This time of year, there’s always more going on over the weekend than usual. In case you missed it, there was a fresh Obsessive Matt Garza Trade Watch piece, the Marlins traded Ricky Nolasco to the Dodgers, Javier Baez was promoted to AA Tennessee, Travis Wood was named an All-Star, and the Cubs signed high school catcher Tyler Alamo. Well, and then there was the pending Scott Hairston trade, which technically was reported late Sunday night.
- Alfonso Soriano is super hot right now, as he often becomes (in recent years, that’s especially true when the Summer months roll around). In his last 13 games, Soriano is hitting .309/.304/.709 with five homers, five doubles, and a triple. He’s hit safely in 11 of those 13 games, and the only thing he hasn’t done – as his inverted BA/OBP tell you – is walk. He actually hasn’t taken a walk since June 9, but, hey, when you’re smoking the ball like Soriano is, there’s no need to take walks, right? Dale Sveum says the hot streak is partly due to Soriano picking on good pitches to hit right now. “The one thing you notice is he’s hitting the fastball,” Sveum said of Soriano, per Carrie Muskat. “When you have the confidence when you’re hitting fastballs and you lay off hitting breaking balls, or whatever it might be, and the bat speed is there, and you feel that good, you start doing a lot of good things because you’re laying off a lot of bad pitches.” It does seem like, in the last two weeks especially, if you make a mistake to Soriano, he blasts it. I’m assuming Soriano will be DH’ing tonight in the makeup game against the White Sox.
- Darwin Barney discusses his first error of the year yesterday. Dude just doesn’t make mistakes.
- Small sample size fun: since being acquired by the Cubs last week, relievers Matt Guerrier and Pedro Strop have combined to throw 8.1 innings without allowing an earned run. They’ve given up just four hits and three walks, striking out three.
- Jon Greenberg offers a take on where thing stand with Starlin Castro. It got a little blowback on Twitter last night when it was published, but I don’t really find it to be overly negative – just a summing up of what has gone wrong for Castro this year, and what it could mean for the future. I tend to think, on that latter part, that it doesn’t mean a whole lot. The Cubs have actively been working on Castro’s approach and swing, and he’s a 23-year-old learning on the fly. This was the year to tinker, and hopefully it all pays benefits in 2014 and beyond (when the performance might matter more).
- A Wrigley Field usher is getting some negative attention after asking a TV reporter to wrap up his live shot in the stands because he was blocking folks’ views behind him. The video doesn’t look/sound good, but in these situations, I always like to caution that you don’t know what preceded this event. Maybe the reporter was taking an inordinately long time with his shot. Maybe the folks behind him were extremely impatient and kept complaining to the usher until he did something.
- Len Kasper praises the front office for their approach to international free agency.
- Remember how the Cubs wanted to add a handful of 3:05pm CT starts on Fridays as part of the Wrigley renovation framework? Well, they got those games, and the first was last Friday. Walk-up sales, according to Cubs VP of Communications and Community Affairs Julian Green, by way of Jon Greenberg, were pretty huge – as much as 100% higher than on a typical day. It’s a lot easier to decide on a whim to head out to a 3:05 Cubs game on a Friday than a 1:20 game.
- A random reminder: if you want to have a little picture with your name when you make comments (an “avatar”), we use gravatar.com here at BN. So just go there, set up an account with your preferred picture, and make sure you use the same email address there that you use here when you comment. That’s it.