The Cubs will try to take this series from the Pirates with a changed – albeit not fundamentally – roster. The Pirates have had some changes, too.

Game Info

Pittsburgh Pirates (59-44) at Chicago Cubs (43-59), 1:20pm CT on WGN.

Game Thread and Series Preview

The Game Thread lives here. You should participate in the madness. And, of course, for those who aren’t into message board-style game threads, please feel free to use the comments on this post for your in-game commentary/outbursts.

The Series Preview for this series lives here.

Starting Pitchers

Jeff Karstens (3-2, 3.88 ERA, 3.12 FIP)


Travis Wood (04-6, 4.98 ERA, 5.81 FIP)

Pittsburgh Pirates Lineup

1. Starling Marte, LF

2. Josh Harrison, 2B

3. Andrew McCutchen, CF

4. Gaby Sanchez, 1B

5. Travis Snider, RF

6. Michael McKenry, C

7. Pedro Alvarez, 3B

8. Clint Barmes, SS

9. Jeff Karstens, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. David DeJesus, CF

2. Starlin Castro, SS

3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

4. Alfonso Soriano, LF

5. Bryan LaHair, RF

6. Jeff Baker, 2B

7. Welington Castillo, C

8. Luis Valbuena, 3B

9. Travis Wood, P

  • CityCub

    Why not give Cardenas a start at 2nd today instead of baker. I mean he did break up the no-no last night.

    • MightyBear

      I’m with you CC. If you bring these kids up, let them play and see what they can do.

      • EQ76

        better yet, start Baker at third and Cardenas at second.. Valbuena has done nothing to keep earning starts.

  • Melrosepad

    And we get Jeff Baker instead of Cardenas. Way to go Sveum. At least give the kid a start after breaking up the no-hitter.

    • Wilbur

      Every buddy’s welcome to their opinions, but you’re upset about which reserve player fills in at second base? Really?

      • Njriv

        I just don’t get it, I don’t know why they never play Cardenas more than just a PH. He kills Triple-A and they just bring him up to PH once or twice a week without any consistent playing time. To me it’s just a waste of talent, we may never know what he can do at the major league level if he never plays consistently.

        • Crockett

          It is a joke, really. I was SO HOPEFUL that Barney would get dealt at the deadline because, even with his good defense, he’s just so frustrating offensively. Cardenas would’ve gotten a long look then.

          Oh well.

  • jimbob

    Can we just send LaHair back to AAA already? He’s down time like .263 now!

  • Dan

    Brett / Luke,
    Do you know when the Cubs might bring up Vitters to take over 3rd Base for Valbuena?

  • Joepoe321

    What does the cubs top ten prospect list look like post trade deadline?

    • Dan
    • Gabriel

      I would say something like…

      1. Baez (by a mile – quickly becoming one of the ELITE elite prospects in the game)
      2. Soler (could def join Baez in that category soon)
      3. Almora
      4. Vizcaino (TRADE)
      5. Jackson
      6. Vitters
      7. Villanueva (TRADE)
      8. Szczur (SP?)
      9. Maples (I’m projecting 100% here)
      10. Candelario

      HM’s to a ton of guys: Vogelbach, Amaya, J-C Paniagua, Alcantara, Kyle Hendricks (TRADE)

      Personally, I think it is looking VERY good, and is one draft + one Garza trade from being absolutely loaded.

      • Joepoe321

        I say

      • Freshness21

        I agree that looks pretty promising. We need some pitching mixed in there, which will hopefully come from last year’s draft, next year’s draft, and a Garza trade. Problem is, pitching prospects take time to develop. But we can always package some of these overlapping prospects to made trades down the road. The future is looking good…

      • Gabriel

        Forgot to include Pierce Johnson & Duane Underwood (two 2012 draftees who I really think could burst onto the scene next year in A-ball)

    • Myles

      In my not at all official estimation:

      1. Baez
      2. Almora
      3. Soler
      4. Vizcaino (trade from Maholm/Johnson)
      5. Vitters
      6. Szczur
      7. Jackson
      8. Villanueva (trade from Dempster)
      9. P. Johnson
      10. Vogelbach

      Just missed: Amaya, Alcantara, Candelario, Blackburn, Maples, McNeil

      • Flashfire

        Jackson, sadly, might still be too high there.

  • Leroy K.

    Hey if we win 20 in a row we’re right back in this….

  • Joepoe321 top 20 cubs prospects
    1. Jackson
    2. Baez
    3. Vizcaino
    5. Maples
    6. Christian Villanueva
    7. Mcnutt
    8. Whitenack
    10. Lake
    11. Vitters
    12 torreyes
    14. Vogelbach
    15 candelario
    16. Amaya
    17. Kendricks
    18. Hernandez
    19. Sappelt
    20. Chen

    • TWC

      13. Wells

      The Randy kind? Or the Ben kind?

      • Njriv

        The Ben kind.

        • TWC

          Oh, I know. Forgot to use the sarcasm font.

      • Joepoe321


    • MikeL


      • MikeL

        I don’t see Almora in there either…..

        • JP cubed

          I have to think pierce Johnson is in the top 20 too

      • JP cubed


        • Joepoe321

 hasn’t added draftees or international signings yet

          • DocPeterWimsey

            To further this, I think that these rankings are based on pre-season scorings, eliminating guys like Rizzo who now are in MLB and shuffling guys to new franchises. Otherwise, Vitters probably would have moved up this list and Jackson would have dropped based on their 2012 performances. If you were to re-rank them and toss in Almora & Soler, then 4 of the Cubs Top 10 are Jedstein additions.

            • Jack Weiland

              Yep. Amaya would be higher, Wells and Whitenack, Golden and McNutt would probably all be lower, etc …

          • MikeL

            The fact that I would bump 3 or 4 guys into the top ten make me feel happy about our farm system after year one of theo/jed.

  • John

    Quade feels the same way– were still in this!!

    • Leroy K.


  • CubsFan4Life

    Hey Brett, The Cubs website pregame article for today’s game says that the third base prospect (Christian Villanueva) that we got in the Dempster trade is now listed as the 6th best prospect in the Cubs system. The same article says that the pitching prospect (Kyle Hendricks) from the Dempster trade is 17th best prospect in the Cubs system.

    Do you know where these new prospects will be assigned? From what I have been reading about Villanueva, it sounds like he could climb through the Cubs systems quickly. Maybe Theo and Jed are not sold on Vitters, and they just landed the Cubs future third baseman.

  • willis

    How many home runs for Wood today? Over/under at 3.

    • RY34

      ill take the over.

      • willis

        Boom. There’s one.

  • willis

    Castro with a bomb. Don’t look yet, but he could finish with around 20 HR this season. In a poopy lineup. I was going to be pleased if his ceiling was 15 or so bombs. His power is really picking up.

    • KidCubbie

      I say he hits at least 15 this year. Maybe a few more. Anyone want to do over/under?

      • willis

        Over. I say 17.

      • HawkClone

        Over; I’ll go 18

  • http://dude dude

    I think it is safe to say Jackson will not pan out in MLB

    • AJB

      If you are talking about Brett Jackson, I think it is safe to say that’s a bit premature

  • fortyonenorth

    Some guy who looked like LaHair just got a double. New kid from AAA?

  • #23

    i would like to see Villanueva switched to 2nd base

    • Flashfire

      He is so young there is forever to move him. Given the number of top level 2B prospects in the Cubs system (Torreyes, Amaya), may as well keep him where he’s comfortable and make the move if necessary when he’s older.

      And don’t forget that Baez’s development and the front office’s decision on what to do with Castro are necessarily going to require reshuffling — or trading — of all the 3B/MI prospects in the minors.

      • willis

        Torreyas and Amaya are top level prospects? I’d say Amaya maybe. Torreyas probably not. I think the left side of the infield is set for the future. Soon enough Vitters and when Baez is ready he’ll be at 3B. He and Castro are untouchable. The only thing I could see is Baez proving to be dynamite at SS and moving Castro to 2B. But that’s a long shot IMO.

        I’d rather see Villanueva moved to see if he can handle that position. His future holds more hope at 2B than 3B in this system I believe. And don’t forget about Candelario. He’ll be ready to move up the ranks soon.

        • Flashfire

          Uh, have you seen what Torreyes has done over the last 2 months? OBP around .400, OPS in the high .800s. With above average defense. And at 19 he’s much younger than his competition. Right now, he’s probably a better bet to stick in Theo’s organization than Amaya. (He is a pure #2 hitter and has better defense.) And his bat is almost certainly better than Villaneuva’s at the moment — a level higher.

          • willis

            He’s been on a tear no doubt. I’m not saying he’s fish food or anything. But I also don’t think he’ll be a major league quality 2B. But Villanueva was a top ten prospect in Texas’ system, which would put him higher than Torreyas in the Cubs system. I think his ceiling is higher overall, and if you can get him some time at 2B and he excels, all the better.

            I do agree it’s been nice to see Torreyas improve as the season has gone on. He really has turned a corner. But I’m not on him too highly just yet. top 20 prospect? Probably. But Villanueva is probably a little higher.

          • J R

            I know Torreyes has hit well lately, but everything I have seen has Villaneuva as the higher rated infield prospect. Maybe I am missing something? I do think Villaneuva moves positions, or we start flipping some of these shortstop/3rd base prospects for young pitching. Hopefully..

            • Flashfire

              The stuff you’re looking at was done before the season started. Over the course of the season, based on performance, Torreyes stock has risen and Villaneuva’s dropped. Much like Brett Jackson is still on top of most lists of Cubs prospects when, in reality, he’s behind Baez and others at this point.

              • J R

                Obviously he’s well behind Baez. But the ratings I have seen up to date have Villanueva as a better prospect than Torreyes. I am not trying to argue, but that’s just what i have seen.

                • J R

                  Also, I know you can’t worry about positions when obtaining young talent. But we needed another A ball 3rd baseman like I need a hole in my head. I don’t get that. I really hope they flip some of those guys this offseason.

                • willis

                  And, it’s not like Villanueva is having a terrible year. In fact it’s been quite good in the pitching heavy league he has been playing. Not sure how his stock has dropped?

                • Chris

                  Villanueva is still the better prospect, despite any dropping he has done. That said, he’s got a long way to go before anyone considers him a high quality prospect. Torreyes stock has also fallen this season, but he’s put on a show the last several weeks to possibly bring himself back up again. Still, he’s probably only ever going to be a utility infielder that can hit for average. He’s so slight of build that you can’t count on anything more than that. Best case scenario, he’s Jose Altuve. That’s a leap though. Villanueva is a masterful fielder at 3B, and has a little pop, but he might not be able to play 2B. And he might not hit enough to stay at 3B. Time will tell.

                  • Flashfire

                    Okay, we’ll see. I put my money on Torreyes since he’s doing this at 19. Which is really, really impressive.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                It’s a little puzzling to me why Villaneuva’s stock would have plummeted much. His line this year is pretty good in what (I think) is a pitcher-friendly league. (His batting line is in keeping with his career stats, with a slight drop in slugging that is consistent with the suggestion that he’s not in a power-friendly league.) The scouting reports on his fielding is very positive, too.

                So, if he slipped on the Ranger’s chart, then it probably was due more to the ascendance of other players.

                • Chris


                • Flashfire

                  Admittedly, my understanding on him is somewhat limited because i found out he existed yesterday. But it seems like the knock on him was people unsure if he would develop enough pop to be a big league third baseman. (Thus the suggestion of moving him to second in the first place.) Well, he’s 21, so he’s going through that critical 18-22 transition for men where they add strength. Unfortunately, that hasn’t impacted his power much. As you say, a slight drop with a new league. He could still develop, no question. Clearly the front office see something in him.

                  But, at the moment, Torreyes is two years younger than him, a level higher, and simply hitting better. MUCH better, in point of fact. But, we’ll see where they’re placed in the Cub hierarchy next year and, in the end, which of the two make it to the majors.

  • Spencer

    Is there really anything more that the Cubs would like to see from Valbuena? He is not good.

    • willis

      Hopefully not. I’d almost bet we see Vitters sometime in the next few days. At this point why not? Plug him in, put him in a decent spot in the lineup and let him show what he has. Can it be worse than the collective effort of Stewart, Mather and Valbuena? I don’t think that’s possible.

      • Flashfire

        I think Steward could surprise if healthy — which he hasn’t been for two years. He is Mark Bellhorn at third: walk, strikeout, or hit a home run. With the injury, the last one has become much less likely, making him worthless.

        I’d also like to see something else though: either Cardenas, Vitters, or even Junior Lake.

      • Chris

        I wish you were correct, but I don’t think we see Vitters until September. Given that, I’d love to see Cardenas playing every day. Valbuena plays good defense, and he hit the first 2 weeks he was up, but he’s a backup infielder, plain and simple. Cardenas should be playing every day, with Baker playing against lefties. Valbuena can be the backup for 2nd, 3rd, and SS.

        • HawkClone

          I agree, the FO has already shown they care about player development more than anything and I don’t think they would bring Vitters up and risk stunting his growth. He could probably come up and hit decently, but he is not a major-league-ready third basemen right now. That being said, I also agree this is hard to watch…

  • rbreeze

    Enough Valbuena please!!!!!!!!

  • Chris

    Damn I wish they could have moved Camp yesterday for anything… He’s been getting guys out with smoke and mirrors all season. It was a matter of time before somebody tagged him for a 5 spot.

  • willis

    Camp-6 hits and 5 runs…18 pitches and no outs yet. Ouch dude.

    • willis

      7 hits in 20 pitches, no out. Andhe finally gets the hook. Nicely done.

      Game was over once the pen came in for Pittsburgh anyway, so who really cares I guess.

  • Mike S

    Cabrera’s got a “Marmol type” slider. Looks pretty solid so far.

    • HawkClone

      Yeah and it looks like much more fluid mechanics so he can throw it more consistently. I like it so far.

      • willis

        He could be a key cog in the pen for a few years. He, McNutt, Dolis are all power arms that will have a chance to contribute.

  • donnie kessinger

    I love Baez but I don’t project him as a major league ss, probably will move to third. Torres seems to be an above average prospect also.

    • Abe Froman

      I live in the Quad Cities and the Chiefs are in town, I got to see Baez in person yesterday and will be going again tomorrow. Always fun geeking out and over-hyping prospects.

      • Chris

        I live near Kane County, so when they came through I decided to go to all 3 games. By the 3rd game, Baez had an actual cheering section of college-aged guys. It was comical. He’s the real deal though. Probably the only true impact position player above Rookie ball for the Cubs. There are some other nice prospects, but he just looks like he’s going to be a star someday. And many scouts who’ve seen him in Peoria are starting to notice.

  • Gardner Lane

    Off topic:

    We do not need to worry to much about starting pitching next year – there is no reason we cannot find 2 pitchers similar to Ryan Dempster or Paul Maholm in the off-season. Please remember that Ryan D. had a terrible year last year (10-14 / 4+ ERA). He had a great contract year for us – enabling us to trade him. Here is the list of potential starting and relief free agents after the season ( Star: Means potential option). I have noted the players that have gotten an extension already, but I think there are several great candidates for a contract like Malholm (1 year + option) OR a 2 year deal.

    Starting Pitchers
    Scott Baker *
    Joe Blanton
    Fausto Carmona * – maybe
    Kevin Correia
    Jorge De La Rosa * – maybe
    R.A. Dickey *- METS will re-up
    Scott Feldman *- maybe
    Gavin Floyd *- maybe
    Zack Greinke – TOO EXPENSIVE
    Jeremy Guthrie
    Cole Hamels – EXTENSION SIGNED
    Dan Haren * – probably not available
    Tim Hudson *- probably not available
    Colby Lewis – just blew out arm – might be interesting
    Francisco Liriano – I think it would be worth a shot
    Kyle Lohse – former Cub farmhand – maybe?
    Derek Lowe- too old – could not do this year
    Shaun Marcum- probably out of price range
    Daisuke Matsuzaka- maybe – probably not
    Brandon McCarthy- maybe
    Brett Myers *
    Carl Pavano
    Jake Peavy *- could we finaly get him?
    Anibal Sanchez – worth a shot – probably out of price range
    Jonathan Sanchez – good idea
    Ervin Santana * – sure (sould always move to bullpen)
    Joe Saunders – maybe
    James Shields * – TB probably re-ups – cheap contract
    Jake Westbrook * – sure
    Randy Wolf *
    Carlos Zambrano * – HA HA HA – no way

    Relief Pitchers
    David Aardsma
    Jeremy Accardo
    Mike Adams
    Grant Balfour *
    Matt Belisle
    Rafael Betancourt *
    Taylor Buchholz
    Sean Burnett *
    D.J. Carrasco
    Randy Choate
    Jose Contreras *
    Pedro Feliciano *
    Brian Fuentes *
    Sean Green
    Kevin Gregg *
    J.P. Howell
    Hong-Chih Kuo
    Casey Janssen
    Bobby Jenks
    Brandon League
    Matt Lindstrom * – maybe something to think about
    Mark Lowe
    Brandon Lyon
    Shawn Marshall – EXTENSION SIGNED
    Dustin McGowan
    Peter Moylan
    Pat Neshek
    Will Ohman
    Juan Carlos Oviedo (aka Leo Nunez)
    Tony Pena
    Joel Peralta
    J.J. Putz *
    Ramon Ramirez
    Mariano Rivera
    Joakim Soria *
    Huston Street – EXTENSION SIGNED
    Hisanori Takahashi
    Robinson Tejeda
    Carlos Villanueva