One more off-day before we get back to baseball. I’m headed to Chicago tomorrow, and to the game on Saturday (though I’m going with some old friends at SOI, so I won’t be in the bleachers). If he’s not dealt before then, I’ll get to see Ryan Dempster, perhaps for the last time at Wrigley Field.
- The days after the All-Star Game are always ripe for retrospectives on the first half of the year, and prospectives on the second half. We’ve touched on most of the former (though here’s another: Carrie Muskat looks at the highs and lows of the first half), but there were plenty of the latter hitting the wire in the last day. Doug Padilla asks 10 questions about the Cubs’ second half, Patrick Mooney looks at a variety of subjects that will continue to play out, and Phil Rogers looks at 10 baseball-wide story lines for the second half.
- The Cubs’ front office believes Dale Sveum has done a good job so far, according to Assistant to the GM Shiraz Rehman. “He’s really an open-minded guy who tries to find different ways to skin a cat, which is what we try to do,” Rehman told Paul Sullivan. “Leave no stone unturned. The players have responded to him …. He has the right short- and long-term vision.” I love that last part, as I’m sure does the Cubs’ front office. Rehman added that Sveum has been “nothing but positive” in the eyes of the front office.
- The Cubs took a minor league flyer on reliever Mike MacDougal earlier this year, but, after 19 appearances worth of ineffectiveness at AAA Iowa (7.85 ERA, 2.564(!) WHIP), the Cubs have cut MacDougal loose.
- The Cubs officially announced Albert Almora’s signing, and the 18-year-old outfielder has already made his way to Mesa to start training for his season. While in Mesa, Almora is rooming with none other than Jorge Soler, the Cubs’ other young, big-time, recently-acquired outfield prospect. I can’t say how much I love that, even if it’s just for a short time in Mesa (it’s possible that Soler will eventually be assigned to Peoria, and Almora to Boise). Soler is adjusting to both professional baseball, life in the United States, and instant stardom within certain Cubs fan circles. I can’t think of a better kid whom he could align with than Almora, who’s not only a talented player (and they can learn from each other in that regard), but is also a great kid with great character. Hopefully they can work their way up through the system over the next couple/few years, become great friends, and make it to the bigs together. Wouldn’t that be a great story? The only way it could be greater is if, at some point, Jorge has to put tape down the middle of their room, indicating to Albert that one side is his, and the other is Jorge’s, leading to hilarious hijinx.
- What would happen if you tried to hit a pitch thrown at 90% of the speed of light? The short answer: lots of bad things. The long answer is at that link, and it’s glorious.
- Kerry Wood talks to Sarah Spain, but I see something creepy. I’m easily unnerved.
- A Cubs choose your own adventure. Remember those books? They were awesome.
- Dave Kaplan and Baseball America each offered a mid-season take on the Cubs’ minor leagues (with Kaplan’s being far more involved). Ronald Torreyes shows up as a disappointment on both (though if not for an absurdly low BABIP early in the year, he might be looking just fine right now (and let’s not forget: he’s one of the youngest players in the Florida State League – I’m actually not worried about him)), and Anthony Rizzo shows up as a top performer on both. BA notes that Arismendy Alcantara is a riser to BA, and is on Kaplan’s watch list.
- Speaking of Alcantara, he features, together with Rock Shoulders, Taiwan Easterling, and Jae-Hoon Ha, on MILB’s Moniker Madness – which is exactly what it sounds like. Rock Shoulders, somehow, is merely a four seed. Among the top seeds: Caleb Bushyhead, Rougned Odor, Forrest Snow, and Duke von Schamann. My non-Cub favorite? A 10 seed, Kansas City farmhand Cheslor Cuthbert. Your fave?