Saturday, July 28, 2007
Matt Murton was a late scratch for tonight's Cubs-Reds game. Does it mean anything? We should know soon enough. This time of year, every scratch or unexpected mid-game substitution is magnified.
The Cubs have been talking to the Rangers about lefty reliever Ron Mahay and catcher Gerald Laird, so maybe there's a connection. The Rangers could definitely find room for Murton in their outfield.
Take it with a grain of salt, but a Cubs source of mine confirms Felix Pie's availability (huh?) and says the Cubs made an inquiry on Torii Hunter. While intriguing, I wouldn't expect either player to be traded.
Here we go!!! With the trade rumors flying around like June Bugs in June, ESPN 1000 is reporting that a deal that would send Murton and a couple of prospects to the Reds is taking shape. The cubs are said to have "no interest" in acquiring Adam Dunn and ESPN is speculating that the Cubs have made a "strong push" towards acquiring Griffey Jr. and have offered the Reds an "very attractive package of players" that could send Pie along with Murton and a couple of pitching prospects( tho they didn't say what prospects). They also speculated that this could be a three way trade or the Reds could be offering Arroyo up if the Reds get Hill, Pie, Murton, and a prospect but that seems unlikely. If the deal goes thru it wont be finalized until after the Reds/Cubs series which ends Sunday.
They talked for about 5 minutes on the subject, if I hear any more I will update all my devoted readers. Either way this trade is both int resting and seems somewhat fair even tho I hate giving up Pie or Hill. But to get talented players you need to give up talented players.
CINCINNATI -- Kerry Wood joined the Cubs Saturday night at Great American Ball Park, but he's not ready to be activated for the big-league team. Not yet, at least.
Wood, who has been battling shoulder tendinitis, made his third rehab outing for Class A Peoria on Friday, and has pitched seven rehab innings over seven outings for that team and for the Mesa Rookie League team.
The Cubs want to be very conservative in Wood's rehab and avoid any setbacks, and he will likely make a few more Minor League outings, pitching more than one inning in at least one game. The right-hander could be a huge factor in the final two months of the season out of the bullpen.
"Earlier in the year, we were able to get some nice work out of our younger pitchers in the bullpen, and I'm talking about [Billy] Petrick and [Rocky] Cherry and whoever was here," manager Lou Piniella said. "Lately, that area is starting to leak a little bit. It's good to see Kerry throwing the ball well."
Cherry gave up two runs on one hit and one walk over one-third of an inning in Friday's 5-4 loss to Cincinnati.
At Mesa, Wood gave up two runs, one earned, on four hits and one walk while striking out five over four innings in four games. He pitched one inning in each outing, as he has done for Peoria. His totals in three appearances for the Class A team are one hit, one walk, three strikeouts and no runs.
"Let's keep our fingers crossed, and at the same time, let's monitor the situation carefully," Piniella said. "We're getting ourselves in a situation here where the months of August and September, they're experience months for pitching. If Kerry -- and I haven't seen the reports from last night -- but if he's on track, I don't see any reason why we can't get him here sooner rather than later."
Wood did start four games last season for the Cubs in his comeback year from arthroscopic shoulder surgery, and was able to pitch this spring before being shut down with tendinitis.
Cleanup hitter: Mark DeRosa was pretty pumped before Saturday's game because he was listed in the fourth spot for the first time since his college days with the University of Pennsylvania baseball team. He would've been the eighth player to hit fourth for the Cubs this season, joining Aramis Ramirez, Cliff Floyd, Michael Barrett, Derrek Lee, Matt Murton, Jacque Jones and Daryle Ward.
"It's nice to see an Italian last name in the four-hole," DeRosa said.
However, Piniella made a late switch half an hour before the game and Floyd was inserted into the No. 4 spot and DeRosa dropped to fifth. Murton was scratched from the starting lineup and replaced by Floyd.
Ramirez, who has a tender knee, was given Saturday off, part of the Cubs' plan to rest him from time to time, and DeRosa was to have subbed for him. Ramirez and Lee, who was hitting third, walked past the lineup card as DeRosa stared at it. Both teased DeRosa.
"When you see a guy batting fourth, he's the home run threat, ribbies [RBIs]," DeRosa said. "The best hitters on the team hit three or four. I guess I'm one of them. For a day. And on my daughter's birthday, too."
Hopefully, daughter Gabriella had a good day.
Backstop: Piniella still plans on alternating Jason Kendall and Koyie Hill behind the plate. Kendall did catch back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday, but that was to keep Hill aligned with Carlos Zambrano, who is starting on Sunday.
"I'm going to catch whoever is swinging the bat," Piniella said. "This alternating thing seems like a fairly good idea unless somebody gets hot. Also, we have a pretty good winning percentage when Hill catches. I'm aware of that, too."
The Cubs are 15-6 with Hill behind the plate, and the pitchers have a 2.51 ERA. Saturday was Kendall's eighth game since he was acquired from the Oakland Athletics. He did come through with a game-tying RBI single in the ninth inning on Friday.
"Gerald [Perry] has been his batting coach the past two places," Piniella said of Perry, who worked with Kendall in Oakland and in Pittsburgh. "By sitting him from time to time, Gerald can get more work with him."
Penmanship: The Cubs want to watch the starting pitchers' pitch count, and have lifted Zambrano and Ted Lilly a little early to keep them strong for the second half. But Jason Marquis and Rich Hill each lasted just five innings in the last two games, and the Cubs bullpen has had to pick up the slack.
"What we need is for our starting pitching to go a little deeper in the ballgame," Piniella said. "We've had two five-inning starts on this road trip. It puts a little bit more of a strain on things. As long as they go into the seventh, we're in pretty good shape."
No one is overworked, Piniella said, but he did admit they were running into "a couple leaks."
"We're starting to struggle a little bit, that's all I'm trying to say," he said.
Despite using six relievers on Friday, the Cubs' 285 relief appearances rank third-fewest in the National League.
Extra bases: The Cubs entered Saturday's action ranked 13th in home runs with 82. "Home runs are probably down all over baseball," Piniella said. "It is somewhat surprising that 16 home runs leads our team. I'm interested in winning baseball games, not how many home runs we have." ... WGN Radio's Pat Hughes missed his third straight game because he was battling a bout of food poisoning. ... Looking ahead to the Cubs' homestand against Philadelphia, they will start Lilly on Monday followed by Marquis, Hill and Sean Marshall. ... Both the Aug. 5 game against the Mets and the Aug. 19 game against the St. Louis Cardinals have been picked up by ESPN and will be begin at 7:05 p.m. CT.
Minor matters: Geovany Soto hit a two-out, three-run homer in the fifth in Iowa's 7-6 loss to Colorado Springs on Friday. Buck Coats had three hits and one RBI. ... Kyle Reynolds had four hits, including a two-run homer and a three-run blast, in Tennessee's 14-1 win over Carolina. ... Jeff Samardzija gave up six runs on 12 hits and two walks over 4 2/3 innings while striking out six in Daytona's 6-2 loss to Jupiter. ... Jeremy Papelbon gave up five runs on seven hits over 3 1/3 innings in Peoria's 6-2 loss to Dayton. ... Dustin Sasser gave up one earned run on three hits over five innings in Boise's 6-3 win over Vancouver.
On deck: Zambrano will close this series on Sunday against the Reds, seeking his 14th victory. He has yet to beat the Reds in two starts this year. First pitch is scheduled for 12:15 p.m. CT and the game will be broadcast on WGN.
Backwards Center Field Trade Bait
Most of Joel Sherman's column today is filled with the Mark Teixeira stuff you've been reading about everywhere else. (I, for one, am now absolutely sure of how to spell Tex's name. A couple of weeks ago? Not so much.)
But, there are two tidbits buried in the column that are interesting both on their own and juxtaposed.
First, Sherman corroborates Buster Olney's claim that the Yankees are hot after Dan Johnson. But he gives us more: Billy Beane asked for Brett Gardner and was rejected. Uh, Brett Gardner? Useful player, perhaps, but the Yanks are interested in Johnson because he's a useful player too, and one who is a lot more likely to help them this year (and next, too, in all likelihood). Sherman interprets that as New York's new protectiveness of their prospects. Too bad there isn't another ~$15M rental like Bobby Abreu out there this year ... unless you count Richie Sexson, whom I don't.
Second, he repeats the common Gerald Laird-to-the-Cubs refrain, but adds a twist:
The Cubs have interest in Laird and Rangers relievers, and might include center field prospect Felix Pie to get that.
I suppose Laird + Eric Gagne might merit Pie. Maybe. It would certainly make the Cubs more credible contenders immediately, but...Felix Pie?
What an odd world it is, when Brett Gardner is off the block, and Felix Pie is on.
Are you kidding me??? Pie for a reliever that has arm problems and a catcher who has a lifetime .257 average and has good defense?? I wouldn't give up more than Eyre and Cedeno for Laird and I would prefer having Kendall than him at this moment or for Blanco for that matter. Blanco has better defense and better bat than Laird. Now for Gagne is a different story. I would love to have him but not for Pie, maybe for a couple of other minor leaguers like Coats and Murton but not Pie. In fact there is very few players I would trade Pie for and even few catchers. So no to trading Pie unless you come with names like Salty or Crawford. So Joel stick to writing about east coast baseball, something you have knowledge about, instead of throwing out ridiculous trades that invlove Pie( our #1 prospect) and two players that dont equal his value at all.
Friday, July 27, 2007
Cubs, Nationals: The Cubs appear to have renewed their interest in Washington's Ryan Church as a fourth outfielder for their stretch run. The Cubs originally inquired about him during the Winter Meetings, but nothing came of that. The same obstacle may be in place this time: GM Jim Bowden is asking a high price for the young player. So far this season, Church is hitting .259 with seven home runs, numbers that are considerably down from 2006. He said he's not going to let the trade talk bother him."It's not up to me," Church said. "I have no control over it. If it's going to happen, it's going to happen. You have to look at it as another opportunity."The Nationals are close to signing Dmitri Young to a two-year extension, according to multiple sources. Young is Washington's most important player this season. A leader in the clubhouse and on the field, he was leading the Nationals in hitting (.331), RBIs (52) and on-base percentage (.386) entering Thursday's action.
Here we go more rumors on Dunn and Griffey on Mlbtraderumors-
Unconfirmed Rumor: Cubs Looking At Griffey, Dunn
Didn't hear the report myself, but a loyal reader dropped me an email.
Apparently a recent Bruce Levine report for ESPN Radio 1000 had some interesting Cubs rumors. Levine says the Cubs might try to trade for Adam Dunn or Ken Griffey Jr. Any deal would likely include Sean Gallagher, and the Cubs called up Matt Murton today to showcase him.
This rumor leaves more questions than answers:
Would the Cubs again move their superstar signing Alfonso Soriano to center or right field to create a spot for Dunn?
If not, how ugly would Dunn be in right field at Wrigley? He hasn't played the position regularly since 2001.
With the management situation in flux, could the Cubs really take on Griffey's contract, which runs through 2008? Or even the $3.8MM still owed to Dunn this year?
Are Arby's new popcorn chicken shakers as tasty as they look on TV?
Would Gallagher and Murton be enough for either of those players?
If you can get Jr. for Murton and Gallagher I would do it in a second. Hell we would even throw in Cedeno, Eyre, and Cotts if they would take them.
I do have a theory on why the Cubs called up Murton and Cherry. Murton is a valuable trading chip on this team. He has shown success and failers at the ML level and exceeded in the minors. He is a perfect candidate for a trade because alot of teams would be willing to take a chance on this kid because of this upside( which is a guy who hits .300 with 20hrs). Cherry who has shown times of brilliance would be a solid reliever on alot of teams but unfortunately he isn't on the cubs. With him being called up and down it no wonder why the cubs could be showing him off before the deadline. The fact of the matter is there will be tons of scouts in the stands to watch Griffey and Dunn and this is a chance for Hendry to show off his trading chips while trying to win. Not only will the Cubs be showing off Murton and Cherry and a few others to scouts in the stands, they will be showing them off the the Reds in a possible deal sending Griffey( who would be ideal) or Dunn( which wouldn't be bad if we had a place to play him) to the cubs. The other team would be good in a deal would be the Drays, try to send them Murton, Cherry, and a minor leaguer for Wiggington. That would be a great move for the cubs.
Hendry is a smart guy if this is his intention.
But thats just my theory, I could be wrong.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Cubs eye Wigginton
By Phil Rogers, 2;21 p.m.
Plenty of scouts were in Baltimore on Thursday watching Orioles starter Steve Trachsel, who was just back for the disabled list but could be thrown into a division race next week.
The Cubs' Ken Kravec was there, according to reports, but not to watch Trachsel. He was there to see Tampa Bay's Ty Wigginton, who delivered a home run off Trachsel, his 16th of the season.
Sources indicate the Cubs are looking at the versatile Wigginton as a right-handed bat off the bench and a super utility man (he's been a regular at third base and first base and also can play second and the corner outfield spots).
The Cubs have a lot of competition for him, however, as the Yankees, Red Sox, Twins and Dodgers have also expressed interest. The Devil Rays always want young pitching, and this is no different.
He would look good coming off the bench! He would provide a solid backup if Ward is delayed any. He can do nothing but help this club. There is alot of competition and it sounds like the Rays want relievers, which we don't have any to spare right now, unless there looking at the minor league level
Thanks to MLBtraderumors for this one-
Here is a little tidbit under the possibility of a Young extension in DC-
UPDATE: According to Bill Ladson of MLB.com, the idea is to put Dmitri in left field next year. Should be wild. This might put Ryan Church's future in jeopardy; the Cubs have some interest.
I like this kid, he has alot of promise. Good power numbers, decent speed, good defense. Could be a valuable 4th outfielder or if Pie is delayed any you can put him in CF. Not sure if he is a fit this year unless you trade away Pagan, Jones, or Floyd ( which I don't see happening right now)
The reason I put this is because I love Pena and would like the Cubs to try to get him. Thanks to MLBtraderumors again-
The Red Sox just signed outfielder Brady Clark, per WEEI. That probably puts them out of the Bobby Kielty sweepstakes. Excitement! Clark, a righthanded hitter, might be able to draw a few walks and play all three outfield positions.
Slightly more interesting is that this may portend a trade of Wily Mo Pena soon. Pirates, White Sox, somewhere else?
More on DYE???
Plenty of speculation around Chicago that the Cubs could pursue Dye. However, I haven't seen any reason to think this is more than just speculation. He does seem like a fine fit on the North Side. Paul Sullivan believes Cliff Floyd's fragility may force the Cubs to acquire an outfielder. Will Carroll thinks the Cubs are the best fit for Dye as they can offer the White Sox a prospect and a reliever.
Would like to see him come here but I think KW will ask more than a prospect and reliever.
Here are a couple of links to check up on the Dye talk-
There is alot of rumors circulating about Dunn becoming a Cub. First of all, I think the Dunn to Cubs trade wouldn't make sense. Where would you put Dunn? With Sori in LF, Dunn cant handle center, and right field being filled with Derosa, Floyd, and Pagan there is no place for him unless you trade one of those players or you move Sori to 2b and put Dunn in LF which wont happen. This is purely talk and would be surprised if Dunn goes anywhere besides an AL team to DH.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Depending on whom you believe, Williams is on the verge of trading Dye to the Los Angeles Angels. Or the Cubs. Or the Cleveland Indians. He’s going to trade Contreras to the New York Mets and get shortstop Edgar Renteria from the Atlanta Braves for Garland.
I know this sounds like speculation but seriously I would love to see Dye in a cubbie uniform, even as a rental. He would provide nice pop and hit well in the 5th or 6th hole in the lineup. As long as he doesn't cost Pie or something ridiculous as Hill or Marshall, I say get him. I would even give up Epatt and Cedeno in a package to get him.
Be interesting to see who we get, if anyone before the deadline.