The roster shuffle continued on Monday when the Cubs claimed outfielder Thomas Neal off waivers from the New York Yankees. Neal was hitting .325/.391/.411 with 17 doubles and two home runs in 72 games for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre prior to be designated for assignment by the Yankees to make room on the roster for Curtis Granderson. Neal hit .329/.393/.430 against lefties.
Thomas Neal was ranked in the top 100 prospects in the game prior to the 2010 season by Baseball America. Neal can play all three spots in the outfield and is expected to be added to the Cubs 25-man roster prior to Tuesday’s opener in Philadelphia.
The Cubs have been carrying 13 pitchers on the active roster since Alfonso Soriano was traded to the Yankees. The Cubs are expected to send out a reliever to make room for Thomas Neal.
To make room on the roster for Thomas Neal, Rafael Dolis was transferred to the 60-day DL. Dolis was placed on the 15-day DL on June 1 with a right forearm strain. The Cubs now have six players on the 60-day DL.
According to a report from Jesse Rogers, unless Junior Lake “falls off the shelf” the left field job is Lake’s to lose come next spring. But that is next year and Rogers reported on Sunday that Dale Sveum is not ruling out playing Lake at third base this season.
Cody Ransom is not hitting and Luis Valbuena is on the DL with a right oblique strain that could keep him out until September according to Keith Moreland. Sveum admitted the Cubs do not have many options for third base right now and said that they would talk about Lake playing third base.
Ryne Sandberg spoke with Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia about facing his former team for the first time at the big league level. Sandberg spoke openly about the organization’s decision to hire Mike Quade and the fact he would not be offered a position on Quade’s staff.
Sandberg said he was in “limbo” after the Cubs did not hire him as the big league manager or appoint him to Quade’s staff. The Cubs lack of communication with Sandberg gave the Phillies an opportunity to interview him for their Triple-A managerial opening. Sandberg was hired and, as Jim Salisbury reported, said goodbye to the Cubs.
Sandberg told Jim Salisbury that being hired by the Phillies “has been a blessing” because Sandberg said the Cubs were not going to give him a chance to work his way back to the big leagues.
Alfonso Soriano returned to Chicago with the Yankees on Monday and spoke with the media for the first time since he was traded to the Bronx. Soriano said he was on the phone with Welington Castillo on the way to the Cell and remains in touch with his former Cubs teammates.
Soriano mentioned he would not mind returning to the Cubs, or Yankees, as a coach once his playing days are over.
Cubs TV Contracts
The Cubs are expected to turn their attention to their TV contracts in the near future according to a report from the Tribune.
The Cubs and negotiations with WGN are expected to “heat up” because while the team’s contract runs through the 2022 season, the Cubs have an opt out following the 2014 season they are expected to exercise.
According to Ed Sherman, the Cubs contract with WGN is $20 million for the 70 games televised on the Cubs’ long-time network. Those games are now believed to be worth at least $80 million per year. The Cubs are under contract with Comcast SportsNet through the 2019 season.
Neither WGN nor the Cubs were willing to comment because “at this point, it is really complicated” and “no option has been eliminated” according to Sherman’s report.
Sherman explained “there is a provision in the contract that allows WGN to extend the Cubs rights by paying fair market value” but the problem is that fair value is “difficult to determine because there isn’t a comparable arrangement in baseball.” The big TV contracts that are being handed out are cable deals and WGN operates as a free, over-the-air signal in Chicago.
The Cubs have been dropping hints for several years they would like to start their own network. But that cannot happen until the contract with Comcast SportsNet expires following the 2019 season. Sherman said the Cubs could extend their deal with WGN for five more seasons so both contracts expire at the same time.
The Dodgers’ president spoke with the Chicago media last weekend. Stan Kasten, who built the Atlanta Braves, likes how Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are going about building the organization.
“I love what they’re doing. I love how they’re going about it. In the early years in Atlanta we added another minor league teams. We needed a place for 10 more pitchers to pitch. Branch Rickey said this in the ‘30s. It’s quality out of quantity. If I have twice as many players as you, I’m going to graduate twice as many players as you.”
News and Notes
Paul Sullivan covered his last game as the Cubs’ beat reporter for the Tribune on Sunday … and Darwin Barney conducted the exit interview with Sully.
Theo Epstein likes the improvements Arismendy Alcantara has made this season.
Two more Daytona Cubs games were cancelled on Monday due to rain. Since July 12, the D-Cubs have had three doubleheaders and seven games postponed. Six games have been cancelled and will not be made up … and Daytona has dealt with six hours and 22 minutes worth or rain delays.
Javier Baez went 2-for-4 with a double, a walk, a RBI and a stolen base on Monday. Baez is 12-for-41 over his last 10 games with three doubles, three home runs, seven walks and 14 strikeouts (.293/.396/.585/.981).