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We’ll try this Reds/Cubs thing again today. Jeff Samardzija will still start, with Ryan Dempster still going tomorrow. Paul Maholm, then, is the one bumped from the series, and he’ll pitch on Friday at Wrigley against the Dodgers.

  • What a difference a hot couple weeks makes. After months of suggesting behind closed doors that Bryan LaHair could not handle regular duty in the outfield, the Cubs are now finally talking internally about what they’re going to do with LaHair when Anthony Rizzo is ready to come up and claim first base later this year. Most assumed that LaHair would be dealt at that time, if he were still hitting, or put on the bench, if he weren’t. But now the Cubs are thinking seriously about how LaHair might work in a corner outfield spot, and it will be interesting to see if we start hearing reports about him taking in some practice in the outfield.
  • Manager Dale Sveum made his position on getting both in the lineup pretty clear: “I don’t know when it’s going to happen, but obviously there’s going to be a point in time where you have to get their bats in the lineup at the same time.” LaHair, himself, says he’s open to a move. “I wouldn’t even look at it as a position change for me,’’ said LaHair. ‘‘I’ve been playing the outfield my whole life. I’m very comfortable in the outfield. I mean, I want to be the first baseman, but if it helps for him to be at first, it is what it is.”
  • Ryan Dempster says Carlos Marmol would be sharper if the Cubs gave him more leads to protect. Maybe. Let’s start with him protecting the handful he’s given, eh?
  • John Sickels takes an in-depth look at Brett Jackson, and opines that he might have success where past “can’t miss” Cubs outfield prospects (think Patterson, Harvey, Kelton, Colvin – at least according to Sickels) failed.
  • You all already figured it out in the comments, but the reason Blake DeWitt was going to get the start last night (and will probably start tonight) is because of his numbers against Bronson Arroyo (9 for 25). Darwin Barney is healthy, and still “the starter.”
  • An ugly story brewing around Yoenis Cespedes. His (former?) advisor in the Dominican Republic, Edgar Mercedes, says the Cuban-born slugger has yet to make good on promised payments to the people and institutions that helped him get to the States. From the sound of things, Mercedes alleges Cespedes got to the States, and then cut off all communications with his Latin advisors. A lawyer for the academy run by Mercedes says, “The basic understanding with Cespedes was that he would pay 22 percent of all the money received from Oakland 48 hours after receiving payment. We have evidence that he has already received a $5 million signing bonus in addition to his regular April salary, but now he’s evading payments. He is an ungrateful one.” Yikes.
  • MLBullets over at BCB, featuring a bit on Albert Pujols’ struggles and snippiness.
  • gratefulled

    Do we know if Arroyo is keeping his spot and pitching tonight? If DeWitt is in the lineup because he crushes Arroyo, then why was he’s batting 7th? Shouldn’t we bat Campana lead off and bat DeWitt in the 2-hole? LOL!!!…the 2-hole.

  • Fishin Phil

    Crap! I thought I was gonna get to see Garza pitch when I go to Friday’s game. Damn rain!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      What, Maholm isn’t just as exciting?

    • bleedcubbieblue

      I was ready to see Garza too. Maholm better pitch well. I don’t want him ruin my date. Lol

    • Richard Nose

      At least we get to Shark on the DUB tonight!

  • MichiganGoat

    Wow that Freese video: AWKWARD

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Very.

      • Cedlandrum

        I found it to be a bit funny.

        • SirCub

          So many strange things. First off, I thought that the ride was called “Mr. Freese” and it would be baseball themed, and just a play on words. But it is actually “Mr. Freeze” from batman, like Batman Forever. A movie that came out 15 years ago. And they are just now dedicating a ride to it… Is St. Louis stuck in the 90′s?

          • TWC

            “Is St. Louis stuck in the 90′s?”

            1986, actually.  That roller coaster is forward thinking for them.

    • gratefulled

      Reporter: “my hair was in my face the whole time”
      Freese: ” that’s how it should be”

      I’m surprised she didn’t go hang herself after that one. Where was the blonde after the ride?

      • SirCub

        In the MLBullets

    • http://calebshreves.blogspot.com Caleb

      It was a little weird, yeah, but the show itself is kind of like that in general. Plus, check out the lambasting that chick is receiving in the media! She’s getting it something fierce. Ironically, I think her problem is that she needs to… get it something fierce. I hear it calms women down.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Alright there, Cowley…

    • TWC

      By JOVE, that was painful to watch, and I don’t think I even made it past the one minute mark.  Whoever the producer was that allowed that dreck on the air should be run out of town.

  • Sinnycal

    Ugh. I’m going to Chicago this week and hitting up the game Friday. Maholm is the last pitcher I was hoping to see.

    • Fishin Phil

      Nope, Wells is the last pitcher I wanted to see. I’m OK with Maholm after his last two outings, but I was really pumped to watch Garza.

  • Sinnycal

    And of course they’ll move LaHair to the outfield. All sentiments otherwise were posturing. If he keeps OPSing over 1.000 of freaking course they’ll find a spot for him in the lineup. They’re not going to bench one of the hottest hitters in baseball right now, and there won’t be a trade market for him unless he keeps it up until closer to the deadline. I’ve been genuinely surprised that anyone bought into the “don’t see him as an outfielder” line so definitively.

    • hansman1982

      I think that line was brought out to say that they weren’t going to prematurely move LaHair to left and callup Rizzo. Remember, some of what the front office says is also meant to ensure the average fan of the team isn’t getting antsy. Now they are beginning a process of talking up moving LaHair to the outfield to get everyone used to that idea and drive up his trade value.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Pretty sound reasoning there.

      • Smitty

        And if he shows he can be an average OF that would make his trade value even higher. WHich brings up the question, why trade him if he can give average defense in Leftfield?

        • hansman1982

          because odds are he isn’t a 1.200 OPS hitter. Since he is theoretically at his absolute peak right now, you move him to get guys who will be at their peak in 2014.

          and because you hope that you can get someone like the Phillies to overpay for him closer to the deadline.

          • Joe

            I like LaHair, but I’m down with this.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        The problem is that LaHair’s trade value is pretty low right now because guys like Vlad and Abreu are on the market for free.  With the new CBA, it makes a heck of a lot more sense to spend a bit more on the remnants of a HoF bat than it does to give up anything decent for a cheap-and-probably-better bat.

        As for his fielding, LaHair would probably give LoMo a run for the money as the worst fielding LFer in the NL (unless the Pads decided to move Alonso back out there).

  • gratefulled

    Rizzo is not coming up next week, so let’s see if LaHair can keep this up first. If so, do the Cubs keep Soriano on as a 5th outfielder, or does he get dumped along with his mountain of money?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      If Soriano would take it, I’d platoon him with LaHair in left.  No matter who starts, the Cubs would get a powerful bat in the order and have a powerful bat to bring off the bench later in the game.  Soriano probably won’t like dropping to a part time role, but his knees might thank him for it.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Dumped. If LaHair keeps it up, that is, like you said. I don’t see a spot for Soriano on the bench, mostly because of human issues, not so much skill issues (he could be a decent bench bat, all things considered).

    • When the Music’s Over

      Soriano is a mental midget. Not sure what a platoon would do to his psyche, but I’d guess a move to a bench bat/spot starter would ruin him. Also, why platoon him with LaHair if LaHair continues to hit well? Its a waste of ABs.

      Even if LaHair doesn’t workout over the short or long term, there are a few options better than Soriano at AAA right now (Jackson, Sappelt). Campana can always be left in CF if he continues to produce. I think a proper O/U on Soriano’s OBP this year is .265. Other than his random hot stints, which decrease in length and frequency every year, he just doesn’t have it anymore.

      • Drew

        Im not sure its a waste of AB’s; Even last year, which was not very good, Soriano posted an .812 OPS against LHP (.865 for his career). Given Lahair’s historical splits against LHP, I think Soriano would still be the better option.

        • When the Music’s Over

          On a team that’s not going anywhere from a competitive standpoint, its a waste of ABs to let an aging/declining player take ABs away from a player, who while not young, is perhaps having a career breakout year. That was my point.

          • Drew

            Ok, then we are in agreement there.

            Your 1st post seemed to be centered around production for THIS year, and Soriano seems like the best option against LHP this year.

      • Stinky Pete

        “Soriano is a mental midget.”
        How exactly did you determine this?

        • When the Music’s Over

          1) A few years back he couldn’t get comfortable anywhere but the leadoff spot, and complained enough that they left him there even though it wasn’t in the best interests of the team
          2) He can’t stop hopping when catching fly balls
          3) He’s extremely streaky, which to me suggests he gets inside his own head

  • Cub Style

    David Kelton… sigh…

    • Kyle

      Did he transition to the outfield? I thought he was supposed to take the corner on our epic Kelton/Montanez/Hill/Choi infield.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        He moved to the outfield eventually.  He started as a third baseman.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          He was moved after the Cubs acquired ARam.  The thought was that he had an MLB bat, but he was one of those guys who did not have much of a batting eye, which caught up to him in AAA ball.

          • Cedlandrum

            He also had a bit of an issue mentally throwing to first base from third and asked to be moved, which actually precipitated the Aramis trade. Not to say that they weren’t thinking of getting ARAM, but since Kelton was out of the picture they had to make a move.

  • Robert

    IF, LaHair can keep this up somewhat… And when Rizzo & Jackson get called up.. oh lordy… this lineup can be DEADLY. especially if campana is still up, Jackson can steal bases, Campana and his speed, And Castro, where talking some serious pop & speed in this linup. Are there any “power” bats coming up this free agency? if so what positions? If the Cubs can just got out and pick up a half-way decent thirdbase man with a bat. (this is not a shot at stewart, as his glove is as good as it gets. but i’d like more pop.) or maybe a second baseman with a little more pop than barney. like Uggla or espinosa or Kipnis?

  • Kevin

    This is starting to feel pretty good already. I know we are not there yet with many holes to fill, especially pitching, but there is a lot of room to be optimistic.

  • CUB5

    With these kids hitting so well, I can’t believe they haven’t changed the locks to Wrigley on Soriano yet. He might have a better chance at catching a ball on Waveland Ave anyway…

  • Idaho Razorback

    Don’t forget about Ty Griffin, Earl Cunningham, and Lance Dickson. First round draft picks classes of 1988-1990.

  • Dan

    Where in the world is Jorge “The Dominican” Solar?

  • MaxM1908

    I think I’ve seen this discussed on here before, but does the MLB allow contract buyouts? I’m not saying Soriano would go for it, but if we offered him 80% on his remaining contract to not play and he decided he wanted that deal, would it even be allowed? I figure the Players Association has something to say about that.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      The union would (and should) never allow it.  Buyouts can happen, but they have to be written into the contracts (as a form of club option) in the first place.

      • MaxM1908

        Ah, ok, that makes sense. So effectively, the only option with Soriano is to release him, continue paying the full contract without him playing. If another team decides to pick him up at say, 1 million a year, how would that affect our contract? Are we still obligated to pay the full amount?

        • bob

          The other team would only have to sign him for the ML minimum, and the Cubs would be responsible for everything above. I’m not sure what happens to incentive clauses, though.

  • Crockett

    What Freese video?!?!

    • cubchymyst

      Click on the MLBullets over at BCB, there is a link to the video there

  • Jay

    Imagine in a few years a lineup of (in no particular order):

    Castro
    Barney/Cardenas
    LaHair
    Rizzo
    Jackson
    Castillo/Cleavinger

    All you need is a 3rd baseman (hopefully Vitters continues to develop) and one more OF.

    The pitching staff still blows but if we can trade Garza to Detroit and get two top arms we can develop around them.

    Only dreaming.

    • Kyle

      A) That’l happen right after we get our Kelton/Montanez/Hill/Choi infield. These guys will not all pan out.

      B) That lineup isn’t really all that good.

      • Drew

        I don’t see that lineup being out of the question, it just doesnt get me very excited. I just don’t see either of the catchers working out long-term.

        I will say a lineup that includes Rizzo,Jackson, and Cardenas reaching or getting close to their ceilings would likely improve the OBP of this team drastically.

  • THEOlogical

    Has everyone already forgotten about next year? We really don’t know what the schedule will look like but there is the possibility of more games in the A.L. So why not use LaHair or Soriano for the DH? I really hope Garza is signed but it better be a boatload of quality young talent coming if not. To me, it’s either Garza or Hamels, I’d love to see both but you have to have at least one!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      It’s only about 16 games in AL ballparks requiring a DH. It’s not enough to really make a roster decision, in my opinion.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        One way or the other, I hope that this forces the issue on the DH in all or none of MLB.  At this point, I’ve lost any liking of watching pitchers bat: I’d much rather see a LaHair take rips than even a good hitting pitcher.

        • OlderStyle

          agreed on forcing the issue. while I’m not a fan of the DH, it should be settled if for nothing else than address the inherent disadvantage the NL finds itself in.

      • THEOlogical

        I just meant that I’d rather see LaHair be our DH, rather than a Reed Johnson or Campana. Wouldn’t it be wiser to keep a power bat on the bench? I do understand your point, and I agree that we shouldn’t keep a guy for just 16 A.L. games but I’m just tired of seeing 10 quality backups on this team. I really do hope the DH issue gets evolved soon enough. And one more thing on LaHair, he may not be able to assume the role of bench player. Not everyone is cut out for that type of work.

  • die hard

    The decreasing talent levels on the Cubs and elsewhere could be solved by expanding the majors to Mexico, Puerto Rico and Panama for starters and beyond thereafter to other Latin America countries and then shorten the season so WS is over by Oct 1…. would be the remedy for low attendance and would allow for spring and fall games to be played in decent weather..

    • Njriv

      I doubt the Players Union would agree to that, players still complain about the East coast-West coast road trips.

    • Ogyu

      Right. Because the solution to decreasing talent levels is obviously to expand and spread the existing talent over more teams.

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