Interestingly, the Chicago Cubs will not be replacing Scott Hairston on the roster with another positional player. At least not today.
According to multiple reports, lefty starter Brooks Raley will be called up to join the Cubs’ bullpen, which is understandably taxed after yesterday’s extra-inning, short-start effort. Indeed, need a fresh arm who can go multiple innings today is probably all this move is about. I tend to think that, if the call-up was the precursor to a starter being dealt, the Cubs would be tapping Chris Rusin as the “next” starter, rather than Raley.
HOWEVA, the exception is if today’s starter, Matt Garza, were being dealt. In that case, the Cubs would need a starter on short notice today – Rusin, who was sent down to Iowa on July 3, is not eligible to return to the Cubs until July 13 – Raley would be the guy. So, am I telling you Matt Garza is being traded today? No. I’m sure the Raley call-up really is mostly just about the taxed bullpen, and the fact that the Cubs don’t yet need another position player (they had six outfielders prior to the Hairston deal, for crying out loud).
I’ll only go this far: if you’re the Cubs, and you have to call someone up anyway, wouldn’t it be convenient to bring up a guy who can swing a start today just in case a deal for Garza materializes later in the day? The Cubs have covered themselves in that instance. And, even without a Garza move, calling up Raley is a completely defensible, reasonable move.
The most likely outcome here is that Raley comes up for a day or two, Garza makes his start (and the rumors continue to swirl as the month goes on), and the Cubs swap Raley out for a position player later this week.
I just thought I’d point out the alternative possibility, just in case.
As for who comes up when Raley is shuffled back down (again, assuming there’s no pitcher deal in the interim), it’s not like it has to be an outfielder. It also doesn’t have to be someone on the 40-man roster, since moving Hairston opened up a spot. Junior Lake is a possibility, depending on what the Cubs’ development priority is for him (i.e. regular starts at AAA, or a sniff of the bigs). Donnie Murphy would be an interesting solution, given that Cody Ransom remains the Cubs’ only backup infielder on the roster (and he might be dealt at some point). Darnell McDonald isn’t hitting. Logan Watkins should probably continue to get regular starts. Ty Wright could get a look.