Well, he passes the eyeball test with flying colors. Entering the ballpark in the top of the first you know something new has been added to the home team as soon as you fix on the leggy right fielder. Clear from the mezzanine behind home plate you can’t help but notice that pair of long, thick Cuban stogies as he lopes under the game’s first out.

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.

I don't know about you, but the home run derby held little interest for me this year.
The amazing thing happened the day before.

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.

 

So I packed a PB&J and an apple this morning and planned to take my lunch break at the ballpark. Beautiful day here in Des Moines. It took forever to weave through pregame traffic and get into the lot where I park right next to the main gate. Just in time for the first pitch I slid into a spot and enjoyed the sandwich while I listened to the game on the radio.

 

Having waited half a season, I thought as the deluge pounded the car in the Principal Park lot, what’s another hour or so?

When the rain relented and while the grounds crew did its pregame thing I went to check for Superman capes and the like in the Backstop Store. No, the notice of Kris Bryant’s arrival in town had been too short to allow for restocking. Nevertheless, I expect there will be a hastily arranged bobblehead night added to the promo slate ASAP.

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.

 

When looking ahead at the Cubs likely post-2014 MLB Reserve List (40-man roster), whether a player presently on the 40-man roster is eligible to be an MLB Article XX-B free-agent or will be eligible for Salary Arbitration, or whether a player presently on a Cubs minor league roster is eligible to be a minor league free-agent post-2014 or is eligible for selection in the December 2014 Rule 5 Draft, will be determining factors. 

Players selected in the MLB First-Year Player Draft (MLB Rule 4 Draft) are placed on a club's Negotiation List.

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