This should have happened a month ago, but because of rain Cubs fans had to wait another month for full bragging rights. The Cubs pounded the White Sox for the fourth straight game the result was a four game season sweep. The Cubs offense had it going late as they pounded out thirteen hits and scored eight runs, six of those runs coming in the eighth and ninth inning to break it open. Alfonso Soriano is putting on a show for the rest of baseball, he was 3-for-4 with his thirteenth home run of the season, a walk, two stolen bases, a double, and three runs scored. Soriano’s trade value is climbing with each passing day, and a game like last night shows teams that are interested that this guy isn’t done. Speaking of trade value, Matt Garza got the start and was brilliant once again going seven innings giving up two runs, one earned, on five hits while striking out six to pick up his fifth win of the season.
PICTURE OF THE GAME
Late last night the news started coming out that Scott Hairston was traded to the Nationals, this morning that news was confirmed. The Cubs have traded Scott Hairston to the Nationals for minor league righty Ivan Pineyro, there was also a mention of a PTBNL but I’m not sure if that has been confirmed, if true it would most likely be going from the Cubs to the Nats. Hairston has struggled this year with the Cubs, but has provided some power off the bench as he has eight home runs in just 99 at bats. The Nationals are also paying the majority of Hairston’s salary as he was signed with the Cubs through next year. The player the Cubs got in return might end up being a steal. Pineyro is a 21 year-old right-handed pitcher that has seen success so far this year at class A, and high A ball with the Nats. The Cubs have reported that Pineyro will report to Daytona and assume a spot in the rotation there, for the year Pineyro is 6-3 with a 3.24 ERA with 72 strikeouts in 77 innings.
For the time being the Cubs have called up Brooks Raley to help out in the bullpen tonight against the White Sox. There is some discussion in the organization that Junior Lake might make sense as a call up, currently the ultra talented outfielder is tearing up Iowa, hitting .315 with all sorts of slugging numbers. Odds are the Cubs aren’t going to speed up his development, and Jon Heyman reports that the Cubs would like to use Lake as their righty platoon in RF next year.
Carlos Villanueva made his return to the rotation this afternoon and was good but was on a pitch limit, so the Cubs needed a real big effort from their pitchers, and they got it. Villanueva and Hector Rondon each gave up a run today, but other than that the Cubs pitchers were spotless, all seven of them. Oh, except for Kevin Gregg, leading 3-2 in the ninth the Pirates were down to their last strike when Starling Marte launched a game tying solo shot, gut punch. Matt Guerrier came on in relief and gave the Cubs a chance to win and the Cubs did just that. After loading the bases with nobody out Dioner Navarro hit a game winning sacrifice fly to right field, and just like that the Cubs had a series win, their fourth in their last five. Sure this season is lost, but it is nice to see some positive results on the North Side, finally.
PICTURE OF THE GAME
Carlos Villanueva gets the start today for the Cubs as they try to take the series from the Pirates this afternoon in the rubber game. The Pirates will counter with A.J. Burnett who has been outstanding against the Cubs this year. Villanueva was really good as a starter earlier this year but was relegated to bullpen duties when Matt Garza returned to the rotation, now that Feldman is gone his spot in the rotation is Villanueva’s.
July 31st is awfully close, here come the Soriano bombs! Alfonso Soriano padded his trade value today while also helping the Cubs dispatch a team they haven’t been able to buy a win against, the Pirates. Soriano blasted two, two-run homers in back to back innings, one in the fourth and another in the fifth. That was all the Cubs needed as Edwin Jackson was stellar, again. Jackson went 5.2 innings giving up one run on four hits while walking two and striking out three to earn his fifth win of the season. The Cubs pen was outstanding today, try to contain your shock and enthusiasm, actually let it run wild, this is a rare occurrence. James Russell, Matt Guerrier, and Kevin Gregg all had scoreless appearances with Gregg picking up his fifteenth save of the year, speaking of trade value.
PICTURE OF THE GAME
I talked about the importance of the international singing period earlier today, and now we are really seeing how important it is with these deals. Patrick Mooney is reporting that the Cubs have traded Ronald Torreyes (he was acquired in the Sean Marshall to the Reds trade) to the Astros for international bonus money, a shade under $800,000 to be exact. The Cubs are loading up on international money after spending roughly $2.6M earlier today, so something might be in the works, and the Cubs have been rumored to be in on number one prospect outfielder Eloy Jimenez, stay tuned obviously.
Yes, Scott Feldman was supposed to pitch for the Cubs in Oakland tonight, that clearly can’t happen anymore so the Cubs have called up Chris Rusin to take his spot in the rotation. Rusin was the only Iowa Cubs all-star selection this year and was pitching well, going 7-7 with a 3.27 ERA over sixteen starts and one relief appearance. Rusin did get a shot with the Cubs at the end of last year and was roughed up as he went 2-3 with a 6.37 ERA but gained valuable experience in the process. Great opportunity for Rusin tonight to impress the Cubs and snag on of a couple rotation spots that could be opening up in the second half of the season.
The Cubs are getting a head start on the trade deadline it appears as per Keith Law they have traded Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger to Baltimore for Jake Arrieta, Pedro Strop, and international bonus money. Feldman, who is a free agent after this season is having a tremendous 2013 going 7-6 with a 3.46 ERA, the Cubs struck while the iron was hot. Sure the return doesn’t look like much but the Cubs are banking on the two guys they are getting in return to figure it out. Both Arrieta and Strop have talent, but both have issues finding the strike zone which has led to some pretty bad numbers recently. Strop was outstanding in 2012, but still struggles with control, his 7.35 ERA this year would point to his inability to pitch around walks as they are still there, and more common than in 2012. The Cubs plan heading into this season was to sign Feldman, see if they can compete and if they didn’t then deal Feldman for assets, mission accomplished? Only time will tell, as with so many other things with this team at the moment. More to come.
For a rebuilding, or building team, the international signing period is extremely important, the Cubs realize that and have struck quickly. The signing period opened this morning at 8 AM, and the Cubs have already made two moves, one of which is going to get a lot of fanfare. The Cubs have the second largest bonus pool in the Majors, which puts them in a tremendous spot to sign the higher level, or more expensive international prospects. The first move the Cubs made today was signing Dominican righty Jefferson Mejia to an $850,000 contract. The 18-year-old can begin playing right away because his contract is for the 2013 season, which is unique. The second signing of the day, so far, is the big one, the Cubs signed 16-year-old shortstop Gleyber Torres to a $1.7MM deal, Torres was the number two overall international prospect according to Baseball America’s Ben Badler, and number three on the MLB.com list. That’s a huge win for the Cubs as the goal today would be to stock the system with more talent, that’s exactly what they did and the day isn’t over yet. Check back for more signings throughout the day.
The Cubs finally pulled the trigger today and designated Carlos Marmol for assignment. The corresponding roster move is Brian Bogusevic getting called up to the Cubs. The writing has been on the wall for quite some time for Marmol as he has been in a steady decline for a number of years. Briefly it looked like Marmol captured the success he once enjoyed again during the second half of last season, but it never showed up this year. The Cubs reached a point where they couldn’t use him, that’s saying a lot given the success or lack thereof this season. The constant control problems, and lack of mental toughness was a dangerous mix for Marmol and now he is paying for it by being removed from the 40 man roster. This is an unfortunate end to the Marmol saga for the Cubs as they couldn’t get anything for Marmol, it looked like they had acquired Dan Haren in the off-season for him but the Cubs backed out because of Haren’s medical reports.