Is today going to be another marathon of Matt Garza updates? I sure hope not. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t mind doing it. But The Wife has some friend commitments today, so I’m going to be on a lot of daddy duty (with a two-year-old and a five-month-old, no less). Not sure how obsessively I’ll be able to keep up with things if it goes like yesterday, but I’ll do my best.
- Speaking of Garza rumors, the pitcher offered his answer to the media for how he deals with the constant stream of “coulds”: quoting ‘Finding Nemo,’ Garza said “just keep swimming.” After that, Garza went out and did his normal pre-game work, and you wouldn’t have any clue that a certain departure loomed.
- Henry Rodriguez cleared waivers and was outrighted to Iowa yesterday. That’s good news, as I’m sure the Cubs were hoping to be able to keep him in the organization after the DFA. As I said when the Cubs picked him up in the first place: you can’t teach a 100 mph fastball. Hopefully the Cubs can teach him to harness it. At 26, there’s still some hope.
- It was fair to expect that Jeff Samardzija would come out of the break with a good start. Working hard when he’s got time off, and focusing intensely on putting himself in the best position to succeed seems to be what he’s done continuously since he started his professional career. He worked on his mechanics at Wrigley Field over the break, threw a couple bullpens, and got right back on the horse last night after a few rough starts to close out the first half.
- As for the other star of last night’s game, Junior Lake pretty much bought himself a regular set of starts, at least until David DeJesus returns from the disabled list. “Since I’ve been here, that’s the first kid that’s come up and really looked like a Major Leaguer,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said, per Cubs.com. “Was aggressive on the bases, did a great job. Swung the bat really nice.” The tape on Lake has always been that of a guy who looks like an obvious future superstar one day, and then a low-level minor leaguer the next day. Last night was clearly the former, and hopefully Lake just becomes one of those guys who needed the challenge of the big leagues to put it all together. He was fun and exciting to watch – we’ve needed that – and he didn’t look lost in center field.
- That said, let’s not Activate Unreasonable Expectations. He’s still young. He’s still got a long way to go. And it was just one game.
- I enjoyed Patrick Mooney’s take on the Junior Lake debut.
- Scott Baker made rehab start number two yesterday at Kane County and it … did not go well. Baker labored through a four-run first inning, and gave up two more over the course of his subsequent inning and two-thirds. In all, he gave up six earned on three walks and six hits, striking out one. That wouldn’t concern you too much if it hadn’t come after a rough first rehab start, and if there weren’t reports from those at the game that his fastball was sitting in the mid-80s. Bruce Miles has a more complete take on Baker’s start, as well as quotes from Baker. The righty says he feels fine, physically, but it’s a long mechanical road back.
- The Cubs decided to convert reliever Alberto Cabrera back into a starting pitcher this year, and sent him down to AA to get the process going. Well, step one has been a complete success, with Cabrera, 24, dominating to the tune of a 3.20 ERA and 107 Ks and just 39 BBs in 112.2 innings (and an ERA well under three over his last 10 starts). With that success sewn up, the Cubs promoted Cabrera to AAA Iowa. We’ll see how he does in the more hitter-friendly PCL, and it’s conceivable that he could be a second half fill-in at the big league level late in the year, depending on how deep the sell-off goes (since he’s already on the 40-man). I expect that the hope is that he’ll put himself into position to be considered for a starting job with the Cubs next Spring. Cabrera has excellent stuff, so that part isn’t a question. It’s his ability to harness that stuff over seven innings and command it all game.
- The Kane County Cougars are expected to see their 10-millionth fan today. Not, like, this season, but all-time (which is still pretty great, since they are the first Class A organization to get there).