The Cubs have two off-days in a four-day span, which is weird. They head out to Anaheim tomorrow, and then come back just two days later.
- If you’re a manager, and you want to defend one of your players, but doing so necessarily criticizes another one of your players … what do you do? Throw the less expensive player under the bus, naturally. I’m kidding, of course, but Dale Sveum tried to explain why Edwin Jackson’s start yesterday wasn’t as bad as it looked, in part because Julio Borbon dropped a fly ball in center field. “I think dropping a routine fly ball got things set in the wrong direction,” Sveum said of Jackson’s day, per CSN. “Obviously we still have to make pitches after that. But the bottom line is those things change outings; they change the course of a ballgame. He ended up an out away from having a pretty nice ballgame.” That’s arguably true, and Borbon would be the first to confirm that he screwed up. Kind of a tricky spot to navigate for a manager, but that’s probably as well as Sveum could put it without totally burying Borbon (or Jackson).
- A modest war of words between Jeff Samardzija and Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson? I guess Samardzija and D-Backs third base coach Matt Williams exchanged some thoughts during Samardzija’s start on Saturday, and Gibson, who complimented Samardzija’s performance profusely, added this: “It’s part of the game. Whatever. He didn’t get the win did he? Maybe the next time he should just shut the [expletive] up and pitch.” (From Cubs.com.) Without any additional context, it’s hard to know what that’s all about. Samardzija is a relatively high energy guy, but he’s also not a guy you’d expect to be speaking too much out of turn.
- Dale Sveum sees Starlin Castro’s biggest problem right now the same way I do. “The biggest thing is, he’ll swing out of the zone, and we all know that, but he’s not doing anything with drivable pitches now,” Sveum said, per Cubs.com. Setting aside Castro’s ability to make contact out of the zone, the problem is he’s not making hard contact with pitches that are right in his wheelhouse. Makes me wonder if he’s thinking just a little too much up there.
- In speaking with the media yesterday – more on that in a bit – Cubs’ VP of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod said that there are no promotions planned for top High-A prospects Jorge Soler and Javier Baez, per CSN, though the Cubs could be anticipating that one or both will be promoted in the next couple of months, but they wouldn’t say anything about it now. I’m tentatively expecting Soler to see a bump to AA before this season ends. I could see Baez getting bumped as well, or staying at High-A for the full season.
- McLeod also apparently mentioned AA infielder Arismendy Alcantara, High-A infielder Dustin Geiger, and Low-A pitcher Pierce Johnson as having standout years so far. If you’ve been paying attention to Luke’s daily coverage of the Cubs’ minor leagues, I’m thinking none of that is a surprise to you.
- Speaking of Baez, by the way, John Sickels says this about the Daytona shortstop to this point in the year: “No change in the scouting report at this point: enormous offensive potential, but his approach remains very aggressive and could tangle him up when he gets to Double-A.” That’s actually good news, given his strikeout issues so far this year. Obviously you’d rather they’d gone away and scouts were saying that he’d fixed an issue with his swing. But, since he hasn’t yet, the best you can hope for is status quo, in terms of how well he’s regarded.
- Steve Clevenger is expected to begin his rehab assignment (oblique) at AAA Iowa today. He isn’t eligible to return from the 60-day disabled list for another two weeks, at the earliest, so he’ll be at Iowa for a little while. Even after he’s completed his assignment, if everyone at the big league level remains healthy and untraded, there might not be an obvious spot for Clevenger, and the Cubs may have a difficult decision to make.
- Today is the 10-year anniversary of the Sammy Sosa corked bat incident. I can’t believe it’s been that long. That was a bummer of a day – I remember “watching” the game on MLB.com’s Gamecast, and wondering why the thing had frozen for so long on a simple Sosa groundout. I guess there wasn’t a preloaded script for “The umpires are investigating a suspicious looking bat shard.” It popped up that Sosa had been ejected, and I assumed that he’d gotten into a safe/out argument.
- Wrigley Field is starting to become known for an unsavory pantomime. Folks: please stop making us all look like assholes. Kthxbye.