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.”
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.