The Cubs may not have made a deal by the 3 p.m. CT Trade Deadline, but they can still make a trade in August. Expect some action then.
“To make a trade today to say we made one and get somebody who we don’t think is the caliber that I’d expect in return, I have no problem not moving the people we didn’t move,” GM Jim Hendry said Sunday.
The Cubs did deal Kosuke Fukudome to the Indians for two Minor Leaguers on Thursday. The move was to make room for Tyler Colvin; the Cubs want to find out if he’s an everyday big league outfielder.
It may be hard for fans to stomach any inactivity. They see a team that’s 23 games out in the National League Central. Hendry knows that.
“Everybody says ‘Oh, you didn’t do something by 3 o’clock today — this is a disaster, that’s a disaster’ — I don’t put much stock into that,” Hendry said. “The guys we kept are for the most part guys who still have a chance to be involved next year.
“If we do make a trade or two in August,” he said, “it’s no more or less significant than if we made one today.”
— Carrie Muskat
Aramis Ramirez has maintained that he doesn’t want to leave the Cubs but on Thursday, the third baseman said no one from the front office has asked him if he’d be willing to accept a trade. And instead of saying he didn’t want to leave Chicago, Ramirez said: “We’ll see.”
“When you’re 20 games under .500, there are going to be changes,” Ramirez said Thursday. “Something’s not right. You can’t point to anything — you can’t point to the pitching, offense, defense. I guess that’s the [general manager’s] and the front office’s job. Of course there will be changes because we haven’t played the way we’d like to. We’re 21 games under .500 so there are going to be changes.”
The Cubs took the first step before Thursday’s game when they dealt Kosuke Fukudome to the Indians and called up Tyler Colvin. Ramirez is a 10-and-5 player, and can veto any deal. Now that he agrees with the concept of change, has he changed his mind?
“Nobody has come forward to me from the team to say, ‘We want to trade you,’ or this or that,” Ramirez said. “It’s only [discussed] in the media.
“Nobody has talked to me about if I’m wiling to waive my no-trade clause,” he said. “It’s only in the media speculation that ‘This team wants Ramirez’ or the other team. Coming from the guys upstairs, the people who make the decision, I haven’t heard from anybody.”
So, would he be willing to be traded?
“Nobody wants me, man,” Ramirez said. “They want good players. Nobody wants me. They come to me with a trade, we’ll see, but nobody has talked to me about it.”
There probably are a few teams who would be interested in a third baseman who is batting .293 for the season, and nine homers and 22 RBIs this month. But Ramirez recently said he wanted to stay in Chicago because of his family.
“That’s not a secret,” Ramirez said. “Everybody knows that. But I also understand this is a business. I don’t know which way they want to go. If they’re looking to rebuild, I can’t fit in. We’ll see.”
— Carrie Muskat
The Cubs dealt Kosuke Fukudome to the Indians for two Minor Leaguers on Thursday. Both Shin-Soo Choo and Grady Sizemore are on the disabled list, and the Tribe needs help in the outfield. Fukudome, 34, is batting .273 with the Cubs. He’s owed about $4.7 million for the rest of the season, and the Indians are reportedy obligated for $775,000. He had a limited no-trade clause and the Indians were believed to be one of the teams he would not accept a deal to. However, he apparently waived that clause.
The Cubs acquire Minor League outfielder Abner Abreu and right-handed pitcher Carlton Smith.
Tyler Colvin joined the Cubs in Milwaukee on Thursday and will get most of the playing time in right field.
— Carrie Muskat
It’s been tough to sqeeze the Cubs Inbox onto Cubs.com, so I’ll try to keep up here. Send your questions to CubsInbox@gmail.com and please include your name and hometown.
Q: With Bryan LaHair crushing the ball in Triple-A and Carlos Pena struggling with consistency, are the Cubs giving any thought to bringing LaHair up to the big league team? — Nick I., Evansville, IN
A: LaHair could get a look depending on what happens at the trade deadline. Pena has drawn interest from teams in contention (Angels, for example). LaHair will likely be up in September when rosters expand.
Q: I don’t understand why Darwin Barney was moved to the No. 8 spot. He hit .290 in the two-hole. I see the logic in the move when Fukudome is in the lineup but when Reed Johnson is, I don’t get it. Johnson has a career .341 OBP, identical to Castro’s. I realize Johnson is hot right now but what’s going to happen when he cools off? Ryan S., Rochester, MI
A: There’s a couple reasons. One, Barney is coming back from a knee injury. If he’s batting second, he’ll be expected to run more. They’re trying to avoid stress on the knee. Two, Starlin Castro has done better hitting one-two. With Fukudome doing well as the leadoff man, moving Castro up a notch seems to help him. Three, Barney can help turn the lineup over in the bottom of the order. His role changes depending on pinch-hitters behind him. As for Johnson, his starts are primarily against lefties.
Q: I was looking through some of the Cubs’ Minor League rosters and was happy to see Angel Guzman has logged innings at Daytona and Peoria. I also noticed he’s starting each game he appeared in. Are the Cubs grooming him to be a starter again or is this part of his rehab? — Henry F., Batavia, IL
A: Guzman, coming back from shoulder surgery, is starting in the Minor Leagues as part of his rehab. It’s easier to control when he can pitch if he starts the game rather than having him enter a game in relief. This way, he’s guaranteed two innings, or however many pitches they are limiting him to. If he returns, it will be as a reliever.
— Carrie Muskat
Mike Quade was ejected for the third time this season after arguing a call by second base umpire Paul Emmel regarding Gordon Beckham’s play at the bag in the second inning. The Cubs had runners at first and second with none out in the second against the White Sox when Alfonso Soriano hit a grounder to third baseman Brent Morel. He threw to Beckham, who did not appear to touch the bag when he caught the ball. Beckham threw to first for a double play. Emmel ruled the runner was out at second.
Quade argued Beckham wasn’t in the “neighborhood,” and was subsequently tossed.
“First of all, I thought that was taking the old school neighborhood play too far,” Quade said. “It was important. To me, that was a big play. We had three of the same opportunities obviously in the first, second and sixth [innings] and you want to be productive in those situations and we weren’t.
“People have to execute on the other side, too, but I thought the throw took the guy way off the bag,” Quade said.
* Saturday’s crowd of 42,165 was the largest for a Cubs-White Sox game at Wrigley Field since Interleague play began in 1997.
* Matt Garza threw his first complete game since Aug. 6, 2010, and seventh of his career. It also was the sixth time he’s allowed one or no runs and took the loss.
* Darwin Barney has 79 hits so far. With eight games remaining before the All-Star break, his hits rank 11th among Cubs rookies. Ken Hubbs had 95 hits in 1962 before the break.
* Kosuke Fukudome is hitting .341 at home, which is tied for third in the NL and ranks sixth in the Majors.
* Marlon Byrd was 0-for-3 in his first game back after being hit in the face on May 21. He was obviously happy to be back, tipping his cap to the fans in the bleachers and dancing in center field before the game started.
“He was so excited to be back,” Quade said. “He just loves to play this game. He’s going to be a big part of our second half.”
* On Sunday, Rodrigo Lopez (0-2, 5.40 ERA) faces Gavin Floyd (6-7, 4.19 ERA) in the series finale.
— Carrie Muskat
Some early notes heading into the Cubs’ series finale Sunday vs. the Yankees:
* A win Sunday would give the Cubs consecutive series wins for the first time since Sept. 27-Oct. 3 last season at San Diego and Houston.
* CC Sabathia is the fourth Cy Young winner the Cubs will face in a 10-game stretch, which began against the Phillies’ Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee. They also faced the Brewers’ Zack Greinke.
* Kosuke Fukudome has a .402 on-base percentage in 46 games as the leadoff man. That’s the highest OBP for any leadoff hitter in baseball.
* The Cubs are 20-15 when the starters go at least six innings, and 9-26 when they don’t. Cubs starting pitchers have thrown 384 1/3 innings, tied for fewest in MLB with the Orioles.
* During Saturday’s broadcast, Carlos Zambrano was caught on camera trying to get FoxSports’ Ken Rosenthal’s attention from the dugout. According to Rosenthal, Big Z was clearly upset. Rosenthal had written about Zambrano’s willingness to waive his no-trade clause if the Cubs wanted to move him but Rosenthal didn’t mention during the pregame show nor when the topic was discussed with Joe Buck and Tim McCarver how Zambrano wants to stay with the team.
As Rosenthal states, “Athletes and other public figures frequently complain that they are quoted out of context. In Zambrano’s case, I did not relay the full context. The news was that he was willing to accept a trade, but he also had told me he loved Chicago, loved Cubs fans and didn’t want to leave.”
* Here’s the pitching matchups for the upcoming Interleague series vs. the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field:
Monday: Zambrano (5-4, 4.59 ERA) vs. Gavin Floyd (6-6, 3.94 ERA)
Tuesday: Matt Garza (3-6, 4.14 ERA) vs. Mark Buehrle (6-5, 3.75 ERA)
Wednesday: Doug Davis (1-5, 4.95 ERA) vs. TBD
— Carrie Muskat
Kosuke Fukudome had what Mike Quade called a “career day” on Thursday, going 3-for-4 with a single, RBI triple and three-run homer. He also threw out Rickie Weeks who tried to stretch a single twice.
Fukudome is batting .304 off right-handers and .388 at home so far. He had at least three hits in a game for the seventh time this year and as a double shy of the cycle. It’s the fifth time he’s driven in four runs in a game, and one shy of his career high of five RBIs. And he seems to be the perfect leadoff man, batting .301 in 44 games there.
The homer off lefty Daniel Herrera was big.
“I think I might have to have a party,” Fukudome said.
* Starlin Castro is batting .340 with 21 runs, nine doubles, five triples and 19 RBIs in 34 home games this year. He’s batting .394 in his last eight games after going .154 in the first six June games.
* Milwaukee’s Zach Greinke gave up eight runs and struck out 10. He’s the first pitcher to do that since Ryan Dempster did on May 22, 2003, against Atlanta when he was pitching for the Reds.
* Taking three of four against the division champs is big. The Brewers weren’t happy with the result.
“It was tough for me to watch that game today,” Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said. “I didn’t like the way we were pitching, we didn’t field well. I thought we swung the bat well, and that was good to see. Usually, we get five runs for Zack and I feel pretty good.”
— Carrie Muskat
Tyler Colvin is 0-for-31 in his last 14 games and has not had a hit in the big leagues since he singled in the seventh inning on April 28 in Arizona. He’s not panicked. He isn’t changing his stance or grip. The problem isn’t physical.
“It’s one of those things where I don’t have to hit the ball 800 feet and that’s what was in my head early in the year,” Colvin said Tuesday. “I had 20 homers [last year] and I was thinking I’m going to get them all in the first month and you’re not.
“Last year, I hit line drives and sometimes they went out,” he said. “It took me awhile to see that and now I’m hitting balls hard and I can’t find a hole. They’ll start falling. I’m not worried about it.”
* Kosuke Fukudome’s .417 on-base percentage is keeping him in the leadoff spot although Mike Quade said he considered inserting Tony Campana on Tuesday to try and get the offense going. The catch is that if Fukudome is dropped, he’ll be expected to drive in runs and that, Quade says, has not been his forte.
* Marlon Byrd hopes to be taking batting practice on the field Sunday or Monday. Byrd is recovering from multiple facial fractures suffered when he was hit by a pitch on May 21 in Boston.
— Carrie Muskat
Ryan Dempster posted his fifth quality start on Sunday. All five have come in May. He’s 3-1 with a 3.08 ERA this month.
* Darwin Barney is batting .294 with two strikes against him.
* Kosuke Fukudome has a .416 average at Wrigley Field, tops in the NL. He’s batting .312 from the leadoff spot.
* Carlos Pena has six RBIs in his last 13 home games. He’s batting .286 against right-handers, .051 against lefties.
* The forecast for Monday calls for instant summer with temps around 90.
“If what I hear is correct, [Monday] could be really fun,” manager Mike Quade said. “Ninety [degrees]? I’ll have a bathing suit on.”
— Carrie Muskat
With his two-homer game Friday against the D-Backs, Alfonso Soriano now has nine home runs, the most by a Cubs player for the month of April. And there is still one game to go this month. The previous April home run mark was eight, shared by three players and done four times.
1958: Lee Walls, 8 HR
2000 & 2002: Sammy Sosa, 8 HR
2008: Derrek Lee, 8 HR
* Starlin Castro has 38 hits, tied for third most all-time by a Cubs player in April.
April Hits Leaders
1996: Mark Grace, 42 hits
2008: Derrek Lee, 39
2007: Derrek Lee, 38
2011: Starlin Castro, 38
* Kosuke Fukudome has a .418 batting average, which ranks second all-time among Cubs hitters for the month of April (minimum 50 plate appearances):
2005: Derrek Lee, .419
2011: Kosuke Fukudome, .418
2007: Derrek Lee, .392
1952: Frank Baumholtz, .389
1982: Gary Woods, .388
* Matt Garza enters Saturday’s game against the D-Backs with a chance to set the team record for most strikeouts in April. Here are the leaders:
2001: Kerry Wood, 46
2003: Kerry Wood, 43
1969: Fergie Jenkins, 42
2004: Kerry Wood, 42
2011: Matt Garza, 41
— Carrie Muskat