Samardzija Rumors, Arrieta Rehabs and Other Cubs News and Notes

Jeff Samardzija was on the wrong end of another low scoring game on Saturday and he is off to a good start to his season. Samardzija has allowed two runs on 11 hits with five walks and 11 strikeouts in his first two starts (14 innings). Samardzija threw seven innings of shutout ball on Opening Day and made only two mistakes against the Phillies in his second outing of the year. Samardzija is throwing strikes (202 pitches, 129 strikes) and owns a 1.29 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP.

According to Bruce Levine, Samardzija’s days in Chicago are growing short. The two sides have said publicly they will not negotiate a contract extension for Samardzija during the season. The last time the front office discussed a contract with Samardzija’s agent, Mark Rogers, was at the Winter Meetings in December. Samardzija and the Cubs remain $25-30 million apart on an extension, plus no-trade protection for him. The Cubs view Samardzija as a $14 million a year pitcher for the next six years while Samardzija could be looking for a contract worth ten times more than the first one he signed with the Cubs ($10.6 million) according to Levine.

Levine reiterated Saturday that the Blue Jays have shown the most interest in Samardzija and the Cubs know Toronto’s system after scouting it extensively over the last three years. Reports during the off-season indicated Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer asked Alex Anthropolous for a package of players that included RHP Aaron Sanchez and RHP Marcus Stroman, the top two pitchers in the Jays’ system, for Samardzija.

The Cubs are believed to be asking for two top-pitching prospects, plus in any deal for Jeff Samardzija.

Jake Arrieta

Jake Arrieta completed his first rehab start on Saturday night. Arrieta suited up for the Smokies and completed three innings. Arrieta was scheduled to throw three innings or 55 pitches.

Arrieta completed three innings and threw 40 pitches, 27 for strikes. Arrieta walked a batter and struck out three while allowing one unearned run on no hits. Arrieta threw 24 pitches, 14 for strikes, in the first inning, 11 to the first batter that led to the walk. Arrieta committed a throwing error in the third inning (wild pickoff throw to first base) that led to the unearned run.

Jake Arrieta hit his spots and appeared to shake off the rust as his short outing progressed.

The Cubs have not said when Arrieta will pitch again, but it should be in five days for one of the Cubs’ affiliates.

Carlos Villanueva and the Bullpen

The Cubs’ bullpen has seen its fair share of work over the first five games of the season, in large part due to the two extra innings games at the beginning of the year. According to Bruce Levine, Carlos Villanueva could permanently move into the pen following Sunday’s start against the Phillies. And once the Cubs need a fifth starter again, a call could be made to Triple-A Iowa for Chris Rusin.

The Cubs have three scheduled days off between April 7 and April 17, but would need a fifth starter on April 12. At that point, the Cubs could recall Chris Rusin from Triple-A Iowa to make the start. Rusin was optioned to Iowa on March 30 and has to remain in the minors for 10 days, unless he is replacing an injured player.

The Cubs appear to be okay, at this point, with using Wesley Wright, Justin Grimm, Hector Rondon and Brian Schlitter for multiple innings but if the coaching staff is not careful they will burn out the relievers before the All-Star break.

If Villanueva is moved back to the pen, the Cubs must do everything possible to keep him stretched out so he will be more attractive to contending teams looking to add a valuable swingman to their pitching staff.

News and Notes

With Saturday’s 2-0 loss to the Phillies, the Cubs have been shut out twice in their first five games for the first time since 1981 and the 11th time in the last 100 years.

Jason Hammel is not thinking about the possibility of being traded this summer. Hammel is focused on staying healthy and pitching well according to a report from ESPN Chicago.

Rick Renteria likes the way Welington Castillo has been working with the pitching staff, especially the starters, in the first five games according to a report from Tony Andracki.

Ryan Kalish was one of nine Opening Day roster surprises according to Baseball America.

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Quote of the Day

"Pitching is the cornerstone of most championship teams." – Roger Craig

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  • Steve

    Samardzija has 11 strike outs not 8.

    • Neil

      Thanks for catching, corrected.

  • Tom U

    Minor League notes:

    As I reported in the previews, OF Jacob Hannemann and C Will Remillard may not stay long in Kane County. The organization wants to fast-track them, and both have started out well in the opening series. Remillard has played two games and is hitting .250 and showing solid defense behind the dish. Hannemann showed that maybe his arm isn’t as bad a some would think, as he gunned down a runner at second yesterday. Hannemann is batting .333 with a home run and three stolen bases in three games.

    It was an important step for Tim Saunders on Saturday. The lightening fast Saunders, who battled an arm injury last season, lined up in the field at shortstop yesterday. Saunders broke out as he was 3-for-5 with a double, 2 RBI, and a stolen base.

    There will be some who will report today that perhaps Javier Baez is now showing his true colors. The mercurial Baez is hitless in his first three games, going 0-for-9 with 6 strikeouts and 2 errors. Baez was ejected last night for arguing balls and strikes.

    The organization got promising starts from Tyler Skulina, Daury Torrez , and Tayler Scott yesterday. The 3 combined to allow just one earned run over 18 innings with 8 strikeouts.

  • JasonPen

    14 million a year pitcher?…
    Isn’t that what they gave Edwin Jackson?

    • Tony_H

      He still has an arbitration year that will bring the average down. But yes, pre-free agency that is a pretty fair number for him.

      • TheWrongGuy

        Samardzija isn’t worth 14m per season.
        I know he is the best pitcher in the rotation. I also know the market for SP is “sky high”. I love the pitcher but not the BB’s and frustrations he display’s at times with the umpires miss calls of balls and strikes.

        • BigJonLilJon

          Agreed… And he tends to lapse in concentration from game to game. Even in todays high dollar SP market… He’s worth only 14, maybe 16 mil per. Id rather have the 2 kids from Toronto that have similar upside, is 2 Sharks VS 1, and are a lot cheaper.

          • Tony_H

            As much as I like Samardzija, the timing is just not right for his career and the Cubs rebuilding. I think they will get a good haul for him as he is at the right time in his career for other teams.

          • BigJonLilJon

            I tend to agree. I do believe if the Cubs were winning now, that Shark would play this out differently. But since they are not, the timing is bad. Get the biggest haul possible and move on. Who knows, if he doesn’t sign a long term deal to who ever we trade him to… maybe we resign in in FA in a few years. I actually do think he wants to be a Cub… just not while we’re losing.

  • Tom U


    Iowa’s Javier Baez has benched for today’s game against Memphis.

    • Tony_H

      That should be automatic for an ejection in the minors, unless the ump had a quick trigger.

      • Tom U

        Hasn’t always happened with Baez.

        • Tony_H

          Wasnt’ he benched last year for a game? I don’t remember the reason, but thought it was disciplinary.

          • Tom U

            Early last season he was pulled in the middle of an inning after committing an error at Daytona. Baez had also missed signs and displayed a poor attitude prior to that. He has had run-ins and ejections from umpires since, but has not been benched, directly, after those incidents.

          • SuzyS

            Considering his current start,
            It won’t hurt him to cool his heels for a day to collect himself.

    • BigJonLilJon

      I wonder if he’s just frustrated by not being on the big league team??? I think he knew the plan but thought he could play his way on with a strong ST.

      • Tom U

        If so, he was very naive. Baez wasn’t going to unseat Castro at short with his huge contract, and Baez has been reticent to play elsewhere.

        • BigJonLilJon

          But that’s the natural mind set for any athlete… If I play well I will be rewarded. I’m not saying he’s wrong, but I think he’s such a competitor that he talked himself into it. Maybe he thought 2nd base was his chance for playing time???