Hoyer Addresses Trade Talk, Roster Moves and Other Cubs News and Notes

Jed Hoyer addressed the report that surfaced earlier in the week that the Cubs were receiving calls from teams interested in trading for Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel and Travis Wood. Hoyer said “trade talk is nonexistent right now” but knows the conversations will pick back up in late May and early June.

And while the Cubs figure to make several trades prior to the deadline, according to a report from Comcast SportsNet, “the Cubs haven’t seriously started digging into other teams’ farm systems yet this season.” The Cubs do “have a baseline after shopping” Jeff Samardzija during the off-season.

The Blue Jays are one of the teams still thought to be interested in trading for Jeff Samardzija. Toronto is in the cellar of the AL East and under .500 but are still close enough to the other teams that a good week of ball could erase their deficit. Alex Anthopoulos decided to promote Marcus Stroman to help with the Jays’ bullpen issues. Stroman was 2-2 in five starts with a 1.69 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP (36 strikeouts, seven walks, 22 hits in 26 2/3 innings) at the Triple-A level and Aaron Sanchez (1-1 in six starts with a 2.10 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 27 strikeouts, 15 walks, 24 hits in 30 innings) is also off to a good start. Alex Anthopoulos might decide to keep his pitching inventory instead of trying to pry Samardzija from the Cubs.

Hoyer admitted he talks to “a lot of GMs on a daily or weekly basis” but as far as talking to a general manager about a certain player, Hoyer is not sure if he’s had one of those phone conversations yet. Hoyer told Patrick Mooney, “Right now, the calls are mostly catching up and seeing how people are doing and keeping a dialogue but not specific at all.”

Roster Moves

The Cubs made five roster moves prior to Saturday’s victory over the Cardinals. The Cubs activated RHP Jake Arrieta from the 15-day DL and optioned LHP Zac Rosscup to Triple-A Iowa to make room for Arrieta on the active roster.

Ryan Sweeney was placed on the 15-day DL with what was described as a “moderate” right hamstring strain (tear). Sweeney is expected to be on the disabled list for three to four weeks. Rick Renteria said Sweeney’s injury was not as bad as the team first thought.

Chris Coghlan was called up from Triple-A Iowa to take Sweeney’s spot on the active roster. The Cubs purchased Coghlan’s contract from Triple-A Iowa and added him to the 40-man roster. To make room on the 40-man roster for Coghlan, RHP Kyuji Fujikawa was transferred from the 15-day to the 60-day DL.

Closer Role Still Fluid and Organic

Rick Renteria addressed the Cubs’ closer job on Saturday morning. Even with the efficient 1-2-3 ninth inning that Hector Rondon turned in on Friday, Renteria said the job is “still fluid.” And following Rondon’s third save of the season, all against the Cardinals, on Saturday, Renteria described the Cubs’ closer job as “organic” again.

Hector Rondon has looked good in the ninth inning closing out games. If Rondon cannot grab the job, Pedro Strop could get another shot and Justin Grimm could be an option as well. Neil Ramirez could pitch his way into a ninth inning job if he keeps throwing the ball the way he has. Ramirez and Grimm could still end up as starters down the road, but for now both right handers are pitching out of a big league bullpen.

Reports surfaced Friday that Jose Veras was set to begin a rehab assignment with Double-A Tennessee in the very near future. Veras has really struggled since day one of Spring Training and is hoping he will be able to restart his season when he returns from the DL. Veras was placed on the disabled list with a strained left oblique on April 26, retroactive to April 25. Renteria said Friday Veras’ role in the pen will be determined once he returns. The Cubs are hoping Veras’ issues are “physical, maybe a little mechanical and he can get on track.”

Jed Hoyer talked about the closer role with the beat writers on Friday and he reiterated what he said about the job on MLB Network Radio. The Cubs have young, power arms that could end up closing games for the Cubs. And the Cubs might be able to develop one of those pitchers in to the team’s closer.

While the Cubs would like to keep all options open, Hector Rondon has pitched rather well in the ninth inning. The Cubs have been careful with him over the season-plus he’s been with the organization. Rondon pitched on back-to-back days only once last season and before this weekend, he had pitched in consecutive days one time this year. Rondon has pitched in the Cubs last three games (April 30, May 1-2) with a day off in between. So on the days Rondon is unavailable it would be the right move to keep the roles fluid in the pen.

Hoyer on Garza

Jed Hoyer was asked about the comments Matt Garza made last weekend in Milwaukee about the Cubs. Garza said the Brewers expect to win every day and not hoping to win like what happens in Chicago. And he gave his old teammate a message. Garza told Jeff Samardzija he has to pitch his way out of Chicago. Hoyer said “he was not really bothered about the dig” Garza made about the Cubs.

Hoyer said he understands why Garza could have bad feelings about his former team. “I feel like Garza got his payday. He’s on a team that’s winning and I guess he’s in a position right now to make comments. I think it’s on us now to flip that script and to show that we’re a place that people wanna be, to show that we’re a winning organization. I think being traded is a hard thing emotionally for people. Even in a situation like that when he had a good relationship with Garza, I think there’s probably a feeling of rejection, for lack of a better word. I think that people say emotional things when asked about it, because there’s probably some resentment they’re harboring. And that’s O.K. We have to deal with those comments. And I really don’t feel like until we’re winning, until we’ve proved that we’re an organization that he would want to play for, I don’t think that we can really comment on it. It’s his opinion, and he expressed it.”

As ESPN Chicago pointed out, Garza is not the first veteran big leaguer to state publicly he is glad he is in an environment focused on winning now and not on winning in the future. Alfonso Soriano used the right approach a couple of weeks back when he said he’s happy to be with a team looking to win now and not later.

News and Notes

Buster Olney pointed out that prior to Saturday’s game, Starlin Castro was on pace to finish the season with 198 hits. Castro went 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored on Saturday and is hitting .313/.342/.473 with six doubles, four home runs and a .815 OPS.

Anthony Rizzo after 28 games has a .296/.421/.520 line with two doubles, one triple, six home runs and a .942 OPS. Rizzo has walked more times (20) than he’s struck out (18) this season.

Welington Castillo is hitting .286/.333/.500 in 22 games this year with six doubles, four home runs and a .833 OPS.

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  • Ripsnorter1

    “On Saturday, Renteria described the Cubs’ closer job as “organic” again.”

    What?

    Definition “organic”–of, relating to, or derived from living matter.

    Well, I assumed that the Cubs’ bullpen was composed of living matter.
    I know our performances have been off, but still, I didn’t consider them dead.

    Or perhaps RR is assuring us that the Cubs’ bullpen has no “dead arms” in it.

    Or maybe RR speaks Spanish but not English–at least, well enough.

    Would somebody just correct the guy?

    • dicepaul

      Do you know that words can have more than one meaning?

      Organic: adj. 1. of or characterized by the coordination of integral parts; organized.
      2. developing natually.

      Renteria doesn’t need to be corrected.

      • Tony_H

        Somehow I think Ricky was using this one.

    • Eugene Debs

      The bullpen is a free range non-GMO gluten free situation right now.

      • Tom U

        That is an excitingly new way to describe control issues: “free-range”.

    • John_CC

      Your smartass remarks regarding the Spanish / English speaking thing are bordering on racists. Everyone understands the definition of the word organic in these terms: to develop naturally.

  • Jim Canavan

    “Alfonso Soriano used the right approach a couple of weeks back when he said he’s happy to be with a team looking to win now and not later.” Well Alfonso, Back in 2007 when Jim Hendry signed you to your contract that team was built to win now not later and all we received was 6 playoff games and Zero wins…..

    • JasonOfTheBurbs

      under that theory, 1984, 1989, 2003-2004, 2007-2008 were tough years for fans?

      exact opposite. watching baseball was fun those years.

      this notion that only a world series victory every year would = success is unrealistic.

  • GaryLeeT

    It’s no coincidence that Veras, Russell, and Villanueva, stopped pitching, and the Cubs started winning.

  • JasonOfTheBurbs

    talk about a dream job:
    mostly just calls other GM’s to catch up.
    hasn’t really looked into other teams’ farm systems this year.

    What do these guys do all day?

    • Tony_H

      You really aren’t serious are you? I’m not sure how GM’s stay on top of everything is what I see.

  • Tom U

    Minor League Notes:

    After a month of play, there arguably is not a player in the system more deserving of a promotion than Daytona’s Bijan Rademacher. The left-handed hitting outfielder is 4th in the FSL with a .355 average, 5th with a .950 OPS, and 6th with a .437 OBP.

    Tennessee’s catcher Rafael Lopez saw his career go off track in 2012 with injuries, but it now appears that he is back on. As a rookie with Boise in 2011, Lopez hit .316 with 6 HR and 37 RBI in 54 games. However, he suffered a concussion in 2012. Lopez was moved up to Double-A last season despite playing only 35 games at Advanced-A and 70 overall in 2012, and struggled accordingly. At this point, Lopez looks like a better option than Eli Whiteside (.167 in 16 games in Iowa at 34 years old), and a promotion could benefit fellow catcher Charles Cutler with more playing time.

    In spite of his slash line of .304/.423/.559/.982 with 6 HR, 15 RBI, and 5 SB, Kris Bryant will probably not be promoted until he can cut down on his strikeouts. Currently with 34 K’s in 102 AB, Bryant averages one strikeout in every 3 AB.

    A player who can start a lot of wheels in motion for the entire franchise is Tennessee OF John Andreoli. Relegated to being a fourth OF despite leading the system the past two seasons in stolen bases, Andreoli has not only fought his way into the line-up, but has also claimed the lead-off spot for the Smokies. The 24 year old is 4th in the SL in batting at .325, 6th with a .441 OBP, and 2nd with 14 SB. Andreoli’s continued success could force management into making some decisions about the outfield at both the Triple-A and major league levels.

    With a recent surge, both Kane Co. OF Jacob Hannemann and C Will Remillard have renewed speculation that they could be promoted soon in order to “fast-track” them. Hannemann has hit .316 in his last 10 games while Remillard has batted .412 over that period.

    • JasonOfTheBurbs

      I think our OF is definitely in play for prospects like Andreoli.

      Lake is still unproven as he doesn’t get everyday at-bats. Almora is young. Soler unproven/injured all the time. If Olt doesn’t stick at 3B, Bryant may wind up at 3B unlike the OF as everyone assumes. Kalish unproven with inconsistent at-bats.

      And I, for one, don’t need to see more of the Sweeney/Ruggiano/Schierholtz options in the OF, so I am all for seeing what the kids can do.

    • John_CC

      I have hoping Andreoli will get a promotion, he clearly deserves it, and it goes without saying that the OF Iowa isn’t all that special. I actually can’t believe how bad it is. Coghlan was the only replacement depth. So I wonder what your professional opinion is Tom, on the probability of him getting promoted. When typically is the first round of moves? And when do they just cut bait with Jackson, dies he have any chance of even becoming a 4th OF?

      • Tony_H

        BJAX just got back on the field with Iowa. He went 0-2 with a BB and of course a K. He is definitely in the make or break stage of his time with the Cubs.

        Szczur is putting up respectable numbers 267/337 but let’s not talk slugging.

        • JasonOfTheBurbs

          Tony…I know I had my 8 starts max this week…but why are my RPs not eligible today?

          • Tony_H

            Interesting. It seems that even though I chose to use GS instead of innings pitched, it shuts off all pitching stats if you get to 8 starts before a day starts. Not the intended consequence, I will look to see if I can do anything.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            Thx…it is a moot point for this week unless my RPs score points today that are not counted. I am getting killed today, so every bit helps.

            It would definitely affect strategy in the future if you knew having your 8 starts before the final day nullified your future RP stats too.

          • Tony_H

            Looks like it still counts the points for relievers. Of course you had a guy come in and lose you 3 pts.

          • Tony_H

            Nice turnaround with Ramos, he got you 4 points after the W. You guys are going to the wire.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            he is done at 302.
            I have 3 batters left with about 3 innings each, and I am at 299.

            I don’t think it is asking too much of Trout to hit 1 measly HR.

            I scored over 100 yesterday, and followed it up with a Veras-ish choke performance.

          • Tony_H

            3 pts with 3 players left, now that is a close contest. Parra single, steal 2B then Prado singles him home gets you more than enough! Trout can be the icing on your cake.

            Good luck!

      • Tom U

        Sorry I’m so late in responding John. The first round of promotions usually come sometime from mid-May to Mid-June. So that would be anywhere between two to six weeks.