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Prince Fielder won last night’s Home Run Derby, and he also had the most prodigious homers of the night. None came within 20 feet of 500, though, which makes me think of back when a few 500 foot homers were the norm, and I feel a little silly. The All-Star Game is tonight at 6:30 CT (7:30 ET) on FOX.

  • Starlin Castro says his goal is to become a perennial All-Star. “I look at what Derek Jeter has done and it is crazy,” Castro told reporters, according to Bruce Levine. “That is what I want to be like, I want to be a 13-time All-Star. That is a goal.” Castro also expects his All-Star experience to be even better this year, not only because his family will be there, but because he feels more comfortable. “I am much more comfortable this year because my English is much better and I can talk to everybody without help,” Castro said. “Last year I was kind of lost and didn’t know where I was going. Now I have more experience at these things. I will take [teammate and fellow All-Star Bryan] LaHair with me everywhere I go.”
  • Speaking of LaHair, he sounds like a giddy kid to be there in Kansas City. “I think I’m the most excited person to be here,” LaHair said to reporters at his All-Star media session. “I really am. It’s just an incredible experience for me to be here with all the legends, the All-Stars, the future Hall of Famers. You feel like you’re part of something special and I feel truly blessed to be here. It’s an incredible moment for me and my family and I’m going to try to soak up every moment of it. Just the path that I took to get here; I get one opportunity to be an everyday big league player, and somehow I get to be an All-Star. I dreamt it this way, but obviously I didn’t know it would work out this way. The players voted me in and it’s a good feeling to know that they respect your game and they respect the hard work that you put in through the years. I just feel blessed that they voted me in and wanted me to be a part of this.”
  • Here are a couple great quotes about Bryan LaHair from his NL teammates. First: “That is an extremely impressive thing to do, to have perseverance like that. This is a really difficult game that we play, with a lot of adversity and a lot of failure. For Bryan to continue to fight like that and continue to work through countless minor league seasons had to be extremely frustrating. It is great to see him succeed the way he has and deservedly become an All-Star. His story is pretty special.” Second: “I always heard Bryan LaHair’s name coming through the minor leagues myself. He always put up consistent numbers and now to have received a chance from the Cubs, which is a difficult market to break into, is very impressive. Most guys get the cup of coffee in the majors and then get sent back. Bryan seized the moment and has done great, culminating with his All Star selection. I hope he has a long and great career.” Nice guys and good quotes, right? Thinking good things about those guys? The second was Joey Votto. The first was Ryan Braun.
  • NL Manager Tony La Russa says he’d be “shocked” if he’s not able to get LaHair an at bat. I hope so.
  • Scott Boras says the Albert Almora deal is not quite done yet, but he also offered quotes to the Tribune about how the Cubs wanted to make sure they had enough money left over after signing everyone else to sign Almora, so there obviously isn’t any reason for concern.
  • Patrick Mooney talks about what might have been if the Cubs had won the bidding for Yu Darvish (they reportedly came in second), and gets some quotes from Darvish about what it would have been like if the Cubs had won the post (he says he likely would have signed).
  • Jon Greenberg, in his typical, unnecessarily aggressive fashion, writes another good column for ESPNChicago about the Cubs’ failings in the first half, and the story lines that carry into the second half. It’s a good read if you can get past the open disdain for the Cubs. It reads like a talented and thoughtful Rosenbloom piece. (Seriously, Jon: you wrap insightful bits in such obvious antipathy that I’m not really sure what audience you’re trying to reach. The unsolicited, unqualified advice here is not to let the heel-ness obscure the talent.)
  • There is chatter that the Pirates won’t be able to sign first round pick Mark Appel, and the Orioles won’t be able to sign first round pick Kevin Gausman. If those things happen, the Pirates will get the number 9 pick next year as compensation, and the Orioles will get the number 5 pick. If that plays out (not a certainty), that means, if you think the Cubs are long out of playoff contention, you’re hoping that they at least finish in the bottom eight, and more hopefully the bottom four. Otherwise, their first round pick is going to be bumped back.
  • I keep forgetting to include this in the Bullets, so I thank the many of you who’ve passed it on over the past few days. It’s the first set of pictures of Jorge Soler in a Cubs uniform. And they are glorious.
  • (The picture is from each of Castro’s and LaHair’s media sessions this week, and came from the Cubs’ Twitter account.)
  • Edwin

    I am pumped for the All-Star game. For some reason, I absolutely love watching it. I know that there are a million things wrong with how the game is run (as almost every single radio/tv analys helpfully informs every single year), but I don’t care. I don’t care that it’s stupid to have this game “count” for something when at the same time the “best” players don’t always make the team. I don’t care that fans are stupid and “snub” more deserving players. I don’t care about ratings or anything else. I’m just happy that I get to watch some of the better hitters in baseball face off all night against some of the better pitchers in baseball. Plus, I actually do care who wins the game. Sometimes, ignorance really is bliss.

    • mudge

      You’re the guy they’re playing the game for. RIght on.

  • JB88

    Dayam! Soler looks like a young TO.

  • koyiehillsucks

    Soler looks like he’s 27!… Certainly has the body to play in the majors.

    I didnt know Vogelbach was that fat…

    • Cedlandrum

      He actually looks a lot better then he used to.

  • ETS

    If we really do trade garaza and dempster (and possibly others) at the deadline then I am confident in our ability to finish in the bottom 2.

  • Featherstone

    Those pictures of Soler are glorious and I knew he was a big kid, but jeez. His build reminds me a bit of Derek Lee, but not quite as tall.

    • ETS

      He looks like he could play wide receiver. The Cub’s ever growing receiver core.

      • Featherstone

        He seriously has the height to play WR in the NFL.

  • Carew

    Vogelbach and I look like we could be brothers haha. And I’ll admit, I have a man-crush on LaHair.

  • BD

    Soler looks very good in blue!! And he sorta makes Vogelback look like a smaller guy. LOL

  • Brian

    Soler looks older and bigger in the first few pics, then like a lean, young kid in the side profiles. Either way Cub Blue looks good on the kid!

  • TH

    Soler looks like a beast..Same build as Cespedes but a few inches taller and few years younger. As someone eluded to, looks like T.O from a build perspective.

  • MightyBear

    One thing I will say for the Cubs org, they are getting a lot more athletic down on the farm.

  • Pete

    About the Greenberg article – living in St. Louis, his and Rosenbloom’s writing styles have always struck me as odd because our writers fawn over the Cardinals (granted, the only baseball team in town) and keep a couple of players or management in the doghouse, but no sports writer serially dogs a team. Are Greenberg and Rosenbloom Sox fans, flamethrowing tools/fools, a combo of the 2 or something else?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Greenberg is a Pirates fan.

    • baldtaxguy

      Just a writing style where they strive to become “a story” or (their hope) “the story.” I agree, good points, but….ok…..thanks for using “crap show” twice and the stale ironic hipster reference.

  • Cub Gone Wild

    Soler is a Thoroughbred. If Sori gets traded bring him on up and let him play.

  • http://bleachernation loyal100more

    okay here is an odd request but i know your out there in bleacher nation… how bout some more vogelbach pics. love the long ball and this kid absolutly wrecks the ball! he would have oooed and ahhhed the crowd yesterday with the BOMBS he hits. young and raw and far far from chicago… but an exciting youngster none the less. the vogelbomber fan club starts here, whos with me?

    • hansman1982

      [crickets]

      • http://bleachernation loyal100more

        okay so i relize i am alone…

      • http://bleachernation loyal100more

        hansman thanks for the slap across the face… i needed to come back to decaffinated reality..

  • http://bleachernation loyal100more

    maybe our buddy luke could add a “vogel-meter” to his minor league daily. kind of like the shawon-o-meter from days of old.

  • Ogyu

    OK, kids, your daily oxymoron for today is: “talented and thoughtful Rosenbloom piece.”

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      “Like a.” The “if one existed” part is tacit.

    • Ogyu

      Nah. Referring to a “talented and thoughtful Rosenbloom piece” is like referring to a “square circle.” Adding “if one existed” doesn’t make the very idea any less self-contradictory. :)

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        A square circle would be awesome!

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