The Cubs get back to work on Friday afternoon with the last three games before the All-Star break. And thanks to the schedule makers, the Cubs wrap up what is viewed as the first half of the season with three against the White Sox.
The Cubs enter play Friday tied for the fourth best winning percentage in the National League, nine back of the Cardinals in the division and three games ahead of the Mets for the second NL Wild Card.
Jerry Crasnick posted a report about the top managers in the game in which ESPN.com surveyed 50 scouts, front office executives, big league coaches and media analysts and asked them to select the game’s best managers in a multitude of categories.
Giants’ skipper and future Hall of Famer, Bruce Bochy was the overall winner of the survey.
Maddon received 35 percent of the players’ votes followed by Bruce Bochy (18%), Terry Francona (7%) and Mike Matheny (5%).
And here’s how Maddon finished in the other categories: Best Overall Manager – Fourth, Best at Handling a Pitching Staff – Fourth, Best Tactician – Third, Best at Relating to Players – Second, Best at Using Entire 25-Man Roster – Fourth, Most Creative – First, Best at Developing Young Players – Third, Best Leader – Fifth.
Crasnick’s report is incredibly interesting and a must-read for all that closely follow the game.
Joe Maddon has been more than advertised in the first half of the season. Is Maddon perfect? No. But he puts his players and team in position to succeed more often than not.
Kyle Schwarber and Carl Edwards Jr.
Kyle Schwarber and Carl Edwards Jr. will represent the Cubs in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game this weekend (Sunday, 2:00pm CDT on MLB Network). And both players have performed rather well heading into the game and the Triple-A All-Star break.
Schwarber went 0-for-3 with two walks, three strikeouts and a run scored in Thursday’s 7-5 loss to Omaha. Schwarber is batting .333/.403/.633 in 17 games for Triple-A Iowa with seven doubles, a triple and three home runs for a 1.036 WHIP. Schwarber has seven walks and 23 strikeouts in 60 at bats.
Edwards Jr. pitched two scoreless innings Thursday with three walks and five strikeouts. Edwards Jr. did not give up a hit in his two innings of work. Edwards Jr. has appeared in 11 games for Iowa and is 1-0 with a 3.06 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. He has allowed six runs on eight hits with 13 walks and 23 strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings.
According to a report from the Sun-Times, veteran right hander John Lackey could be a fit for the Cubs in the off-season. The front office, Joe Maddon, Jon Lester and David Ross have a history with Lackey and the Sun-Times reported, “Lackey could be the kind of fit and impact acquisition over the winter that passing on nine-figure names like David Price and Jordan Zimmermann feel like good business.”
Jon Lester and John Lackey are very good friends, all chicken and beer jokes aside. Lester calls Lackey “my brother” according to the Sun-Times.
Gordon Wittenmyer was emphatic that John Lackey is on the Cubs’ radar. And Lester said that Lackey has asked him what it is like playing for the Cubs. Lackey sees the young talent on the Cubs’ roster and believes “in the team’s direction.”
News, Notes and Rumors
• Patrick Mooney posted another MUST READ report … this one focuses on Joe Maddon and the impact he’s had on the Cubs.
• LHP Scott Kazmir played catch Thursday and his manager said he felt much better than he did Wednesday. Kazmir had to leave his start Wednesday against the Yankees after three innings with left triceps soreness. Ken Rosenthal questioned if it would make more sense for the A’s to hold onto Kazmir and make him a qualifying offer at the end of the season than to trade him. The A’s have to weigh if they will receive more for Kazmir before the deadline than the draft pick if Kazmir signed with another team in the off-season.
• Peter Gammons examined the Manager-GM collaboration.
• Jason Motte is thriving with the pressure back on according to a report from Comcast SportsNet.
• Jeff Samardzija pitched in front of 15 scouts from as many as 10 different teams Thursday according to a report from Bruce Levine.
• Kris Bryant’s father, Mike, is excited to pitch to his son in the Home Run Derby.
• Those that felt John Lackey hit Anthony Rizzo in the opener of the series in St. Louis on June 26 had a purpose may be right. According to a report from the Sun-Times, Lackey’s “first-pitch shot to Anthony Rizzo’s arm” may have “set the tone” for the series and Rizzo “still fumed about it days later.”
• Comcast SportsNet debated how important the Crosstown series is for the Cubs and for the White Sox.
And last, but not least, those that were hoping the Cubs and Mets would work out a deal before the deadline that included LHP Steven Matz will have to continue to wait for a that trade to happen. Matz has been shut down for at least three weeks according to multiple reports out of New York. Matz suffered a partial tear of the lat muscle on his left side.
This Day In Cubstory
2014 – Kyle Hendricks made his big league debut in Cincinnati. Hendricks received a no decision against the Reds after allowing four runs on five hits with three walks and seven strikeouts in six innings.
2014 – Anthony Rizzo is voted on the National League All-Star team via the Last Man Vote. Rizzo joins Starlin Castro on the NL All-Star squad.
2013 – Cubs signed free agent Edgar Gonzalez
2009 – Cubs released Anderson Machado
2000 – Sammy Sosa defeated Ken Griffey Jr. in the Home Run Derby
1974 – Cubs purchased Billy Grabarkewitz from the Phillies
1969 – The Cubs scored five runs in the fifth inning and beat the Mets 6-2 behind Bill Hands. The Cubs victory halted the Mets seven-game winning streak and kept the Cubs in first place by four games
1954 – Andre Dawson, born