Cubs News Roundup: Mike Olt Returns, Injuries Continue to Pile Up
One of the Cubs’ most interesting and yet puzzling players is rejoining the team.
Mike Olt, a key piece in last year’s Matt Garza trade and a player who has shown flashes of huge power and strong defense was brought back to the big leagues on Friday.
Olt had a difficult time making contact with the Cubs earlier this season after winning a roster spot out of Spring Training. He hit .139/.222/.353 with 84 strikeouts in 72 games before being sent down to Triple-A Iowa. Olt responded by putting up good numbers in Iowa (.302/.348/.585), but then suffered a hamstring injury.
Bruce Levine reported Olt has incorporated a new swing that uses all fields.
After a two-game rehab with Kane County, in which he hit two home runs, Olt could now see a decent amount of playing time at third and even first, as Anthony Rizzo is likely for the remainder of the season.
Speaking of injuries, it seems like a new one is popping up on a daily basis lately. Prior to Friday’s game against the Pirates, catcher Wellington Castillo was scratched from the lineup with back soreness. For now, it is being reported as a day-to-day injury.
Friday’s starting pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada also was forced to leave the game in the fourth inning with a leg cramp. (The game was suspended in the seventh inning due to rain, and will resume on Saturday at 2pm CT)
* Tony Blengino wrote an article for Fangraphs in which he compared the crazy number of highly-ranked Cubs positional prospects to other systems of years past.
Blengino points out that among the current Cubs “cluster” of prospects, Kris Bryant was ranked the No. 2 positional prospect in the minors in 2014. Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez each peaked at No. 4, respectively, and Kyle Schwarber, Billy McKinney, Jorge Soler, and Addison Russell all ranked in the top 20 this season.
Blengino said perhaps the most impressive fact is that because these prospects are all reasonably close to the major leagues, it is unlikely for them to be low-level flukes.
The list of comparable classes is an interesting one (for example, 2002-2003 Cleveland Indians had Grady Sizemore, Victor Martinez and Coco Crisp). The sobering part of the article, however? None of the top 12 prospect clusters belonged to a team that won a World Series title. Will the Cubs be able to break that trend?
* On Thursday, former Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster joined the “Kap and Haugh” show on 87.7 The Game to discuss the current state of the team, as well as its promising future. Host David Kaplan asked Dempster – who after leaving the Cubs, won a World Series with the Boston Red Sox in 2013 – about his thoughts on former Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester possibly joining the Cubs next season.
Dempster on what he would pitch to Lester about Chicago:
“If you choose to play for the Cubs, in front of these fans, you will not be disappointed. You’ll be truly thankful for that opportunity, and you’ll have the chance to be a part of something special.”
Lester, who was traded at this year’s deadline from Boston to Oakland, has been rumored to be a target of the Cubs because of his ties to their front office..
The Cubs should have a lot of financial flexibility this offseason, so a play for the 30-year-old southpaw is probable. With a career ERA of 3.61 (3.59 FIP), Lester would immediately jump to the top of the Cubs’ starting rotation alongside Jake Arrieta.