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 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 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
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.
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.