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.

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