So, the family and I arrived in Northern Michigan for a few days with The Wife’s family, and as soon as I got up this morning, I realized I’d screwed up. You may recall, I did a caption contest late last week involving a Matt Garza picture, for which the prize was a couple bleacher tickets to this Thursday’s Marlins game. And what did I forget to bring with me? The freaking tickets. My fingers are crossed that I can call the box office today and they can figure out which tickets I bought using my information (I know that I need, like, the ticket ID number to have the tickets left at Will Call – but, without the tickets, I don’t have it). Otherwise, the winner – Juan Villalobos – is going to hate me forever.

  • Is this a compliment from manager Dale Sveum about Carlos Marmol, or a veiled concern? “It’s still throwing strikes when he has to,” Sveum said. “That seems to be what he’s been able to do. Sometimes the pitch count looks like it’s getting up but all of a sudden he’s getting some double-play balls or making the pitches when he has to and throwing the slider for a strike, throwing the fastball. As long as he’s throwing the strikes when he has to it’s all he has to do really.” So, throwing strikes, eh? Did you mention strikes? That Carlos should throw them? Some strikes? Maybe he should throw strikes.
  • It sounds like Ian Stewart is resigned to the fact that he won’t play again this season after undergoing wrist surgery to remove a bone fragment last week. “I feel like I’ll definitely be good to go for next year,” Stewart said. “If it ends up that I don’t play anymore this year then I guess I would take my normal kind of time off at the end of the year and then get back into this thing and rehab wherever I’m living in the offseason.” I’m sure the Cubs would like to keep Stewart next year, to see how the surgery pays off, but it remains very hard to see them tendering him a contract that would guarantee him something in the range of $2+ million for next year. That’s pretty expensive for a lottery ticket with relatively weak odds. I hope the Cubs are able to non-tender him, and bring him back on something closer to a one-year, $1 million deal.
  • Dale Sveum is loving on Darwin Barney (whom I wonder if he maybe reminds Sveum of himself), because “a lot of his hits have been big this year, whether they kept the line moving at just the right time or popping a home run.” In other words, Sveum says Barney is clutch. I don’t know about all that, but I do know that he’s been almost average offensively at second base, and way, way above average defensively. All for about $500K. That’s a very valuable player right there.
  • Matt Garza says his wife is due in 23 days, so he’s a little too preoccupied to worry about the trade deadline. He also says he used the All-Star break to refocus on his approach to taking down hitters, and he felt like the results showed yesterday.
  • Jeff Samardzija sayshe’d be bummed to see Ryan Dempster traded. ‘‘You need to learn how to play the game the right way, how to act around the clubhouse, how to treat the staff and the people you work with, and Demp’s all that to a T,’’ Samardzija said. ‘‘For a young guy like me, he was good to watch. You just kind of mimic what he does. I hope he sticks around. This is a business, and it’s the way things go, but it wouldn’t be cool, that’s for sure.’’
  • Anthony Rizzo’s teammates offer the young first baseman some love, at the plate, in the field, and in the clubhouse.
  • Kerry Wood is still hanging around Wrigley Field, but his involvement with the team is still pretty casual. Taking on a bigger, more formal role may have to wait a little bit – part of the reason Wood retired when he did was to spend more time with his family.
  • The MLBullets at BCB note Ben Sheets’ great first performance for the Braves. Might they decide he’s legit, and pull out of the starting pitcher trade market?


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