I have to try and pace myself. I’m already ready for the feverish action of the Deadline, but I have to remind myself that the Deadline, strictly-speaking, is still more than a day away. That said, I’ve got some rumors/reports to write-up, so the Bullets are a bit brief today …
- Dale Sveum admitted yesterday that .500 has become something of a goal for the Cubs this year, even if he’s not thrilled about it. As he told ESPN: “It’s not a goal you want to have in this organization. Those things can hold [you] back too. ‘As long as we get to .500, whoopee.’ You’re still going home like everyone else that’s not in the playoffs.” Whoopee, indeed. I’ve gone back and forth on the value of this team, at this time, finishing around .500 this year. There is something to be said for “looking competitive” by the end of the year and heading into free agency. But, at the same time, money talks (to free agents), and falling out of the top 10 draft choices for 2014 could hurt the Cubs in free agency as much as finishing strong helps them. How? Well, only the first 10 picks in the draft are “protected” – i.e., if you pick in the first 10 spots and sign a free agent who received a qualifying offer, you lose only your second round pick. If you pick 11th? You lose that first round pick – a price likely too steep for the Cubs to be willing to pay it.
- Setting all of that aside, although the Cubs are playing well right now, I’m not sure I see them playing so far over .500 the rest of the way that they can overcome their current 8-games-below-.500 record.
- Dale Sveum really wants to see Junior Lake play every day.
- Jake Arrieta, who starts today for the Cubs in the second half of the doubleheader, sounds very excited to be with the Cubs, and looks forward to this next step in his career. Arrieta, 27, was acquired in the Scott Feldman trade, and was a former big-time prospect with fantastic stuff. More on, and from, Arrieta here.
- Scott Baker made his debut at Daytona, as he continues to rehab from Tommy John surgery. The results this time out were much better than in Kane County – 3.1 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 1 ER, 2 K – but I’m told that his velocity was still only in the 88mph range.
- Very sad news out of Arizona yesterday, where former Chicago Cubs pitcher Frank Castillo died in a drowning accident. Castillo, who’d also done some coaching in the Cubs’ minor league system there in Arizona, was just 44. He had some great years with the Cubs in the mid-90s, and I think he was remembered fondly.