The Cubs topped the Brewers for the second night in a row and with their third straight win Friday moved within a game of the Giants in the NL Wild Card race. Yes, it is August 1 and scoreboard watching kicked into gear as the deadline passed.
The Cubs made two additions prior to the deadline and may not be done. The front office acquired RHP Dan Haren and RHP Tommy Hunter by trading players that did not figure into the team’s long term plans. Haren and Hunter are expected to join their new team Saturday in Milwaukee.
Theo Epstein met with the beat writers prior to Friday’s game and discussed the moves the front office made while giving support to his players. Epstein said, “We weren’t going to add just any bat or replace someone because they are struggling. These are our guys and we believe in them.” Epstein did say the Cubs are open to add a bat in August if the opportunity presents itself.
The front office is focused on putting the big league team in the best possible position to win games. Theo Epstein pointed out Friday, “We’re clearly in the phase of, what’s happening at the Major League level is the most important thing in the organization, as it should be.”
Theo Epstein said the Cubs were close on a couple of bigger deals. Those trades did not happen. The two players the Cubs were focused on were not moved and are still with their respective teams. According to the Sun-Times, Epstein said they were aggressive in packaging prospects “for controllable impact Major League talent.” Epstein explained, “We explored everything very thoroughly, very aggressively. We came close to bigger deals, but we still have that talent in the organization.”
The Cubs did not make the headline grabbing moves that many were hoping for. The front office stuck to The Plan and did not trade for rental players that would impact the long term health of the organization. As several of the players pointed out, the Cubs are good enough and in a position to make it into the tournament. And once a team is in anything can happen.
For those watching Friday night’s game there was a noticeable difference in the Cubs’ shortstop. Starlin Castro appeared to relax and just play baseball. And the result was one of his best, if not the best, games of the season.
Castro collected only one hit (1-for-4) but was robbed of another and he went with pitches instead of rolling over to the left side. Castro drove in both the tying and would-be game winner on Friday night. He did not turn in a web gem like Thursday but he made the routine plays, something that has not always been a given.
Castro said after the game that all of the trade rumors took a toll on him. Castro has maintained that he would like to stay and help the Cubs win. According to a report from Carrie Muskat, he stayed off Instagram, did not watch TV and asked his family to stop giving him updates on where he might be traded.
Joe Maddon pointed out that he thought Castro was more relaxed Friday and he noticed the change in pre-game warmups.
Starlin Castro believes he can finish the season with a strong two-plus months and contribute to the Cubs winning games.
- Full Report from Carrie Muskat
- Full Report from ESPN Chicago
- Full Report from the Sun-Times
- Full Report from Comcast SportsNet
It seems Javier Baez has picked up where he left off in June. Baez batted third and played shortstop Friday in Iowa’s 5-2 win over Triple-A Nashville. Baez went 1-for-3 with a double, a walk, two runs scored, a RBI and two strikeouts. And Baez swiped second base as part of a double steal with Matt Szczur.
Baez is 4-for-17 in four games since returning from the DL with two doubles, two home runs, two walks and seven strikeouts.
Javier Baez needs more time with Iowa before he is ready to be recalled. Baez has a chance to help the Cubs win games over the last five to seven weeks of the season. And he could be a wild card in the Cubs’ plans as Comcast SportsNet reported.
News and Notes
• RHP Dan Haren is expected to catch up with his new team Saturday in Milwaukee. Multiple reports have Haren making his Cubs’ debut on Wednesday in Pittsburgh.
• LHP Clayton Richard will likely start Sunday’s finale in Milwaukee.
• Mike Olt went 1-for-4 with a walk, two strikeouts and a RBI in his return to the lineup. Olt helped the I-Cubs top the Sounds and in the process he extended his hitting streak to 10 games. Olt finished July (24 games) with a .302/.378/.512 slash line that included six doubles, four home runs, 10 walks and 27 strikeouts for a .889 OPS.
• The Sun-Times reported that with modest trades at deadline, it’s wild card or bust of the Cubs.
• Jon Heyman detailed the winners and losers from the trade deadline.
• Jayson Stark asked, why didn’t the Padres sell at the trade deadline in this must read report.
• After acquiring Junior Lake from the Cubs for Tommy Hunter, the Orioles optioned Lake to Triple-A Norfolk.
• The Blue Jays traded the recently DFA’d Felix Doubront to Oakland. Toronto received cash from the A’s for the lefty.
• This is rather cool … it’s just too bad the Cardinals won’t let it go.
And last, but not least, 21 All-Stars were traded from June 1-July 31, the most in 17 years and it is quite a list.
This Day In Cubstory
1987 – Andre Dawson went 3-for-4 with three home runs and five RBI in Cubs 5-3 victory over the Phillies at Wrigley Field. It was Dawson’s fifth multi-homer game of the season on his way to being named National League MVP.
1983 – Joe Carter collected his first big league hit off Steve Carlton. The Cubs lost 2-1 to the Phillies at the Vet.
1983 – Cubs released Junior Kennedy
1967 – Cubs purchased Don Young from the Cardinals
1963 – Ellis Burton hit a home run from both sides of the plate in a Cubs 12-11 win over the Giants at Wrigley Field. Cubs scored six runs in the eighth inning to tie the game and Ron Santo doubled and scored the game winner on a Jimmy Schaffer single
1947 – Cubs signed amateur free agent Bob Kelly
1939 – Bill Nicholson hit a homer off Kirby Higbe in the fifth inning in his Cubs debut. The Cubs topped the Phillies 6-2.
1927 – Hack Wilson hit safely in his 26th consecutive game. Wilson singled and tripled in a Cubs 6-5 win over the Phillies at Wrigley. Wilson’s streak ended the next day.
1905 – Frank Chance is named (elected) Cubs manager. The Cubs won four pennants and two World Series titles with Chance at the helm.
1894 – Bill Dahlen collected three hits, scored three runs and drove in three runs in a 26-8 win over St. Louis at West Side Grounds. Dahlen extended his hitting streak to 38 games. Dahlen hit safely in 42 straight before his streak ended on August 7.