It was an incredibly busy first weekend in June for the Chicago Cubs.
On the field, the Cubs played their best series of the season. Even with the Nationals struggling, taking three of four on the road from any team in baseball should be considered an accomplishment. The Cubs played good ball all weekend, received contributions from unexpected sources (Jonathan Herrera, Chris Denorfia) and Anthony Rizzo made it where the Nationals were glad to see him leave town. Plus, due to the decision to pull Hector Rondon after one batter Saturday, Joe Maddon used three different relievers to close out each game and created a little controversy.
The draft will be front and center for the next three days, especially with the Cubs having a day off in Detroit prior to opening the brief two-game series Tuesday night with the Tigers.
Here are the headlines from the last three days with reports packed full of the news, notes and rumors.
Cubs Pick Off the Nationals – Cubs 2, Nationals 1
Due to rain in DC, the start of the first game of the series with the Nationals was delayed for almost two hours (one hour, 51 minutes). The Cubs were able to make two runs in the first inning against Gio Gonzalez stand up … and for the first time in three years beat the Nationals’ southpaw.
Patience paid off early for the Cubs as Jake Arrieta put together a solid outing. Arrieta ran out of gas in the sixth but still allowed only one run on the night.
The play of the game was made for the 27th out when Anthony Rizzo called for a pick off at first base and David Ross executed it. With Hector Rondon struggling to throw strikes, David Ross and Anthony Rizzo should have been given half a save each.
Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 06/05/15
It was a good end of the week for several of the Cubs’ affiliates. Christian Villanueva stayed hot at the plate and so did Gleyber Torres. Ryan Williams won his Double-A debut and the Smokies moved into first place before the weekend got underway.
Rambling about the Cubs and a Bat-Flipping Fool
Friday morning started out with a late ramblings due to the rain delay the night before. Brian joined in the Junior Lake discussion and voiced his displeasure with the Cubs’ backup outfielder. Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, Jon Lester and Javier Baez were among the topics that Brian rambled about in his weekly column.
The Daily CCO: Five South Bend Cubs are All-Stars and Other Cubs News
Gleyber Torres headlined the list of South Bend Cubs that will be participating in the Midwest League All-Star Game. RHP Jeremy Null, OF Charcer Burks, C/1B Cael Brockmeyer and RHP James Farris were named to the team.
Chris Denorfia started his rehab assignment with Double-A Tennessee that ended up lasting all of two days. Javier Baez played third base for the I-Cubs and ‘The Pick Off’ from the night before made headlines.
Includes an update on LHP Brady Aiken and all of the news, notes and This Day in Cubs History.
Cubs Prospect Christian Villanueva is On Fire at the Plate
Christian Villanueva has quietly put up very good numbers for Triple-A Iowa. And he recently had to move across the diamond so Javier Baez could get experience at third base. Villanueva hit homers in four straight games.
Iowa’s hitting coach has seen a big difference in Villanueva. He has matured at the plate and has stopped chasing, for the most part. Where he fits with the Cubs long term is unknown at this point but he could be a valuable asset for the team one way or another this summer if he keeps on his current development path.
Player Acquisition Cost: RHP Jonathan Papelbon
Chris’ popular series continued with a look at what it could possibly cost the Cubs to pry RHP Jonathan Papelbon from the Phillies. The Cubs are interested in Papelbon, but as Chris pointed out it is not going to be cheap to add him to the bullpen, if that is the route the front office takes.
Anthony Rizzo, Cubs Offense Unable to Comeback from Wada’s Rough Start – Nationals 7, Cubs 5
Tsuyoshi Wada had a bad night and lasted only 3 2/3 innings. But Edwin Jackson and Travis Wood kept the Nationals from tacking on and gave the offense a chance.
Anthony Rizzo went deep twice and Miguel Montero added a solo shot. The Cubs cut the deficit to 5-4 by the sixth inning.
Justin Grimm and Zac Rosscup each gave up a run and the Nationals held on for the win.
Cubs Among Three Teams Reportedly Being the Most Aggressive on RHP Rafael Soriano
The Cubs have been exploring ways to improve the bullpen and were connected to RHP Rafael Soriano while he was still being represented by Scott Boras.
Soriano signed on with Alan Nero and Octagon, and there is obviously a very good working relationship with the Cubs and Maddon’s agent (Nero also represents Jason Hammel).
The Cardinals and Blue Jays are the other two teams very interested in Soriano, according to the Boston Globe and CBS Sports.
Rafael Soriano has an open workout scheduled for Thursday in the Dominican but he could be signed by a team before then.
The Daily CCO: Cubs Have Shown Serious Interest in Eddy Julio Martinez and Other News
The Cubs are one of at least a dozen teams very interested in 20-year old Cuban OF Eddy Julio Martinez. The Cubs cannot sign him until July 2 and he has not decided if he will be signing before June 15 or wait until the new International period begins July 2.
Kyle Schwarber keeps on hitting and he threw out two batters trying to swipe second, one was uber-prospect Byron Buxton.
Includes all of the news, notes and This Day in Cubs History.
Hammel, Timely Hitting Top Nationals – Cubs 4, Nationals 2
Jason Hammel held the Nationals to one run in eight innings but was lifted in the ninth after Bryce Harper took him deep. Hammel kept the Nationals off balance all afternoon and appeared to have enough left in his tank to complete the game. Joe Maddon went to his pen twice in the ninth and created controversy due to Hector Rondon’s struggles.
Kris Bryant, Dexter Fowler, Anthony Rizzo and Jonathan Herrera drove in runs, three scored one two out hits and the Cubs pulled out a win after a very early start time.
Jason McLeod Talks Cubs and the Draft on Inside the Clubhouse
With the draft getting underway Monday, Jason McLeod took a break Saturday morning and spent about 10 minutes talking baseball with Bruce Levine and Jordan Bernfield on The Score.
McLeod reiterated the Cubs will take the best player available, the one with the most talent. And the Cubs like what they’ve seen from Javier Baez at third base.
The Daily CCO: Closer Controversy for the Cubs? And Other News and Notes
Joe Maddon created the headlines when he pulled Hector Rondon after walking the only batter he faced in the ninth inning Saturday. Maddon would not say if Rondon was out as the closer or not. Maddon sounds like he will play matchups for now. But that could change.
Anthony Rizzo has been pretty good this year. And Jorge Soler does not think he will be on the DL much longer than the mandatory 15 days.
Down on the Farm, RHP Corey Black was pretty good again out of the Smokies’ bullpen.
Includes all of the news and notes, plus This Day in Cubs History.
Javier Baez Cracks Eighth Triple-A Homer, Plays Third Base for the Fourth Straight Game
Javier Baez has not slowed down at the plate while getting his first reps at third base since the Arizona Fall League a couple of years ago. Baez has made several changes to his approach and swing in five weeks with the Iowa Cubs.
Baez launched his eighth homer Saturday night and the ball hit a light tower at Principal Park.
From the Wire: Cubs Activate OF Chris Denorfia from DL, Option OF Matt Szczur to Triple-A Iowa
The Cubs shuffled the roster again Sunday morning before the finale with the Nationals. Matt Szczur was sent out and Chris Denorfia was activated. Szczur was optioned to Iowa and could be recalled while the Cubs are playing the Indians and Twins.
Chris Denorfia has been very good off the bench for Joe Maddon while he has not been on the disabled list.
Javier Baez Headed to the Disabled List with Non-Displaced Fracture of Left Ring Finger
When reports surfaced Sunday afternoon that Javier Baez left the game and went to the hospital for X-rays on his left hand, the hope was that Baez would not miss more than a couple of days with a minor hand injury. But X-rays revealed Baez broke the ring finger on his left hand sliding headfirst into second base.
Baez could be out anywhere from 4-8 weeks. More should be known in the coming days after he has been reevaluated.
Cubs Bust Out the Bats, Take Three of Four from the Nationals – Cubs 6, Nationals 3
The Cubs wrapped up a very good weekend in the Nation’s Capital with a convincing win over Jordan Zimmermann on Sunday afternoon. Starlin Castro, Chris Coghlan and Jonathan Herrera drove in runs with Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant driving the ball all over Nationals Park.
Kyle Hendricks was solid for five innings … and the bullpen, with Jason Motte closing it out, tossed four innings of scoreless ball in relief of Hendricks.