I’d already planned my morning trip to Panera for these Bullets, and the associated delicious breakfast sandwich, so I’ll confess I was a teeny bit bummed when the power came back on in the middle of the night. I know, I could still go get a sandwich. But I don’t have the excuse now.

  • Ryan Dempster won’t be back until after the All-Star break. We’d previously heard that he “might” not be back, but now it’s a lock, says Dale Sveum. Dempster is currently throwing pain-free, and could throw off of the mound for the first time this weekend. His turn in the rotation would come up two more times before the break, so he’ll have missed at least four starts in all with lat soreness. Assuming he comes back immediately after the break, he could make four starts before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, so there’s still plenty of time for him to demonstrate health. But, I’m kinda getting itchy to see him back out there again.
  • For his part, Dempster still doesn’t sound concerned. “It won’t take me long once I get going,” Dempster said. “I haven’t said, ‘This date’ because if I feel good, it could be sooner than that. I’m completely pain free. I just don’t know how I’m going to feel throwing.” It remains the case that this is a real injury, but not a terribly serious one, and the Cubs have made a calculated gamble that they have nothing to lose by keeping Dempster out for a while (so they don’t risk a more serious injury while the trade market develops).
  • With Dempster out, the Cubs will need at least one more start from a fill-in, and likely two. Randy Wells had, and lost, his shot, so now it’ll be one of Chris Volstad or Casey Coleman. Volstad would require a roster move, but Coleman is not stretched out. My vote goes to Volstad, whom I’d like to see get another shot to stick at some point this year. Plus, I would like to see Coleman get a really extended look in the bullpen. The Cubs need to know what they have in these guys when the offseason approaches, you know?
  • Dale Sveum has said that Anthony Rizzo will be his three-hole hitter for the foreseeable future, against both righties and lefties. As for Bryan LaHair facing lefties, Sveum says he’s considering it over the next couple days, but the results haven’t been there. “I’m thinking about it,” Sveum said. “You just have to see some results. Unfortunately, the results aren’t very competitive. But you do need to give him a chance once in awhile especially against left-handers whose numbers against left-handed [hitters] aren’t very good.”
  • Doug Padilla wonders if Steve Clevenger and Welington Castillo have shown enough for the Cubs to be comfortable trading Geovany Soto in July. I’m quite sure they have, but I think if the Cubs get a good offer for Soto – no sure thing – they’ve got to take it. It’s not like Soto is a franchise player whom you can’t possibly replace, and it’s not like he’s a lock to be around when the Cubs are next competitive anyway (Soto is 29, and will be a free agent after 2013).
  • Dale Sveum says he’ll recommend Starlin Castro and Alfonso Soriano for the All-Star Game (Dempster would have been an obvious choice, had he been healthy). Padilla thinks Castro will get the nod, Phil Rogers thinks it’ll be Soriano. I, too, think it’s Soriano on the merits if it’s just one of the two, but it’s quite close. Maybe they’ll both get the call? Nah…
  • BN’er JulioZuleta has been gathering the Cubs’ top 10 round signing information from publicly-available sources, and he’s got your totals (unsigned guys in parentheses):

Almora – ($3,250,000)

Johnson – $1,196,000

Blackburn – $911,700

Underwood – ($769,600)

McNeil – $425,000

Conway – $280,000

Prieto – $200,000

Lang – $165,000

Bruno – $150,000

Heesch – $10,000

Krist – $10,000

Martin – $10,000

Total – $3,357,700

Budget – $7,933,900

Total allowed without surrendering future pick – $8,330,595

Max remaining without surrendering future pick- $4,972,895

Almora slot +Underwood slot = $4,019,600

Thus, if both signed at slot, the Cubs would have $953,295 remaining. That’s pretty interesting, as it means the Cubs could – just as an example – sign a guy like Rhett Wiseman for more than $1 million if they wanted to ($100K plus $950K). I’m not saying they should, just that they could. To be clear, though, I don’t really expect Underwood and Almora to sign for slot.

  • King Jeff

    Coleman or Volstad, can I have option C, a punch to the nards, instead? I’d like to see them go completely out of the box and bring up Chris Rusin to start a game, but I think it has to be Volstad, as bad as it might be.

    • wernert

      This made me laugh.

      In the years since being laid off, Panera is my defacto office. And the everything bagel is aces.

    • rcleven

      Rusin would require a 40 man slot. I too would like to see Rusin get a chance to show what he has. Who gets the axe?

    • Dougy D

      I don’t think Rusin is ready. He has shown too much inconsistency. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if they picked up Doug Davis again (wherever the hell he is playing). My guess is Coleman, but I also would rather see him in the pen.

      By the way, is anyone else sick of Sveum’s bullshit about LaHair not performing against lefties? I thought at the beginning of the season he was supposed to get the chance to prove himself. He is consistently benched whenever we go up against a lefty. I sure as hell bet that he can do better than Jeff Baker. He needs to start him the rest of the series against the 2 lefties and at least give him a shot.

      • rcleven

        I could put up with a Volstad start but no longer than 3 innings.
        The Lefty righty splits on LaHair are for real.
        .086/.200/.171 against LHP.
        .329/.403/.607 against RHP

        • Dougy D

          I know, but he only has 35 AB vs. Lefties. He never gets the opportunity to face them. And when he does, his confidence can’t be real high going into the AB as his manager basically tells him he can’t hit against lefties. Baker is hitting .228 against lefties, at least if they are gonna screw LaHair’s chances of adjusting to hitting against lefties they could play someone that actually CAN hit them. I am just pissed with how Sveum has screwed LaHair’s chance to develop against LHP.

          • @cubsfantroy

            As Doc would say, (and I know, he has said it plenty to me lol) that if you take his minor league splits against lefties, he is very low as well. He just doesn’t hit lefties well no matter where he is at.

            • Dougy D

              I understand that, but wouldn’t you agree that he won’t improve, or have a chance to improve if he doesn’t get the opportunity to learn. I think that Svuem would take it as an opportunity to prove his worth by teaching him after firing the hitting coach. I would just hate to see the Cubs cast off another decent talent because they aren’t willing to put in the time to help him become a better player. I just saw Colvin’s stats over in Colorado and he is batting .308 this year with an OPS of .919 in 156 AB. Instead, we have an injured Ian Stewart, and SOriano still playing left field.

              Sorry guys, I must just be in a ranting mood today. Sveum is driving me crazy at manager. It’s not the losses, just the way he manages.

              • Cheryl

                Sveum drives me crazy too. LaHair would be better off on another team. Unfortunately he’s been labeled as poor against lefties and poor on defense. His average against lefties would improve (I believe, although most disagree with me) and his strikeout rate would go down if overall he had a variety of pitchers to face, There seems to be more than a fifty-fifty chance he’ll be traded because now Sveum is saying he might face some lefties according to Brett’s quote from an interview. I don’t think Sveum would play him otherwise. But I’m curious how he got labeled as poor in defense, Someone here said that you can’t judge him by errors in that category, which puzzled me.

                • Jack Weiland

                  He’s been labeled that because that’s what he is. It would be like complaining that you’re labeled a person named Cheryl.

                  • Cheryl

                    i can accept the label but as I said what is it based on if not errors? I just want to take in the same criteria you guys consider. I understand about the splits lefties and righties. It’s pretty clear along that line. But I’m not clear on what you’re considering in the defensive area. Look I’m new to this. I played baseball on the street growing up. There’s a lot to take into consideration in playing and also in evaluating players. If I’m not taking into account something on a player I’d like to know about it so i’m a better judge next time.

                    • DocPeterWimsey

                      LaHair’s rep as a poor fielder might be exaggerated.  It probably comes from what coaches and minor league evaluators thought, and as Bill James noted 40 years ago, these people judge fielders not by how many outs they make, but by how pretty they look making them.  LaHair is a big and somewhat stiff guy, and he looks tentative even on routine plays.  Of course, what a guy looks like to a 3rd party and what he actually is rarely are the same: if you are stiff and big, then you are going to look tentative no matter how sure you are.

                      THey will have much better data for LaHair from MLB, but they always stress that you need 2-3 years of data to really evaluate a fielder.

                • mudge

                  I agree with you, Cheryl, having seen all the stats & splits. This is a better team with LaHair in the lineup. That’s a statistic too. Sveum’s comment today that he’ll try him “against some weaker left-handers” is sure to bolster LaHair’s spirits, eh? I still like Sveum. He’s got integrity. He’s got some great ideas. When you have less talent, you have to take more risks. This lineup represents a shift in his thinking. Sabermetrics is only one way to measure and evaluate players and teams. It’s a valid one. To say it’s the only valid one is intellectual hubris. There’s no great manager who doesn’t blend the numbers with an understanding of his player’s hearts. You’re not the one here who doesn’t listen, IMHO.

                  • Drew7

                    The team appears better with LaHair in lineup because plays against RHP, and the team hits RHP better.

                    It really is a no-win situation with LaHair; play him against only RHP, and fans call for more PT. Play him everyday and his overall #s, being dragged down by his inevitably inferior #s against LHP, and fans wouldnt be near as impressed with him.

                    • Dougy D

                      I would be more impressed if he had an opportunity to try to hit lefties rather than Jeff Baker, who will clearly not become an everyday player for the Cubs. If Sveum thinks he is a good coach, he should put the hours in working with LaHair on at bats vs. lefties. Change his approach, cut down his swing, something rather than not giving him an opportunity to play against lefties.

                      LaHair also isn’t that bad in the field. He is not good, but he doesn’t cost the Cubs in errors the way that Castro does, or the way that Soriano can.

                    • Drew7

                      All I hear about this situation is that LaHair needs an opportunity and Baker sucks. If LaHair is a victim of sample size, how is that not the case with Baker?

                      As bad as hes been, Baker has an OPS nearly double that of LaHair against LHP this year in 20 more PA’s.

                      If you want LaHair to get a shot, thats fine, but you cant have your cake and eat it too; Baker has over 600 career PA’s and an ..861 OPS against LHP, while LaHair’s minor league production is less than 1/2 of that. Either you accept both struggles as a fluke or both are legit; we cant pick and choose which we want it to be based on personal feelings.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                LaHair probably won’t improve because he’s 29.  Most guys of his build are actually at their peaks at this age or even a touch younger.

                Remember, LaHair put up very solid numbers in AAA for 5.5 years without being given a shot at an every day job.  This was despite playing on a Mariners team that was starved for power.  The reason why they left him in AAA was because LaHair did not hit lefties and his defense was substandard.  Now, the Mariners were idiots: they would have done far better to put him in DH for 2/3rds of the games.  However, they deemed “versatility” important enough to not only let LaHair rot in AAA, but to basically let him walk.  The Cubs though enough of him to sign him: but LaHair’s inability to hit lefties and suspect fielding were two of the reasons given for signing Pena instead of giving LaHair a shot.

                At his point, the popular tautology “he is what he is” applies with a modifications: he is all that he’s going to be.  And that is a solid bat against RHP.

                • Cheryl

                  OK Doc. I will agree with you – he can’t hit; he can’t field; he doesn’t belong. The end!!!

                  • Drew7

                    C’mon Cheryl, dont be like that. You’ve always been one to listen to what others have to say, instead of merely sticking to your point of view no matter what.

                    You have to understand that, while being a great asset against RHP, there is a reason hes 29 and just now getting a shot- his flaws are proven and obvious. Theres still a place for him in the Bigs, but only playing him in situations where he is most likely to succeed is a good way to maximize his value, both for trades and the teams chances of winning.

                  • @cubsfantroy

                    After reading and then following up on what Doc has been saying about LaHair against lefties and seeing all the splits in the minors, I’ve come to agree because the stats are there. As much as I hate it, and I hate Baker, Sveum is right sitting LaHair against lefties because he isn’t going to get better. He just doesn’t pick them up well.

  • oswego chris

    Volstad…has to be…we have to decide if he is a non-tender…there may still be upside there

    • MoneyBoy

      My feelings exactly Chris.

  • Spencer

    My Volstad rage meter is building this morning. Isn’t there someone in Peoria that can fill in? Also, I have an aunt that I think would be available every fifth day. Or my three year old cousin. Or they could just outright forfeit those games. That’s my preferred option.

  • Stinky Pete

    Coleman or Volstad? Is this a new Saw movie?

  • Cubs Dude

    Brett, is there any reason at all Cub fans should be concerned about Soler not being official yet? July 2nd is pretty close. Puig signed 24 hrs. after the Dodger won his rights. Just wondering..

  • Cubs5050


  • Cub Gone Wild

    Why nobody can figure out that Volstadt is not a starter is beyond me. He does fine once or twice through a line up then he i.s very hittable. He is bull pen guy. Put him in the pen and he will be a good pitcher for us. Somebody in this org has blinders on or is to stupid to look at this kid and say he is not a starter. Start him if you want but have the bp read y in the 4th inning.

    • D.G.Lang

      I believe that this year and possibly the next is more dedicated to finding out what talent we have and seeing if we can improve it than actually winning a lot of games.

      The Cubs are sticking to marginal players to see if they will improve instead of simply giving up on them.

      If a player does come arround, then that’s a player we don’t have to get a replacement for. If a player ultimately fails, then we can say that he WAS given every chance and good luck in your next organization.

      The point being that since we know we are going to be ‘not quite so good’ this year and possibly the next year or two we may as well use the time to fully evaluate exactly what we have to work with.

      Even if the Cubs decide that a player won’t be here in the future perhaps if we give them a chance to show something we can induce another team to trade something for them rather than simply release them for nothing.

  • rcleven

    Clevenger has been doing a better job behind the plate than Soto is showing. Clevenger has a more accurate arm. Although Soto has more power I would trade that for Clevengers better AVG.
    My main concern w/ a Soto trade is the B/U catcher. Just not sold on Castillo.

    • Dougy D

      I could see a platoon between Clev and Castillo. In fact, I would actually not mind that platoon (as opposed to baker who is batting .228 against lefties starting in favor over LaHair who is batting .086, but gets an AB against a lefty once in a blue moon (35 AB)). EDIT: LaHair can’t improve if he doesn’t get an opportunity to do so.

      • rcleven

        Like Castillo’s bat. His D scares the heck out of me. Big weakness blocking balls in the dirt. From what I have seen his body shifts just aren’t there. Until he learns to move his body he will be a pass ball machine.

        • Dougy D

          I hear you there. I am not a Soto fan, but I think that his defense is improved this year. Welli could use some coaching, but I think that Clevenger would get more starts, as a left handed hitter, so hopefully his D could build as the year progresses. It would be nice to have a former catcher on the coaching staff. Maybe they can bring in a former good fielding big league catcher to help him along.

  • Cub Gone Wild

    Lopez would last more innings ghan Volstadt. I dont dven want to watch Coleman

  • UrbanTed

    What’s the signing deadline for Almora/Underwood?

    • JulioZuleta

      July 13th. It already seems like it’s been forever since the draft. I can’t believe the deadline was a month later until this year. Seems really excessive and like there’s nothing to gain by that. I’d like to see it be June 30.

      • @cubsfantroy

        Thanks for the update on the draft signings.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Well, they have to have two shortstops, and what other one could you possibly say is an all star this year other than Furcal, who is going to win the vote it looks like. Gotta be Castro.

  • RY34

    has to be volstad, it would take coleman 75 pitches to get thru three innings.

    • Dougy D


  • Kevin

    I don’t really expect Underwood and Almora to sign for slot. ???

    The cubs would be crazy to pay a penny over slot for either of these 2 players. The Cubs are in the drivers seat, not the other way around. Almora and Underwood have zero leverage. The new CBA gives a team a pick (current position plus 1) the following year if they don’t sign players selected. The Cubs have up to 3 years to use these picks. Use this saved money to sign players selected in the later rounds. Baseball is a team sport, it takes a full team to win.

    • JulioZuleta

      Underwood has some leverage, since he could conceivably go to Junior College, re-enter next year and improve his stock. Almora would be hard pressed to move up much if he went to school.

      Another thing to note under the new draft rules, the slots this year were increased more than an average year to give the teams a little more wiggle room while still limiting overall spending.

  • @cubsfantroy

    They should go with Volstad. Give him one more chance to prove himself and then decide if he is worth keeping around after this year. If he pitches well enough, keep him up the rest of the year and see what happens.

  • aCubsFan

    Clevenger clearly has shown he is major league ready. The comments of Paul M. from yesterday shows he trusts Clevenger behind the plate. And, his catcher ERA of 3.58 says that as well. Based on Dale’s comments, I think if Dale could find a way to have Clevenger in the lineup daily he would. Just not enough spots for him to play now that Rizzo is up.

    I’m not so sure about Castillo has shown enough yet, but the Cubs surely don’t need Soto.

  • randy

    pro sports daily said the cubs to announce on monday the official signing of jorge soler.Almora will sign july12 at midnight for 3.25 million you can find on hot stove cubbies on wednesday june 27

    • JulioZuleta

      The deadline is actually 5 pm ET on the 13th I believe. Take anything you read from hot stove Cubbies with a grain of salt. It’s not very reliable; at least it wasn’t the 2 times I went on it a few years ago.

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    Gut feeling how much do you think Almora and Underwood will sign for?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Both slightly over slot.

  • Ash

    Brett, the correct move would have been to sabotage the router in a fashion that your wife would not be able to solve (in my case it would be unplugging it). Then, even if the power’s back on, you can still say “I don’t know why, but the internet is still down, and I’ve got deadlines!”.

    Before you know it, you’re engulfing a bacon egg and cheese and waxing poetic on Chris Volstad at your local Panera.

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    Is there any tough to sign draft picks left (besides Rhett Wiseman) once Almora and Underwood signs? I’ m assuming it won’t take all the $953,295 extra cash to sign Almora and Underwood, so say they still have around $500,000 left in extra cash after they sign Underwood and Almora then who else do they really have that is going to a tough to sign kid that is worth giving the money too beside Wiseman? I’m not an expert but I say nobody is else is truly giving a big chunk of that money too then Wiseman. Wiseman had a round 3-4 talent. But he dropped because of signability concerns. This kid with a couple of years of development in the minors or college ball he could be borderline 1st round talent. I think if would take a $100K + the extra $500K = $600,000 for Rhett Wiseman if he would sign would be well worth every penny. Who else is going to a tough to sign guy?

    • JulioZuleta

      I’d really like to see Jake Drossner and Christian Botnick sign. Blake Hickman in the 20th round seems like he’ll be overslot by a bit. Justin Amlung would be a solid signing, he’s been drafted before. Damek Tomscha would be really nice too, but I think he’s going back to school.

      • MoneyBoy

        As mentioned before Julio, thank you for the info on the draft!!  It’s much appreciated.

    • josh

      our 19th round pick Damek Tomscha, 20th round pick Blake Hickman, 24th round pick Jameson Fischer are all viewed as mildly tough signs. i doubt we get more than 2 of these guys if u include wiseman.

  • TakingWrigleyToSaoPaulo

    Deal supposedly done with the Astros. El Caballo just mulling over weather to waive his no trade clause. If it’s for Garrett Gould, the Dodgers are officially incompetent, not to mention that ridiculous deal for Puig.

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      TakingWrigleyToSaoPaulo: Gould is a much overated prospect. But I do agree that is a bit much for a old fat, powerless Carlos Lee.

  • willis

    When is it going to be officially determined that Coleman sucks at pitching? He’s been around for the better part of 3-4 years, up and down up and down only to be terrible each time he has a shot. Forget him. He’s garbage.

    • Carew

      The only reason i can think of why hes still here is that he is only 24-25 years old, which fits into the FO general idea

  • Kevin

    Is there a chance Rhett Wiseman would sign if the Cubs offer more than $1 million if they also agree to give him a full ride to Vandy?