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Kerry Wood completed his minor league rehab last night, throwing 1.2 IP (24 pitches) for the AA Tennessee Smokies at West Tenn. Wood had not thrown more than one inning or 17 pitches in any previous rehab outing. box score
The non-waiver trading deadine has passed, and nary a peep from the Cubs.
Paul Sullivan is reporting in the Chicago Tribune that Matt Murton and Rocky Cherry are being recalled. It seems likely that they will be replacing Jake Fox and Billy Petrick, although it is also possible that Mark DeRosa could be placed on the DL. Murton is hitting 340/406/617 (1.023 OPS) with five HR and 20 RBI plus nine doubles and a 10/12 BB/K ratio in 106 PA this month at Iowa, including an eleven game hitting streak and 16 out of 17. Over his last seven appearances, Cherry has thrown 9.0 IP, allowing two runs (both earned) and six hits, walking one while striking out 10. Also, Kerry Wood and Henry Blanco continued their rehab assignments at Peoria last night. box score Woody went one inning (12 pitches), allowing one hit and no runs with two strikeouts, while Hank White went 1-2 with a walk. Cubs GM Jim Hendry will be attending tonight's game at Peoria, presumably to get a first-hand look at the two rehabbing players. It is expected that Wood will be continuing his rehab next week at Iowa, but Blanco could be very close to returning to the big club.
The Chicago Tribune's Dave Van Dyck is reporting that the Cubs have recalled Ronny Cedeno from AAA Iowa. Although it is not clear yet whether Jake Fox or Scott Moore will be the one to be sent to the minors to make room for Cedeno, DVD speculates that with Cliff Floyd back in the lineup and Derrek Lee returning from his five-game suspension, it will be Fox. Cedeno was named Pacific Coast League Player of the Month in June, as he went 446/509/782 in 25 games, with 8 HR and 20 RBI, 8 doubles, a 12/10 BB/K ratio, and four SB (0 CS), before coming back to Earth in July, hitting a more-pedestrian 294/318/341 with just one HR and a 3/15 BB/K ratio in 20 games. Cedeno had a strong Spring Training in Mesa (hitting 328/427/516 while tying for the team lead in walks) and made the Cubs 2007 Opening Day 25-man roster, but he hit just .097 (3-31) with two HR and four RBI and a 1/8 BB/K ratio in 32 PA--along with a couple of baserunning gaffes--before being optioned to AAA on May 5th. Manager Lou Piniella has expessed a desire to rotate his lineup to keep his players fresh during the "Dog Days" of the season, and with the Cubs scheduled to play the next twenty days in a row, the "Dog Days" have indeed arrived. Adding a second SS (Cedeno) will give Uncle Lou a chance to rest Ryan Theriot whenever he feels it's needed, although The Riot will likely continue to get the lion's share of the playing time at shortstop. Cedeno will be out of minor league options next season, so the Cubs will need to determine if Cedeno has a role with the club in 2008 as a utllity middle-infielder, or if he would have more value as a trading chip.
The Chicago Tribune is reporting that the Cubs have traded INF Cesar Izturis to the Pirates for a PTBNL. Also, OF-1B-C Jake Fox has been acquired from AA Tennessee. Pirates 3B Jose Bautista is on the Pirates DL with a hand injury, so I would think Izturis will possibly play 2B for the Bucs, perhaps with Freddy Sanchez moving to 3B. Izturis is still owed about $2M for the balance of 2007, with a $5.85M salary (or $300K buy-out) for 2008. With Mike Fontenot being strictly a 2B and with Piniella apparently unwilling to play Mark DeRosa at SS, trading Izturis should result in the return of PCL June Player of the Month Ronny Cedeno to Chicago. Ryan Theriot is doing a fine job as the everyday SS, so how much PT Cedeno will get will be the big question. I figured Fox as one of the players the Cubs were going to add to the 40-man roster after the season, so this is just an early start toward that end. Of course it also means one of his options will get burned 20 days after he’s returned to the minors. Fox has as much power as any player in the Cubs organization. He is the proverbial “first-ball/fastball” hitter who never met a fastball he didn’t like. (Waveland Avenue or Bust!). He’s not quite as fond of breaking stuff and off-speed pitches, though, unless he knows what’s coming. He can play 1B-LF-RF (his best position is probably LF, although he is a defensive liability no matter where plays) and also can catch in a pinch, although his days as a front-line catcher are very likely over. Fox was Rich Hill’s catcher at the University of Michigan, so if R. Hill still misses Barrett and Murton, Fox’s arrival should help cheer him up.
For those of you not tired of reading about...
2008 will be the 100th Anniversary of the last time the Cubs won a World Series. This past off-season (post-2006 season), the Cubs went on a $300M+ spending spree, hoping to win a World Series (or at least maybe get into the playoffs) before the Centennial Celebration commences. But with the new owners of the Cubs yet to be decided (apparently until further notice), it appears that the club's executives may take a passive approach toward the future, as evidenced by failing to sign Carlos Zambrano to a contract extension, taking the risk that he will walk away after the 2007 season. So here is what the Cubs might look like in 2008 should the sale of the club remain in limbo, and if the Trib decides to continue taking a more passive approach to player retention and acquisition during the next off-season:
In the aftermath of Friday night's loss at Pittsburgh to Pirates LHP Paul Maholm, Cubs manager Lou Piniella called for another right-handed bat, mainly to hit off the bench. Stating the player will almost certainly have to come from within the organization, the candidates named in Paul Sullivan's article in the Chicago Tribune are (alphabetically): 1. Ronny Cedeno 2. Jake Fox 3. Matt Murton 4. Geovany Soto Bringing up Soto to platoon with either Rob Bowen or Koyie Hill (both Bowen and K. Hill are out of minor league options, so it doesn't really matter which one stays and which one goes) could provide one right-handed bat immediately, and Fox (who can play 1B-3B-LF-RF and catch in a pinch) could be the other (replacing Felix Pie on the 25, or Jacque Jones if he can be moved). After going 4-5 Friday night, Cedeno is hitting close to .400 and would probably be an upgrade over Cesar Izturis at SS (if and when the Cubs can find a taker for Izturis).
The All-Star break will give Jim Hendry and the Cubs a great chance to minimize the effect on the 25-man roster of Derrek Lee's impending suspension. Here's how:
The Cubs continue to go with an 11-man pitching staff (six-man bullpen), but with a stretch of ten consecutive games looming starting tomorrow, and with hot and humid weather now a factor affecting the stamina of Cubs starting pitchers (Zambrano said he was sapped by the second inning yesterday), it seems very unlikely that Lou Piniella will want to go with a "short" (six-man) bullpen through the weekend. Trading Jacque Jones was supposed to be the method used to open up a spot on the 25-man roster for the 12th pitcher, but now it appears JJ might not be going anywhere anytime soon. So if Uncle Lou does indeed believe he needs a seven-man bullpen (and 12-man pitching staff), what move will the Cubs make to clear a spot for the 12th pitcher?


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