In the midst of all the trade talk, the Cubs made a huge addition without having to sacrifice anything. Finally healthy and fresh off a brief rehab stint, Dexter Fowler is back at the top of the order where he belongs. Given his lengthy absence and the Cubs’ struggles in the first half of the month, Fowler’s return feels even bigger.
You go, we go. #LetsGo
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 22, 2016
Now that’s more like it. Joe Maddon was forced to do a leadoff-hitter-by-committee thing there for a while, using Ben Zobrist, Jason Heyward, Tommy La Stella, and even Javy Baez in that role during Fowler’s absence. Beyond just the batting order, missing his regular center fielder forced Maddon to shuffle players around the field a little more than he’d have liked. We all know flexibility is a big part of what has made this Cubs team so good, but you’d rather it come out of desire and not just necessity.
I said earlier that Fowler’s return came without cost, but that’s not really true. Albert Almora Jr, who just got married Thursday and whose pregnant wife is due in September, was optioned back to AAA Iowa to make room on the roster. Congrats on getting hitched, kid, here’s a pair of bus tickets to Des Moines!
This shouldn’t come as any surprise, given the Cubs’ outfield situation and the need for Almora to get more consistent at-bats. Maddon had basically said as much shortly after the kid first came up, though that was before extended absences from Fowler and Jorge Soler served to keep spots open a little longer than anticipated. Oh well, the newlywed will certainly find his way back to Wrigley when rosters expand in September.
In other roster news, Mike Montgomery was officially added and Spencer Patton was optioned to Iowa in a corresponding move. Pretty much exactly what was expected.
Now the hope is that both Fowler and Montgomery have soft landings as the Cubs look to flex on the Brewers and White Sox.