July 2009

I had a more thorough analysis of the trade partially written up, but then my dog ate it. C'est la vie.

And unfortunately I won't be around my computer much today, so feel free to continue the discussion here and any other deadline deals.

Otherwise, the Cubs march into Florida, a place that hasn't been too kind to them over the last few seasons. They beat them 2 of 3 last year, but in 2006 and 2007, were swept out of LandShark Stadium or whatever they're calling it these days. Rich Harden vs. Christ Volstad tonight, Zambrano pitches for the Cubs Saturday, but I don't see a starter listed for the Marlins anywhere. Sunday brings old friend Ricky Nolasco versus Ryan Dempster.

Chris DeLuca tweets that the Cubs have acquired left-hander John Grabow from the Pirates. You can read my thoughts about him from earlier today. ESPN confirms that the deal is being finalized. I'll update as details emerge...

UPDATE #1: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette adds Tom Gorzelanny to the trade and the deal is "just about done".  No word yet on the Cubs cost.

UPDATE #2: Sun-Times says deal for Grabow will be announced after the game, no mention of Gorzelanny or the players going to Pittsburgh.

UPDATE #3: The Breaking News banner at ESPN Chicago says it's Kevin Hart and Jose Ascanio for John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny.

UPDATE #4: Make it Kevin Hart, Jose Ascanio and infielder Josh Harrison for Grabow and Gorzelanny. Gorzelanny will be assigned to Triple A immediately but could be called up to take the fifth spot in the rotation to replace Kevin Hart for Tuesday's start versus Cincinnati. Other options could be Jeff Samardzija, Aaron Heilman (remember when he was good in spring training as a starter?), Mitch Atkins (6.92 ERA in Iowa), JR. Mathes (happens to be his turn in the rotation today at Iowa) or a mystery 5th pitcher. Hendry says Lou and Larry will figure it out on the plane.

Be sure to vote on the 100-game surveys below....

How satisfied are you with the performance of Lou Piniella?

How satisfied are you with the performance of Jim Hendry?

How optimistic do you feel toward the remaining 2009 Chicago Cubs' season?

Time for a little rant.

In this era of internet fast - rapid dissemination of information, we've expected our hard-hitting beat reporters to keep asking the tough questions. Yesterday, the reporting on Reed Johnson's foot injury disappointed me. The news was lightning fast. I got a twitter text message from David Kaplan regarding Johnson's X-Rays showing a fracture in his foot. Then before blinking an eye there were links to articles from all of the major beat writers...Tribune's Paul Sullivan, Gordon Wittenmeyer/Sun-Times and Bruce Miles/Herald

The rumor talk hasn't grown much louder than a whisper so far for the Cubs, a few names sprinkled here or there, but it doesn't appear they'll make any big impact moves.

Just Need an Better Extra-Point Kicker.
W - Wells (7-4), pitching to contact, GIDP chances
L - Hampton (6-8), pitching badly to contact

Things to Take from This Game
1.  The batters hit well.
Hampton didn't have much control or stuff today, giving up 9 runs in 4 innings.  The game was over after the first, which saw the first nine batters either get hits or advance a runner on a sacrifice, resulting in  six runs.  No one on the team had more than two hits, and only Soriano got to three RBI, courtesy of the home run in the first.  Among the hitters only Fukudome, who replaced Johnson early in the game for reasons yet unknown, failed to get on base. (Update: As Cubster reports in the second and thirty-eighth comments, Johnson has a fracture in his foot.)

 

2.  The batters don't hit Wells.
Randy Wells only had one strikeout, on a generous check swing call.  But the Astros didn't hit much of anything hard, recording just six singles.  The Cubs seemingly had a GIDP opportunity in every inning and converted four of them.

 

3.  First! (s)
The game featured Wells' longest outing in the majors to date, eight innings, and in consecutive at bats, the first major league homer and triple for Blanco and Hoffpauir.  Mitch Atkins made his major league debut in the ninth, pitching a scoreless inning.  It's also my first game linking to the awesome FanGraph's Game Graph pages, too.  Oh yeah: we might regain first place, depending on the Cards' game tonight.

 

The nothing-to-complain-about details, below.
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The Cubs five-game win streak doesn't make it to six and and the loss coupled with the Cardinals win over the Dodgers, drops the Cubs back to second place. Ryan Dempster returned from the disabled list and was nothing short of awful. 5 IP, 9 H, 3 K and 5 ER, 6 total and the error was his own. But at least he didn't walk anyone! With the Cubs catching a huge break when Roy Oswalt left in the second inning with a back injury, the Cubs just needed some decent pitching to stay in this one and they sure didn't get it from Dempster or the bullpen. 

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For the second time in a week the Cubs go 13 innings, but manage the win this time to keep a half-game lead in the NL Central as the Cardinals defeated the Dodgers (Brewers lost again to drop 4 back). The class of the Central division since June, the Astros waltzed into Wrigley on the shoulder of the über-hot Wandy Rodriguez (4 straight wins and 0.62 ERA in July) and he didn't disappoint, holding the Cubs to a run on 7 strikeouts in 7 innings. Z matched those 7 innings and one run, although with just 4 K's and 4 BB's. That left it up to the bullpens and the Cubs' proved to be just a little bit better tonight

Alfonso Soriano had goat written all over him, going 0/5 with 3 K's and
failing to run on a tap out to third base that he claimed hit his toe.
Then with the bases loaded and 0 outs, he got one more chance and
launched one deep to center on top of the center field restaurant for
the win and give the Cubs the opener.

Tags: 

It's everyone's favorite time of the year, so gather the kids around the fire and let's speculate away to our heart's content.

Cardinals - Like those annoying folks that get their Christmas shopping done early, the Cards are probably done wheeling and dealing picking up Matt Holliday and Mark DeRosa. They missed out on the Christmas sales and paid a steep price in prospects, but they should help a team that has basically been riding a 16-7 April to justify the spending spree.

Brewers - They found an early deal getting Felipe Lopez to play second base for them and you know they're searching far and wide for a starting pitcher. They seemed to scoff at adding Doug Davis into that Lopez deal, but looks like they have their sites set on Wisconsin native, Jarrod Washburn.  Considering they have the third worst ERA in the league, and second worst among starters, I'm not sure adding Washburn and his Safeco-aided ERA is really gonna be much of a boost.

Click on the image for the full-size animation.

Tim Souers is the illustrator and author of Cubby Blue and appreciates the opportunity to guest blog here at The Cub Reporter.
http://www.cubby-blue.com

Bruce Levine reports Ted Lilly goes to the DL, righty reliever Justin Berg (acquired in the 2005 Matt Lawton trade from the Yankees) gets called up from Iowa. Lilly's MRI-Arthrogram apparently didn't show "any significant abnormalities" (possibly showing tendonitis but no structural damage) but as we've all seen what the media gets to report and what the radiologist and orthopods see isn't always identical.

Levine also says Lilly has agreed to having his sore left knee undergo arthroscopic surgery (scheduled for Monday) to clean up Lilly's meniscus (link to anatomy pic), speculating that he can be back in 3 weeks if they do that now.

From a report on Levine's ESPN-1000 radio show, Lilly said the shoulder got his attention the day after the game in Philly. The shoulder felt "a little unusual". Yesterday he tried to throw and had sharp pain. He said he was familiar with it as it felt like his symptoms in Toronto. Lilly said he expects himself to come back in 3 weeks...

Based on my experience, how long it takes to recover from a knee arthroscopy varies greatly and 3 weeks is certainly possible but continuing to push the envelope on these injuries is like playing with fire. This implies the medical staff thinks Lilly's shoulder injury is a cascade problem, meaning that his knee soreness lead to altered pitching mechanics that secondarily lead to the shoulder problem. I found evidence that they connected his knee and shoulder woes when his shoulder took the brunt of the blame in 2005. 

From this mlb.com article on the Bluejays archive circa Spring 2006:

Last year, he said he had a tendency to have a "stiff" landing with his right leg, which put unnecessary strain on his throwing shoulder. Perhaps not coincidentally, Lilly sat out last spring with a shoulder injury.

I did some additional background research on Lilly's shoulder problems from 2005. Back then his diagnosis was biceps tendonitis (link to anatomy drawing). He missed most of spring training and started his season by coming off the DL 4/10/05 but had a rough April and worked through the problem until it flared up at the end of July 05. This lead to a 2nd DL stint lasting 5 weeks. 2005 wasn't kind to Lilly producing a 10-11 record but Lilly is a tough guy and naturally he didn't make his injury an excuse in this end of season interview from the Bluejays site.

"To put it very mildly, I'm disappointed in the way I've gone out there and competed," Lilly said Wednesday after his last start of the season. "I guess, coming into this year, I just expected us to be competitive in this league. And [I expected] myself to really make a push to help us do that."

To be fair, injuries played a large part in his inability to meet those goals. Lilly missed all of Spring Training with a case of shoulder tendinitis, and when he came back, he clearly wasn't ready to pitch in the big leagues.

Regarding the 2009 version of Ted Lilly, his shoulder tendonitis/torn knee meniscus might just take 3-5 weeks if they don't push things and add the knee arthroscopic surgery to his recovery list. Getting Lilly back in September is just like trading for an All-Star for the pennant stretch (slamming head in Rob G's door).

A chronology of the Ted Lilly 2005 biceps tendonitis after the fold...

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Cubs 2009 2nd round pick D. J. LeMahieu (LSU) made his professional debut tonight at Fitch Park in Mesa, going 2-4 with an RBI and two runs scored, leading the AZL Cubs to a 4-1 victory over the AZL Brewers in Arizona League action.   

box score

The big news is that the Cardinals have struck again on the trade market acquiring Matt Holliday from the Oakland A's for 2008 1st round pick Brett Wallace, RHP Clayton Mortensen and OF Shane Peterson. Wallace was a 5-star prospect according to Kevin Goldstein to begin the season and #2 on John Sickels list, with Mortensen and Peterson being "C+" prospects according to Sickels. Apparently being too right-handed isn't a concern for them as they're lineup could be Molina, Pujols, DeRosa, Ryan, Glaus, Holliday, *Rasmus and Ludwick.  Of course Glaus isn't back yet, and he'll probably be given a lot of days off when he does return but that's what their lineup could look like down the stretch.

Good news for the Cubs is that when Alfonso Soriano, Milton Bradley and Aramis Ramirez really start hitting, it'll be like making a trade.

(slams head in door)

I don't think this guarantees anything for the Cardinals, but it certainly doesn't hurt them this year, so....crap.

The Phillies Don't Go to 11.

 

W - Zambrano, (7-4), "working" from home and watching afternoon Cubs games, ending someone else's winning streak.
L - Moyer, (9-7), making the same reference to the same movie that everyone else always makes.
S - Gregg, (19)
Things to Take from This Game

 

1. A Balanced Attack
Seven different Cubs had RBI today, without benefit of a home run.  Bradley, Soriano and Ramirez all had two-hit games, Theriot had both 3 hits and stolen bases.  Perhaps most interesting, Bradley's five ABs were all with a runner in scoring position; he went 2-4 with a walk and an RBI. None of the hits were rockets, but I'll take it.

 

2. Well-pitched early...
Moyer had the Cubs fooled for the first three innings, and Z pitched well through the first five.

 

3. ... tense moments late.
The Phillies left the bases loaded in both the seventh and the eighth.  Marshall faced one batter, Dobbs, who singled in two runs that got charged to Z.  But Guzman then escaped from the inning, and eventually turned the game over to Gregg who escaped from the eighth and pitched an uneventful ninth for an impressive save.  The Cubs also finally did some damage to the Philly relievers, getting to both Durbin and Lidge, allowing our relievers some breathing room.

 

The 5-2 Roadtrip details, below.

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What are you gonna say about last night's game? Rich Harden looked dominating for a second straight game and the offense looked maddening for the about the 60th time this year. There's not a lot of strategy to complain about when the Cubs couldn't even muster a hit. The Cubs need to try to punch through tonight with Carlos Zambrano on the mound versus Father Time to avoid the sweep.


According to Wittenmyer, the Cubs do have some limited payroll flexibility to add a "mid-level" player, but don't expect a run at Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee. Wittenmyer mentions relievers as the most obvious targets and throws out the names of George Sherrill and Chad Qualls. If Geovany Soto has any setbacks recovering from his oblique injury, a catcher will become the focus with Rod Barajas being mentioned.

Milton should be back in the lineup today after a few private hitting sessions with Lou. Lou says he needs to relax at the plate and then spends a few sentences throwing Hendry and Milton under the bus for not getting Raul Ibanez or a left-handed hitter that could actually hit a home run or two.

"The only thing I talked about last season was a need for a left- hand
bat in a predominantly right-handed lineup who could hit the ball for
power and drive in some runs," he said. "You look at our production
last year and it was mainly from the right side.


"We didn't bring [ Jim] Edmonds
back and Edmonds hit quite a few home runs, so we needed a left-handed
bat. That's it. That was what I mentioned, that we could use a nice
productive left-hand bat in the middle of our right-handed hitting."


Piniella paused for some time before finishing his thoughts and finally said:


"Look, we still need a left-hand bat who can hit for some power and drive in runs."

This is as much on Lou as Hendry...as well as Bradley. Fine, Lou wanted a run-producing bat from the left side and Bradley hasn't delivered and Hendry (so far) signed the wrong guy. How about stop being so stubborn and move Bradley from the middle of the order and put him in a spot that his current talents might be better suited for? While I still think he'll start hitting, right now he's nothing more than a guy that can take a walk, move him to the top of the order and let him set-up some guys who are hitting. And while you're complaining about hitting, how about getting Jake Fox a start behind the plate instead of Three-Finger Hill?

You know, I don't think managers are all that important to a team, it starts with the talent, but if there's anything a manager needs to do its to work with the talent he does have and give them the best chance to succeed, not force them into pre-conceived roles that they're not suited for.

Illegitimate.
W - Rodrigo Lopez. (2-0) (Seriously)

S - Chad Durbin (1)

Things to Take from This Game
1. Aspirin.

 

2. Well, the bullpen pitched well. Mostly.
Lilly never looked comfortable.  His 6/2 K/BB line looks good, but he fidgeted on the mound, was consistently wild in the strike zone, and it resulted in 7 ER in 4 IP.  A 3-run HR by Ibanez in the first, and a 2-run job by Ruiz in the second, and the Cubs were out of it.  Stevens and Heilman pitched well, before Guzman gave up a solo HR to Howard in the ninth.

 

3. Rodrigo Lopez, wtf?
The Cubs were shut down by Lopez, who departed for Chad Durbin and the embarassment of the three-inning save.  I can't begin to understand the combination of events that led to the cubs being six-hit by this pairing.

 

4. Oops.
Soriano watched a routine fly ball clank off of the heel of his glove for a run-scoring error.  You just don't see professionals miss fly balls in this manner; he didn't lose it in the lights, slip, get distracted, or anything.  Just missed it.  He then seemingly responded to the Phillies fans' mocking applause after he caught the next ball, by making an overly exaggerated graceful hop-catch on the ball after that. He did have three of our six hits, at least.

 

If you really want to, the details follow. 
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To piggyback on Cubby Blue's guest post, now that the Cubs finished that four game warm-up they can start the second half. And before we get too excited about leapfrogging the Brewers and gaining ground on the Cardinals, a quick look at the schedule shows the Brewers still have eight chances to beat down that Nationals piñata and the Cardinals another four, while the Cubs just have a three-game set versus the league slumpbuster.

Speaking of the schedule, starting on September 11th, this is the Cubs last four weeks of regular season baseball in 2009.

Saturday, 10 AM UPDATE: Bruce Levine's ESPN AM-1000, Talkin' Baseball radio show from this saturday morning has updates
on Soriano's injury saying it's just a jammed finger and not a
dislocation. Also, Lilly's knee symptoms are related to a meniscus problem
and Dempster may just miss one more start.

Also he interviewed Oneri Fleita (Cubs VP of Player Personnel)
who comments on all things in the Cubs minor league system as well as
the recent rule 4 amateur draft, saying 2nd round pick LSU infielder DJ LeMahieu is close to signing.


A dark cloud seems to loom even with a two game winning streak after tonight's 3-1 win vs the Gnats.  So I ask, is dropping like flies worse than dropping flys?

This is not following Lou Piniella's script for the 2nd half of the season:

1) Get Healthy and Stay Healthy

2) Score runs

The "Road to Wrigley" game with the Iowa Cubs vs the Vegas 51's isn't coming until August 9th but it looks like the Iowa Cubs will be staying with their parent club just a bit longer, as two more Cub starters are possibly out for days and maybe more.

 

 

 

In the friday night 6-2 win against the Nationals, Alfonso Soriano dislocated his right little "pinky" finger (his throwing hand) in a base running mishap during the 4th inning. He singled to center on a play where DLee was on second but Lee rounded third and held there based on a strong but high throw to the plate by Nyjer Morgan. The catcher, Josh Bard caught the throw well in front of the plate then caught Soriano half way between first and second in an 8-2-6-4 putout. On the replay you can see that Soriano jammed his hand sliding into the base and he pulled on the finger right away apparently reducing the dislocated knuckle. The Comcast telecast also showed Soriano getting treatment from trainer Mark O'Neal as soon as he got back to the dugout but he stayed in the game and even batted again (he grounded out to 3B in the 6th and walked in the 9th). This type of injury doesn't swell until a few hours later but once the swelling develops the finger stiffens up making it hard to grip things (like a baseball or a bat).

The Deadline for signing players selected in this past June's Rule 4 Draft ("1st-Year Player Draft") is a month from today (August 17th). The deadline is normally  August 15th, but MLB has extended it by two days because August 15th falls on a Saturday in 2009. There is no deadline for signing college seniors who have exhausted their eligibilty, but the Cubs have already signed all of the college seniors they drafted this year.

Epifanio [Sandy] Guerrero has a new nickname. It’s Derby, courtesy of the apprentice ballplayers he‘s been working with this season.

That, a ring and a late dinner are his rewards for being what I guess you’d have to call the winning pitcher in MLB’s slugging orgy in St. Louis on Monday night.

Guerrero was Home Run Derby champ Prince Fielder’s hand-picked soft-server. His regular gig is hitting coach for the Nashville Sounds, Triple A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. Last night I talked with him while the Sounds prepared to face the Iowa Cubs in Des Moines.

The Cubs have signed recently released Toronto Blue Jays reliever B.J. Ryan, according to the Chicago Tribune. The article says he'll first report to Mesa and then Triple A Iowa before supposedly joining the Cubs at some point in the 2009 season.

I figured they'd sign him and rush Sean Marshall back into the rotation until Ryan Dempster was back, but it looks like the Cubs have another plan. Maybe when Ryan is set to join the major league club, they'll send Marshall down and have him stretch out in the minors getting ready for an inevitable injury. Or they'll just send Jeff Stevens or Jeff Samardzija down and go with two lefties. 

UPDATE: Bruce Levine says it's a one year minor league deal and he'll be working on building up his arm strength, so he might not be joining the Cubs any time soon. They could even be breeding him to try to return as closer for next season assuming Kevin Gregg leaves via free agency.

This is the time of the year when clever folks hand out arbitrary letter grades to evaluate the first half performance of the Cubs. I prefer the cliff notes versions....underperforming bats + injuries + shaky bullpen equals .500 team despite really good starting pitching. What do the Cubs need to do in the second half? HIt like there suppose to, stay healthy, don't blow games late(don't blow them early either) and the starters need to keep pitching well.

There's some expert baseball analysis in three sentences.

I know when it comes to the Cubs it's pretty much doom and gloom until they win the World Series and while that .500 record isn't what most of us expected, it's also like judging a movie after only watching the first half. Sure, sometimes you know within the first 20 minutes if it's worth sitting through the whole thing, but sometimes there's just enough there to make you want to stick around for the ending. For the Cubs in 2009, I want to see if they can redeem the first act with a big ending(let's call it "The Usual Suspects"), unlike the 2008 Cubs which were great until the final act and ruined everything with that abomination of an ending(kind of like "Heat"). So if I were to hand out letter grades, it would be an "I" for incomplete, because judging the season on the first half doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

Look, I have no idea if they're going to put it together to get in the playoffs and if they happen to do that, how they'll fare in the playoffs this time. I know there is enough talent to put a run together and the team has pretty substantially underperformed their talent level. You can blame Lou, Hendry, luck, a goat, racism, Jason Marquis (oh that was last year), or my mother, but this team is in the thick of the race and I'll take that over seasons like 2006 or (gasp) 1997.

Ted Lilly should be available for an inning tonight....chat is open for those interested. Evan Longoria will sit out with an infected fingertip and Michael Young takes his spot in the lineup...Chone Figgins his roster spot.

* Ichiro Suzuki RF Hanley Ramirez SS
Derek Jeter SS *Chase Utley 2B
* Joe Mauer C Albert Pujols 1B
# Mark Teixeira 1B Ryan Braun LF
Jason Bay LF * Raul Ibanez RF
*Josh Hamilton CF David Wright 3B
Michael Young 3B # Shane Victorino CF
Aaron Hill 2B Yadier Molina C
Roy Halladay P * Tim Lincecum P

 

If you're passing on the All-Star game, Dave Pinto at Baseball Musings is doing a brief rundown of all 30 teams at the break, here's the Cubs entry. Over at The Bleacher Report, the top 20 Cubs transactions since 1990...I think #17 is silly for a list that seems to be intended to be serious, I mean, if you want to talk about transactions that involved just getting rid of a player, moving Michael Barrett in 2007 probably had a bigger perceived impact than moving LaTroy Hawkins.

As much as I dread the current All-Star break, I was a fan once upon a time. Back before interleague play, having kids and cable television, the Midsummer Classic was a guilty pleasure to get a chance to see how our Cubbies did against the best of the best.

So part of the glacially-paced Wiklifield project, I put together this page that slices and dices the Cubs All-Star appearances. Some fun facts after the jump...

I can't begin to explain how much I hate the All-Star break and it's three days of nothing I care about.  That's even been stretched to four on occasion as they no longer mandatorily schedule a four-game set after the break. So we sit and twiddle our thumbs waiting for something exciting to happen as the Cubs plan how to make up either 3.5 games on the Cardinals or 5 games on the wild card in the last 76. Some stuff to discuss and think about it or ignore after the jump...

Everyone's last chance to see some baseball for a few days, join the fun in Parachat.

*Shumaker 2B *Fuld CF
*Rasmus CF Theriot SS
Pujols 1B Lee 1B
Ludwick RF Ramirez 3B
*Ankiel LF Soriano LF
Molina C # Bradley RF
*Thurston 3B Baker 2B
Wainwright P  #Hill C
Ryan SS  Wells P

 

A win, and the Cubs are tied for 2nd and 1.5 back of the Cardinals heading into the break. A loss and their 3.5 back from the Cardinals and in third place.

The Cubs announced today that they will be placing catcher Geovany Soto on the 15-day DL with an oblique strain. Soto suffered the injury taking batting practice before Wednesday's game at Wrigley Field.

It appears that Soto's injury is worse than orginally thought, and he could be out until some time in August. And with the way oblique strains can affect a hitter, he might not be back even then.

I can't say this for sure, but I think it's fairly likely that the Cubs put in a waiver claim on C-1B-3B Chris Coste, who was placed on waivers by the Phillies on Wednesday. Jim Hendry must have been almost downright giddy when he saw Coste's name come through eBIS (MLB's in-house computer system) on the daily waiver list the very same day Soto went down with an injury, not because he was happy to lose Soto, but because he could have done a lot worse than acquire a Chris Coste for $20,000 (and no players!). That must be why the Cubs were waiting to place Soto on the DL. They expected (hoped) to acquire Coste Friday afternoon when the 47-hour waiver period expired, and they were just waiting for the announcement from the MLB office. Then they could add Coste to the roster tomorrow, and DL Soto retro to Wednesday. 

Unfortunately for the Cubs, Coste was also claimed by the Houston Astros, and because the Astros had a worse record (by 1/2 game) than the Cubs going into today's action, they win the waiver claim. 

Coste would have probably fit the bill perfectly for the Cubs. A short-term solution, true, but also a veteran right-handed hitting National League catcher with a decent bat and the versatility to play 1B and 3B who could share the load with Koyie Hill until Soto was ready to return to action. But perhaps the Astros knew that, too, and put in a claim just so the Cubs couldn't get him?  Did the Astros really need a third catcher, or were they merely trying to weaken a division rival by keeping the rival from acquiring a player they really needed? If so, maybe the Cubs shouldn't have said anything about Soto's injury until Coste's waiver ride was over. I mean, this isn't the NFL. MLB clubs do not have to report injuries to the media. And there actually was a good reason not to do so this time. .   

All of which puts the Cubs back to Square One...

They can either bring up a catcher from Iowa (probably Chris Robinson), or try and make a trade for a veteran catcher, which might take a while to execute. 

There were two positions on the 2009 Cubs that quite obviously lacked depth coming out of Spring Training (third-base and catcher), and both have been exposed. 

The Cubs have optioned RHP Kevin Hart and LHP Jason Waddell to AAA Iowa, and have (apparently) recalled RHP Jeff Stevens from the same club. The Stevens move will not be made official until just prior to tomorrow's game, so something could conceivably happen in the meantime to alter things.

link

This is (of course) very much subject to change, but as things stand right now, here are the projected roster and payroll for the Cubs circa post-season 2009 into Spring Training 2010.

Paul Sullivan had a piece in the Tribune on the Fourth of July that noted the heavy lifting being done in Chicago by players who started the season in Iowa. It got me to thinking...

Pending any roster impact that Geovany Soto's obliqueness might have, over half of the Cubs' current 25 man roster came to the NL Central via the PCL American North. Granted, not all of the baker's dozen were original signees of the organization, but each of the 13 have logged significant time in Des Moines on their ways up.

Collectively, you'd have to say that they've contributed more than their fair share to this point of a teeter-totter season. Put another way, the Cubs are getting more than their money's worth from this bunch. If the same could be said for the rest of the bloated payroll, well...

Please stand when I call your name. Hold your applause until the whole group has been recognized:

 

"I'm gonna go out on a limb here. I'm gonna volunteer my leadership to this platoon. An army without leaders is like a foot without a big toe. And Sergeant Hulka isn't always gonna be here to be that big toe for us. I think that we owe a big round of applause to our newest, bestest buddy, and big toe... Sergeant Hulka."  (Cub fan, Bill Murray as John Winger, Stripes. 1981) 

 

This team needs a kick in the pants. Unfortunately, it won't be Ryan Dempster to administer the sorely needed swift one.  It's hard to do that when your foot hurts because you acted like a knucklehead tripping over a dugout fence and injuring your big toe. Accidents happen. Anyone with a broken toe knows how painful it is. Typically, they don't need an orthopod to treat this injury and the pain usually subsides in 1-3 weeks depending on how bad the toenail injury is. Of course, running and pitching may be a problem if swelling, which can persists for months, leads to problems wearing shoes. I just hope it doesn't lead to ruining his pitching mechanics and the ever dreaded career altering sore shoulder.

I can't recall an exact comparable injury but I did remember when Sammy Sosa had an infected right big toe nail and had the nail removed surgically back in 2003. He was on the DL from May 10th to May 30th (essentially 3 weeks). Unfortunately it's a little harder to assess how Sammy did upon his return because his corked bat episode happened 4 days later leading to an 8 game suspension.

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