Game Thread: Cubs (45-54) @ Astros (40-58)

A couple items from the rumor mill...

Ken Rosenthal says the Cubs are running a Kosuke Sale. And Bruce Levine is apparently reporting that Ryan Theriot's stock went up over the weekend and that he is now on the radars of the Rockies, Padres, and Tigers. Tip o' the hat to @TheCCO, who passed along Levine's report, and also to Tim McGinnis of Aisle 424 (@Aisle424) who wrote so eloquently of Theriot:

A Double-Dare to the Baseball Gods

It's official. I've double-dared (if I were Ryan Theriot, it would be a single dare) the Baseball Gods to invoke their wrath. All I can hope for is that they won't think about reversing reverse psychology.

My spouse loves to travel. I love baseball season. This has lead to 30 years of negotiating the avoidance of travel during just a few parts of the year. Early April and September-October.

I'm serious losing this battle. Last year we took a 3 week trip to China, breaking my string of being at Wrigley Field for opening day, a streak of over 30 years (I've been back in Chicago since college days).

The one absolute taboo was that we wouldn't take a major trip in September or October because that was the wrapup of the baseball season and playoffs. Her argument was September/October is the best weather for travel to many of her favorite places. For years, she checks in every so often asking that if the Cubs were out of contention, could we take a trip in September or October.

After taking this seasons beatings and holding out hope as long as I could, I've given in. The plane tickets are booked to southern France and I'm daring the Baseball Gods to beat me up, invoking the 1935 Cubs as my lesson on what I'm about to miss...

What's So Big About Z?

He said he would meet the press on Wednesday afternoon but word was he jetted back to Chicago instead. Then the plan was to talk with media types after a pitching cameo Thursday night. He pitched a little but didn't talk at all, using the Iowa Cubs media relations people the way bigshot execs use secretaries to dodge phone calls. The enabling continues.

To his credit, Carlos Zambrano took it upon himself to scribble a few marks of Zorro for unaccountably adoring fans before last night's game in Des Moines. The biggest crowd of the year, nearly 13,000, had assembled, but Zambrano wasn't the only attraction. It also happened to be Casey Blake bobblehead night and Casey Blake is big in these parts. He hails from Indianola, a village not too far south of town.

On Z's Return, Lilly's Exit, and Girardi's No-Comment

— A season-high crowd of nearly 13,000—more than 5,000 above than the I-Cubs' average—was on hand for Carlos Zambrano's rehab appearance last night in Des Moines. 

Zambrano threw a bumpy but scoreless inning in which he got 10 of 15 pitches over the plate, but allowed two singles and was saved from a third hit by Sam Fuld's catch against the center-field wall. (See Mike Wellman's full account here.)

 

Current plans are for Zambrano to pitch in Round Rock over the weekend and then in Albuquerque on Tuesday before rejoining the big club in Colorado.

When the Cat's Away El Mouse Will Finally Play

After getting stood up at a mid-day press conference with a once angry pitcher in exile from the big leagues I went home after work to change into shorts and sandals and then headed back to the ballpark. Last night I pulled my first shift of the summer in the "Ryne Line," the nightly queue that forms in the stands to get a brief audience with the only HOF'er currently at work in baseball's minor leagues.

Since I was there alone I was left to pass the wait by watching the Oklahoma City Redhawks take BP before the grounds crew painted the infield a dark red and bright white. I couldn't help but eavesdrop on some of the conversations going on around me. One guy a few spots back remarked that he can't stand the Metrodome and doesn't plan on going to a Twins' game again until or unless they get an outdoor stadium. Good luck with that, pal!

Eventually I got the manager of the first place Iowa Cubs to sign a PCL ball and one of the cards they were passing out at the Wrigley Field turnstiles on the day in 2005, about a month after his induction at Cooperstown, when his #23 was retired and hoisted up the foul pole.

I don't know enough about big league baseball or Ryne Sandberg to know what kind of a manager he would be at that level. I do think he has grown into his role as a manager at this level.

Don't Underestimate the Cubs: They Can Make a Mess of Anything

After all these years, I should know better than to underestimate the Cubs' ability to screw things up, but each time they do, I am somehow sickened anew. This 10-week, all-expenses-paid farewell tour of the National League granted to Lou Piniella is just the latest example.

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  • I'd prefer it not happen too.

    Rob G. 6 min 11 sec ago view
  • it's a hell of a blockbuster, but it's for a guy who pitches 1/3rd of a season at an extreme premium considering the guy being traded and if the early extension $$$ rumors are true.

    it's one of those things that is bringing a guy at the top his game, but something is nagging me that this trade piece could have been put to better use.

    a huge part of me is all "hell yeah, top of the line producer"...another part of me is "hmm, that for that?"

    crunch 9 min 41 sec ago view
  • Still don't want. Kinda hope they can't work out the extension.

    Charlie 21 min 20 sec ago view
  • obviously not, and I'm sure they did their homework...just hope they have some better answers than the Yankees

    Rob G. 21 min 24 sec ago view
  • Chapman 12+ Career WAR. Currently 4.7:1 k-BB. With Rondon/Chapman/Strop/Nathan/Montgomery/Wood...Its the best pen I can recall other than Sutter or Lee Smith handling things themselves.

    Its gonna suck if he gets injured, and it appears he's not the greatest of characters.

    But, he'll have another Cuban to hang out with on the team.

    The E-Man 43 min 17 sec ago view
  • I agree with the names you mention but there are lots of names being tossed around still and there's that small matter of Chapman agreeing to the extension.

    Old and Blue 48 min 52 sec ago view
  • Heyman, Wiatt, and Sharma are definitely reliable sources. Wiatt and Sharma have a ton of connections with the FO, and Heyman is one of the national guys who usually breaks stories first along with Rosenthal and Passan.

    John Beasley 52 min 32 sec ago view
  • Twitter is even more nonsensical with names and rumors than usual right now. I'd wait for a real confirmation from someone reputable at this point before getting too worked up.

    Old and Blue 55 min 46 sec ago view
  • wow.

    a'ite then. i mean, at least they're getting one of the best at a young/durable age even if there's a heavy price to pay for it.

    crunch 59 min 32 sec ago view
  • i pretty much assumed this would be one of the last kinds of things they'd do...give up a top prospect (probably the best in the system) to get 1/2(ish) year of a reliever followed by multiple years locked in at his market value.

    i wonder if there's other players going back/forth, too.

    i mean, it's not like it's a horrible thing...this is just something that seems out of profile.

    crunch 1 hour 1 min ago view
  • Suspend him for the rest of the year and get him ready for the Schwarber era?

    Old and Blue 1 hour 2 min ago view
  • Sadahev Sharma says the names are done. Torres and other parts for Chapman only.

    John Beasley 1 hour 3 min ago view
  • i liked it better when Cubs were really good and likeable.

    will be very curious how and if they address the DV incident.

    Rob G. 1 hour 7 min ago view
  • We are coming into the realm of, ""this ain't the old Cubbies...", with the printing money machine coming online. They'll be able to handle it.

    The E-Man 1 hour 8 min ago view
  • 15m a year for 65-70 innings...phew.

    i mean, technically he's worth it, but wow...the cubs? a'ite.

    crunch 1 hour 12 min ago view
  • Heyman is reporting Trees + for Chapman is almost done. Rian Wiatt at BP Wrigleyville reports that the agreement is waiting on Chapman to agree to a 4-year, $60 million extension that is contingent on the trade.

    John Beasley 1 hour 16 min ago view