7/16 Cubs Inbox
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Q: With the Cubs showing they can win games and doing it well, what kind of record would the team have to put together over the second half to get a Wild Card? Not that I think by any means this will happen but I am curious. — Jeremy B., Denver, CO
A: You can dream. The Cubs are 36-52 as of today, and would have to go 45-29 just to get to .500 (81-81). They are on a good pace, with a 12-4 record since June 25. If the season ended today, the Braves and Pirates would be Wild Card winners. The Cubs are currently 13 games back.
Q: What are the team batting/OBP numbers/slugging percentage before and after Rudy Jaramillo was dismissed? — James B., Fredonia, NY
A: From April 5-June 10, the numbers were .247 batting average/.304 on-base percentage/.385 slugging percentage. From June 12-July 15, the numbers are almost the same, .249/.293/.388. What’s different are the pitching numbers. In the first 60 games, the Cubs were 20-40, the pitchers had a 4.39 ERA and converted seven of 18 save opportunities. In the last 28 games, the pitchers have a 3.93 ERA and have converted 10 of 11 save opportunities.
Q: Is Tony Campana in the Cubs’ plans after the All-Star break or is he on the trading block? In the 15 days prior to the break, he only got into 10 games, during which he came to the plate in five of them. — Pete V., Xenia, OH
A: In 21 games in June, Campana hit .237 (14-for-59) and had an on-base percentage of .250. That’s why he’s not getting more starts. He can’t steal bases if he can’t get on base. He’s the perfect 25th man, used as a pinch-runner, defensive sub.
Q: Can Bryan LaHair win Rookie of the Year? — Jeffrey B., Zion, IL
A: No. A player is considered a rookie unless during the previous season he has, No. 1, exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the big leagues, or, No. 2, accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a Major League team during the 25-man limit in effect from Opening Day until Aug. 31. LaHair started this year with 195 Major League at-bats and 100 days service time.
Q: With Ian Stewart looking like he could miss the rest of the season, is there any chance that Theo and Co. will call up surging slugging, Josh Vitters? He hasn’t played 162 games in Triple-A but he has a lot of Minor League experience and with Javier Baez hot on his trail, this may be his only opportunity. — Dean S., Northbrook, IL
A: Baez is a shortstop, so he’s not a threat to Vitters. The Cubs are watching Vitters and Brett Jackson just as closely as they monitored Anthony Rizzo. On Saturday, GM Jed Hoyer said Vitters and Jackson need to show they deserve a promotion.
“Those guys need to force the issue, I would say,” Hoyer said. “Like we talked about with Rizzo, when they sort of prove to us that they’re ready and make it clear, then I think that’s something we’ll see.”
Through Sunday, Vitters was batting .301 with 13 home runs, 28 doubles and 51 RBIs, and had a great June, when he hit .324. His defense is a little suspect. Jackson was batting .256 through Sunday, and coming off a .282 June, but he struck out 50 times in 29 games that month. As for Stewart, he is done for the season.
Q: The extraordinary number of strikeouts by Brett Jackson makes me wonder the obvious. Have they tested his vision? — Eric H., Brandon, FL
Q: When is Jorge Soler expected to join the Major League team? — Christopher T., Chicago
A: Soler is 20 years old, and has yet to play in a game in the Mesa Rookie League. Sorry, my crystal ball is a little fuzzy and won’t give me an exact date.
Q: Sitting here watching the final three innings of Kerry Wood’s 20-strikeout game. This game is seldom mentioned as one of the all-time greatest games ever pitched. A 20-year-old ties a MLB record and the only hit was an infield single. A 1-0 game to boot. Any thoughts? — Jim R., Indio, CA
A: Wood’s 20 K game is my favorite of all time.
Q: Other than Wayne Terwilliger and Eddie Miksis, who else wore No. 21? — Sheldon D., Key West, FL
A: Jason Marquis, Tyler Colvin, Sammy Sosa, and now, Joe Mather.
Q: Please evaluate the Colvin and Marshall trades. The new front office shows they are not what they’re cracked up to be. They both stink. I’m holding my breath as we get down to the trading deadline. — Dwight A., Findlay, OH
A: The Cubs knew Stewart had a questionable wrist when they acquired him for Tyler Colvin (yes, Stewart did take a physical), but the team was ready to move on regarding Colvin. You have to admit his .150 average last season wasn’t very impressive. The Rockies did well in that deal as Stewart is done for the year. But I’d say the Reds and Cubs both got what they wanted in their deal which sent Sean Marshall to Cincinnati for Travis Wood, Dave Sappelt and Roni Torreyes. James Russell has taken over the left-handed set-up role for the Cubs, Wood has won his last four starts, and Torreyes got off to a rough start but batted .330 in June and was hitting .304 in 12 games this month.
A perfect trade benefits both teams. How would you grade the deal for Rizzo? How about the pickup of Luis Valbuena? What about moving Marlon Byrd?
— Carrie Muskat