Garza Successful in Second Rehab Start and Other Cubs News and Notes

Matt Garza completed his second rehab start on Monday and it went very well. Garza allowed one run (after he left the game) on four hits with three strikeouts and no walks in 3 1/3 innings. Garza threw 54 pitches, 37 strikes, and was consistently in the low-mid 90s (92-94) with his fastball. Garza had very good command. Two of the four hits were either a bunt or a swinging bunt and Garza threw his breaking ball in the low 70s and a slider in the mid 80s.

Matt Garza was very happy after his outing. According to a report from ESPN Chicago, Garza was pumped when he spoke with Dale Sveum.

Reports vary on whether Garza will make one or two more rehab starts prior to being activated from the DL. Jed Hoyer told Jim Bowden and Casey Stern on Inside Pitch (MLB Network Radio) that they do not have a timetable for Garza’s return but would like to see him build up near the 100-pitch mark. Len Kasper reported during Monday’s game that Garza could be back with the Cubs before the end of the month. Kasper mentioned the road trip through Pittsburgh and Cincinnati (May 21-May 26) as a possibility.

Kyuji Fujikawa

Kyuji Fujikawa completed his first rehab outing on Sunday with the Iowa Cubs. Fujikawa threw an inning in the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader. Fujikawa struck out two of the four batters he faced and walked a batter. Fujikawa threw 21 pitches, 11 for strikes, in the sixth inning.

The Cubs announced Monday that Fujikawa will pitch again on Tuesday, this time for Double-A Tennessee. If all goes well, the Cubs could activate Fujikawa in time for the series this weekend in Washington.

Ian Stewart

The Cubs activated Ian Stewart from the DL and optioned him to Triple-A Iowa on Friday. Stewart did not play in either game of Iowa’s doubleheader on Sunday. Reports from Des Moines on Monday morning indicated that Stewart had yet to report to the team after being optioned. What made this report strange was that Stewart had been rehabbing with Iowa.

Jed Hoyer clarified the situation on Monday afternoon.

Players that are optioned to the minors have 72 hours to report. Hoyer discussed the options with Stewart prior to the team optioning him down to Triple-A. According to a report from Carrie Muskat, Stewart decided to take the time off.

Stewart was in Des Moines for Monday’s game but did not play. Carrie Muskat reported that Stewart is expected to “join Iowa” on the next road trip in Colorado Springs.

Jed Hoyer admitted the team is disappointed that Stewart has not been able to contribute. Injuries have slowed Stewart according to Hoyer and the Cubs’ GM feels “there’s certainly talent there, left-handed power, and he’s a good defender.”

Jed Hoyer

The Cubs’ GM joined Casey Stern and Jim Bowden during Inside Pitch (MLB Network Radio/Sirius-XM) on Monday afternoon. Jed Hoyer discussed a variety of topics. Here are the highlights in bullet point format …


  • On the upcoming draft – Jed Hoyer would not tip his hand on which player the Cubs will take with the second pick in next month’s draft. Hoyer said they are definitely not missing any of starts made by Mark Appel or Jonathan Gray. The Cubs have watched a lot of their starts. Hoyer said there are other guys in mix but those Appel and Gray have put together fantastic seasons. The Cubs have expanded their search beyond Appel and Gray.
  • Beyond wins and losses, what needs to improve with the Cubs – Hoyer said, “Record says what it says.” Hoyer explained the numbers can be spliced anyway you would like it, but the bottom line is that the Cubs have not been very good at winning games. The Cubs have been on the losing end of one-run games far too often due to several factors. They have not been able to score a lot of runs and have not been able to pull away in close games. Add in the struggles of the bullpen, and this is what happens according to Hoyer. The Cubs’ run differential is close and they are in a bunch of games but they are not winning them because of the offense and bullpen. Hoyer said, “We have to get better offensively and in the bullpen.”
  • On the rotation and Edwin Jackson – On the good side four of the Cubs five starters have been really been excellent. Hoyer pointed out they are in the top five starter’s ERA in the National League and for the most part they have really pitched well. He admitted they should be winning a lot of games. As for Edwin Jackson, Hoyer said, “With Edwin it is really only one inning per start, kinda losses strike zone.” Jackson is scattering his fastball, he has to pitch better, and his career numbers say he will. Hoyer thinks Jackson is pressing a little bit due to the contract he signed in the off-season. Hoyer has no doubt Jackson will get better.
  • On Carlos Villanueva’s success – Hoyer thinks pitching in the AL East helped Carlos Villanueva. The Cubs can give him an advanced scouting report and he follows it. Hoyer pointed out Villanueva can throw four pitches for strikes, changes speed well and does a good job pitching to weaknesses with advanced scout reports. Hoyer said the Cubs are very pleased with the improvements Travis Wood has made with his command this season and how well he can pitch to a scouting report.
  • On Matt Garza’s status after Monday’s rehab outing – Hoyer said the early reports on Matt Garza were good. Garza feels strong. The Cubs have not decided on when he will return. After throwing more than 50 pitches on Monday, he needs to get closer to 100 pitches before he can return. The good news is that Garza is pitching and he is feeling strong. Hoyer explained that Garza is a very vocal guy and he’s been very vocal about the fact he feels great.
  • On Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, and the maturation of young players – Hoyer said that Jeff Samardzija has settled in as a top notch guy. The Cubs are really happy with the improvements Rizzo has made in the last 10 days. Starlin Castro has started slow but Hoyer feels Castro will hit more once it warms up. Castro has been working really hard with the coaching staff on his defense and works hard on a daily basis to get better. As a club, they cannot hit with RISP and are not doing the little things right now. Hoyer thinks hitting with runners in scoring position is part of the maturation process and feels hitting with RISP will improve as the season progresses.
  • On what is going on with Carlos Marmol – Hoyer explained last year they took Marmol out of the closer’s role and he was very successful when they put him back last year. All but three or four times this season, Marmol has allowed the first batter he faced to reach. Hoyer said Marmol does not have the same wipe out stuff that he did three or four years ago and cannot afford to hit or walk batters, but he keeps on doing both. Hoyer pointed out he is still very tough to hit when he gets ahead in the count, he just hasn’t done it too often in the closer’s role this season. Hoyer explained it has been a struggle in the pen and they have lost a lot of games in the eighth and ninth innings they should have won.
  • On trying to build Marmol’s trade value – The Cubs are not trying to build value by pitching Marmol late in games, he earned the closer job in the second half last year, lost it this year. Hoyer said, “We have to do things based on merit or you lose credibility in the clubhouse.”

Minor Moves

The Cubs released two relievers on Monday … Kameron Loe and Cory Wade. Loe was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Ryan Sweeney. The Cubs released Cory Wade, who was pitching out of the I-Cubs bullpen. Wade pitched on Monday in relief of Matt Garza then was released. Wade really struggled with Iowa after signing a minor league contract that included a non-roster invite to Spring Training in the off-season. Wade was 0-2 in 10 games with a 7.88 ERA and a 2.19 WHIP (28 hits, seven walks and 16 strikeouts in 16 innings).

The Cubs also demoted Tim Torres from Triple-A Iowa to Double-A Tennessee on Monday.

News and Notes

Anthony Rizzo has worked his way up the leader boards in the National League. Rizzo in tied for third in home runs (9), tied for fourth in RBI (25), tied for seventh in doubles (9) and is 16th in the league in OPS (.905).

Jed Hoyer would not say which one of the starting pitchers would be the odd man out once Matt Garza is able to return to the rotation.

Ken Rosenthal thinks Chase Headley would be perfect for the Cubs.

According to Ken Rosenthal, look for the Cubs to remain aggressive on the waiver wire.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

  • Thomas Doughty

    What has gotten into Luis Valbuena, maybe he was feeling the heat from the top brass on stewart so he step his game up nice to see him finally come around at the plate makes up for some of his defensive flaws not all but some.

    • triple

      Maybe what Sveum saw in him last year was that this guy may be able to be a decent ballplayer. But as with many fringe players, if you don’t get regular playing time, you’ll never make progress, and then never make it in the big leagues.

      • DWalker

        Plus he really doesn’t like stewart

    • gocubs

      Nothing has gotten into Valbuena – he has always had around an 11% walk rate when he plays enough games. They were smart to stick with him. Same with most players – when they have enough ABs their normal rates usually come through.

  • 07GreyDigger

    I’ll admit I was an Ian Stewart supporter, but this current story is the last straw for me. Considering both Colvin and LeMaiheu are also in the minors, makes the trade a wash, but definitely a disappointment.

    I know baseball is a fickle game and can be hard on its players (look at Casper Wells’ predicament this year, for example), but baseball has such a long season that you have to adjust and take the good with the bad and Stewart seems unable to handle this part of the game. This is very puzzling considering his feast or famine approach.

    It would be nice if Stewart could return to form and they could slide Valbuena to second, but that looks like a pipe dream at this point.

    • Ray Ray

      How is that trade a wash? LeMaiheu and Colvin still can contribute to a ml team.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Raymond-Robert-Koenig/1295439291 Raymond Robert Koenig

        So can Stewart.

        • Ray Ray

          Possible but highly unlikely with the Cubs. He is only signed for this year. After this year he will be gone and they won’t get anything in return for him. Casey Weathers has been an absolute disaster. LeMahieu and Colvin can still help out the Rox or be traded for some other pieces.

          • 07GreyDigger

            I was saying its a wash, because they’re both in the minors. Especially since Colvin and LeMahieu both had good seasons in the majors last year, but the Rockies don’t seem to think they fit their current plans. How is that not a wash?

          • Ray Ray

            So that means that the Garza trade was an absolute steal since Archer is still in the minors and so is Lee(and now Lee is out for the year with an injury) Archer is the same age as LeMahieu so since both were in the majors last year and in the minors this year that the Rays don’t think he fits in their current plans as well.

          • 07GreyDigger

            The trade is kind of even at the moment because none of the kids have realized their potential. That’s the issue with trades, you can’t really declare a winner or loser until years down the line.

            With the Stewart trade long term, the Cubs likely come out as losers, but with all parties involved not contributing at the majors, we can’t make any judgement just yet.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Raymond-Robert-Koenig/1295439291 Raymond Robert Koenig

            Just sayin’.

          • calicub

            According to the CCO’s 40 man Stewart has another year of arbitration after this year

      • calicub

        Yeah… I think Grey is forgetting about Casey Weathers as well

        • 07GreyDigger

          I didn’t forget. I don’t think he’s on any teams this year or at least I haven’t seen his name go by. So therefore, he doesn’t exist. :)

          • calicub

            I do believe he was released which speaks more to the trade as being less of a wash

        • Ray Ray

          LeMahieu is hitting .382 with a .408 OBP in AAA currently. Yes it is Colorado Springs but that is still pretty good. He could have been getting a lot of playing time for the Cubs filling in at 2B,3B and 1B this year and if they could deal Barney he could be the replacement until a better option presents itself.

          • 07GreyDigger

            Could have. But we don’t know that do we? Got to wait until the trade plays out.

            But I must say I agree that adding Lemahieu to this trade made little sense at the time and still doesn’t now.

  • calicub

    With sewart no longer on a rehab stint and now officially a minor leaguer, wht is his contract status?

    Is he still making the $2mm+?

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Yes, he is still paid the $2 million.

      • calicub

        gotcha. Thanks Neil.

  • paulcatanese

    If available, probably not, but I would love to see the Cubs trade for Stanton from Miami, who has one of the sweetest swings in baseball. He is another player that’s a favorite of mine. With any other team, someone to hit behind and in front of him he would post astronomical numbers.

  • paulcatanese

    If Castro has all of those hits at age 22, why is he still in the two spot instead of the five spot where some of those hits can drive in runs?

    • 07GreyDigger

      Maybe it’s to get him more at-bats? That’s just a shot in the dark.

    • Ray Ray

      or leadoff?

      • John_CC

        Too much of a hacker, for now. He will have to greatly improve his on-base skills to be a great lead-off hitter.

    • John_CC

      I think he could move down as well. But in the 2 hole is better protected and sees more fastballs. I think he is working on his approach and trying to lay off more close pitches, which he will have to do to be a successful 5 hitter.

      Conversely, why not leave a guy that gets a ton of hits with good speed at the top of the lineup to score runs?

      But I’m with you Paul, if the Cubs can find a better #2 hitter I think he’ll eventually be moved.

      That said, Schierholtz is doing everything right in the 5 hole, so where do you move him?

  • cc002600

    I was at Sunday’s game, and was struck by something.
    The paid attendance was 33K, but there was no more than 20K who were there. The weather was beautiful and it was a weekend. A few years ago, that would have been unheard of. The place would have been overflowing with people. I was there because I share season tix package with group, so I have 10 games. To be honest, I wanted to leave by the 5th inning because I was so bored.

    The Rickets had better wake up to the fact that people will not just show up forever to watch a team lose 90+ games every year, year after year. Yes, they will always sellout on summer weekends, but outside of that, the crowds are sparse and will continue that way until they give us something to be excited about. They need to start spending some money on FA’s. Not stupid money, but they need to start bringing in some talent, or the attendance will continue to drop. Everyone has their limits.

    I’ve said this before and will say it again. If we’re waiting for Baez and Soler to come in save this franchise, don’t even think about 2015 as being the year they contend. You’re looking at 2016-2017 at the very least. These guys are in A ball, and there will be an adjustment when they get to the bigs. That’s a long way off, my friends.

    Just my $.02

    • 07GreyDigger

      Very true. But the moment they start winning (whenever that is), they’ll be back in droves.

      The Blackhawks are perfect examples. For years, they had a horrible team and nobody went. But the moment they started getting better, you couldn’t get a ticket. With a Stanley Cup under their belts, you can’t even afford a ticket. I imagine that’s what’s going to happen with the Cubs.

      • cc002600

        Absolutely. I agree.
        But that ain’t happening this year or next year…..and probably not 2015 either.

        At some point, don’t you have to “try” to win ?

        • Ray Ray

          We agree on this. I bet they will add some free agents next year. Shin Soo Choo would be nice. Look at the farm system. Look at who they have to trade. This is another 3 years at least if they don’t add players through free agency.

          • cc002600

            Totally agree !!!

          • 07GreyDigger

            Probably, but it’ll be people who are either short term fixes who are tradeable (Feldman, Villanueva, Schierholtz) or younger players who can provide value over a longer term (Edwin Jackson).

            So that means we should stop dreaming about guys like Cano, Choo, Granderson, who are on the wrong side of 30.

            Here’s a link to that list:

            http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2012/02/2014-mlb-free-agents.html

          • Ray Ray

            I have asked many other this question and I will ask you as well. What value do short term fixes like Feldman,Villanueva and Schierholtz have? Many on here seem to think some team will give up their top prospects for players like this but I will believe it when I see it. Put it this way…..If the Cubs were contending this year would you trade a top prospect for any of those 3? Say any top 10 prospect? If you wouldn’t do it yourself…..how would you expect another team to?

          • 07GreyDigger

            If you’re trying to build a farm system from the ground up, you need prospects period. Depending on what team acquires these players in a trade, team x’s #8 prospect might be a #3 in your system. It’s all about improving the overall quality.

            And no, I don’t think any of those guys would merit a top 3 guy, but top 10-15, probably.

            And those guys would be better than having Darnell McDonald and Donnie Murphy filling out your AAA roster wouldn’t it?

          • Ray Ray

            Agree on Darnell McDonald and Murphy but if you are getting back a prospect like a Tony Campana for example….how will that speed up the process of getting your team competitive. That is the issue with where this team is at. They will not get back any future building blocks from any of those 3 so they are no closer to being a competitive team. Do you see my point? To get good prospects…you need difference type players to trade. Carlos Beltran a few years ago netted a Zach Wheeler.

          • 07GreyDigger

            I know what you mean. But for guys like the above, you’re going to get single A guys mostly and you never know who’s going to turn into what. Mike Piazza was like a 90th round pick. But in reality, you may be able to turn those guys into future trade bait down the line. That’s the other side of a good system is being able to turn those guys into major league talent. That’s pretty much what the Red Sox’s MO was while Theo was there. (see Adrian Gonzalez trade).

          • Ray Ray

            What a sorry list. i got a plan. They can sign Scott Feldman and Baker to a 1 year deal again for next year and try to trade them at the all star break in 2014…….Wait

    • John_CC

      Do you really think that owners do not see the same thing? Honestly.

      • cc002600

        sure they do. But I think even they are a little surprised by the attendance. Remember, Tommy sold the idea to the old man by saying all you have to do is open the doors and it will fill up automatically. How’s that looking now ?

        Let me ask you this. If they stay with strict rebuild through farm only, do you really think this team will be contending by 2015 ? Really ? When I read some comments by fans, its like its almost a guarantee.

        Sorry, but unless they open the wallet a little bit, it ain’t happening for years.

        and I think they will start spending money, but I have been a little disappointed in how they little they have spent in the last year or 2. Again, not saying they s/b spending stupid money, but I look a this roster and all you see is bench guys who are starting (Sappelt, Schierholtz, Valbuena, Ransom, Hairston etc) …..

  • paulcatanese

    Just food for thought. Former position players to pitch for Cubs with mixed results. 1. Hal Jeffcoat 2. Randy Wells 3. Marmol. Any association with problems further on in career?

    • Ray Ray

      Jim Bullinger was another

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jason-Penrod/700030874 Jason Penrod

    Stewart obviously doesn’t want to be a MLB baseball player. After not showing up until the last possible moment to spring training, and then now not reporting to Iowa (when he was already there)… Just plain lazy. He makes millions of dollars to play a kids game… Some people just don’t realize how lucky they are.

    • DWalker

      As another shot in the Stewart saga, did anyone hear about this? I hadn’t seen it when it happened, but damn, that kids got an attitude. http://www.purplerow.com/2013/4/30/4285828/nolan-arenado-chris-nelson-colorado-rockies-ian-stewart

      Good thing he turned off his twitter account or he might say something really stupid.

      • John_CC

        I am biased because I think twitter is really…well, I don’t care about it at all. But I think that it – Twitter – is the worst thing to happed to professional sports since Joe Morgan took to the booth.

        • 07GreyDigger

          Haha. Joe Morgan sucks. I don’t think Twitter is that bad! It’s a good promotional tool if used correctly and a great way to keep updated on certain things that interest you.

          Clearly Ian Stewart doesn’t recognize that keeping your personal life and professional life separate from social media is necessary to be successful.

          • John_CC

            Unfortunately it isn’t used as only a promotional tool…well I guess it is a self-promotional tool.

            People hear a freaking rumor…not even a rumor just someone say something and they tweet it and its out of hand. I really dislike it, and not just because of sports. How about the internet lynch mob that was started on twitter after the Boston Marathon? Disgusting and worst of all, very dangerous. Sorry to veer off topic.

          • 07GreyDigger

            Each their own. I really only use Twitter for sports stories and to follow comedians I like. I could really care less what celebrities ate for lunch that day.

          • John_CC

            Absolutely. I could care less about it.

      • 07GreyDigger

        By the sounds of this article, looks like he already did.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jason-Penrod/700030874 Jason Penrod

    Any chance the Cubs take Kris Bryant? I’d take Gray if he is there at 2, but if Bryant can stay at 3B, he might be a better option than Appel.

    • Ray Ray

      From everything that I have heard is that Kris Bryant profiles as a 1B. No way do I take a first baseman with the 2nd pick in draft.

  • SuzyS

    Hoyer on Marmol: “We have to do things by merit…otherwise you lose credibility in the clubhouse.”…It’s the best thing he’s said.

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