Did you notice Travis Wood’s trimmed mane yesterday? Perhaps he was going for the reverse Samson Effect. Did it work? I guess the start was better than this last few.
- Cubs GM Jed Hoyer and manager Dale Sveum are meeting today to discuss the team’s plan going forward, now that the trade deadline has passed. That being the case, you can expect that one of the big topics up for discussion will be the plans for AAA positional prospects Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters. The former is struggling with strikeouts, but was always expected to be in the Cubs’ second half plans in 2012. The latter wasn’t expected to be in the plans, but he’s hitting so well at AAA that he might be forcing the issue. Sveum has a particularly optimistic take on Jackson: “I don’t know if there is any so-called risk involved. Everybody’s worried about the failure part instead of the guy coming up here and maybe being a better player in the big leagues than he is in the Minor Leagues, which happens as much as the other way.” No, not really. But it does happen. What doesn’t tend to happen is guys with a 35% strikeout rate in AAA coming up to the bigs and striking out considerably less. And unless Jackson *can* strikeout considerably less, he’s going to have serious difficulty sustaining decent numbers in the bigs. He’s had almost a full year at AAA at this point, so we’ll see what happens. In Vitters’ case, that isn’t true yet. Do the Cubs call him up now so that they can evaluate him against serious big-league competition (and know if he might be a reasonable option at third next year)? Or do they wait, and give him a full year at AAA?
- Jackson is currently hitting .258/.338/.487 with 25 steals (5 CS) and 153 Ks in 454 plate appearances. Vitters is hitting .296/.351/.502 with 16 homers. Neither set of numbers is overwhelmingly good for the PCL, and each player has an elevated BABIP (Vitters is at .330, Jackson is at .373). Jackson turned 24 today, by the way. Vitters turns 23 later this month.
- Sveum has said, of both Jackson and Vitters, that if and when they come up, they’ve got to be every day players. That’s not an issue for Vitters, who could easily start at third base from the get-go. For Jackson, however, he is theoretically blocked in the outfield by Alfonso Soriano, David DeJesus, and Bryan LaHair. It’s possible that LaHair could be benched, but it’s far more like that, if Jackson is to come up this year, the Cubs will have to find a take for Soriano in August (speaking of which, your annual “August Trades and Stuff” post will be coming later today).
- I’m still waiting to see someone write a thoughtful goodbye article on Geovany Soto. I haven’t had a chance yet, myself, but the guy was on the big team for four and a half years, had some great years, was a good guy, and has been with the Cubs since 2001.
- Darwin Barney is feeling good after taking one off the noggin’ on Tuesday. “I don’t think it’s anything major,” Sveum said. “He got hit in the head and there’s some ringing in his ear, but he’s fine today. We’ll just give him [the day off] today …. We have [Thursday] off, and he’ll be ready to go on Friday.”
- It sounds like Chris Volstad will indeed get a chance to re-enter the Cubs’ rotation. “I hope we can get out of him what he threw the other day,” Sveum said yesterday, referring to Volstad’s great final start at Iowa. “He sounded really confident about that start, and how he pitched the left-handers inside and went after everybody, and didn’t think too much about anything and just dominated the game.” Volstad is expected to start Saturday in Los Angeles.
- Luke mentioned it in the Minor League Daily today, but it bears mentioning here as well: Rock Shoulders is in the final four of the Moniker Madness tournament (the best names in the minor leagues), and he needs your voting help. He’s got a really tough matchup, going against Caleb Bushyhead.