The stretch run leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline on Wednesday (3:00pm CDT) began Monday morning when Jose Veras became the first of three relievers that would end up being traded by the end of the day. Houston sent their closer, Jose Veras, to the Tigers for minor league OF Danry Vasquez and a PTBNL. The Braves filled a void in their pen when they acquired LHP Scott Downs from the Angels for RHP Cory Rasmus. Atlanta is likely out of the mix for James Russell with Downs now in the fold.
The Rays took a big gamble when they traded for injured RHP Jesse Crain, but at the same time Tampa gave a pretty good indication of how thin the trade market is for relievers this year. The Rays will send a player or players to be named later and/or cash considerations to the White Sox for Crain. The Sox return will be based on how well Crain pitches once he is able to come off the DL.
So where does that leave the Cubs in regards to moving Kevin Gregg or James Russell? Gregg’s value has really dropped over the last few weeks as he has pitched more and more to his career norms. The Orioles and Tigers were rumored to have interest in Gregg at one point and both teams have now filled that opening in their pen. The Cubs are looking to move Gregg. But the question remains, is there a team that is interested?
As for James Russell, he does not fit the criteria as a player the Cubs would like to move prior to this trade deadline. Russell remains under team control for two more years and it seems that teams have been more interested in acquiring him than the Cubs looking to move him.
Jon Heyman reported late Monday night that the Cubs are talking to teams about Kevin Gregg and Carlos Villanueva.
The Cubs are listening to offers for Jeff Samardzija and according to multiple reports, the Cubs are asking a ton in return for him. The front office is doing what they should be doing. If a team is willing to pay their price for Samardzija, which would in turn speed up the building process, then he will be traded. With that said, the Cubs are asking so much for Samardzija that the chances he is traded would be somewhere between slim and none.
According to a report from Jon Heyman, “the Cubs are basically requesting of teams that they take whatever they want when it comes to a Samardzija deal.” Heyman reported several teams, including the Diamondbacks, are interested in Samardzija.
ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers reported that Nate Schierholtz could be the next player traded. Schierholtz would like to stay with the Cubs and has expressed his desire to stay to the front office in recent days.
According to Rogers’ sources two or three teams have shown interest in Schierholtz.
The ESPN report indicated that because Schierholtz signed a one-year deal with the Cubs in the off-season that makes him a candidate to be traded. Unless there is language in Schierholtz’s contract that no one knows about, Schierholtz is under the Cubs’ control for one more season if they tender him a contract for next year in the off-season.
Kevin Gregg is not sure if he is going to be traded or not. Gregg told Bruce Levine that he has enjoyed his time with the Cubs and would consider re-signing with the team in the off-season.
Brett Jackson was assigned to Double-A Tennessee on Monday. Jackson really struggled in four games with the AZL Cubs and went 1-for-14 with seven strikeouts. Jackson went 1-for-4 with a run scored and a strikeout in his first game with the Smokies on Monday.
Injuries have slowed Jackson this year and he really needs to finish the season on a positive note.
Scott Baker made his fourth rehab start on Monday night as he works his way up the system and into the Cubs’ rotation at some point in the coming weeks.
Baker made his first appearance with the D-Cubs after making three starts with Kane County.
Scott Baker threw the ball much better than he did in his previous three games. Baker gave up two runs, one earned, on three hits with two walks and two strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings. Baker gave up two singles and a solo home run on 66 pitches, 40 for strikes. Baker recorded two groundball outs and had four other three-ball counts that did not result in walks. Baker hit the high-80s with his fastball (86-88 mph). Baker threw 23 pitches in the first (15 strikes), 19 in the second (nine strikes), 14 in the third (nine strikes) and 10 in the fourth (seven strikes).
News and Notes
Junior Lake was given Alfonso Soriano’s old locker at Wrigley Field. Lake ended a 0-for-14 skid with two hits in his final three at bats on Monday in his first start, and appearance, at Wrigley Field.
The I-Cubs placed Josh Vitters on the 7-day DL on Monday with a strained right hamstring.
Jake Arrieta is looking forward to his Cubs’ debut on Tuesday in the second game of the twin bill. Arrieta told the media he “doesn’t plan on going back to the minors.”
Several scouts were at Wrigley Field on Monday night watching the Cubs and Brewers. The Pirates and Nationals are two of the teams that had scouts in attendance. According to Bruce Levine, 15 scouts were at Wrigley watching a variety of players.
Jon Heyman reported the Cubs are talking to teams about David DeJesus, Nate Schierholtz and Dioner Navarro.
The Cubs are 30-26 since May 26 and Dale Sveum talked about what it would mean for the team to finish with a .500 record. Sveum said, “It’s a goal that you want to have, but it’s not a goal that we want to have with this organization because I think those kind of things hold things back, too. Oh, as long as we get to .500, yippee, but you’re still going home like everybody else who’s not in the playoffs.”
The Cubs’ pitching staff accomplished something a Cubs’ staff has not done since 1971. Jeff Samardzija become the third straight starter to pitch seven innings without allowing a run joining Chris Rusin (Saturday night) and Travis Wood (Sunday afternoon). The last time three Cubs’ starters completed seven innings without allowing in a run in three consecutive starts was in August of 1971 when Bill Hands, Milt Pappas and Juan Pizarro accomplished the feat.
On a sad note, former Cubs’ pitcher Frank Castillo drowned on Sunday in a boating accident in Arizona. Castillo was only 44 years old. The CCO sends out our thoughts and prayers to the Castillo family.