After taking two of three and winning a series in Atlanta, the Cubs will begin a four-game in three-day series with the Reds in Cincinnati eight games back of the Cardinals in the division but just 3 ½ games behind the Pirates for second in the central and the top NL Wild Card spot. The Cubs lead the Giants by a full game and hold a two game advantage over the Mets for the second Wild Card.
When Joe Maddon met with the players prior to the series with the Braves, he reminded them the goal is not to make it into the playoffs but to win the division.
The non-waiver trade deadline is 11 days away and teams are focused on improving their rosters. The Cubs would reportedly like to acquire a starting pitcher, a late inning reliever and a bat. The Cubs have been linked to numerous players and are expected to be active over the next week and a half.
Joel Sherman reported Saturday that he has been amazed by how many executives in the game have basically told him, “Theo is going to be in the middle of everything at the deadline.” Sherman explain Theo Epstein “has a rising team, prospects and money to spend, and a history that shows he is willing to get creative … think three- or four-team deals … as long as he could get himself in the middle of the action.”
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have said the Cubs will be aggressive before the deadline and while they are willing to trade for rentals, the front office would prefer to make deals that improve the big league team now and in the future. Epstein and Hoyer have talked about the importance of sticking to The Plan while not overlooking a chance to win this season.
Whether or not the Cubs end up in the middle of everything before the deadline, it is going to be an interesting end of July both on and off the field.
Kyle Schwarber is expected to see a lot of time behind the plate over the next three days. Schwarber caught Friday’s game in Atlanta and was used in a pinch-hitter Saturday and Sunday. When Schwarber was recalled the Cubs said he would not catch Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta but he would likely be behind the plate for the other three starting pitchers … Jason Hammel, Kyle Hendricks and Clayton Richard.
Joe Maddon said Sunday that Schwarber has a chance to catch three of the four games with the Reds.
Schwarber will play in front of family and friends this week. Schwarber grew up a Reds’ fan just outside of Cincinnati and the last time he played at Great American Ball Park, eight days ago, he was named the MVP of the Futures Game.
The Cubs are trying to get Schwarber up to speed on the pitching staff. He caught Jason Hammel’s bullpen session on Saturday. There is a ton of information for him to process.
According to a report from ESPN Chicago, Maddon “will reassess again after those outings.”
Kyle Schwarber “is also expected to get practice in the outfield for possible playing time in left” according to the Sun-Times.
The Cubs designated Edwin Jackson for assignment following Sunday’s game with the Braves. The Cubs have 10 days to trade Jackson, and while it is possible the front office finds a taker for Jackson it is not probable at this point. The Cubs have been trying to trade him for quite some time.
The Cubs owe Jackson $15.63 million on the four-year, $52 million contract he signed in January 2013.
According to multiple reports, the mood in the clubhouse Sunday changed as his teammates learned Jackson had been designated for assignment. Despite the way he pitched for the Cubs and the public perception, he is known as a great teammate. Anthony Rizzo, Jason Motte and Jason Hammel were just three of his now former teammates that took to Twitter to show their support. And Jake Arrieta shared his thoughts about Jackson with the Sun-Times.
Joe Maddon told the beat writers, “I want it to be known what a professional athlete and person Edwin is. The word ‘class’ is thrown out there too easily. I believe it applies to Edwin and how he handles himself.”
Edwin Jackson admitted he “wasn’t really expecting” to be DFA’d, but at this point of his career he was not surprised. Jackson said, “Unfortunately things didn’t turn out how I planned here. It happens, man. It’s the game of baseball. I wish nothing but the best to the organization and the city of Chicago.”
Veteran right-handed reliever Rafael Soriano will be officially added to the Cubs’ roster Monday and will be available out of the bullpen for the opener of the four-game series with the Reds.
Rafael Soriano got his work in over seven appearances with Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa. Soriano had good command of his slider while touching the mid-90s with his fastball. He allowed one unearned run on four hits with three walks and seven strikeouts in seven innings (0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP).
The Cubs have not announced which pitcher will be called up for one of the two games on Wednesday against the Reds. As previously reported, RHP Dallas Beeler is the likely candidate. Beeler was aligned out of the break to pitch on regular rest in Cincinnati on Wednesday. Beeler started Friday for the I-Cubs.
Clayton Richard is going in game one. Jason Hammel is on track for Tuesday. Joe Maddon will use Kyle Hendricks for one game of Wednesday’s day-night doubleheader.
News, Notes and Rumors
• MLB Stat of the Day posted this about Jake Arrieta’s last six starts: 5-0 with a 0.97 ERA, 0.66 WHIP and 44 strikeouts in 46 2/3 innings.
• Buster Olney’s top 10 for the week: Cardinals, Royals, Dodgers, Angels, Yankees, Pirates, Giants, Nationals, Astros and Twins.
• Several starting pitchers that are available and should be moved before the deadline had less than stellar outings Sunday … RHP Dan Haren had a rough outing against the Phillies on Sunday. Haren allowed five runs on seven hits with a walk and two strikeouts in six innings. Ryan Howard and Freddy Galvis took him deep. Johnny Cueto struggled with his command against the Indians. With Dodgers’ scouts watching Cueto, he stayed away from his fastball, walked six batters and gave up two runs on four hits in four innings. Cueto made 94 pitches, only 48 in the zone.
• According to the Des Moines Register, the Sacramento River Cats (Giants’ Triple-A) released OF Brett Jackson. In 51 games this season, Jackson batted .220/.324/.321 with seven doubles and three home runs.
• The Cubs are taking a novel approach to Addison Russell’s development according to Comcast SportsNet.
• According to ESPN Chicago, the Cubs problems are within the strike zone, not out of it.
• The Sun-Times reported A.J. Pierzynski likes and respects his former teammate, Jon Lester.
And last, but not least, Jake Arrieta wants to see the Cubs have a second-half killer instinct according to a report from Comcast SportsNet.
This Day In Cubstory
2001 – Cubs acquired Michael Tucker from the Reds for Ben Shaffar and Chris Booker
1994 – Duane Underwood, born
1989 – Matt Szczur, born
1982 – Jake Fox, born
1980 – Cubs released Ken Henderson
1969 – At Connie Mack Stadium during the top of the third inning of the nightcap against the Cubs, play is stopped and the two teams moved silently to their respective baselines to look skyward as the crowd is informed word has been sent from Neil Armstrong to Mission Control in Houston that the Eagle had landed on the moon. The game was resumed after a rendition of God Bless America is played and a prayer is said for the astronauts.
1966 – Ernie Banks collected the 2,000th hit of his career in a 5-4 loss to the Reds at Wrigley Field
1954 – Gary Woods, born
1938 – Gabby Hartnett replaced Charlie Grimm as manager of the Cubs
1933 – Babe Herman hit three home runs, including a Grand Slam, and a single while driving in eight runs in a 10-1 victory over the Phillies at Wrigley Field
1929 – Hack Wilson his safely in his 26th consecutive game as the Cubs beat the Dodgers 5-1 in Brooklyn.
1911 – Frank Schulte hit for the cycle in a 4-3 Cubs victory over the Phillies in Philadelphia. Schulte ended the year as the first player in big league history to top the 20-mark in doubles, triples, home runs and stolen bases. Willie Mays (1957), Curtis Granderson (2007) and Jimmy Rollins (2007) are the other three players in the history of the game to accomplish the feat.
1886 – Mike Kelly recorded four hits, all singles, and scored four runs. Cap Anson, Jimmy Ryan and Abner Dalrymple homered in the third inning in a 20-4 win over St. Louis at West Side Park.