The Daily CCO: Cubs Must Find Balance and Other News and Notes

The front office is expected to focus this off-season and for the next 12-24 months on adding pitching to the organization. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have talked about the imbalance between the pitching and position players and many think, and reports have backed up the speculation, the Cubs will try to add a top of the rotation starter this winter.

Jed Hoyer reiterated prior to Wednesday’s game, “We know we have an imbalance. I think that will be the focus.” Hoyer said the Cubs will be looking for pitching this off-season and that is going to be the team’s main focus, but not necessarily a number one guy.

Jon Lester is thought to be at the top of the Cubs list of free agent starters as the front office is reportedly prepared to make a nine-figure investment in a starting pitcher. The Cubs have also been connected to Max Scherzer and Justin Masterson by the mainstream media.

The winter should become the Jon Lester Watch soon after the season wraps and he officially hits the free agent market. And there will be other free agent options for the starting staff as well.

Javier Baez

Javier Baez launched his first Wrigley Field home run Wednesday night and his tape-measure shot did not disappoint the home crowd. Baez admitted after the game he thought he hit the ball “pretty good” and realized he hit a homer when the crowd “went crazy.”

PrintWhen asked if he watched the ball leave the park, Baez responded the right answer.

“I just run the bases. I don’t want to show anyone up.”

Jed Hoyer told the beat writers prior to Wednesday’s game that the front office feels Baez is going to be a really good second baseman once he gets more comfortable at the position.

Felix Doubront

According to a report from Carrie Muskat, the Cubs were happy with the way Felix Doubront pitched in his first rehab start with Iowa on Tuesday night. Doubront went four-plus innings and was charged with three runs on four hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. Doubront threw 80 pitches, 52 for strikes, and five of the seven strikeouts were on called third strikes.

Felix Doubront worked with Chris Bosio and the big league staff before he reported to Iowa. Doubront threw three bullpens that reportedly went well.

The Cubs would like to see Felix Doubront start a game or two at the big league level before the end of the season. Doubront is scheduled to start at least one more game for Iowa according to the report.

The Bullpen

According to a report from Mark Gonzales, the front office would prefer not to carry eight relievers the entire season next year. Prior to Wednesday’s game, Jed Hoyer said one of the focuses of the off-season will be on the bullpen and indicated the team would likely not carry a 13-man pitching staff next year.

The young relievers have been a positive for the Cubs this season after the switch was made in May to the likes of Hector Rondon, Brian Schlitter and Neil Ramirez late in games. And Chris Bosio feels comfortable giving the ball “on any given day to four or five” of the bullpen guys in the ninth inning.

September Call-Ups

Jed Hoyer would not commit Wednesday to which players on the 40-man roster will be brought up from Iowa when the roster expands on Sept. 1. Hoyer told the beat writers that the call-ups will be impacted by whether or not Iowa is in the playoffs.

Hoyer explained, “They’ve worked hard down here. We don’t want to raid them, leave them with nothing if they do make the playoffs.”

Jorge Soler is still expected to make his big league debut at some point in September. But Kris Bryant is not and Hoyer reiterated Wednesday the front office does not plan on calling up Bryant to the majors this season.

Arizona Fall League

The Cubs have not decided which players will be sent to the Arizona Fall League. Jason McLeod explained the process of how the rosters are picked last week.

The Cubs are expected to send C.J. Edwards to the AFL to help make up some of the innings he missed this year. And Jed Hoyer said Wednesday that Jorge Soler could spend his second straight fall in the AFL to pick up the developmental time he lost this season due to the hamstring injuries.

Ron Villone, Daytona’s pitching coach, will have the same duties with the Mesa Solar Sox when the AFL begins on Oct. 7.

News and Notes

Starlin Castro keeps producing at the plate. Castro extended his hitting streak to 12 games Wednesday with his 15th three-hit game of the season.

According to a report from Comcast SportsNetStarlin Castro has stepped up and taken Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara under his wing and is trying to help them feel comfortable as they make the transition to the majors.

Nate Schierholtz cleared waivers and will become a free agent Friday unless the front office finds a team to trade him to before then.

The Cubs starting staff posted its seventh straight quality start Wednesday night. The starting staff has a 2.09 ERA last seven games with two quality starts by Kyle Hendricks and Tsuyoshi Wada.

Anthony Rizzo hit his 27th longball Wednesday night … 11 of the 27 have been hit on the first pitch.

Christopher Kamka dug very deep and found 80 pitchers from 1950-present that each made their first six Major League starts with the Cubs and Kyle Hendricks has the best ERA (1.73) in those first six starts.

This Day In Cubstory

2009 – The Cubs scored 14 runs in the first two innings in route to a 17-2 victory over the Pirates. The Cubs sent 15 batters to the plate in the second inning and scored 10 runs. Randy Wells picked up the win, Derrek Lee drove in seven runs.

2008 – The Cubs beat the Braves 11-7 and completed the franchise’s first season series sweep over the Braves.

1991 – The Expos signed free agent Rick Renteria

1985 – Chris Valaika, born

1985 – The Cubs released Larry Gura

1977 – Juan Pierre, born

1972 – In the last Boys Benefit game played, the Cubs beat the White Sox 3-1 at Comiskey Park. Ernie Banks was brought out of retirement for the game and received a standing ovation when he pinch-hit.

1959 – For the second straight game, Dale Long hit a pinch-hit home run as the Cubs beat the Giants 7-5 at Wrigley Field. Ernie Banks and Moose Moryn also homered and Glen Hobbie struck out 10 batters on his way to the win.

1919 – In a total of two hours and 17 minutes, the Cubs and Dodgers split a doubleheader. The Cubs blanked Brooklyn 2-0 in game one that took one hour and 10 minutes to play. The Cubs lost the second game 1-0 in one hour and seven minutes.

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  • Chris K.

    Happy birthday Chris Valaika! I wish you hit better because Luis Valbuena has been really awful lately.

    • Jeff Wilson

      I think he drove in 2 runs in todays game, that is a good sign!

    • Ripsnorter1

      Luis Valbuena is a one way player for the Cubs.
      SO far in August….132 BA, 2 HR, 3 RBI
      Last seven days…..045 BA…that’s 1 for 22 with 1 BB….

      Okay. They should have traded him before the deadline…..

      • Chris K.

        I’ve always agreed with you on that Rip. He stinks.

  • calicub

    I’m assuming (and hoping) that they intend to pursue FAs not trade targets. Very few arms out there I’d be happy with them trading our top hitters for.

    • Ripsnorter1

      James Russell, Atl. Braves.
      7 games
      4.1 IP
      6H
      2 BB
      2 K
      6.23 ERA
      1.85 WHIP

      And a FO that wishes that they had not traded for him, I think.
      Atlanta, since the trade for Bonafacio & Russell, has dived off of the deep end.

    • Ripsnorter1

      I don’t want our FO signing another Edwin Jackson. We still have two more years of Edwin to look forward to.

      • calicub

        But I don’t think anyone had any illusions of what EJAX was when they signed him (inning-eater not an impact arm). I mean, how often is there a Max Scherzer, James Shields and Lester on the market all at once?

        I’m all for avoiding burdensome contracts but there is a lot of impact coming onto the market this year and I think a shrewd approach this off-season could make the Cubs competitive next year.

        • Ripsnorter1

          My crystal ball says all three will be on the DL next year. It also says that big contracts weigh heavy on the mind….see Albert Pujols for an illustration.

          I wonder if Team Theo will go after them. I don’t know what they will do, but I am not convinced 100% that they will make a sincere effort to get any of those three. I think they will make a show for PR purposes, but I don’t think they will land any of them. I think they will settle for a couple of Hammels or Feldmans.

          Javy Baez has elite power. But check out those k’s.
          45 AB, 17 k’s. Furthermore, ML pitchers and pitching coaches will spend the winter studying films on him to find his weaknesses. 2015 may be a down year for him to learn a few things about himself. In short, 2015 may not be the year for the Cubs. Look at Rizzo in 2013. It was a year of adjustments.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Do you think this is the year for the Angels?

      • calicub

        I certainly wasn’t counting on them doing anything this year but they seem to be building steam.

        Who am I to root against a Freeway Series in my hometown?!

        • Ripsnorter1

          I would love to see the Angels in the WS. I went to a game in July in Anaheim. Very nice stadium. Everyone talks Mike Trout, and they should. But Calhoun in RF is a stud, too.

          • calicub

            Yeah the Big A is pretty nice (as is most of Anaheim in comparison to LA). I’ve sat in a few different spots and they’ve all been great views.