Doubleheader days sure do throw off the schedule a bit. I also have to take The Little Girl on a kindergarten tour today, so that gums up the works, too (it also clouds up my eyes).
Series Preview, Lineup, and Pre-Gamin’ coming shortly courtesy of Michael. Until then, some Bullets …
- Patrick Mooney writes about the possibility that the Cubs could pursue free agent reliever Jonathan Papelbon, and notes throughout the first half of the article how the Cubs probably aren’t going to draw the line at Papelbon, given the various other non-baseball things they’ve tolerated this year. Instead, the real question is whether he can still be an effective pitcher. That was basically the gist of my take yesterday, if you missed it, and I didn’t wake up feeling too differently. If the Cubs want to see what Papelbon has left in the tank for this year, make a tweak here or there, and see if he can be this year’s Fernando Rodney or Trevor Cahill, I don’t really have a problem with it. In an ideal world, *if* the Cubs are going that route, you’d love to see a scenario where they don’t have to put him on the active roster until September 1, when rosters expand to the full 40, and they can thus avoid having to dump or awkwardly option anyone to accommodate Papelbon. If he were to come sooner, though, at least the Cubs could theoretically find someone to option who would not be gone all that long at this point. September is just two weeks away.
- From there, Papelbon would be – like so many others in the pen – on an extended audition for the playoffs (and, hopefully, also helping ensure that the Cubs avoid some kind of ridiculous disaster that would cost them the playoffs entirely). If he doesn’t show well, or if other guys step up, he doesn’t make the playoff roster, and nothing really was lost in this process. As we’ve seen over the past week: the bullpen can change on a dime, and having as many options available as possible is not a bad thing. Unless something irretrievably broke in Papelbon’s game over the past month, then he’s still got the ability to be a very successful reliever. I guess I’m responding to the constant stream of “NOOOOOO!” I saw yesterday after we discussed Papelbon, and I just don’t really see any downside here.
- UPDATE: A Papelbon decision could come soon, and it tentatively sounds like the Cubs are not deeply involved.
- A fun read from Paul Sullivan on the many Cubs players (and Theo Epstein) who live near Wrigley Field, and how it impacts their working lives.
- Jon Greenberg profiles one of the best bench players in baseball this season: Cubs outfielder Matt Szczur.
- Every single Cubs affiliate from short-season Low-A up to AAA won yesterday. So that’s pretty cool. For the short-season Low-A Eugene Emeralds, it was their 11th win in a row. Which means they’re about to blow two late ones in a row, sending the Emerald fan base into an existential crisis about their large lead in the NWL South, and about the fact that they already clinched a playoff spot by winning the first half. WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN!?!?
- Also from Eugene, third base prospect Wladimir Galindo – a less-heralded, later-signing member of that big 2013 IFA class – won NWL Player of the Week honors after hitting .467/.515/.867 with six doubles and a couple homers. The young man has significant power, and the potential to be a tremendous hitter, but he’s going to have to dramatically reduce his strikeout rate (and ability to recognize breaking pitches) to get there.
- At South Bend, pitcher Oscar De La Cruz won Pitcher of the Week honors for the Midwest League, which is completely unsurprising, because the 21-year-old was just overpoweringly dominant in his two outings for the week. If healthy, I am not sure you can really debate that he’s the best pitching prospect in the Cubs’ system, because he almost certainly is. The forearm injury that kept him out until a few weeks ago is, of course, a big question, but we’ve seen in recent years that the Cubs are extremely cautious with young pitchers. For that reason, De La Cruz might still finish the year out at South Bend, even though his stuff and his polish is probably better challenged a level or even two levels higher. Hopefully he has a healthy offseason, and a full year in 2017 – it’s not at all crazy to say that he’s the type of arm that could fly up the ranks and contribute out of the big league bullpen late next season as part of a plan to expose him to big league pitching with an eye toward him starting in 2018 and beyond. I’m getting way ahead of myself.
- Yo, that’s a big family reunion, Ben Zobrist: