Cubs Weekly Rap: 5 Up, 5 Down

Cubs Weekly Rap: 5 Up, 5 Down

For this Weekly Cubs Rap we are going to look at 5 items up and 5 items down for the Cubs week that was. I'm sorry, Mr. Jackson, ooh! I am for real.

Up: Jeff Samardzija is still dealing

There may be still a huge gulf (reportedly $25-30mil) that exists between the Cubs and Shark’s reps over his value. The question of whether Samardzija is indeed a top of the rotation pitcher also still lingers. Thus far, Shark certainly hasn’t let the Cubs, or his potential trade value, down. I admit, I’m starting to get sucked in a bit myself.

Down: The guy still can’t get any support from his teammates

Up: Jason Hammel

It seems Epstoyer has done it again. Finding another premium “flip” candidate in one Jason Hammel (2-0, 2.63 in first 2 Cub starts).

Hammel was signed to a one year deal, and the potential bounce-back candidate is looking like he could give the Cubs another opportunity at least at a Scott Feldman type return if they so desire. You never know though; Hammel may be the kind of pitcher they finally keep around and use themselves going forward. Nah… probably not.

Down: Javy Baez had a bad week

The Cubs' prized prospect has already faced some major adversity in his short AAA career. Baez got himself ejected from Saturday’s game for arguing a check-swing call and then got into it with veteran teammate Eli Whiteside in the dugout.

He did respond to that incident by hitting a pinch-hit home run in Sunday’s 4-3 victory over Memphis though. Theo Epstein shared his thoughts with Patrick Mooney.

“It was a great development experience for him,” Epstein said Tuesday.

“He started out not feeling really comfortable at the plate. He was in a slump and he let that get him frustrated and he showed it on the field. His teammates know how good he can be and how good a teammate he can be. They kind of called him out on it and he responded just the right way.

“He’s taken it to heart. Experiences like that will just help him get where he needs to be.”

“I was mad, he was mad, everybody was mad,” Baez told The Des Moines Register. “We argued a little. Nothing personal.”

To make matters worse, Baez is now on the seven-day Triple-A minor league disabled list after turning his ankle taking ground balls on Friday. Baez is hitting .214 with two home runs and three RBIs in eight games this season. The time off could be a blessing in disguise. It could clear his head a bit and get him to stop pressing.

Up: Anthony Rizzo

There were two players the Cubs front office wanted to see the next manager get more out of: Starlin Castro and Mr. Rizzo. He’s using the whole field and showing power at the same time. After a rough first day at the office against Francisco Liriano, Rizzo has been very good. Almost good enough to make you forget the next entry.

Down: Andrew Cashner

Former Cub Andrew Cashner has thrown one-hit, complete-game shutouts in two of his last five starts. The Cashner-for-Rizzo trade was one of the first moves the new front office made in 2012.

“That was a well-pitched game, as good as you will see,” Padres manager Bud Black said after Cashner had a career-high 11 strikeouts against two walks. Seventy of his 108 pitches went for strikes, with his fastball topping out at 99 1/2 mph and averaging 93 mph.

I’m not regretting the deal in any way yet. Rizzo should be a major building block and Cashner needs to prove he can stay healthy. However, with the Cubs still looking for young, impact pitching, any success Cashner has will be highlighted.

Down: Jose Veras

"For some reason, I can't get three down [out] right now," Veras said. "I know how to handle it. I'm not going to put my head down or anything. Its a couple bad outings, hopefully it's going to stop one day." He told Jesse Rogers.

"Shaky outing, but he’s still our guy," Renteria said after the Cubs eventually won 6-3 in 11 innings against the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night. "It’s too early to decide anything like that."

Up: The 180

You have to applaud the GM giving his skipper the keys to this thing despite it hurting a potential flip in Veras. Bravo, Jed.

Way Up: The rebirth of Starlin Castro

The young Cubs shortstop had the kind of night that reminded many why he was once viewed, and paid, as a core piece for the organization going forward. He is looking focused at the plate, attacking at-bats with a plan and even supplying some power as well. He's been showing us something in the field at the same time; this development can not be understated. If Rizzo and Castro continue their upward trend this season, Ricky Renteria looks like the right hire.

Here is Castro’s slash line thus far in comparison with his career average.

.300 .327 .460 .787

.283 .323 .406 .728

Down: Edwin Jackson

Edwin Jackson has followed up a nice season debut with two poor outings. Jackson’s ERA (6.19) is just as bad as his April ERA a year ago (6.27). In 34 starts since signing that four-year deal with the Cubs, he’s 8-19 with a 5.08 ERA. Jackson has lost a bit of velocity and the Cubs still owe him $33 million.

In signing E-Jax, the Cubs thought they were getting an above-average innings-eater, a mid-to-back-of-the rotation workhorse. Sadly, you can plan a pretty picnic, but you can't predict the weather.

One can imagine Epstoyer having the following conversation with their resident outcast:

"Mr. Jackson my intentions were good I wish I could become a magician to abracadabra all the sadder, thoughts of me, thoughts of [he], thoughts of we..."

But who's the front office placing the blame on? Thus far, they've kept on singing the same song. But despite the money they'd have to eat, might it be time for them to simply let bygones be bygones  and tell Mr. Jackson to go on and get the hell on?


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  • Cashner is worth at least 3 Rizzos. Pitching makes a contender not a slugger. Ernie Banks hit a lot of homers for the lovable losers in the 50s.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    I have the feeling that if Cashner were still around, he'd get the same "flipping" writeup that Jeff and Jason got. Heck, is even Travis Wood set?

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    In reply to jack:

    It would depend on what he was asking for in terms of an extension. Wood's not going anywhere because he's still so cheap and under club control. Shark's being dangled due to the discrepancy in money the Cubs are offering and what he feels he's worth.

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    In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Hindsight is always 20/20, but at the time the Cubs made the move it looked like they had fleeced the Padres. Cashner went through some injury issues, but he's sure looking good right now. A power arm is a huge plus, though I wonder whether any of the Cubs' experience with such pitchers in the recent past factored in. I know that you can't relate the injury issues of Wood and Prior to other pitchers, but I do as a fan. I wouldn't think the new regime would though.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Not so sure, power hitting is at premium and Cash has to prove he can hold up.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Look at the Cards. Not much power hitting, but a pitching staff loaded with strong arms. O, and they beat the Brewers last night 4-0.

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