Today’s series against the New York Mets marks a nine-game stretch of eminently winnable games. After the Mets, the Cubs take on the Astros and Pirates. If the Cubs cannot come out of this stretch with a winning mark (5-4, at a minimum), even with the injury issues, it may well be time to call it a season.
- Speaking of the Mets, you’ve probably heard by now that Mets’ chairman Fred Wilpon – already embroiled in a Bernie Madoff-induced financial crisis with respect to the team and his ownership interest in the Mets – was quoted in a New Yorker magazine article as saying some pretty unflattering things about some of his team’s star players, including Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran. The quote that jumped out at me was about third baseman David Wright. Wilpon described him as “[a] very good player. Not a superstar.” Wright is signed through next year for $15 million, and, given the Mets’ situation and Wilpon’s comments, I couldn’t help but wonder if they might be willing to part with Wright next year. If so, he might be a good fit for the Cubs, who will likely let Aramis Ramirez leave with a $2 million buyout at the end of 2011. The Cubs don’t have a sure-fire replacement ready to go, so you’d have to believe that, if Wright is made available, the Cubs will kick the tires.
- Marlon Byrd expects to return to play this year, but it could be a long time before he gets back. We may get more information on his prognosis this week after he meets with team doctors. In the interim, the Cubs are likely to call up AAA outfielder Lou Montanez to be the team’s fifth outfielder. We’ll have more on that when the move is official.
- Geovany Soto’s DL stint is up on Thursday, and there has been no indication that he will not return when that day comes. Obviously the difference between he and Koyie Hill is significant. His absence has hurt.
- AA Tennessee pitcher Robert Whitenack and kid-who-plays-all-over Ryan Flaherty were the players of the week in the Southern League. Whitenack, not a top prospect entering the season, is said to have added a few MPH on his fastball this year as well as a crispness to his off-speed stuff, and is tearing up AA after an early promotion from High A. He should definitely be on your prospect radar now. Flaherty is playing all over the diamond (which is both a credit and a demerit), and leads the Southern League in RBI and is second in homers. He was a supplemental first round pick for the Cubs in 2008, and turns 25 this year. You can expect to see him with the big club if not in the second half of this year, then next year for sure.