The Cubs head to Philadelphia for a three-game set this week, as my vacation continues. I say that not to brag about vacationing, but as a reminder to those who’ve missed it: I’m on vacation this week, and will be doing just one catch-all post like this one per day (absent earth-shattering news popping up).
- Yesterday, the Cubs picked up outfielder Thomas Neal off of waivers from the Yankees. The 25-year-old was a top prospect with the Giants earlier in his career before injuries (and a lack of pop or speed) held him back after coming to the Indians. In the minors, Neal has been a guy who doesn’t strike out much, gets on base (.377 OBP) and hits well (.301 BA). But he doesn’t offer speed or much power, and it sounds like Yankees folks weren’t too bummed about losing him, because they say he wasn’t much defensively, either. Still, as the right-handed half of an outfield platoon – he’s played primarily in the corners, but played a handful of games in center field in 2012 – Neal could be productive (though he hasn’t yet shown it in the bigs in limited opportunities).
- Although Neal’s expected to come to the big club today, the real difficulty is going to be in sticking on the Cubs’ 40-man roster all offseason. He’s a fringy type, no matter how much he shows in the next couple months, and it’s hard to imagine the Cubs devoting a spot to him when they’ve already got to make decisions on outfielders like Ryan Sweeney, Brian Bogusevic and Cole Gillespie. As with some of those guys, if the Cubs like Neal, they may simply try to sell him on the idea of returning next year on a minor league deal.
- Side note on Neal: he was sent down by the Yankees to make room for Alfonso Soriano.
- To make room on the 40-man for Neal, the Cubs transferred Rafael Dolis to the 60-day DL. He hasn’t pitched since early June with a forearm strain.
- A great background piece from Carrie Muskat on the Cubs signing Junior Lake and Starlin Castro. The former was the favored son for the first couple of years, and it’s fascinating to read about how their signings/development played out.
- Ryne Sandberg on leaving the Cubs’ organization, joining the Phillies, selling his place in Chicago, and on his time with the Cubs. Sandberg says he’s not bitter about how things played out, but you do get the sense that he was very disappointed to have been passed over in favor of Mike Quade for the managerial job in 2011. To my mind, all the Cubs did was spare Sandberg the indignity of managing a train wreck or two, and having the city’s meatballs turn on him, before he was ultimately fired for things out of his control.
- Alfonso Soriano, who is back in Chicago as the Yankees (and Alex Rodriguez, in case you hadn’t heard) play the White Sox. Soriano spoke with ESPN Chicago and CSN about his time in Chicago and PED stuff, and noted that he might be willing to return as a coach with the Cubs after his playing days are over. Soriano would be a pretty great coach/ambassador for the Cubs.