The Daily CCO: Anthony Rizzo Likes the Way the Cubs are Playing

Anthony Rizzo likes the way the Cubs have been playing over the month. Rizzo told the beat writers after Friday’s win over the Pirates, “It’s definitely nice. It’s the nicest I’ve felt about this team since I’ve been here. Everyone kind of expects to win games now. We always do, but everyone is coming in with that extra swagger.”

Even with the 18-13 record over the last 31 games, the best mark over that span in the National League, the Cubs are under .500 and unless the team does not lose a game for two-plus weeks, the front office is not going to deviate from the plan. And the players know this.

As for the looming trade deadline that will likely cost the Cubs two starting pitchers in Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, Rizzo said, “We’re not there yet so I don’t know. It gets everyone down, but you just deal with it. We all want to keep playing better to it’s harder for them to break everyone up, but the reality of it is we’re nine or ten game under .500. We have to get to .500 first before we talk about that.”

Hearing Anthony Rizzo use the words swagger and Cubs in the same sentence was good to hear … even if it’s temporary.

Kris Bryant

Kris Bryant had a rough second game at the Triple-A level. Bryant went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts Friday night. Bryant is 1-for-8 with a home run and four strikeouts in two games with Iowa.

Theo Epstein reiterated the fact Friday that the Cubs have no plans to call up Kris Bryant to the majors this season. Bryant has not been in the Cubs system for a full calendar year yet and has performed extremely well in his first full season of professional baseball.

Kyle Schwarber

Kyle Schwarber started behind the plate Friday and went 2-for-3 with a home run, a double, two runs scored and a walk in Kane County’s 6-4 victory over Cedar Rapids. Theo Epstein confirmed Friday that Schwarber would likely catch once a week and would play left field and be the Cougars’ DH on the other days.

On what position Schwarber will play, Theo Epstein said, “If we decide he looks good in left field, and his development path with the bat might be so fast that there’s not going to be time for the defense behind the plate to catch up, the we might even go in another direction and be a candidate for the Arizona Fall League like Bryant was last year.”

Over his first seven games in professional baseball, Schwarber is 15-for-26 with two doubles, one triple, five home runs, three walks and two strikeouts … .577/.613/1.308/1.921

Pierce Johnson

One of the top pitching prospects in the Cubs’ system is working his way back to Double-A Tennessee. Pierce Johnson was assigned Friday to Low-A Kane County to continue his rehab from calf and hamstring injuries. Johnson is scheduled to pitch four innings for the Cougars on Saturday and he is expected to stay with Kane County for three to four starts. Johnson will be reevaluated by Cubs’ doctors at that point to determine if he can return to Tennessee.

James Norwood

Jim Callis posted the signing bonus RHP James Norwood received from the Cubs late Friday. The Cubs signed their seventh round pick for $175,000 … $26,900 less than the $201,900 which is the value of the Cubs seventh round slot.

With the bonuses to Kyle Schwarber ($3.125 million), Jake Stinnett ($1 million), Mark Zagunis ($615,000) and RHP James Norwood ($175,000) being under-slot deals, the Cubs will be able to use some of the $1,873,400 saved on the first, second and third round picks on Carson Sands and Justin Steele. The extra bonuses paid to Sands and Steele total $1,259,100.

The Cubs are expected to sign RHP Dylan Cease and more signings should be announced in the coming days.

News and Notes

Welington Castillo made his first rehab start with Iowa and went 1-for-5 with a RBI at the plate. Castillo hit the ball rather hard with only one hit to show for it. Castillo played the entire nine innings.

The Cubs are looking into multicast options for the TV rights.

One of the pitchers that the Cubs have been connected to in a possible deal for Jeff Samardzija was optioned down to Triple-A Friday. The Orioles sent Kevin Gausman out, but this is a similar roster move to those the Cubs front office makes in order to manipulate the rules. Baltimore is not demoting Gausman but using his roster spot to benefit the team. The Orioles have a doubleheader this week in which Gausman can be brought up to start while on his optional assignment. Gausman will then return to the minors for four days before he is eligible to return and make his next scheduled start. Gausman will receive an extra day off before his next scheduled start. It is always best to look at the entire picture …

Minor News and Notes

Arodys Vizcaino made his Triple-A Iowa debut Friday night. Vizcaino struggled and allowed two runs on four hits with one walk in a third of an inning.

Kyle Hendricks allowed one run on three hits with no walks and six strikeouts over 7.2 innings Friday night in Iowa’s 8-3 victory over El Paso. Hendricks said after the game that Friday was the best he’s felt all season. Hendricks was throwing to rehabbing Welington Castillo.

Armando Rivero made his Triple-A debut and struck out the only batter he faced to close out the eighth inning.

Kane County placed Danny Lockhart on the 7-day DL.

Arismendy Alcantara continues to excel hitting leadoff for Iowa. Alcantara is 11-for-34 over his last 10 games with four doubles and five stolen bases … with five walks and six strikeouts (.324/.410/.441/.851). For the season, Alcantara is batting .284/.327/.513 with 18 doubles, nine triples, eight home runs, 15 stolen bases and a .841 OPS.

Javier Baez was 3-for-4 with a double and tied a season-high with four RBI in Friday’s 8-3 victory over El Paso. Baez is heating up after a bad trip to the West Coast. Baez has five hits in his last four games with a double, a home run and seven RBI.

Rubi Silva hit a two-run homer in the Smokies 5-4 victory in 11 innings over Chattanooga.


This Day In Cubstory

2008 – The Cubs beat the White Sox behind a nine-run fourth inning that included a three-run homer by Aramis Ramirez, a solo shot by Mike Fontenot and two home runs by Jim Edmonds

1981 – Jeff Baker, born

1976 – The Giants signed amateur free agent Bob Brenly

1960 – Richie Ashburn played his first game in Philadelphia since being traded to Cubs in the off-season

1956 – Rick Sutcliffe, born

1942 – Dom Dallesandro hit a pinch-hit grand slam with two outs in the ninth that helped the Cubs beat the Giants 7-2 at the Polo Grounds

1936 – The Cubs won their 15th straight game with a 7-2 victory over the Dodgers in the first game of a doubleheader at Ebbets Field. The Dodgers snapped the Cubs winning streak with a 6-4 win in game two.

1928 – The Cubs split a doubleheader with the Cardinals at Wrigley Field. The Cubs won the first game 2-1 and lost the second 4-1. After grounding out in the bottom of the ninth in the second game, Hack Wilson climbed into the stands and attacked Edward Young, a milkman who had been drinking more than milk. Young was insulting Wilson during the game. Gabby Hartnett and Joe Kelly broke up the fight after which Riggs Stephenson popped out for the final out. National League President John Heydler fined Wilson $100 and Judge Francis P. Allegretti fined Young $1.

1907 – Mordecai Brown won his tenth consecutive game when the Cubs beat the Cardinals 2-0 at West Side Grounds. Catcher Johnny Kling threw out four runners trying to steal second base.

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Quote of the Day

"If a baseball could talk, it would sound like Ron Santo." – Pat Hughes - Remembering Ron Santo #10 (1940-2010)

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  • GaryLeeT

    “It’s definitely nice. It’s the nicest I’ve felt about this team since I’ve been here.”

    Sorry Tony R, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you know what’s coming, right?

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  • Tony_H

    Great line ” It is always best to look at the entire picture …”

  • jtrain23

    I have to agree with Rizzo. I have found myself actually enjoying this team play lately. I have been especially pleased with the production of Castro and Rizzo. They seem to be leading this team by example and maturing as players right in front of us.

    I still say that the rotation trades might do more harm than good this year. I have said before and will say again…It doesn’t matter how good the prospects are, if the major league team is getting trounced daily, they have zero confidence which makes it hard to keep waiting. Losing wears on you, no matter how young and talented you are.

    I’m not saying this year’s team is a playoff contender, but as long as they are playing well, I would be against breaking them up. A .500 or above season would really be something for the guys to build on for next year and beyond.

    • triple

      I don’t know if trading Hammels and Samardzija will actually hurt this team that much, especially in regards to how the guys we get back will probably help the team even more next year. The Cubs won/loss record in Samardzija’s starts is 3-12, and they are 8-6 in Hammel’s starts. So they are 11-18 in their starts, and they are 20-22 in all other pitchers starts. Is Shark’s poor run support due to him being their #1 and maybe he’s matching up against other top rotation pitchers in the league? Or is more a mental thing that the team doesn’t feel as much pressure to score runs? It’s hard to say, but I can see a scenario where if one, or both, of them are traded, that Hendricks, Jokisch, and Wada will be guys who get opportunities to pitch with the Cubs, and whoever shows the most staying power will continue pitching. Also, depending on which offensive players get moved, if any, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Alcantara promoted and plugged in the same role that the Bonifacio has been used as a leadoff hitter who floats between CF and 2B. A young guy who doesn’t strike out way too much, and has a knack for extra base hits might be exciting at the top of our lineup.

      • jtrain23

        I hope there is no drop off if they trade these guys. I have just seen it the last few years. The Cubs start to show signs of improvement in June, then half of heir rotation is traded and it seems to really disrupt the chemistry of the team.

        I just really like the way the team is playing right now, and keeping the team intact (maybe even extending some guys) would be a message from the F.O. that IF the teams performs, the the organization will reward them by keeping the team together and adding to it.

        If the team is playing the best ball they have in the past 3-4 years and the players are traded anyway, doesn’t that potentially send the wrong message to the players?

  • Bryan

    Simple equation – winning breeds confidence, yielding momentum, that can positively (and is) getting contagious. Let’s hope it continues. The team is indeed playing better lately.