It has been a nice past week for the Cubs, as they swept the first-place Mets and “meatloafed” the Pirates. It was less nice on a personal note, dealing with a seemingly never-ending illness. But, knock on wood, I’m beginning to feel like myself again and should be back to my regular posting schedule.
Thanks again to Evan for filling in and doing a great job.
Now on to the baseball-related matter…
With LHP Tsuyoshi Wada returning from his rehab assignment and set to take Travis Wood’s spot in the rotation Wednesday, the Cubs have designated LHP Phil Coke for assignment.
In addition, Brian Schlitter and his out-of-control beard will be sent back to Triple-A Iowa, with OF Junior Lake heading back to the big leagues. Over the weekend, the Cubs were carrying 14 pitchers to help the taxed bullpen, so a bench bat was definitely needed.
Is it ironic for the Coke move to occur shortly after the Coca-Cola-related series finale of Mad Men on Sunday? No. But I’m going to go ahead and point out the connection anyway.
Coke appeared in 16 games for the Cubs, posting a 6.30 ERA (but only a 3.55 FIP). He becomes expendable with two other left-handed options in the bullpen (Zac Rosscup and the newly relegated Travis Wood).
Coke now could head to Triple-A Iowa if he isn’t claimed off waivers or traded.
If called up, where would Baez play?
With Javier Baez beginning to see some success at Triple-A Iowa, Paul Sullivan writes about the young infielder eyeing a return to Chicago.
But with a whole slew of talent on the infield for the Cubs right now, where would Baez play?
Sullivan points out that left field is probably the Cubs’ biggest weak spot right now, but that Theo Epstein has said Baez will not be playing any outfield at Iowa. So Sullivan concludes Baez would then serve as a bench player if he’s called up.
Personally, I’d think either Baez or Addison Russell would slot over to third base, with Kris Bryant shifting to left field.
I could see the Cubs taking things slow with Baez, given that he missed a good portion of the season due to the death of his sister.
But as Tommy Birch said last Friday, Baez looks as good right now as he did at any point last year in Iowa. And if that continues, I expect Baez to be back with the Cubs not too long from now.
One reason for Baez’s recent success could be an adjustment at the plate. With great stuff from Cubs Insider’s Todd Johnson last night, Baez appears to have moved closer to home plate.
We saw something similar from Anthony Rizzo last year, and we all know how that has worked out. It would be unrealistic to expect the same kind of plate discipline and pitch recognition from the two, but if the move helps Baez just a little, it could provide a huge boost to an already-impressive lineup.
* Matt Szczur had himself a game yesterday for Iowa. He went 4-for-4 with a run scored. And he stole home to boot.
* Donn Roach had another good outing for the I-Cubs, tossing six innings and giving up two runs (one earned). Roach has a 1.97 ERA and could see a start or two at some point in Chicago if he keeps it up.
* The Marlins have fired manager Mike Redmond after getting off to a 16-22 start. His replacement? Marlins General Manager Dan Jennings, who has never played or managed in MLB. It’s an interesting move, to say the least. I really expected the Marlins to be a decent team this year — definitely a player in the Wildcard picture. I’m not really sure this managerial change is the way to go, but we’ll see what happens. The Marlins dropped their first game under Jennings last night, losing 3-2 to the Diamondbacks in extra innings.
* The Cardinals fell to the Mets last night, 2-1 in 14 innings. The loss puts the Cubs only 3.5 games back of first place in the NL Central. Nice.