Rizzo Gets Territorial, Trade Chips and Other Cubs News and Notes

Anthony Rizzo left Saturday’s game before the eighth inning with back spasms and his start on Sunday at the time was in doubt. The Cubs had Mike Olt take grounders at first base on Sunday morning in the event Rizzo could not play.

Rizzo told the beat writers he jokingly said to Olt not to workout at first base because that is his position. Anthony Rizzo played all nine innings on Sunday and reached base four times (2-for-3 with two walks) in five trips to the plate.

Rick Renteria likes what he’s seen from Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro at the plate. Rizzo and Castro have hit the ball rather well early in the season, both players are working counts and their two-strike approach has pleased their skipper. Rizzo is “choking up a little” with two strikes and is “trying not to be so pull conscious.” Rizzo is taking what the pitchers are giving him.

After Sunday’s game, Starlin Castro is hitting .292/.313/.415 with two doubles and two home runs for the season while Anthony Rizzo has managed a .333/.414/.500 slash line with two doubles, one triple, two home runs, seven walks and a .914 OPS. Rizzo is hitting .348/.385/.391 against lefties.

Cubs Trade Chips

While the Cubs were in the Bronx last week, the Sun-Times mentioned four players that could possibly interest the Yankees at some point this season before the July 31 trade deadline. The Sun-Times thought Jeff Samardzija, Darwin Barney, Emilio Bonifacio and James Russell might be a fit for the Yankees as they try to fill holes in their roster.

So after three full weeks and seventeen games, here’s how the players teams could be interested in this summer are performing:

  • Jeff Samardzija: 0-2 in four starts with a 1.29 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP
  • Travis Wood: 0-2 in three starts with a 3.00 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP
  • Edwin Jackson: 1-1 in four starts with a 5.40 ERA and a 1.85 WHIP
  • Jason Hammel: 2-1 in three starts with a 3.05 ERA and a 0.73 WHIP
  • Carlos Villanueva: 1-4 in five games, three starts, with a 10.93 ERA and a 2.14 WHIP
  • James Russell: 0-1 in nine games, 5 2/3 innings, with a 3.18 ERA and a 1.76 WHIP
  • Wesley Wright: 0-0 in six games, 5 2/3 innings, with a 3.18 ERA and a 1.59 WHIP
  • Jose Veras: 0-0 in five games, 4 2/3 innings, with a 15.43 ERA and a 2.79 WHIP
  • Emilio Bonifacio: .366/.416/.423/.838 in 16 games with four doubles
  • Darwin Barney: .129/.270/.226/.496 in 14 games with one home run
  • Luis Valbuena: .219/.419/.250/.669 in 15 games with one double
  • Nate Schierholtz: .246/.254/.298/.552 in 14 games with three doubles
  • Ryan Sweeney: .184/.256/.211/.466 in 14 games with one double
News and Notes

ESPN Chicago looked at the lineup Rick Renteria used on Sunday.

Rick Renteria started Mike Olt for the second day in a row on Sunday. Renteria said, “I’ve been trying over time with all of the guys to give them some days when they go back to back. It gives them a better view and a little more comfortable.” Renteria added “they’re going to face lefties and righties” and they need to start on back-to-back days in order “to get some kind of comfort.”

Darwin Barney is reinventing himself according to a report from Bruce Levine.

The jury is still out on Mike Olt according to a report from Tony Andracki.

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  • Sonate

    Thanks Neil. I apologize for picking at nits, but Anthony Rizzo has two home runs, rather than one.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Thanks for catching, corrected.

  • Ripsnorter1

    SHOCK!

    I just realized that the Cubs do not have the worst record in MLB at this time. The Arizona Diamondbacks are 5-16, while the Cubs are 5-12. Even Houston is 5-14.

    Those Diamondbacks have a run differential of -51 runs, while the Cubs are only -18. Houston has a -41 run differential.

    Those Diamondbacks may give us real competition for the #1 pick in the 2015 draft. I did not expect that.

    • Sonate

      Based on the run differentials the Cubs should have won 2-3 more games and have a record of around 7-10. But even that implies only 67 wins for the year, still poor enough to get a high draft choice but, alas, not the #1. However, if they trade the Shark and half the names on Neil’s list above, they might have a shot at #1. (Veras, the new Marmol, we should keep because he increases the likelihood of hitting the #1 spot…in the draft.) :)

    • paulcatanese

      And with the D-backs in tow today, the Cubs should have the inside track to maybe win a series. If they don’t, another indication of a very long, long season. Two of the worst teams in Baseball.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Please read the commenting policy. Thank you.

  • Chris K.

    With Rizzo hitting .348 against lefties this year, it’s clear to me that he’s just a platoon player and will never amount to anything more. How can the Cubs bat him third in the lineup when he’s having such a terrible split?

    • JasonOfTheBurbs

      I know, right?!?! Platoons Forever!

    • Patrick_Schaefer

      As a whole for his career Schierholtz has hit LHP for a high average but the power numbers arent there. Last year he didn’t fare well against them but also didn’t get many opportunities.

    • jhosk

      What are you talking about? If Riz is batting .348 vs. southpaws, that`s outstanding. I do not know of a player who would not do cartwheels to bat .348 vs. all pitchers. You make no sense.

      • Denver Mike

        I’m pretty sure it was complete sarcasm, and a small poke at all of those that claim he will be a career platoon guy who can’t hit lefties.

        • Vivid_Reality

          “Small Poke”

          • Denver Mike

            If I had made the original comment I probably would have gone with “jab”, “shot”, or “ribbing” but didn’t want to imply any sort of vitriol :)

        • DWalker

          his home/away splits are more concerning right now. Didn’t he start out early last year hitting lefites pretty well too though?

          • Denver Mike

            I’m not too sure what his splits were like early in the year, but I know he had like 8HRs in April and was pulling everything trying to hit it out of the park.

            I think what is more impressive than his numbers against LHP is his overall approach at the plate, and willingness to go the other way. His LHP average just validates his new approach in my opinion.

            After a few months of ABs, if his improved approach continues, it will be interesting to see a spray chart and compare it to last year. Also, if he keeps going to other way I think defenses will stop shifting so drastically against him, and it will be interested to see how Rizzo adjusts to that as well.

          • Gbarnett

            Ill take the raverage over th home runs at this poing id rather him hit over 300 with less home runs than 260 with 26 homers like last year

          • Denver Mike

            You and me both, if he hits .300 and even close to that with RISP his RBI totals would approve immensely. Also, I think you are giving him too much credit for last year, he was like .230ish if I recall correctly.

          • Gbarnett

            Hit the wrong key on my number pad yes 230 lol. nice catch

        • jhosk

          Thanks for that, Mike. I should have recognized the writer was utililizing sarcasm

    • Ripsnorter1

      I agree. He’s had 24 AB vs. LHP this year with 9 hits–8 singles, 1 double. And some of those singles were bunts vs. the shift, too. That’s showing us all he’s hammering LHP for sure. Those guys who said he couldn’t hit LHP didn’t know what they were talking about.

      LOL

      In 2013, he had 216 PA, 190 AB vs LHP, and hit .189.

      In 2012, he got 107 PA, 101 AB, and hit .208.

      And of course in 2011 he hit .172 vs LHP in 33 PA, 29 AB.

      Let’s give him a few more ABs before we say all is cured with Mr. Rizzo. He certainly looks much better this year, but it is a small sample size that we are using if we are talking 2014 performance.

      • Denver Mike

        I agree it’s a small sample size to put any stock in any of the statistics, including the 2014 stats you posted. But it doesn’t require watching more than a handful of at-bats to see he has drastically changed his approach.

        I’m not sure how many games you actually watch Rip (and I am saying this in earnest, no sarcasm or insult intended), but the changes in his approach that I saw in the first week, I am still seeing now so I don’t see any reason to think it won’t continue.

        As much as I like advanced statistics, this is one occasion where I am saying to h*** with stats, and going purely by the eye test.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    Until we have a better option up here and ready to play, I think Barney needs to start everyday and Bonifacio Needs to start in CF. Valbuena and Bonifacio aren’t very good at 2b. No one else in the OF has claimed a job. Our outfield is led by Schierholtz hitting .246 then Lake hitting .239 Lake has shown a lot of power and speed but also struck out a lot. Still no one has claimed a job over him and he has taken a couple walks lately too.
    If they plan to trade Barney he needs more playing time to establish better trade value. I have noticed a better approach as well and I think it will start paying off more very soon.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    I really don’t see anyone in AAA or AA pushing for an OF spot, or 2b. In AA Bryant is hitting good Geiger as well but at 1B and Almora is Doing good at high A but I don’t see him making it too the majors this year.
    Vitters is hitting at AAA but also struggling defensively in LF. As a whole our “stocked” minor league system isn’t hitting very well. It is early but not encouraging so far.
    Sczcur Babip is way down from career averages so he could turn things around.