Today the Chicago Cubs did what I’ve said they would be doing soon: they shut down Jeff Samardzija. He’ll pitch tomorrow and then call it a (very successful) season with a hair over 170 innings, which blows away his 88 from last year. It’s the right move for both Samardzija and the Cubs, and I applaud it. There was nothing to be gained by keeping him out there when he’s so far and away above the number of innings he’s every thrown professionally before. His season will merit quite a bit of analysis in the coming weeks, but it’s safe to say that we all hope he stays strong in the offseason, and comes back just as effective (if not more so) next year.

As for the guy taking Samardzija’s place in the rotation, well, it’s a new guy: Jason Berken, whom the Cubs just picked up off of waivers from the O’s. Berken, a 28-year-old righty, got a protracted shot to crack the Orioles’ rotation back in 2009 and put up a 6.54 ERA over 24 starts (5.31 FIP). From there he moved to the bullpen where he was great in 2010, and terrible in 2011. He’s spent almost all of this year starting at AAA, with an adequate 3.50 ERA, 1.382 WHIP, and a 2.51 K/BB in 144 innings. He’s not going to knock your socks off, but he’s got as good a shot at locking down a fifth starter’s job as does someone like Justin Germano.

The Cubs will see what he’s got, and decide if he’s worth keeping on the roster into 2013. It’s yet another low upside, but no meaningful risk, move.

The roster spot (both 25-man and 40-man) is coming from Blake Parker going back on the DL with elbow problems (recall, he’s the one who suffered a “stress reaction” in his elbow before Matt Garza did … ). His DL stint is another of the 60-day variety, which is a significant bummer for him.

  • Flashfire

    Raise your hand if, given the Cubs luck, you expect Samardzija’s arm to literally fall off about the fourth inning.

  • scorardpaul

    are all of theses scrap heap pick up types going to ave any baring on who we can protect in the rule 5 draft???

    • Flashfire

      If we keep them on the 40-man, yes. If we release them (like we probably will with Germano, at least), no.

    • Brett

      Not really – Cubs’ll decide if they’d rather keep a Berken or a Germano, or a Watkins or a Struck. They were always going to have to make tough decisions like that at the margins.

  • North Side Irish

    1. Volstad. 2. Wood. 3. Germano 4. Rusin 5. Berken

    Call me optimistic, but I think that rotation might allow the Cubs to make a run at the Astros…

    • Brett

      Unfortunately it’s just not possible – even if the Cubs lost every single game the rest of the way, they wouldn’t pass the Astros I don’t think.

      • King Jeff

        Yeah, 9 games would be tough to make up on a team that once lost something like 38 out of 42 games, and has gotten worse since then.

  • King Jeff

    That’s it, I’m putting my name in the hat. If a mid 6 era is all it takes, I think I’m the man for the job. I’m quitting school and bringing my 63 mph lefty-fastball to Wrigley.

    • Crockett

      I can still throw in the low 80s even after a shoulder reconstruction. Of course, since the surgery, I struggle to hit a 8×8 area from about 60 feet.

      But still…I’d like a shot.

      • PJ

        Careful with your control, if you miss inside Bryce Harper will come out and get you…

      • farmerjon

        @crockett…is there a reason for this? I had rotator cuff/ labrum done last August (they cleaned up scar tissue/arthritis n removed a cyst too). Warming up (which takes a while) I can still pop the mitt, but man my control is erratic at best. Is there some sort of muscle memory disconnect that occurs?

    • baldtaxguy

      I’m fat, with a Rick Reuschel look. I’ll give it a go.

  • paul

    one more year like this and Tom R will be able to buy everything around wrigley field cheap

    • Boogens

      Damn funny!

  • http://It'searly Mike F

    I think Theo should be applauded. I here all the Hendry abuse, but this is one thing they weren’t good about and certainly Theo is doing the right thing here. The organization deserves tremendous credit and hopefully this pays dividends in the long run.

    • Rcleven

      If you think the next 30 days is the long run.

    • Scotti

      This isn’t something Theo was good at either. Much easier to be good about parking a Samardzija when you have no hope of winning than it is too park someone when you are contending.

  • The Dude Abides

    Looks like he will fit right in!!!

  • die hard

    Theo is just worried about Union taking Cubs to Arbitration over ruining the kids career..May have already received a warning letter is my guess

    • TWC

      Sometimes, man, you really outdo yourself.

  • Cyranojoe

    I hope to hell that they didn’t just drop it on Jeff like that today. I’m sure he got some heads-up that they were thinking about it… but a semi-volatile dude like Shark might pop an artery if he got told one day before a start that it was going to be his last of the year. It’s just not how you deal with anybody, too. I hope they were more respectful than that…

    • Brett

      He knew it was coming, but they may very well have not given him a clear indication until today. Dale said a few days ago that he was going to meet with the brass soon to make a decision.

  • Ramy16

    What a catch by Soriano! Soriano is having a great year with us! Keep it up! Well Brett he just mite get that gold glove!

    • MoneyBoy

      Didn’t watch the whole thing Sori or BJax?

      Brett — any word on BJax???

      Really excellent piece on MLB Network … a “letter” from Jim Kaat to Strasberg … “it’s your arm and your career … if this is your chance at a ring, take it!!”

      The sentiment was strongly echoed by both Larry Bowa and Al Lieter!!! Fascinating stuff.

      • someday…2015?

        Not Brett, but Jackson is fine. Just a bruise to the knee. Jackson’s catch was the Cubs catch of the year. Soriano’s catch was nice but was definitely overshadowed by Jackson’s.

      • mikaylaaa

        espn also reported his knee was scrapped up and bloody, and he probably wouldn’t play the rest of this series, but definitely back for the next one.

        both catches made the top 10! and bjax’s was numero uno! woohoo!

  • thejackal

    were gnna knock the poor pirates right out of playoffs lol

  • thejackal

    LOS ANGLOS DODGERS CHOKING ……. thatd make my season at least bareable

  • IndyCubsFan

    Wow! Wood sure pitched a gem tonight! Apparently all the cubs needed was a brawl to wake their butts up!

  • TonyP

    Damn, we have claimed an ass load of people this year.

  • Frank

    I understand what Theo and co is doing, but I don’t believe they’re going to do the same next year. If they do the same thing next year, I think Wrigley field will be a ghost town. Kind of like going to a Expo’s game. Sure they’ll save money, but they won’t make any either.

  • steve

    I am ok with the low risk claims, I think all are arms, which we have a real need. These are guys that give us guys that will be motivated considering the course their careers have taken. I don’t expect big time stats from any, just average to decent stats. I think guys we’ve claimed are really types we are trying to find to give us a cheap option for the 5th spot in the rotation, or long relief. We ain’t trying to grab an ace, just someone to eat innings & not kill us the way Volstad has this year. I expect this guy today is in reality auditioning for the long relief role next year. I admit I don’t know much on this kid we got today, but he’s had bullpen success in the majors in the past, maybe moving to the national league centrel from the tough AL east may be just what he needs.

  • steve

    I do like some of the guys we’ve added for next years bullpen Socolovich may be a decent pen arm next yr. He’ll get plenty of chances, he’s not gotta be great, just steady, he can’t be worst than Dolis. I think the next years pen will have a good with the youth. There’ll be ups & downs, but honestly its gotta be better than what we’ve struggled with thru this season. Parker should be another kid, Beliveau, Jaye Chapman is a guy I think could be very good. I think there’s a good shot Marmol is traded this offseason, & while we don’t know who we will add to the pen, or who’d close, I think Vizcaino is the future closer. Russell & Camp should give leadership, Hinshaw will give us a strikeout lefty, if he can be steady. Again, I’m not sayin this will be a dominate pen, but these kids’ll get their shot to stake their claim. This Berken has a look of a guy competing for long relief, we’ll see. We aren’t gonna contend, and we don’t know who we’ll be signing or adding thru trade, but we’ll have a good look at some of these kids next yr.

  • Jungledrew

    Seriously… I haven’t played since little league,… in the 15 years since then I shattered my lower right leg and have permanant nerve damage…, then broke my ankle,.. the dislocated my shoulder… and then my elbow…. then broke my other ankle… lost some muscle tissue on my left leg in a fire… then dislocated my shoulder again… tore my ACL singing kareoke… and 3 weeks ago was in a car accident and dislocated my left hip and shoulder (again) and still have no control of my left hand… and am pushin 300lbs… and I’m pretty sure I’m a better pitcher than the current rotation….

    • OCCubFan

      What on earth kind of job do you have and/or what do you do for recreation?

      • jungledrew

        Im not on crutches anymore…. I think I could give it a go… I really don’t see how I could be worse… as a catcher in little league I threw out 67% of base stealers because I had a rocket arm with accuracy… it’s just gonna hurt a little bit when I do it now…

      • jungledrew

        oh and I work at Disney World… so the inhuries are hardly the worst pain i deal with on a daily basis

    • Tommy

      Jungledrew – I’m gonna have to say that at this point, you are not better than the current rotation, HOWEVER, if you can cut back on the Karaoke and get that shoulder back into place…theeeeennnnnnnn, you might be good enough to be our #2.

      P.S. – you should change your moniker to ‘lucky’.