We are so very close to reaching the $12,000 goal for the BN Blogathon fundraiser for Make-A-Wish. That’s enough to sponsor two wishes, and we’re just $380 away. That’s also $380 away from locking me up for 36 STRAIGHT hours on Tuesday and Wednesday (I’m not rounding up for the final hour – we’ve actually got to get to $12,000). Once again: I can’t thank you all enough. This is a very, very good thing that you’ve done.
- Things got dicey after Chris Rusin left the game last night. Each of Pedro Strop and Kevin Gregg allowed three baserunners in their inning of work, but no runs. Dale Sveum was particularly effusive in his praise of Strop. “Strop … that’s what stuff does,” Sveum said, per ESPN. “When you have stuff and you need to strike guys out with guys on third base and less than two outs … that was one of our most exciting innings of the year.” Get ready to have your eyes popped: since joining the Cubs, Strop’s thrown 9.2 innings, allowed no runs, four hits, and three walks, while striking out 12. That is pretty much as good as it gets. Strop is 28, and projects to be under team control through 2017. No, he won’t keep pitching like this, and yes, some of the wildness concerns will probably pop up at some point. But the Cubs really may have landed a good one in that Feldman deal (and I haven’t even mentioned Jake Arrieta, whom it looks like we’ll see in a doubleheader on Tuesday).
- Nate Schierholtz has been well-received by the folks in San Francisco, where he played for most of his career before coming to the Cubs (by way of a trade to the Phillies last year). More eye popping for your pleasure/pain: over a seven-game hitting streak, Schierholtz is hitting .455/.520/1.045 with four doubles and three homers. Although I still think there’s a whole lot of sense in keeping him for next year, he couldn’t have picked a better time to get crazy hot and give the Cubs some options this week.
- Speaking of options this week, Dale Sveum called those Jeff Samardzija rumors “silly.” Dale Sveum told the media yesterday (Carrie Muskat): “I don’t think that’s going to happen. We have control of a guy for 2 1/2 more years. I think think somebody had to throw something out there and was bored and put some silly rumor out there.” I join Sveum in his doubt that anything would actually happen with Samardzija, but, strictly speaking, the rumor was simply that the Cubs were “listening” on Samardzija. Why wouldn’t they listen? Trading Samardzija, however, is an entirely different thing. And those two more years of control are huge – not only do they make Samardzija’s price to acquire in trade exorbitant, but they make him hugely valuable to the Cubs’ organization. The future and the rebuild are the things, but I can say with confidence that the Cubs don’t want to suck in 2014. (You can see Muskat’s piece there for more from Samardzija, himself, on the “silly” rumor.)
- Reliever Chang-Yong Lim is another step closer to being ready after working his way back from Tommy John surgery (the Cubs signed him this offseason as a reclamation project), having now been promoted to AAA. I still believe the Cubs would like to be able to give him a look in late August or September, assuming there is a 40-man spot readily available to him. Then again, those 40-man spots could become a premium this Winter as the Cubs look toward the Rule 5 Draft. Of course, theoretically, Lim could pitch well in August and September, and then be traded in the offseason (he’s under control for 2014).
- Matt Loosen, who was earlier this year sent from AA down to High-A and responded by embarrassing everyone else in the league, is now headed back to AA for a third chance (he got an unsuccessful look at AA last year, too). He’s got the stuff to be a successful back-end starter down the road, but first, he’s gotta make that AA adjustment.
- Alex Remington at FanGraphs digs into “strong” and “weak” divisions over the years, which makes for an interesting overall read. Notable? The tallies are pre-2013, and the NL Central shows up as often on the “strong” list as on the “weak” list. In other words, remember the 20+ years of hearing how weak the NL Central was? I’m not so sure that was ever true. And it sure as hell isn’t true now.