July 2011

7/28 Fukudome to the Indians

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

7/27 Z says Cubs need changes

Carlos Zambrano repeated Wednesday that he wants to stay with the Cubs but if the team decides it needs to make a change, he’ll think about it as the Trade Deadline approaches. Zambrano does have a no-trade clause, and would have the last word.

“I do want to stay here,” Zambrano said. “At the same time, I want this team to make some changes. If we want to win here, we need to make changes. If I have to go, I have to go but I’ll still have the Cubs in m heart. If the change has to be me, that’s OK.”

The Cubs haven’t approached him about any possible trade.

“If it comes, it comes and I’ll think about it,” Zambrano said.

What kind of changes would he like to see the team make?

“Change. A lot of change,” he said. “A lot of changes to win.”

Does that mean change the players?

“Change,” Zambrano said.

He did pitch well enough to entice somebody, posting the ninth quality start by a Cubs pitcher in the last 12 games. But Zambrano was clearly not happy about being lifted in the seventh when manager Mike Quade pulled him with two outs and Nyjer Morgan at the plate.

“I think at that point, I had confidence that I could get Nyjer out,” Zambrano said. “It’s [Quade’s] decision. There’s nothing I can do about it.”

Morgan, who had doubled off Zambrano in the third, began the day batting .333 against right-handers and .231 against lefties. Those numbers were behind Quade’s decision.

“I don’t blame him,” Quade said about Zambrano asking to face another batter. “I thought with the two guys coming up behind Nyjer and the way he’s struggled in the past against left-handers [it was time to pull Zambrano]. A lot of decisions ain’t easy and that was not an easy decision but I thought we needed to try to stop it right there.”

— Carrie Muskat

7/27 Extra bases

Kerry Wood was back with the team Wednesday, recovered from his bout with a virus, and available. The right-hander has not pitched since July 20. He posted a 1.38 ERA in his first 13 appearances and has a 4.91 ERA in his last 20. However, outfielder Reed Johnson was still bothered by his back, and not available Wednesday. He has not played since Saturday.

* Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Pena are both in a funk. Soriano did not start Wednesday. He’s batting .171 (12-for-70) in July after hitting .265 in June. He has one home run in his last 32 games — July 22.

“He hasn’t been able to be consistent,” Quade said of Soriano. “It’s been a tough run for him. We’ll give him a mental day off, or at least won’t start him, and give Blake [DeWitt] a needed game.”

Pena entered Wednesday’s game 0-for-15, and batting .219 overall.

“He goes through these things,” Quade said of his first baseman. “Hitters go through this a lot and I don’t think it’s unique to Carlos. Nobody works harder than him on his swing.”

* Quade is a proponent of instant replay or possibly challenge flags, like coaches use in the NFL, to get close calls like the one that ended the Pirates-Braves game correct.

“The question I had is if you went to a challenge flag system, would you still have the flag in your pocket in the 19th at 2 in the morning?” Quade said Wednesday about the 19-inning marathon game, which the Braves won on a controversial play at the plate.

Quade is an advocate of instant replay in football and would support something similar in baseball. That said, he doesn’t want 15 replays a night.

“[The umpires] don’t want to get those calls wrong,” he said. “They’re bearing down and these things are going to happen. If you have the ability to correct it, in some sort of form that doesn’t have us all here for five hours, maybe you look into that.”

* Edwin Jackson, whom the Cardinals acquired Wednesday in a three-team multi-player deal with the Blue Jays and White Sox, will open the Chicago-St. Louis series on Friday. Kyle Lohse will start Saturday. Jackson was the winning pitcher when the White Sox beat the Cubs, 6-4, on July 1 at Wrigley Field in an Interleague game. He gave up four runs on five hits over six innings, including a home run by Aramis Ramirez.

— Carrie Muskat

7/27 Big Z “enticing?”

There were reports on Wednesday that the Cubs had tried to get the Yankees interested in Carlos Zambrano, and the Cubs would pick up part of his remaining salary. However, the Yankees are not interested. Zambrano was to start Wednesday against the Brewers at Miller Park, where he is 7-0 with a 2.40 ERA in his last eight starts.

“I hope nothing comes of it and he pitches lights out and entices whoever is here to look at him,” Cubs manager Mike Quade said. “I think he, like a few guys, are in control of their own destiny.”

That’s true. Zambrano has a full no-trade clause in his contract.

The right-hander is 2-3 with a 6.23 ERA in his last seven starts after posting a 1-0 mark with a 2.03 ERA in his previous four starts. Zambrano was on the disabled list because of lower back stiffness. He’s still getting back on track.

“Guys don’t always come back ready to roll like when they left,” Quade said, not worried about Zambrano. “Some of that is understandable. He felt good about his finish in his last outing.”

That was against the Astros, when he gave up two runs on nine hits over six innings on July 22.

— Carrie Muskat

7/27 Cubs lineup

Blake DeWitt is starting in left field Wednesday night for the Cubs as they try to even the series against the Brewers. Alfonso Soriano is scuffling, batting .171 (12-for-70) in July. Kosuke Fukudome, who is batting .273 against right-handers, also is back in the lineup in right. DeWitt is batting .195 as a pinch-hitter and .285 when he’s starting.  Carlos Zambrano faces Zack Greinke, who is 7-4 with a 4.4 ERA. Here’s the lineup:

RF Fukudome

SS Castro

3B Ramirez

1B Pena

CF Byrd

C Soto

LF DeWitt

2B Barney

P Zambrano

— Carrie Muskat

7/27 Rumors

ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted that the Cubs were trying to get the Yankees to trade for Carlos Zambrano and that the Cubs would pick up a large portion of Z’s contract. However, Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweeted that the Yankees’ response was: No interest. Zambrano, who has a full no-trade clause, is signed through 2012 plus a vesting option for 2013. He’s being paid $17.875 million this year, and is owed $18 million in 2012. The 2013 option is for $19.25 million. He will become a 10-and-5 player in early August. Zambrano gets the start Wednesday against the Brewers at Miller Park, one of his favorite places to pitch. He’s won his last seven decisions at the ballpark, dating to April 7, 2007, and has a 2.40 ERA. That includes his no-hitter on Sept. 14, 2008, against the Astros.

Would you trade Big Z?

— Carrie Muskat

7/27 Minor League report

Casey Coleman gave up one run on six hits over seven innings as Iowa beat New Orleans, 2-1, on Tuesday. Lou Montanez had three hits and two RBIs, and Chris Robinson had three hits. Scott Maine converted his 10th save.

Josh Vitters, Jim Adduci, Ty Wright and Nate Samson each homered as Tennessee beat Montgomery, 9-8, in 10 innings. Vitters is batting .274 after going 2-for-5 with two RBIs.

Greg Rohan, Michael Burgess, Logan Watkins and Justin Bour each homered as Daytona beat St. Lucie, 10-5, to even its record at 16-16. Rohan and Burgess each had three hits. Kyle Smit converted his first save.

Rafael Lopez had three hits including his second homer as Boise beat Spokane, 5-4. Jin-Young Kim picked up the win.

— Carrie Muskat


7/26 Extra bases

Kerry Wood did not make the trip to Miller Park but stayed in Chicago to deal with flu-like symptoms.Wood was too ill to get on the team bus for the start of the Cubs’ three-game series against the Brewers. Jeff Samardzija will likely fill Wood’s role as the right-handed set-up pitcher.

Catcher Koyie Hill, who had similar symptoms on Sunday, was back and healthy. However, the Cubs were without outfielder Reed Johnson, whose back was stiff and sore, which made him unavailable on Sunday.

“Right now, it’s OK,” Johnson said of his back. “I’ll probably give it a day or so and make sure it’s moving in the right direction and if not, then we’ll have to make a decision as to what to do with me. If things keep moving in the right direction then I won’t have to go on the [disabled list]. That’s always the goal.”

* GM Jim Hendry and his staff were in Chicago to monitor moves heading into Sunday’s Trade Deadline. Manager Mike Quade is staying focused on the current roster. The Cubs began play Tuesday 12 games back in the National League Central. That doesn’t deter Quade.

“Why not?” he said as the team began a 10-game trip against the Brewers, Cardinals and Pirates. “What if we win 10 out of 12 — who knows?

“It’s an interesting division,” Quade said. “What are there, 60 games left? Let’s go play ’em and see. Daunting task, four clubs in front of you, not having played well, but why not?”

Does that mean Quade wants to the Cubs to be active and make some deals?

“That’s not my business,” he said. “My business is to see if we can beat [Chris] Narveson tonight.

“Time will take care of all the prognostications,” Quade said. “I’m not a lunatic. There’s a lot of work to do ahead of us but we’re playing the right clubs and let’s see if we can’t put something together.”

* Quade and several players took part in the 15th annual Ron Santo golf tournament on Monday to benefit Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Quade didn’t golf but rode in a cart around the Kemper Lakes course with Santo’s wife, Vickie and “antagonized” the other golfers. Santo, the popular Cubs radio broadcaster and third baseman, died in December 2010. The Cubs will honor Santo when they unveil a statue of him at Wrigley Field on Aug. 10.

— Carrie Muskat

7/26 Cubs lineup

The Cubs have inserted Jeff Baker, who is batting .346 against lefties, in the lineup in right against the Brewers’ Chris Narveson for Tuesday’s game at Miller Park. Ryan Dempster, who is 15-3 against the Brewers, gets the start. Here’s the lineup:

RF Baker

SS Castro

3B Ramirez

C Soto

CF Byrd

1B Pena

LF Soriano

2B Barney

P Dempster

— Carrie Muskat

7/26 Minor League report

Jay Jackson gave up six runs on seven hits over five innings in Iowa’s 8-3 loss to Nashville on Monday. Scott Moore homered in the second inning. Brett Jackson had two hits, a stolen base and threw out a runner at home as he tried to score.

Matt Szczur went 2-for-4 with a double, homer and one RBIs in Daytona’s 5-3 win over St. Lucie. It was Szczur’s second homer, and led off the game. Greg Rohan and Michael Burgess each went 3-for-5. Angel Guzman, continuing his rehab from shoulder surgery, started the game and gave up one hit and struck out three over two innings.

Rubi Silva had two hits in Peoria’s 4-3 loss to Bowling Green, which sored three runs in the bottom of the ninth. The Chiefs now have as many blown saves as saves, and have lost 19 games in their opponents last at-bat. Austin Kirk did not get a decision, giving up one run on four hits over 5 1/3 innings.

Su-Min Jung gave up three runs on three hits and five walks over four innings in Boise’s 8-2 loss to Spokane. Jung now is 0-1 with a 4.66 ERA. Paul Hoilman extended his hitting streak to four games, hitting his ninth home run.

Jin-Young Kim is 1-2 with a 6.97 ERA, but Boise manager Mark Johnson says to remember that the South Korean pitcher is young and still adjusting to life in the U.S. “He’s struggled, but he’s only 18 and it’s a learning process,” Johnson said. “He’s still finding his way.”

— Carrie Muskat