Some news and notes to help get through an off day for the Cubs...
- David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution states that the Atlanta Braves are now looking for pitching after Brandon Beachy's devastating season ending injury and names Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster as possibilities. The Braves are in the thick of the NL East race, which figures to be tough all season, but so far have only had reliable pitching from Tim Hudson and Tommy Hanson. They may first see if Jair Jurrgens can come back, but if not, we can unexpectedly add Atlanta to the list of possible suitors. O'Brien notes that Braves top scout Jim Fregosi was on hand to watch Matt Garza's last start and that they are among 6 or more teams interested in acquiring the Cubs talented starter.
- Can the Cubs get anything of value for Alfonso Soriano? Bradley Woodrum of Fangraphs assesses Soriano's value and you may be pleasantly surprised. Woodrum notes that there are many teams that could use a HR threat, despite Soriano's sometimes overly aggressive approach at the plate. He thinks the Cubs could get more than a Marlon Byrd type deal where they pick up someone else's unwanted piece. Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLBTraderumors.com identifies the Indians, Pirates, Tigers and Nationals as possible suitors while Woodrum adds the Marlins, Giants, and maybe even the White Sox.
- David Kaplan tweeted this yesterday: Anthony Rizzo's last 156 games at AAA: 110 runs, 202 hits, 51 2B, 49 HR, 160 RBI, 64 BB .344 BA, .413 OBP, .688 SLG, 1.101 OPS. Those are just incredible numbers over a full season's worth of games, but his colleague Patrick Mooney wonders what Rizzo is getting himself into. This is a city and a fanbase crying out for a savior. The media blitz is expected to be overwhelming. The Cubs think that Rizzo can handle it all. The Cubs have gone through great lengths to make sure he is ready both on and off the field, and are planning a rookie-development program that will be similar to one they ran in Boston. Said Theo, "It’s almost a finishing school of sorts for some of your prospects who are getting close to the big leagues on how to be big leaguers. (It’s) certain things on the field, a lot of stuff off the field, so when they get up here, they’re familiar. Even simple things like dress code and how to tip the clubbies and how to talk to you guys (in the media), how to say and do the right things around veteran players, how to relate to the coaching staff.” You really have to like this front office. They think of everything.
- Ben Badler writes a blurb in Baseball America about Jeimer Candelario which is short, but very positive. He said had Candelario been eligible for the draft this year, he would have been a first round pick and that his signing bonus of $500,000 looks like a potential bargain right now. Badler also writes, "Candelario is a switch-hitter with a mature approach to hitting and power from both sides of the plate. He has work to do to remain at third base, but the Cubs have a potential breakout prospect on their hands here." Of course, this is nothing new to readers here, we've been saying that all along, but it is nice to hear from such a respected and well-connected national writer who specializes in international prospects.
- Former Cubs top prospect Chris Archer pitched a gem after the first inning yesterday. After allowing 3 hits and 3 runs (2 unearned) in the first. Archer didn't allow a hit the rest of the way and ended up with 6 IP, 1 walk and 7 strikeouts. The key is the one walk, as Cubs and Rays prospects fans know that when Archer has good command, he can be awfully tough.
- As noted yesterday, expect the Cubs to call either LHP Chris Rusin or RHP Chris Volstad to take Randy Well's next start. If you were to listen to manager Dale Sveum, you'd guess that Volstad is the favorite. He noted that reports from Volstad's last start were good and said, "Hopefully he's getting going and building a lot of confidence. I think a lot of it with him was just confidence.'' We can't argue with that here. We've noted on several occasions that Volstad's peripherals, even with his struggles, were that of a solid starter. It has always been that one big inning where he has lost his composure.
- John Morosi tweets that the Toronto Blue Jays are still in buyers mode despite their recent rash of injuries and falling behind by 6.5 games. It appears, however, that the Blue Jays have lowered their sites to Rockies RHP Jeremy Guthrie and Astros LHP Wandy Rodriguez, neither of whom figure to cost as much in prospects as Matt Garza or Ryan Dempster.
- Wondering what the odds of the Cubs winning the divsion are? It's at 0.1% according to Cool Standings. So... you're saying there's a chance?