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Survival of the fittest and all, and Darwin Barney has just been naturally selected off of the Cubs 40-man roster. So Emilio Bonificaio is activated and Barney gets DFA'd, with Alcantara and Bonifacio both in the starting lineup tonight. Barney will end his Cubs career with over 2000 PA's (holy shit..really?) and a place in the Hall of Cubs Punch Lines. I'm sure a stand-up guy and all and his glove work was spectacular, but he was the hitting equivalent of the sad trombone. But on this day, we celebrate his Cubs career, let's take a fond look back.

Some quick hits...

- The pleasant news of Arismendy Alcantara staying with the team at least through the All-Star Break and hopefully longer, was a nice boost to the morale. With the break looming, the Cubs don't need to worry about their other 2 starting rotation spots, so Kyle Hendricks was optioned despite the solid start yesterday. Blake Parker will likely be sitting next to him on the train as he was optioned as well, with Zac Rosscup on his way back. Darwin Barney should be back today as well from paternity leave. Alcantara will bat leadoff and play 2b tonight and probably center field tomorrow.

- As for the next wave of youngsters: Baez 1/4 with 2 K's, Bryant 1/3 with a HR, a BB and a K and Arodys Vizcaino gave up for 3 ER in 1.1 IP on 4 H, 0 BB with 2 K's. At AA, Russell got his first 2 hits with the Cubs going 2/5, Soler went 2/4 with a HR and a BB. For Daytona, Vogelbach goes 0/4 with 2 K's, Almora 1/5. For Kane County, Schwarber had a 1/5 day.

Some other performances of note: R. Lopez had a nice day going 4/4 for Iowa and J. Candelario went 3/4 with a HR and 2 2B's for Kane County.

- Wrigley renovations are back in the news and it's hard to muster up the enthusiasm to care what the windbags are spewing to the media at this point. But the landmark commission did approve the Cubs revised plan for up to 7 advertising signs and a smaller left field video board. Allegedly the meeting or the vote was contingent on the Cubs still negotiating with the rooftops in good faith, but sounds like the Cubs are just going to press on, sending out an email last night that they intend to finish the signage and bleachers by Opening Day of next year. Essentially the bleachers will be torn down besides the scoreboard and brick from what I understand.

- Old pal Geovany Soto was picked up for possession of marijuana yesterday, this is not his first go-around with the herb. Clearly a move to the Rockies or Mariners would be best for all involved.

It was fun while it lasted, a 4-game win streak and a run of 18-13 since May 30th had visions of Cubs' relevance dancing in my head. But then TheJedi receivedt the the quality and depth of prospects they hoped for from Billy Beane and that Cubs 2014 ballon deflated and whizzed off into the darkness. Don't get me wrong, it's not that they really had a chance of doing much in 2014, but it was fun watching winning baseball over the last month.

And sure, maybe Hendricks and Wada provide a close fascimile of the two dearly departed hurlers or Wood and Jackson will make their inevitable improvements and it's all a wash, but more likely, more trades will be made and the Cubs make another run at a top 5 pick. And it had to be a bit of a hit to the team morale when two of your better players get moved. But we all know what was expected this year, although Theo did mention seeing a "light at the end of tunnel", so hopefully 2014 marks the end of the asset gathering and 2015 marks the beginning of the time to try and win some games.

Who the hell makes trades on July 4th? Iphone posts are my favorites...

So the A's are the lucky winners for Jeff Samardzija AND Jason Hammel. In return, the Cubs get their top prospect Addison Russell, also Billy McKinney (2013 1st round pick), Dan Straily and a PTBNL. No idea where Russell is gonna play but good bet someone is moving to centerfield between Castro, Baez, Alcantara and Russell or someone is getting traded. 

More later, but the days of a poor offense aren't going to last much longer.

I'm not around much this week, but a quick note to give you a new thread to chat on. 4th overall pick Kyle Schwarber assaulted the Northwest League for a few days and got a quick promotion to Kane County and the Midwest League yesterday. Then after Kris Bryant won the home run derby in the Southern League All-Star game, he got his promotion to AAA to play along side Javier Baez. I haven't seen what the Iowa roster shake-up will be to make room for Bryant to play 3b, but demoting Christian Villanueva would probably make the most sense. I did see something that Villanueva may try some other positions as well.

On the rumor front, the Cubs have upped their offer to Samardzija on a deal that would be in the 5-year range (sans no-trade clause). The amount hasn't been uncovered, but Homer Bailey's $17.5M per year average would probably have to be the baseline to get Samardzija even interested. Presuming Samardzija spurns them again, the front office is still checking out offers with the Giants (Kyle Crick being their top pitching prospect) and Royals (Kyle Zimmer would be theirs) being the most prominently named.

 

I've got the draft signing block in the left sidebar up already with the Zagunis signing in there. Otherwise the final day has begun and I will be updating very sporadically.

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11th Round Pick #319 - Jordan Brink, RHP from Fresno State - Junior

There have been some interesting pitching prospects in recent Drafts who came late to full-time pitching, including first-rounders Braden Shipley in 2013 and Kyle Zimmer in 2012. While Brink isn't quite that high-profile, he has the chance to do well now that he's focused only on the mound. An outfielder for his first two years at Fresno State, Brink split time between playing that position and pitching as a sophomore then turned to pitching full-time in 2014. He's athletic, if a bit undersized, with the makings of two plus pitches in his fastball and spike curveball, which looks like a hard slider at times. He's working on developing his changeup. The jury is still out on whether Brink can start long-term -- sometimes a bias against undersized right-handers -- or he'll end up in the bullpen. Either way, his arm looks like it has a shot to pitch at the highest level.

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12th Round Pick #349 - Tanner Griggs, RHP from Angelina College (TX) - J2

Had to look up Tanner Griggs. Can touch 95mph, sits 90-92 and adds a solid slider, decent CH, control issues. Could be bullpen.

Day 2 of the draft has just started and the Cubs are on the clock and will likely have their pick by the time I stop typing. As for Day 1, we know all about Kyle Schwarber at this point and how he's truly the player the Cubs scouts desired. Second round pick Jake Stinnett sounds like he'll be an easy sign and at some point (probably near or after Round 10), the Cubs will likely go for a few reaches in hope of signing some players that were deemed unsignable. If you're interested, Stinnett will pitch in the super regionals tomorrow versus Virginia and I believe all games will be televised on the ESPN channels.

As for Round 3, here we go... (UPDATE: Done for the day, hope they can sign most of these guys)

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3rd Round Pick #78 - Mark Zagunis, C from Viriginia Tech - Junior

A three-year starter at Virginia Tech and a Johnny Bench Award semifinalist, Zagunis is an athletic catcher who has performed in one of the better college conferences in the nation. The ACC standout has shown a propensity for putting the ball in play and hitting for average, albeit from a slightly unusual setup. He's shown some extra-base pop in the past, though not as much in 2014. He runs extremely well for a catcher and has shown that his athleticism plays well in the outfield. His arm is average but on target, and his other skills say he could stay behind the plate full-time. The team that believes he can continue to hit might think he has the chance to be an everyday backstop in the future, and it will draft him accordingly. At the very least, Zagunis' versatility provides a team with options if catching doesn't work out.

So the big 3 pitchers went to the first 3 picks - Aiken to Astros, Kolek to Marlins and Rodon slips to White Sox. That left the Cubs in the position to do pretty much whatever they want. The reality is that after the first 3 picks, there was no obvious #4, or 5 or 6 or 7. Some guys really liked Nick Gordon and Alex Jackson, but they're projectable high schoolers and if they were sure things, let's face it, they'd be going top 3. No one passes a sure thing bat for pitching unless it's Strasburg coming out for the draft and that's what the 3 teams just did ahead of the Cubs.

So the Cubs had their pick of the rest of the bunch and they ended up taking the player they "claim" to be #2 on their draft board in C/OF/1B Kyle Schwarber (#1 was Aiken). Draft junkies aren't buying that, but hell with them. If baseball teams ran their teams by mock drafts and twitter they should all get fired. Here's what we know about Schwarber and that is that he can rake...a left-handed hitter with a good power/patience profile. College stats don't mean much, but they're as ridiculous as you expect. Now is the bat just good enough for a catcher or is it good enough to play the outfield or first base? Well that's the question because there are very few that believe that Schwarber will stay behind the plate and he doesn't seem to be the physical specimen that would make much of an outfielder although being a catcher and all, he should at least have a solid arm out there.

McLeod talked up his bat, calling him the surest bet in the draft, someone who does all the things the Cub want from a hitter in terms of controlling the strike zone, hitting for power and hitting for average and said his make-up is off the charts which has been a reoccuring theme with their other 2 top picks (Almora and Bryant). Added bonus is that the Cubs will likely save a little on this pick once Schwarber signs and that'll give them a chance to get a little higher upside arm in some of the lower rounds.

The major league team is going through the motions of a 100-loss season and is frankly, boring as hell right now. There's plenty to keep our eyes on if we need a baseball fix, will Castro and Rizzo rebound/improve, is Olt a legitimate starter or just a platoon-mate, can Barney, Schierholtz and Hammel do enough to get some trade value in return and what exactly will Samardzija's trade value be in June/July? But the answers to those questions aren't coming for awhile and neither are the future questions in Baez, Bryant and the rest of the minor leaguers, but I find the hope in their bats and arms far more interesting than the reality of the Chicago High Draft Picks currently playing in Milwaukee.

I lost track there for a bit, but it seems the Cubs have moved 10 bodies since my last update:  D. McDonald, Javier Baez, T. Wada, N. Ramirez, B. Parker, B. Schlitter, C. Yong-Lim, C. Valaika, C. Wells and J. Sanchez. Wada was subsequently re-signed to a minor league deal today.

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