The Cubs return to Wrigley Field today and begin a six-game homestand. It’s a Jake Arrieta Day for the first of three with Pirates. Not only will Albert Almora Jr. make his Wrigley debut, another one of the top prospects from the system will be in the dugout.
The Cubs have recalled catcher Willson Contreras. The Cubs will stick with three catchers and designate Tim Federowicz for assignment to make room on the active roster for Contreras. Once the moves are officially announced, there will be 38 players on the 40-man roster and Joe Maddon will have 13 position players and 12 pitchers on his active roster.
Willson Contreras tweeted Thursday night, “I’m so happy to be part of the best team and can’t wait to be on the field winning games. Let’s go Cubs. Fly the W.”
The Cubs want Contreras to work with Miguel Montero and David Ross without the decision to call him up, according to Comcast SportsNet, “to feel rushed of forced by injury.” The Cubs want Contreras to “get acclimated to the team’s personalities and comprehensive game-planning system.”
ESPN Chicago reported that Contreras, like Albert Almora Jr., could “at least be used for defense late in games.” The Cubs are looking for ways to control the opponent’s running game, and Contreras has the arm to do just that. Jesse Rogers questioned if Montero’s defensive struggles during the Nationals’ series facilitated the move to bring up Contreras.
- Report from Comcast SportsNet
- Report from ESPN Chicago
- Report from The Tribune
- Report from ESPN – Buster Olney
- Report from The Sun-Times
- Baseball America – What to Expect: Cubs Catcher Willson Contreras
24 Games in 24 Days
The Cubs begin a very difficult stretch today leading up to the All-Star break on July 11. Due to the make-up game with the Braves at Wrigley on July 7, the Cubs play 24 games in the next 24 days. And that could be another reason the front office and coaching staff decided to bring up Willson Contreras.
The Cubs have a six-game homestand with the Pirates and Cardinals that begins today. Then it’s back on the road for 11 games in three cities, all in the Eastern Time Zone. The Cubs return to Wrigley on July 4 for four games and wrap up the first half with three in Pittsburgh.
- Pirates – June 17-19 at Wrigley Field
- Cardinals – June 20-22 at Wrigley Field
- Marlins – June 23-26 at Marlins Park
- Reds – June 27-29 at Great American Ball Park
- Mets – June 30-July 3 at Citi Field
- Reds – July 4-6 at Wrigley Field
- Braves – July 7 at Wrigley Field
- Pirates – July 8-10 at PNC Park
The Cubs have a six-game homestand after the break, three with the Rangers (July 15-17) and three with the Mets (July 18-20).
Cubs Run Differential
Hardball Talk’s Bill Baer took a closer look at the Cubs’ ridiculous run differential. The Cubs spent Thursday’s off day with a plus-159 run differential. Joe Maddon’s team has scored 344 runs this season while the pitching staff has allowed only 185.
According to the report, the Red Sox have the second best run differential in the majors, plus-86. Theo Epstein’s team has almost twice the run differential as the Red Sox.
Baer pointed out the Cubs are on pace for a plus-402 run differential, which would be the best of any team for a 162-game schedule.
The 1939 New York Yankees own the best run differential in the history of the game. The ’39 Yankees outscored their opponents by 411 runs.
News, Notes and Rumors
• According to the Tribune, the Cubs’ in-season trade considerations a juggling act.
• Chris Coghlan plays his first game back at Wrigley on Friday since the trade with Oakland last Thursday. And the first team Coghlan will see in his return to Wrigley, the Pittsburgh Pirates. Chris Coghlan will answer a lot of questions about the slide that ended Jung Ho Kang’s season. ESPN Chicago recently asked Coghlan about Kang. Coghlan is obviously happy Kang is back and helping the Pirates.
• Comcast SportsNet explained why Jon Lester lobbied for Jonathan Papelbon last summer … and Lester believes the Cubs will be trade deadline winners.
• FanGraphs: Another Thing at Which These Cubs Are Best
• The Cubs are rolling the dice with another former Orioles top pitching prospect according to Comcast SportsNet. And the Tribune reported, the pitching-conscious Cubs add depth with minor league signing of Brian Matusz. Jake Arrieta had very good things to say about his former teammate. Arrieta thinks the Cubs will be able to help Matusz. The Cubs will have Matusz, Joe Nathan and Aaron Crow working their way back to the majors at the team’s facility in Mesa.
• Comcast SportsNet reported on Ian Happ, Brady Aiken and how the Cubs have opened up so many possibilities.
• Cliff Corcoran asked where the Cubs rank against MLB’s best ever at this point in the season.
• According to Dennis Lin, Tyson Ross played long-toss Thursday and threw off the front of the bullpen mound. Ross did not complete a bullpen session, but he’s getting close.
• The Padres signed RHP Edwin Jackson to a minor league contract. Jackson will be paid a pro-rated portion of the Major League minimum if he makes it back to the majors with San Diego. The Marlins designated Jackson for assignment May 14 and released him May 20.
• The Giants re-signed RHP Jean Machi to a minor league contract. The Cubs cut ties with the veteran reliever last week. Machi was pitching for Triple-A Iowa at the time of his release. Machi did not take the news well and spent a little extra time in Des Moines after he was arrested on charges of public urination.
• Jeff Passan reported on MLB’s economic disparity and why its top bargains are so valuable.
And last, but not least, check back with Chicago Cubs Online on Friday night for the return of an old favorite.
This Day in Cubstory
1974 – Cubs purchased Oscar Zamora from the Astros
1971 – Don Kessinger had six hits in six at bats as the Cubs beat the Cardinals 7-6 in 10 innings at Wrigley Field.
1970 – At Candlestick Park, Willie Mays (615) and Ernie Banks (504) both homered in a Cubs’ 6-1 win over the Giants. It was the first time in the history of baseball that two players with at least 500 home runs went deep in the same game.
1967 – Cubs acquired Rob Gardner and John Stephenson from the Mets for Bob Hendley.
1962 – In the first inning of game one of a doubleheader, Lou Brock became only the third player (Babe Ruth, Joe Adcock) to ever hit a home run into the center field bleachers at the Polo Grounds. Brock’s home run traveled 475 feet and the Cubs went on to beat the Mets 8-7. Ron Santo won game two on a home run in the ninth inning.
1960 – Cubs signed amateur free agent Paul Popovich
1915 – Zip Zabel replaced Bert Humphries with two out in the first inning and pitched the longest relief stint in Major League history (18 1/3 innings) as the Cubs beat the Dodgers 4-3 in 19 innings on Vic Saier’s home run at West Side Grounds. Losing pitcher, Jeff Pfeffer pitched a complete game.
1913 – Heinie Zimmerman was ejected from his third game in five days in a Cubs 4-0 victory over the Phillies at West Side Grounds.