It’s time to see if the Cubs are actually hot, or if they’ve just been snacking on lowly competition. The Cubs now start a stretch that includes seven against the Braves, and nine against the Brewers/Giants/Cardinals before the end of August.
- Contrary to Mike Quade’s suggestion earlier in the week, Andrew Cashner says he has “no doubt” that he’ll pitch in September with the Cubs. “There’s no doubt in mind that I’ll see action,” Cashner said. “This is my sixth or seventh bullpen today. We are going in the right direction, and things are going well.” As I’ve said before, I can see the merit in both approaches with Cashner. If he comes back, he gets to test out the shoulder against live, MLB hitting, something he wouldn’t have done for a year if he waits until 2012 to come back. On the other hand, if he’s going to be a starter next year, why not just let him completely heal, doing a throwing program in the offseason, and then start back up in Spring Training?
- Mike Quade had a confused reaction when told that Jeff Samardzjia said he was “dying” to be a starting pitcher again. “Oh, really?” Quade said. “We love versatility. All I know is he’s in my bullpen today, and what happens down the road.… He’s a piece of work. Everybody has their own idea. I’m so happy with the progress he’s made and the focus he’s shown… I rest on that right now. I don’t know where this goes [next year].”
- Bruce Levine had a chat this week, and there are a few interesting things. The most interesting is Levine’s advocacy of trading Darwin Barney in the offseason if it can help the Cubs get pitching. I agree with the sentiment that Barney is not a ML-caliber starter, but I can’t see another team giving up much of value to get him (because, presumably, they’ll see him the same way). He’s a great 24th/25th man, but that’s it.
- The Cubs spent just $4.727 million on draft bonuses last year, which was one of the lowest totals in baseball (in fact, the Cubs are just 25th in draft spending from 2008 to 2010). Depending on how things shake out, the Cubs could end up spending double that amount this year.
- Apparently Dave Bush had a clause in his minor league deal that allowed him to opt out if he hadn’t made the Cubs by a certain date. That date has come and gone, and so has Dave Bush. Why do I get the feeling both sides are wiping their brow as they saunter away?
- The 21-year-old prospect the Cubs received for Kosuke Fukudome is adjusting well to his new team. Abner Abreu is tearing up High A with the Cubs – in nine games, he’s hitting .333/.389/.576 with a homer, a triple, and three doubles. He says the difference isn’t the new team, it’s his approach. “I’m confident now,” Abreu told CSNChicago.com. “I was scared. I’m an aggressive player and I was playing too passive. That wasn’t me. Right now, I think this is the player I am. I’m playing the way I always played before. The difference is that when I came back from the injuries I had lost confidence and I was shy. I was thinking too much, which is why I was struggling. Now, I’m just doing the things the way I’ve always done them. This is the way I have played since I was a kid. Just play the game. I started to do that and stopped worrying about things. That was the main difference. Now I am back and I’m now worrying about anything. When that umpire says play ball I just play the game.”
- Cubs’ AA catcher Luis Flores, 24, has been suspended 50 games after testing positive for a banned stimulant. A career .645 OPSer, Flores was sporting a .950 OPS at AA Tennessee this year, so, clearly, stimulants work.