’s on the roster, Sappelt is the best defensively. With Stewart’s rehab progressing slowly, a trade seems a more likely outcome to the roster question.

    While some are pointing out the speed of Julian Borbon, his 53 stolen bases in 2008 represent nearly half of his career minor league total. His speed didn’t seem to translate well on defense, as he has a career fielding percentage of only .985.

    The Julian Borbon era may also be short-lived. There were reports that Baltimore was looking into acquiring Borbon before his DFA. Perhaps that Cubs can be better trade partners than Texas?

  • John_CC

    Stewart is Oh-fer at AAA. Ugh.

    But the offense is actually hitting…the hits risp will come. While the fatalist mentality of cubs fans must looks at the dark side, there is a bright side as well. The starting pitching has been good, very good ERA so far. The run differential is something like -12, which is really close for their record. Compare it to other teams with similar records, like the Angel’s whose is in the neighborhood of -24.

    Errors and sloppy play have killed them. And I know, that counts too, and is a sign of a bad team, but it should be fixable. I wonder at what point Sveum start feeling some heat for the poor fundamentals.

    • triple

      I’m one of the “looking on the brightside” fans, but your last paragraph does speak volumes about this team, especially over the last 4 years, and it hasn’t really changed much under Sveum, so you do have to wonder when Dale will start feeling some heat. I certainly hopes he gets it fixed!

    • paulcatanese

      First, let me say I think the Cubs actually have a better team this year than last.
      They are hitting, getting better pitching, but you are right defense hurts them.
      As I have mentioned many times(not to you personally, but in general), I believe that this is due to bringing in so many players on the bubble of their career or off injury.
      This would require a perfect rebound of these players to have any sustained success, and that is difficult at best.
      The pressure to succeed for them is extra high or be gone, at best traded.
      Summary; they will take a lot longer to even win the division let alone reach a World Series. IMO no division until at least 2016, too many obstacle’s to overcome.
      I think that they will be entertaining though as long as fans realize that (myself included).

      • John_CC

        You’re probably right Paul, but most of the errors are from the youngsters. Rizzo, 1; Castillo 1; Castro 3; Valbuena with 2. Then you have Feldman’s 2 and Camp with 1, and 1 each from Lillibridge and Navarro.

        Young players will make errors, but they also must coached to improve. In Castro’s case, i ‘m afraid that he will always commit too many errors. The pitcher errors are just unacceptable.

      • SuzyS

        Paul, I’m not necessarily disagreeing with you re your prediction for playoffs//WS…but there are far too many variables to put ANY year on it.
        ie…if Baez is fast tracked and ready by mid-next season what’s to say Castro isn’t traded in a blockbuster, multiplayer deal?
        The last time the Cards made the WS they were basically a .500 team until they made late season trades putting in place a killer bullpen.
        (A better bullpen and 2-3 hitting pieces next year might make us almost competitive along with a good starter)
        Next year, instead of multiple waiver pick-ups we should begin to see some players from our own system begin to make contributions.
        Instead of the Lillibridges of the world we should see players like Watkins, Lake and BJAX take on roles…at least as bench players…That’s when the true building will begin to be shown.
        Personally, I believe this season will be THE major weeding out year….to separate the players from the pretenders….and add focus to what the true needs going forward will be.

        • paulcatanese

          Agree Suzy, in regards to the younger players, I for one(and say it every year would sink or swim with the kids, their direction is forward and not hoping to re-create prior success.
          Don’t think Castro would be gone, but if they place him in the right place (with his head) they will progress. I think Baez will be the future shortstop and Castro at third.
          If the Cubs insist with adding the way they are, it could be at least 2015. I hope you are right and I am wrong about the years for contention.

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