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7517
MDR Blog 2/6
02-06-2016
09:23 AM ET (US)
Brewers GM David Stearns has made a lot of deals, mostly for young players who have potential for the future.

His deal with the D-Backs, however, accomplishes some things for the future and present. Sending Jean Segura to Arizona opens up an opportunity for Orlando Arcia, the team’s top prospect, at shortstop. In case Arcia proves to not be ready, the deal with the D-Backs also brought 19-year-old infielder Isan Diaz, another good prospect.

Meanwhile, veteran Aaron Hill will give the Brewers a proven third baseman. He might not play every day, but if he stays healthy can give the team 100-plus games at a position where there are no real prospects.

RHP Chase Anderson also gives the Brewers an experienced starting pitcher who should be able to fill spot in the rotation. He’s not an ace, but definitely a .500 or better pitcher.

The Brewers have a host of promising young pitchers, but Anderson could end up a veteran that adds stability.

You actually can start seeing a potential lineup for the team developing: LF - Khris Davis, CF - Still a question mark, but several candidates including some with Major League experience, RF - Ryan Braun, 3B - Hill, SS - Arcia, 2B - Scooter Gennett, 1B - Chris Carter, C - Jonathan Lucroy.

Of course, Stearns might not be done. Rumors circulate around Lucroy, who has said publicly a trade might be better for him and the team.

Again, most of the deals made by Stearns have been for players who might not be seen at Miller Park for at least a couple years. Brewers fans are in for some rebuilding years and will have to be patient.

That’s why Stearns was brought in from Houston, where he played a role in the rebuilding of the Astros. He recently emphasized that while the Houston experience gives somewhat of a blueprint the rebuilding now will have to be done in a “Brewers way.”

“It’s a constant balancing act,” Stearns said. “We’re all very competitive people. Mark (Attansio) is a competitive person; I’m a competitive person. You get into this game because you enjoy winning, you like competing and you love baseball.

“It’s also understanding this is a process that we need to stay disciplined. We’re very cognizant of the product that’s going on the major league field, we’re cognizant of the need to compete and create and exciting brand of baseball. At the same time we need to
continue to pursue our overarching goal, which is to create an organization that is going to sustain competitiveness for a long period of time.
.
“This is going to take time,” Stearns added. “It’s going to take a lot of hard work by everyone involved in the organization. But the start has been promising and I’m encouraged about it.”

Hot Stove Notes

(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

Brewers

** The Nationals have interest in Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy, but are one of eight clubs on the 29-year-old’s no-trade list, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

** RHP Matt Garza plans to “pitch selfishly” in 2016, the righty told reporters (including MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy), meaning that he will “stop trying to be someone [else], stop trying to please people and just go out there and be me.

** The Brewers have paid a lot of attention to center field this winter, Tom Haudricourt writes for Baseball America. In the immediate term, the organization will hold “an open competition,” per GM David Stearns, with veterans Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Eric Young Jr. looking to hold off youngsters Domingo Santana and Keon Broxton.

Cubs

** The Cubs have agreed to a $10.7MM deal with righty Jake Arrieta to avoid arbitration, Jay Cohen of the Associated Press (Twitter link).

** RHP Jonathan Pettibone has signed a minor league pact with the Cubs and received an invitation to MLB camp. The 25-year-old contributed 100 1/3 solid innings as a starter for the 2013 Phillies, registering a 4.04 ERA with 5.9 K/9 against 3.4 BB/9.

** The Cubs and left-handed reliever Nick Greenwood have agreed to a minor league contract, MLBTR has learned. The Cubs and infielder Munenori Kawasaki have agreed to a minor league contract, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).

Twins

** The Twins have agreed to a minor league contract with outfielder Carlos Quentin, according to Jon Heyman (Twitter links). He’ll receive an invitation to MLB camp, per Heyman, and would earn $750K if he makes the MLB roster

** Twins manager Paul Molitor sat down with Darren Wolfson of KSTP and 1500 ESPN over the weekend for a 12-minute interview (video link) and discussed a number of topics, including the decision to play Miguel Sano in right field over left field, the possibility of Byron Buxton making the Opening Day roster.

** Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe seemed a plausible trade piece, but we never heard much buzz on that front. Minnesota GM Terry Ryan tells Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (Twitter link) that the club did not consider scenarios for a deal — let alone make Plouffe available to other clubs.

White Sox

** The White Sox have explored the possibility of a trade for Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier, according to a pair of reports from MLB.com’s Phil Rogers (Twitter link) and Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago/670thescore.com.

** Frank Thomas is rejoining the White Sox as a special consultant of business operations, the Hall-of-Famer told reporters (including CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes).

** The White Sox have re-signed righty Maikel Cleto and added outfielder Vinny Rottino, according to Baseball America’s Matt Eddy.

What’s Ahead

The White Sox will start spring training first, with pitchers and catchers reporting on Feb. 18. The Brewers and Cubs start Feb. 19. The Twins kick it off on Feb. 21.

The MDR Blog will start appearing next weekend on a weekly basis. Next week, we will look at what each of the four teams covered by the site will be looking to accomplish at Arizona and Florida.

Although no baseball player will be inducted, the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame is holding some ticker specials for its April 30 induction of Bo Ryan and Donald Driver. For a great OnMilwaukee.com story on the revival of the Hall, click here http://onmilwaukee.com/sports/articles/wisconsinhalloffame.html.

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7516
MDR Blog 1/2
01-02-2016
01:50 PM ET (US)
The Cubs have put themselves at the top of the NL Central and very likely the favorite to win the NL title by their off-season moves.

Since we last published the MDR Blog, the Cubs added Jason Heyward to play center field and the versatile Ben Zobrist, a Joe Maddon favorite going back to Tampa Bay, to play second and who knows where else.

The club had just added RHP John Lackey, when the Blog was last published. He will give the team three top starters in combo with Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester.

Heyward signed as a free agent after spending 2015 with the Cardinals. The 26-year-old Heyward told reporters an aging core of players in St. Louis was the reason he left.

“You have Yadier (Molina), who is going to be done in two years maybe. You have Matt Holliday, who is probably going to be done soon. I felt like if I was to look up in three years and see a completely different team, that would kind of be difficult,” Heyward said.

That statement riled St. Louis manager Mike Matheny and some of others in the Cardinals’ organization, but in Chicago he will be the veteran starter in the outfield with Kyle Schwarber in left and Jorge Soler in right.

"I'm going to have a blast playing some center field if that's where I end up playing every day," said Heyward, a three-time Gold Glove winner in right. "And that's going to be the bottom line.

"My mindset is to win the World Series, and I feel I have a great opportunity to do so with this group here," Heyward said. "They didn't have to do too much (recruiting). From the product on the field to the atmosphere, it speaks for itself."

The Cubs unloaded Starlin Castro to make room for Zobrist, who earned his reputation as a Super Sub under Maddon with the Rays.

Zobrist likely will see most of his action at second base, where he helped the Royals to the World Championship. But, Maddon also could use him in the outfield and at third or second base at times.

Reports are that the Nationals and Giants offered Zobrist more money, but when Maddon said he wanted to be reunited with the veteran that was it.

"That's all I needed to know," said Zobrist, recalling a chat in which Maddon defined Zobrist's role.

Zobrist also could play a mentor’s role to Javier Baez, whom Maddon has called a potentially young Zobrist.

The Cubs’ every day lineup now could include: left - Schwarber, center - Heyward, right-Soler, 3B - Kris Bryant, SS - Addison Russell, 2B - Zobrist, 1B - Anthony Rizzo, C- Miguel Montero. Again, Arrieta, Lester and Lackey head a good pitching staff. The club could still go after more pitching before spring.

Is that good enough to overcome the Cardinals, and hold off the Pirates, in the NLC? St. Louis has added pitcher Mike Leake and utility player Jedd Gyorko. They hope Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk develop into starts, and that veterans like Adam Wainwright and Holliday can bounce back from injuries. Hey, the Cards have won three straight division titles, Until they are beaten, they still are the champs.

The Pirates have added John Jaso to their lineup and pitching depth. They still are a talented team that might do more before the season starts.

But, the Cubs, at least on paper, seem to have beefed up to take on all comers, in the NLC and beyond.

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

Brewers

** The Brewers and speedster Eric Young, Jr. are in agreement on a minor league contract with an invite to Major League Spring Training.

** The team filled its 40-man roster by grabbing waiver claims outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis from the Mets, catcher Josmil Pinto from the Padres and first baseman Andy Wilkins from the Rangers.

** Nieuwenhuis, a 28-year-old left-handed hitter, joins recently acquired Keon Broxton and Ramon Flores and holdovers Shane Peterson and Michael Reed as outfielders with extensive professional experience in center on the 40-man roster.

Cubs

** The Cubs have hired former backstop John Baker as a baseball operations assistant.

** Javier Baez has seen time in center field in the Puerto Rican winter league.

** The Cubs have released infielder Brendan Ryan, the club announced. Ryan was just acquired as a piece of the deal that sent Castro to the Yankees.

Twins

** The Twins are looking for a veteran backup outfielder, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger writes. This player would essentially replace Shane Robinson on Minnesota’s roster, serving as an experienced bench piece behind the Twins’ young outfield corps.

** Ron Gardenhire lost out on the Padres’ job but “the feeling” is that he could always go back to the Twins organization and work in some capacity.

** The Twins announced that they’ve signed outfielder Ryan Sweeney to a minor league deal and invited him to Major League Spring Training.

White Sox

** The Sox have managed to get some of the Chicago baseball attention by trading for Todd Frazier to play third base and obtaining Brett Lawrie for second.

** The White Sox have interest in free agent outfielders Alex Gordon and Yoenis Cespedes, but only on a deal that would promise three years or less, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports on Twitter.

** The White Sox haven’t closed the door on a return for longtime shortstop Alexei Ramirez, writes Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago/670thescore.com.

What’s Ahead

All four MDR teams will hold promotional events in January. The Brewers will hold their annual On Deck celebration Jan. 31. The Cubs annual convention Jan. 15-16 has been sold out.

Twinsfest is set for Jan. 29-31. SoxFest also is scheduled for Jan. 29-31.

The Hall of Fame selections will be held Jan. 6. Some former MDR players are among the candidates.

The MDR Blog will run monthly in the first week of February and then switch to weekly once spring training starts.

##

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The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.
** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
7515
MDR Blog 12/6
12-06-2015
07:23 AM ET (US)
The Twins and Cubs have made the biggest news so far in the Hot Stove season.

The Twins signed Korean first baseman/designated hitter Byung Ho Park. The deal is a four-year contract, with a club option for the 2020 season.

Park, 29, batted .343 (181-for-528) with 35 doubles, 53 home runs, 146 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 140 games for the Nexen Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization last season. He led the league in home runs and RBI and ranked second in runs (129), OPS (1.150) and slugging percentage(.714).

Park is seen as a first baseman and DH. He likely will alternate in those roles with Joe Mauer, who manned first base for much of last season.

Miguel Sano spent most of his impressive rookie season as the DH, and when Park first was discussed as a possibility rumors started that Sano would move to third base and Trevor Plouffe, who played third last year, would be traded.

But, GM Terry Ryan has made clear it that he does not intend to trade Plouffe.
With Park taking over everyday DH duties, Ryan said that the club will look to move Sano to a corner-outfield position.

If Park, Mauer, Sano and Plouffe can play every day, along with second baseman Brian Dozier, the Twins could have a productive core of hitters.

The Cubs made big news this past week by signing veteran RHP John Lackey to a two-year deal. Lackey will join longtime friend Jon Lester and Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta at the top of the rotation.

Rumors have circulated about the Cubs making some of the biggest potential deals. They are said to be in discussions about the likes of Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist, Shelby Miller and at one time even David Price.

Starlin Castro and/or Javier Baez seem to be available for the right price. Some of the Cubs trade rumors also have included outfielder Jorge Soler.

The Brewers have been moderately active since the World Series, but hardly involving players with the impact that Park or Lackey could have.

New GM David Stearns unloaded closer Francisco Rodriguez to the Tigers in exchange for prospects.

Stearns then made two more minor deals that fit into the depth category, sending Minor League pitcher Cy Sneed to the Astros for infielder Jonathan Villar, and infielder Luis Sardinas to the Mariners for outfielder Ramon Flores. Both Villar and Flores, who are in their pre-arbitration years, are projected to make Milwaukee's 2016 Opening Day roster.

The Brewers are expected to seek additional deals at the upcoming Winter Meetings.

The White Sox have made some moves. They non-tendered Jacob Turner on Wednesday of this past week, but then signed the right-handed pitcher to a one-year, $1.5 million contract Thursday. They also signed veteran catcher Dioner Navarro.

Navarro could share time with fellow veteran catcher Alex Avila, who was signed. Tyler Flowers, who did most of the catching last year, was not tendered a contract, but like Turner could end up reaching a deal down the road and staying with the club.

Hot Stove Notes

(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

Brewers

** The Brewers have announced a variety of minor league signings and re-signings, including righties Hiram Burgos and Jaye Chapman, outfielder Ben Guez, and catcher Rene Garcia.

** The Brewers announced that they’ve non-tendered utilityman Elian Herrera. The 30-year-old was not yet arbitration eligible, but Milwaukee clearly preferred to keep the rosters spot open.

Cubs

** Jeff Samardzija, who started his career with the Cubs, was on that long rumors list before signing with the Giants Saturday for $90. That was more than the Cubs wanted to pay to bring him back.

** The Cubs have agreed to a $1.42MM deal with just-added lefty Rex Brothers, Jon Heyman tweets. Brothers was recently designated by the Rockies and then shipped to Chicago in a minor trade. The Cubs also announced that they’ve avoided arbitration with lefty Clayton Richard, who, as MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports (on Twitter), will take home a $2MM salary next season.

Twins

** The Twins are interested in Joakim Soria but haven’t made him an offer at this point, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN.

** Catcher John Hicks, who was previously designated by the Mariners, was claimed by the Twins.

White Sox

** Former big leaguer Aaron Rowand will serve as a minor league outfield and baserunning instructor, the White Sox have announced. Rowand, 38, retired after the 2011 season. He’ll return to the place where he started his professional and MLB career.

** The White Sox announced that they have acquired right-hander Tommy Kahnle from the Rockies in exchange for minor league right-hander Yency Almonte (Twitter link).
 
What’s Ahead

Baseball’s annual Winter Meetings start Monday and run through Thursday in Nashville. Deals historically have been made at those meetings, and groundwork for others are laid. Expect the four MDR teams to possibly make some moves.

Meanwhile the MDR Blog will run again in early January and again in early February before returning to weekly publications when spring training starts.

##

The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.

** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
7514
MDR Blog 11/7
11-06-2015
09:16 AM ET (US)
Now that the World Series is over, teams start announcing moves that might have been made during the Series, and also start making new ones.

Free agents started filing on Monday. You can see a list of filers at www.mlbtraderumors.com or www.mlb.com. Rumors have started about signings and trades.

Here are some of the news and possible news for the four MDR teams, with more to come.

As expected with the hiring of new GM David Stearns, the Brewers have been the most active. Former Padres interim manager Pat Murphy was formally announced as the team’s bench coach. Manager Craig Counsell and Murphy, 56, have a long history. Murphy was Counsell’s head coach at Notre Dame from 1989 to ’92 and the pair have remained close ever since.

Milwaukee also announced Derek Johnson will join the team as pitching coach. Johnson, 43, has spent the past three years serving as the Chicago Cubs’ minor league pitching coordinator. That followed an 11-year stint coaching pitchers at Vanderbilt, a group that included David Price and Sonny Gray.

Johnson decided to bring back Lee Tunnell to serve as bullpen coach next season. Tunnell was originally among the five coaches Counsell inherited from Ron Roenicke, who was let go after the season.

The Brewers also let it be known they will listen to offers for almost anybody on the roster. Jonathan Lucroy has been the subject of several rumors, including one with the Twins. More on that later. Francisco Rodriguez and Adam Lind, whose option was picked up this week, also have been mentioned in trade rumors.

Rumors started circulating that the Cubs could shop slugger Kyle Schwarber because of his struggles in the field. ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers dispels the notion. While Schwarber undeniably struggled in the outfield this postseason, Rogers notes that no one was clamoring for such a move in the regular season.

The Cubs are more likely to concentrate on re-signing centerfielder free agent Dexter Fowler, or seeking a replacement for him. Infielders Starlin Castro or Javier Baez also could be shopped.

The Twins have said they would like to upgrade at catcher, and Lucroy would provide that. Perhaps Trevor Plouffe, who will eventually give up his third base position to Miguel Sano, could be a good exchange. Throw in catcher Kurt Suzuki in exchange for one of the Brewers’ numerous middle infielders.

The Twins also have been rumored to be interested in a reunion with A.J. Pierzynski, who would share time with Suzuki.

Bullpen help seems to be a priority for the Twins. They also might look for a veteran outfielder who could play the role vacated by the retiring Torii Hunter.

The White Sox have declined their $10MM club option on shortstop Alexei Ramirez. Instead, Chicago will pay him a $1MM buyout. Ramirez represented one of the most difficult option decisions in this year’s market. The 34-year-old veteran has been a solid contributor for years in Chicago, and the organization has needs all over its infield. Now, Chicago figures to be in the market for a shortstop to help bridge the gap to top prospect Tim Anderson. Could Starlin Castro be a fit on the South Side?

The White Sox also are on the lookout for third base help and will also pursue upgrades behind the plate.

RHP Jeff Samardzija will likely test the free agent market, but the Sox still will make a qualifying offer to the right-handed hurler.

For some player moves, etc., check out the Hot Stove Updates section of this blog.

Hot Stove Updates

Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com.

Brewers

** The Brewers exercised Adam Lind's $8 million club option, opting to return the first baseman for 2016 following a healthy and productive first season with the club.

** RHP Johnny Hellweg, lefty Cesar Jimenez, catcher Juan Centeno, first baseman Matt Clark, and outfielder Logan Schafer were outrighted to the minors.

Cubs

** LHP Left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada will return to Japan’s top league, Nippon Professional Baseball, to sign a multi-year contract with his former club, the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, according to a report from Sports Hochi (Japanese link).

** Former big league outfielder Adron Chambers, currently in the Cubs farm system, has been suspended 50 games under baseball's minor league drug program following a second positive test for a drug of abuse.

Twins

**The Twins were planning their off-season as if Torii Hunter would return next year, tweets La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Neal adds that some within the organization are “crushed” by his decision to hang it up.
 
** The Twins have interest in a reunion with fleet-footed center fielder Shane Robinson, a source tells Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

White Sox

** The White Sox have claimed right-hander Jacob Turner off waivers from the Cubs, according to the club’s transactions page at MLB.com.

** Utility man Steve Lombardozzi has signed a minor league deal with the White Sox.

What’s Ahead

Friday is the deadline for teams to make qualifying offers to eligible players. Saturday ends the period for teams to have exclusive negotiating rights to their own free agents. Again, you can get a list of players who declare free agency through www.mlbtraderumors.com.

The GM meetings will be start Nov. 9 in Florida. Rumors always spike after those meetings.

Some tickets are still available for the Old Time Ballplayers Association of Wisconsin 35th Annual Hall of Fame Dinner and Induction Ceremony is scheduled for this Sunday. The event will again be held at American Serb Hall, at 5101 W. Oklahoma Ave. in Milwaukee.

Contact Greg Ebbert at 262-292-4002, via e-mail: gregebbert@msn.com. or Rick Schabowski at 414-322-4997.

The MDR Blog will run monthly until spring training. It will then go weekly.

##
The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.

** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
7513
MDR Blog 10/16
10-16-2015
08:12 AM ET (US)
The Cubs finally know who their opponent will be in the NLCS.

On Saturday, they will take on the New York Mets, who beat the Dodgers in the deciding game of the NLDS on Thursday. Jon Lester will match up against New York’s Matt Harvey in the opener.

Jake Arrieta will start Game 2 for the Cubs. Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks will also make starts, but their order had not yet been determined as of Friday morning. The Mets had not announced their starters after Harvey, but they have a rotation of good, young pitchers to choose from.

The Cubs probably were rooting for the Mets, since they went 7-0 against New York in the regular season. Both teams are young upstarts, not necessarily picked by the experts at the start of the season. Their combined payrolls total less than the Dodgers’ payroll./

If the Cubs keep slugging like they did in the NLDS, it might not make any difference who they are facing.

Twelve homers, including nine in the last two games, were hit. Kyle Schwarber hit three of them and Anthony Rizzo had two. Schwarber’s home settled onto the top of the video board in right field and will remain there, as a reminder of the 400-plus foot blast. In fact, it’s ben encased in Plexiglas.

Jorge Soler also contributed to the power surge and showed off his cannon of an arm on a key defensive play at the plate in the final game against the Cardinals. Kris Bryant did not have much of a series until the last game, but then showed he was waking up with a couple key hits.

After Addison Russell went down with a hamstring problem, Javier Baez, who no longer qualifies as a rookie, but still is one of the team’s young Cubbies, contributed a homer in the clincher. Baez also will start for Russell in the NLCS.

Add veterans Dexter Fowler and Starlin Castro to the attack, and the Cubs look to be unstoppable -- for now.

The Mets do have that good, young pitching staff. Harvey Jacob deGrom, who won Game 5 of the NLDS, Noah Syndegaard and Steve Matz are likely to start for New York.

But, the Cubs also have pitching to go with their slugging. They struck out 48 Cardinals in the NLDS. The starters were solid. The bullpen looked better than it had at any time during the regular season.

So, give the Cubs the edge in this series. And, at the risk of getting ahead of ourselves, wouldn’t a Cubs-Blue Jays World Series be an entertaining slugfest?

There might be several more balls preserved in Plexiglas at Wrigley Field and the Rogers Centre after such a Series.

Off-Season Notes

While the Cubs continue to make news on the field, the other MDR teams have been in the news off the field:

** The Brewers hired Rays director of player personnel Matt Arnold as vice president and assistant general manager. The announcement came a couple days after the club announced it has let farm director Reid Nichols go and offered assistant GM Gord Ash another position within the system. Regis Bane also was promoted to vice-president of ticket services and analytics.

** The Twins announced their Grapefruit League schedule and the prospects that are playing in the Arizona Fall League.

** White Sox GM Rick Hahn, executive vice president Ken Williams and other members of the front office held scouting and player development meetings that were completed Thursday in Glendale, Arizona.

What’s Ahead

The MDR Blog will continue to be published weekly until the Cubs are done, and updates about the Cubs in the post-season and other big news about MDR teams will be added. Once the Cubs are done, the MDR Blog will end publishing until November, when it will start running monthly until spring training.

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The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.
** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
7512
MDR Blog 10/9
10-09-2015
08:00 AM ET (US)
Too bad for Cubs fans Jake Arrieta can’t pitch every game in the post-season.

Instead, the Cubs will go with Jon Lester when they face the Cardinals Friday in the first game of the NL Divisional Series. He’ll face former teammate John Lackey.

"Obviously, I know Lack," Lester said. "He's one of my better friends in baseball, better friends in life. I love his family, I love him, but come Friday we're not friends any more. And he'll say the same thing."

Lester was 1-3 against the Cardinals this season. Lackey was 2-0 against the Cubs. The Cardinals won the season series, 11-8, but the Cubs were 6-4 in the last three series between the two.

You can throw most of those numbers out the window when it becomes the post-season. Lester thinks the young Cubs are peaking at the right time and are up to the task against the Cards, who won 100 games this season.

"I keep going back to it, these guys, nothing fazes them," Lester said. "They play above where they're at, as far as age and stature in this game."

Kyle Schwarber showed that in the play-in game against the Pirates with a tape measure home run and three RBIs. It would help if Schwarber stayed hot against the Cardinals. He sparked the Cubs with his power when he first came up during the regular season, but didn’t homer in his last 17 games.

Kris Bryant is another young guy who seems ready. He didn’t get a hit against Pittsburgh, but made two fine plays at third base, after starting the game in left field. Addison Russell struck out a couple times and made an error at shortstop, but he also made a couple sparkling plays, including a good stop on a hot shot to start a key double play.

So, the rookies who start look to fit what Lester said about them. Anthony Rizzo is a MVP candidate and clutch player. It would help if veterans Dexter Fowler and Miguel Montero continued to play like they did against the Pirates.

Then, there is Starlin Castro, who made a couple quick turns at second during double plays Wednesday. Castro could have become a problem when he first was benched in favor of Russell at shortstop and then moved to second base. Instead, he has stepped up his game and become an inspiration for the Cubs.

Manager Joe Maddon has molded this collection of youngsters and vets into a unit, a true team. You could see that in how they rallied around Arrieta when the Pirates hit him with a pitch in the 7th inning on Wednesday. Veteran catcher David Ross led the barricade to prevent any of the Pirates, most notably hot head Sean Rodriguez, from reaching Arrieta.

You can expect more fireworks in the series against the Cardinals. These two are regional rivals who have gone head-to-head many times before. In the closing weeks of the season, Rizzo was hit with a couple pitches in apparent retaliation for Dan Haren plunking Matt Holliday in the helmet. Maddon called the Cardinals “vigilantes” after the incident. The Cubs hit three Cardinals in the next game.

After Lester, the Cubs will go with Kyle Hendricks, who had a perfect game going for a few innings in his final regular season appearance, against the Brewers. Arrieta will return for the third game of the series.

The Cardinals will start Jaime Garcia and Michael Wacha in Games 2 and 3. Their starting pitching, and entire lineup, has been affected by injuries. Adam Wainwright, normally the ace, will pitch out of the bullpen. Holliday and Matt Adams could come off the bench because they are still coming back from injuries. Yadier Molina will be nursing a hand injury if he can play at all.

The Cubs seem to have the momentum, finishing the regular season stronger than the Cards and coming off the win over the Pirates. But, anybody who has followed the Cardinals over recent years knows they are resilient, deep in their system and seem to have the intangibles to step up their game during post-season. Right now, this writer still has to go with the Cardinals, but won’t be all that surprised if the Cubs pull out the series.

Off-Season Notes

While the Cubs continue to play, the other three MDR teams are done. That doesn’t mean they aren’t making some news. In case, you missed it:

** The Brewers fired bench coach Jerry Narron, pitching coach Rick Kranitz and outfield instructor John Shelby, each of whom spent the past five seasons on the staff, plus bullpen coach Lee Tunnell and first-base coach Mike Guerrero. The Brewers retained hitting coach Darnell Coles, who will return for his second season, and third-base coach Ed Sedar, who will be back for a 10th season on the Major League coaching staff and sixth in his current role.

** During the usual season review press conference, Twins GM Terry Ryan talked about bringing back Torii Hunter, upgrading at catcher, the future role of Miguel Sano and the fact second baseman Brian Dozier will have a MRI on his hip.

** This from www.mlbtraderumors.com: There are plenty of questions facing the White Sox this winter, but ESPNChicago.com’s Doug Padilla says none is more important than shortstop. The club has to decide on its $10MM option over Alexei Ramirez, which could still make sense despite his poor season and advancing age. Otherwise, the club could look to use Tyler Saladino as a bridge to prospect Tim Anderson or it could enter a free agent market featuring Ian Desmond and several less promising options.

Other moves have been made by the three teams. Check those out on their MLB sites.

What’s Ahead

Updates of the Cubs-Cardinals series will be posted. The MDR Blog will continue to run weekly for as long as the Cubs are still alive. If they are eliminated, the blog will end until November, when it will go monthly until spring training.

##
The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.
** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
7511
MDR Blog 10/2
10-02-2015
08:05 AM ET (US)
The Cubs and Brewers wrap up the regular season at Miller Park this weekend. If you missed the pitching matchups, here they are:

Friday - Cubs Jake Arrieta vs. Brewers Ariel Pena
Saturday - Cubs Kyle Hendricks vs. Brewers Tyler Wagner
Sunday - Cubs Dan Haren vs. Brewers Jorge Lopez

Of course, the Cubs will not be ending their season entirely. They will meet the Pirates Wednesday in a one-game Wild Card play-in to the NL Division Series.

The Cubs come into Friday night still with a chance mathematically to get the top seed in the Wild Card race, but it is more likely that game will be in Pittsburgh. That would normally be a disadvantage to the Cubs -- but they will have Arrieta on the mound. The possible Cy Young Award winner has been outstanding the last couple months of the season.

Arrieta has been beating everybody, but he specifically has been tough on the Pirates. In nine starts against Pittsburgh, he is 6-1, with a 1.68 ERA. He will face Gerrit Cole in the big game.

So, let’s say Arrieta leads the Cubs to a win in the play-in. Who then will start the divisional series, most likely against another NL Central rival, the Cardinals?

Jon Lester would likely start the first game. He’s only been a .500 pitcher this season, but he has post-season experience.

Jason Hammel or Hendricks could pitch Game 2 of a division series. Arrieta could come back for Game 3. The pitching matchups after that likely depend on the results in the first three games. The veteran Haren could be available. Or manager Joe Maddon could opt to start the rotation with Lester again.

Maddon said this week he is considering carrying 16 position players and nine pitchers or 15 position players and 10 pitchers.

"It comes down to defensive replacements, having the extra catcher, probably the speed guy to pick you up late," Maddon said. "But to just think purely about a pinch hitter and having extra numbers for that, it might be overrated."

If the Cubs are knocked out of the race for the top Wild Card Friday, Maddon likely will rest some of his regulars, including Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant, for at least one or two of the games at Miller Park this weekend. The trick is to give the regulars some time to re-charge, but not too much time so they get rusty.

But, before worrying about the division series, the Cubs have to win the play-in game against the Pirates.

By the way, the Cubs plan to show that wild-card play-in game on the outfield video boards. Major League Baseball has yet to approve the showing.

If approved, tickets would be made available first to season ticket holders and then to the public at a fixed price, with proceeds going to charity.

Final Updated Notes

Brewers

** New GM David Stearns joined the team in San Diego and will watch the club play the rest of this season.

** Ryan Braun will travel home to Los Angeles on Oct. 5 and has an appointment with a back specialist. He expects to undergo an MRI and could have surgery as early as Oct. 8.

** In the first 16 starts of his Major League career, RHP Taylor Jungmann went 9-5 with a 2.42 ERA. In his final five starts of the season, including the three-inning outing Thursday in which he was charged with three runs on four hits and four walks, Jungmann went 0-3 with a 9.53 ERA.

Cubs

** Anthony Rizzo joined a club that has only one other member when he was hit for the 30th time this season, after hitting 30 homers. Only one other player in MLB since 1914 has hit those marks. Don Baylor in 1986 finished with 31 HRs and 35 HBPs.

** CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney notes Kris Bryant‘s versatility could be a great help to the Cubs in their off-season plans. The rookie played at four positions (first, third, center field and right field) on Monday night and has also played six games in left field this season.

** Austin Jackson had two RBIs in 24 games with Chicago prior to Wednesday, but drove in eight in two games, including a career-high five runs on Wednesday, and three more Thursday.

Twins

** The Twins came into the weekend one game behind the Astros in the race for the second AL Wild Card spot.

** The Twins-Royals game on Saturday has been changed to a 12:10 p.m. start and will be shown on FOX.

** Left-hander Tommy Milone is slated to start on Saturday against the Royals, while Sunday's starter in the regular-season finale is still yet to be determined.

White Sox

** RHP Jeff Samardzija pitched seven strong innings in what could be his last start at a White Sox.

** Adam Eaton extended his career high for home runs with No. 14 in the fifth inning Tuesday.

** White Sox slugger Jose Abreu became the only player other than Albert Pujols to have 30 homers and 100 RBIs in his first two seasons.

What’s Ahead

The MDR Blog will continue to run weekly until the Cubs and/or Twins are eliminated. It will then go monthly, starting in November, until spring training.

##

The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.

** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
7510
MDR Blog - 9/26
09-26-2015
07:38 AM ET (US)
With one week left in the regular season, it’s time for the MDR Blog 2015 honors and All Star team to be released. The Cubs had a clean sweep of the major honors:
Player of the Year – Anthony Rizzo turned into the leader of the Cubs with a productive bat, clutching hitting and solid fielding at first base. Perhaps his play against the Brewers where he caught a foul ball while standing on the rolled up tarp before falling into the stands at Wrigley captured best his all-out effort that inspired the young Cubs to drive to the post-season.
Pitcher of the Year – Jake Arrieta developed into a Cy Young candidate, reaching the 20-win mark and pitching a no-hitter. He was the most dominant pitcher in the NL, if not all of baseball, by the end of the season.
Rookie of the Year – Despite not coming up until later in April, Kris Bryant eclipsed Billy Williams’ Cubs rookie home run total and, along with Rizzo, formed a 1-2 punch that was near the top of baseball in home runs and RBIs.
Manager of the Year – Wily veteran manager Joe Maddon molded the Cubs, who started four rookies through much of the season, into a winner. Maddon continued some of the unconventional approaches to the game he first became famous for in Tampa Bay, and they worked.
The MDR All Star team for 2015 includes:
Left Field – the Brewers’ Khris Davis
Center Field – Cubs’ Dexter Fowler
Right Field – Brewers’ Ryan Braun
Third Base – Cubs’ Kris Bryant
Shortstop – White Sox’s Alexei Ramirez
Second Base –Twins’ Brian Dozier
First Base – Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo
Catcher – Cubs’ Miguel Montero
RHP – Cubs Jake Arrrieta
LHP – White Sox’s Chris Sale
Closer – Brewers’ Francisco Rodriguez
DH – Twins’ Miguel Sano
Brewers GM Hire
The main thing you can say about new Brewers GM David Stearns is that he is young, the youngest GM in baseball. This writer doesn’t care about his age, but would rather have seen somebody who had played the game and perhaps coached or managed on the field in addition to understanding and appreciating the “analytics” part of the game.
Some say Stearns’ hiring reflects principal owner Mark Attanasio’s desire to remain involved in the baseball operations. Hiring a young GM who wants to build his career means he’s less likely to stand up to the owner on some player decisions, these critics argue.
Many of those same critics say that Attanasio’s involvement in some personnel decisions in recent years contributed to the Brewers’ current mess. Meanwhile outgoing GM Doug Melvin took most of the heat.
This writer doesn’t know the facts behind these arguments so chooses to put them aside for now. Here are some other facts to consider. Stearns does deserve the chance to prove himself. He does face a rather major rebuilding process.
Now that Theo Epstein, who became a GM at age 28, has had success with the Cubs, it’s quickly becoming the trend to look for young execs, who understand the computer analytics that have become so popular in the game. Stearns would seem to have the potential to fit that mold.
But, in truth, while Epstein got the players, it took a veteran manager like Joe Maddon to make them winners. Stearns has a good baseball man in Craig Counsel as field manager, but Counsel too is just growing into his job.
There are a lot of young, promising players in the Brewers’ organization. But, let’s be honest. Few if any are top-rated prospects like those the Cubs have been able to tap from their system. Rebuilding in Milwaukee is likely to take a while.
Stearns was smart enough in his opening remarks to say he wants to build a team around him of people who know the game and have experience. Melvin likely will be among them as a consultant. Stearns also said he wants to learn, like he has from previous mentors with other organizations.
Again, Stearns deserves the time to prove himself. He’ll need the freedom to make tough decisions based on knowledge of the game, people within it and the more scientific, technical approach to the industry. Fans, the media and others should give him that time and freedom.
Updated Notes
Brewers
** Jonathan Lucroy singled in his first game back from battling concussion after effects.
** RHP Wily Peralta has vowed to work harder to get in better shape and avoid injuries that plagued him this season.
** Jorge Lopez, the Brewers minor league pitcher of the year, will start a game next week.
Cubs
** The Cubs clinched a playoff spot when the Giants lost Friday night.
** Jake Arrieta’s 0.86 ERA in 13 starts since the All-Star break is the lowest mark in major-league history.
** The Cubs, Chicago Park District and Chicago's 47th Ward on Thursday opened Kerry Wood Cubs Field near Lane Tech High School, about a mile from Wrigley Field, with a grand opening and ceremonial ribbon cutting with number dignitaries on hand, including former Cub great Kerry Wood.
Twins
** The Twins failed to gain ground in the AL Wild Card race with a loss Friday.
** RHP Ricky Nolasco was activated from the DL and will pitch out of the bullpen.
** The Twins were not sure when RHP Timmy Milone will return to action.
White Sox
** LHP Chris Sale reached the 1,000 strikeouts career mark. He is three K’s short of the franchise record with one start left.
** OF Melky Cabrera hit his 100th career home run this week.
** Rookie Frank Montas will get one more start this season.
What’s Ahead
The Cubs have started a series against the Pirates and also face the Cardinals next week as they try to possibly move up in the NL Central. They have clinched a playoff spot, but still have an outside shot at the top Wild Card seed.
The Twins have started a seven-game road trip that could very well determine if they make it to the second AL Wild Card spot.
The season ends with a series at Miller Park between the Cubs and Brewers. The Cubs will be preparing to go into the playoffs. The Brewers will primarily be playing for pride.
Next week, the MDR Blog will advance the Cubs’ playoff picture. If the Twins hang in the AL Wild Card race, we’ll also take a look at them.
The blog will continue to run in the post-season until any MDR teams are eliminated. It will then go monthly after the World Series and continue so until spring training.
##
The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below. Updates are periodically added.
** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
7509
MDR Blog - 9/19
09-19-2015
08:43 AM ET (US)
Some names are surfacing as possible Brewers GM candidates who apparently have been interviewed by the club.
Pirates director of player development Tyrone Brooks was in line for an interview this week. Additionally, reports have indicated that the Brewers have received permission from the A’s to interview assistant GM Dan Kantrovitz.
Ass mentioned in the MDR Blog weeks ago, scouting director Ray Montgomery stands out as an internal candidate. The Brewers also interviewed Rays vice president of baseball operations Chaim Bloom on Thursday, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter).
Others have been rumored to be on the team’s radar screen. Scott Servais, the Wisconsin native and assistant Angels GM, was one of those and, in this writer’s opinion, would be a great candidate. But, this writer also has heard that if Servais made any move he might want to return to the field as a field manager.
Teams usually like to have new GMs named by the end of the season, but with incumbent Doug Melvin still on the job, and going to stick around in a consulting role, owner Mark Attanasio is in no hurry to rush to a decision. You even could see a decision wait until after post-season play.
The Brewers very likely will want somebody in place by then, however, since winter meetings follow not long after. Trade talks and other actions usually start up then.
Wild Card Race
The Cubs have been creeping up on the Pirates for the No. 1 Wild Card spot in the NL. That could end up important since the No. 1 team gets to host the one-game play-in to the playoffs.
Chicago is 6-9 against Pirates at Wrigley Field and 9-11 in Pittsburgh in 2014-15, but playing at home would undoubtedly be an asset for the young Cubs, who will have several players in their first post-season.
Wrigley Field has been known as the friendly confines for years. It could prove to be again. The Pirates come to Chicago for a series Sept. 25-27 that could help the Cubs gain home field advantage.
Updated Notes
Brewers
** RHP Jimmy Nelson spent his second night in the hospital Friday after getting hit in the head by a line drive Thursday.
** LF Khris Davis his hit 22nd homer Friday, his 15th since Aug. 8.
** The series with the Reds is to avoid last place in the NL Central. The Brewers’ loss Friday put them in the cellar.
Cubs
** Starlin Castro tied his career-high Friday with six RBIs against the Cardinals.
** Manager Joe Maddon criticized the Cardinals for throwing at Anthony Rizzo.
** Rizzo., Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber and Jake Arrieta are nominated for Esurance MLB awards.
Twins
** The Twins were one game out in the race for the second AL Wild Card going into a doubleheader on Saturday.
** GM Terry Ryan admitted he was surprised at how quickly Miguel Sano has starred since being called up.
** Ryan also said the Twins will stick with often-injured Aaron Hicks, comparing him to a young Torii Hunter.
White Sox
** LF Melky Cabrera praised manager Robin Ventura, whose job status is questionable after the season.
** LHP Chris Sale is nominated for a Esurance MLB award.
** Sale allowed six unearned runs on Friday.
What’s Ahead
Between their current series with the Cardinals, and the afore-mentioned series with the Pirates, the Cubs will play the Brewers at Wrigley Field in next week.
The Twins will meet the Indians and Tigers next week as they compete for that AL Wild Card spot.
Last reminder of the Milwaukee Braves Historical Association dinner on Tuesday, Sept. 22. Go to the MBHA web site or Facebook page for more info.
##
The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below. Updates are periodically added to the Midwest Diamond Report Facebook posting of the blog:
** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
7508
MDR Blog - 9/11
09-10-2015
08:36 PM ET (US)
The Twins will try to keep their AL Wild Card hopes alive while the White Sox hope to play spoilers when the MDR rivals meet in a weekend series.
Ervin Santana will match up against the Sox’s Erik Johnson on Friday night. Tommy Milone will face Chicago’s Jose Quintana on Saturday.
In the featured matchup on Sunday, Kyle Gibson will go against the Sox’s Chris Sale.
Gibson is coming off his first career complete game, as he allowed four first-innings runs before settling down to get through eight innings in a loss to the Royals. He has a 3.20 ERA over his last four starts.
Over his past six starts, Sale has averaged nearly seven innings and just over 10 strikeouts, but he's earned the win in just three of those outings.
The Twins were fighting it out with the Rangers going into the weekend for the second Al Wild Card spot.
"We're trying to find ways to win, but I think these games in September with these atmospheres on the road, our guys' pulse rates are probably up there a little more than they're used to. But they're finding ways to perform in those circumstances," Twins manager Paul Molitor said.
Updated Notes
Brewers
** C Jonathan Lucroy was still suffering from concussion symptom on Thursday.
** OF Daniel Fields was claimed off waivers from Detroit and assigned to Double A.
** C Nevin Ashley, who was recently called up, is married to a woman with the first name of Ashley.
Cubs
** Cubs fans can register for a random drawing for playoff tickets from now until Sept. 23.
** Manager Joe Maddon said he will continue to shift around his defense so players remain versatile.
** One player who has been versatile all season is Chris Coghlan, who made as great catch while fall into the stands as a rightfielder this week.
Twins
** Miguel Sano hit the Twins’ first pinch-hit homer this season on Wednesday and the team’s first since 2013.
** Sano had hit 16 homers in 57 games going into the weekend.
** C Kurt Suzuki suffered a bruised knee Wednesday and was day-to-day.
White Sox
** Manager Robin Ventura said this week he wants to “stay put” with the Sox.
** Ventura is trying to balance playing time for seven infielders.
** LHP Carlos Rodon turned in his sixth straight quality start and has a 1.76 ERA in that stretch.
What’s Ahead
The Cubs meet the Pirates and Cardinals next week as they try to hold on to the second NL Wild Card spot.
The teams announced their 2016 schedules this week. Go to their respective web sites for details.
The Milwaukee Braves Historical Association will hold a dinner commemorating the 50th anniversary of the team’s last game in Milwaukee. Go to the group’s web site for more info.
.
7507
MDR Blog 9/6
09-06-2015
08:43 AM ET (US)
The Cubs are very serious about this post-season thing.

They showed that last week by their response to outfielder Jorge Soler and reliever Jason Motte going on the DL with injuries.

The Cubs acquired outfielder Austin Jackson from the Mariners. Jackson had reportedly cleared revocable trade waivers, and by adding him when they did, the Cubs will have the option of utilizing him on their post-season roster.

Jackson has contributed already and gives the Cubs good depth at all three outfield positions.

The Cubs also added another arm to the bullpen, acquiring RHP Fernando Rodney from the Mariners for a player to be named or cash considerations. Rodney had given up one run in three appearances going into the weekend.

Javier Baez also was among the September call-ups. He homered Friday night and could be a contributor down the stretch.

So, the Cubs could have tried to get along with the roster that had gotten them into the second Wild Card spot in the NL. It includes MVP candidate Anthony Rizzo, Rookie of the Year candidate Kris Bryant and Cy Young candidate Jake Arrieta.

Chris Coghlan and Dexter Fowler are veterans who have contributed. Jon Lester and Jason Hammel are veterans in the rotation.

Rookies Addison Russell, Kyle Schwarber and Soler all have been contributors.

But, the Cubs instead looked to improve themselves and maybe make a run at the Pirates for the top Wild Card spot in the NL.

"It seemed a no-brainer for us," President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein said of acquiring Jackson. In turn, Jackson said, “"This is awesome. Any time you get a chance to come to a contending team, that's all you really want." Jackson played in the post-season for three years with the Tigers.

Epstein also said that Baez “earned his way” back to the big leagues and is expected to be a contirbutor.

Manager Joe Maddon, who managed Rodney with the Rays, said, “I know he struggled a bit this year, We just spoke on the phone. He sounds really good, so we’ll see how it (plays).. He still has the good fastball. He’s got an outstanding changeup. He’s a great teammate. He’s a lot of fun to have on the team.”

Give the Cubs credit for taking this contending and post-season thing seriously. They’re “all in” on the North Side of Chicago.l

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes came from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

Brewers

** Friday’s rainout sent the Brewers into a doubleheader Saturday against the Reds. They swept the Red, 7-3 and 8-6.

** RHP Ariel Pena was called up to bolster the bullpen. He earned the win in the second game of Saturday’s twin bill.

** Ryan Braun became the 31st player in Major League history to post at least four seasons of 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases when he swiped second in the fifth inning of Thursday night's 5-3 win over the Pirates.

Cubs

** RHP Jake Arrieta followed up his no-hitter with eight scoreless innings on Saturday.

** LHP Tsuyoshi Wada were recalled from Iowa, and the Cubs selected the contracts of outfielder Quintin Berry and RHP Trevor Cahill.

** The Cubs will be without rookie Kyle Schwarber for three to five days while he is treated for a mild right rib strain he sustained prior to Wednesday's 14-5 win, the team announced.

Twins

** CF Byron Buxton made a diving catch to end the game, strand the bases full and give the Twins a 3-2 win over the Astros Saturday.

** The Twins reinstated outfielder Aaron Hicks from the 15-day disabled list on Friday, while also recalling LHP Logan Darnell from Triple-A Rochester.

** Twins closer Glen Perkins told reporters today that he can “barely walk” due to back spasms, per La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (Twitter links). Perkins did not accompany the team to Houston for its weekend series.

White Sox

** 3B Mike Olt was claimed on waivers from the Cubs after the 27-year-old was designated for assignment on Monday. He is expected to join the White Sox roster in the next few days.

** Alexei Ramirez hopes to return to the White Sox in 2016, he tells Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune. “This was the team that gave me the opportunity to play in the big leagues and I want to spend the rest of my career here,” said Ramirez via interpreter.

** RHP Jeff Samardzija and another unknown White Sox player were both claimed on the same day that the Yankees claimed David Robertson, CBS Sports Jon Heyman reports. However, the Samardzija claim was, like the Robertson claim, primarily a blocking tactic.

What’s Ahead

The two contending MDR teams go against the leaders in their respective division this week.

The Cubs open a three-game series against the Cardinals in St. Louis on Labor Day. The Twins travel to Kansas City on Monday for the first of three-games with the ALC leading Royals. The Twins then start a series next Monday in Chicago against the White Sox.

The Milwaukee Braves Historical Association will hold a dinner Sept. 22 marking the 50th anniversary of the last game played by the Braves in Milwaukee. Frank Thomas, Frank Bolling and Billy Cowan will be in attendance from the Braves, and Ron Fairly, Al (The Bull) Ferrara and Maury Wills will be there from the Dodgers.

The cost is $125. Mail your check to: Milwaukee Braves Historical Association, P.O. Box 210074, Milwaukee, WI. 53221.

##
The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.

** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
7506
MDR Blog 8/28
08-28-2015
07:43 AM ET (US)

Midwest Diamond Report

After many people were ready to write the Twins off, they have climbed back into the AL Wild Card race.

 In fact, after a win on Wednesday, the Twins held the second Wild Card spot. Going into this weekend, they were a half game out of the race for that second spot.


 It’s been a team effort. Rookies Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton have contributed. Sano was hitting .284 with 12 homers and 37 RBI in his first 46 games. Buxton was at .239 after 17 games, but was hitting .300 in the last week.

 Eddie Rosario is another rookie who has contributed. He set a franchise rookie record with his 10th triple this week.

 "We have a lot of guys who are contributing, but Sano seems to be in the middle of a lot of things we're doing offensively,“ manager Paul Molitor said. “You'll see some strikeouts, but he gets walks. He's a big reason why our offense is flowing."

 Shane Robinson also was helping out in the outfield. Eduardo Escobar hit two home runs on Wednesday and was hitting over .300 in the last week.

 The pitching has been in and out all season, but the bullpen has received a boost with the addition of Neal Cotts from the Brewers and Kevin Jepsen. The latter has stepped into the closer role while Glenn Perkins was dealing with back problems.

 A 6-game winning streak on the road marked the first time since 2007 that the Twins were able to have that kind of success away from home. That streak ended with a 5-4 loss to the Rays on Thursday.

 "We're playing good and what I'm proud of is how we bounced back after those three games against the Yankees," Twins second baseman Brian Dozier said. "Especially, the way it happened. So to bounce back and get on this streak is impressive."

 Several things would help the Twins down the stretch. First would be for Perkins to heal up and once again take over the closer role. Starting pitching also could help by stabilizing.

It would help if Dozier could regain his form that made him an All Star selection. He was sitting at 26 homers with 66 RBIs going into the weekend, but had dropped to .244 overall and .241 over the last week.

 Joe Mauer becoming the Joe Mauer of old also would help. He was at .269, but had hit over .300 in the last week. A second wind by veteran Torii Hunter would be a boost.

 ESPN gave the Twins only a 17% chance of making it to the playoffs this week, but the way the club has bounced back and surprised a lot of people over the whole season you can’t really count the Twins out.

 “We have shown resiliency, which is a good thing,” Molitor said. “We find a way to win day to day. We just have to keep doing that.”

 Updated Notes

 (Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

 Brewers

 ** RHP Wily Peralta insisted nothing is wrong with his arm after he lasted only 2.2 innings in his last start and was throwing his fast ball at 4-5 mph slower than usual.

 ** The Brewers have already gotten a look at Domingo Santana in all three outfield positions, and manager Craig Counsell said for the time being, that’s the best way to get him regular at-bats, per the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Todd Rosiak.

 ** Brewers left fielder Khris Davis has hit 10 home runs this month, for the 26th double-digit homer month in franchise history and the first since Prince Fielder homered 10 times in June 2011.

 Cubs

 ** With the Cubs' Dexter Fowler day-to-day with some minor injuries, Matt Szczur was in center, Kris Bryant made his first start in right and Kyle Schwarber caught for the first time since Aug. 6 on Thursday.

 ** The Cubs added another arm to the bullpen mix Thursday, acquiring right-hander Fernando Rodney from the Mariners for a player to be named or cash considerations.

** LHP Zac Rosscup was optioned to Triple-A Iowa, and RHP Brian Schlitter was designated for assignment.

 Twins

 ** Twins starters did not reach six innings in all but two of their 10 games on the road, averaging just 5 1/3 innings per start. The last starter to go more than 5 2/3 innings was Tyler Duffey on Aug. 20, when he went 7 2/3 frames,

 ** Miguel Sano got a double when his fly ball hit a catwalk on the roof at Tropicana Field Thursday.

 ** The Twins reinstated RHP Blaine Boyer from the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday and placed Rule 5 Draft pick J.R. Graham on the 15-day DL with right shoulder inflammation.

 White Sox

 ** LHP Chris Sale set a single-season personal high by reaching 229 strikeouts this week.

 ** LHP Carlos Rodon has had four straight quality starts with a 1.61 ERA in that stretch.

 ** Zach Putnam declared himself ready to this week after the reliever missed four days with a right groin problem.

What’s Ahead

 Look for teams to make some September call-ups this coming week. Also, any last minute deals for players who would be eligible for post-season play must be made by the end of Monday.

 The Cubs return home to host the Reds as they strive to hold on to the second Wild Card spot in the NL.

The Twins have a big weekend series, which starts Friday night, against the Astros. They then meet the White Sox Sox in a MDR rivalry series starting Tuesday. Pitching matchups will be posted.

 ##

 The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.

 ** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
 ** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
Edited 08-28-2015 07:44 AM
7505
MDR Blog 8/22
08-22-2015
08:23 AM ET (US)
The Cubs led the Giants by four games in the battle for the second Wild Card in the National League going into this weekend. What do they have to do to stay in that race?

First is to continue to get the starting pitching they have had most of the season. Led by Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester, the starting pitching ranks fourth in the NL and has been the strength of the team.

But, as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Sun-Times recently wrote, “But the Cubs’ rotation – the backbone of the Cubs’ success this year — has suddenly slipped a disk with the most important six weeks of the season left to play.

“Jason Hammel hasn’t found his form since a July leg injury. Kyle Hendricks has gone back to Class AA video to fix a delivery flaw he’s battled all season. Newcomer Dan Haren is an 86-mph, hold-your-breath-for-five-innings proposition.”

Wittenmyer also points out that Arrieta is in uncharted territory as far as innings pitched, and Lester lasted just 2.2 innings in his latest outing.

Manager Joe Maddon says he isn’t worried, but since the Cubs don’t have the most reliable bullpen after the starters it might be time to make a move to add depth. The club has Starlin Castro and Javier Baez out there as infielders who could be of interest to other clubs.

Although it is tougher to make deals now that players must clear waivers, they can still be made. In fact, some playoff teams in the past have made trades that helped them.

Pitching won’t do it alone though. The Cubs need to continue their offensive production of the last few weeks. Kyle Schwarber is the only regular who was above .300 going into this weekend.

But, Anthony Rizzo was close and had 24 homers and 73 RBIs. Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant were hanging around .260. Bryant had 17 homers and 68 RBIs.

Bryant, Addison Russell, Dexter Fowler and Chris Coghlan all were over .300 for their last seven games. The Cubs rank 16th overall in runs production at 4.08 per game, but their production has been up since the All Star break.

It would help if the young players cut down on their strikeouts. The four rookies who start had 398 strikeouts going into the weekend. Russell, Soler and Bryant all were over 100 Ks.

As talented as they are, those four rookies also are going into another world as far as games and innings played. And, they will soon feel the September pressure of a pennant race.

But, those four players look very poised and capable. Rizzo also has stepped up and has become a team leader at the plate and in the field. His effort on a foul ball against the Brewers a couple weeks ago was a play that could inspire a player of any age.

Fowler, Coghlan, Miguel Montero and David Ross also have shown some veteran leadership. Then, of course, on the bench is Maddon, the veteran wizard who brought the Rays to the post-season.

Overall, the Cubs have a chance. September should be very interesting for the Wrigley Field faithful.

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

Brewers

** Outfielder Domingo Santana, who was acquired in the Carlos Gomez deal with Houston, was promoted from Triple A. He started in center field Friday and homered.

** LHP Neal Cotts was traded to the Twins and LHP Cesar Jimenez was claimed off waivers from the Phillies.

** Ryan Braun on passing Robin Yount as the all-time homer leader for the Brewers: "Robin is the best player in franchise history," Braun said. "He played here for 20 years, he accomplished so many incredible things, so any time you're mentioned alongside his name, it's pretty special." Yount’s response was: "It's about time we got a guy with some real power on the top of that list.”

Cubs

** Chris Coghlan has hit four home runs in his last seven games.

** RHP Jake Arrieta became the first pitching in MLB to 15 wins. Arrieta is the first Cubs pitcher to record 12 consecutive quality starts since Hall of Famer Greg Maddux had a 14-game stretch, June 25-Aug. 31, 1992. Arrieta also is the Cubs' first 15-game winner since Ryan Dempster went 15-12 in 2010.

** Cubs outfield prospect Billy McKinney is out for the rest of the season after suffering a hairline fracture when he fouled a ball off his right knee.

Twins

** RHP A.J. Achter was sent to Triple A to make room for Neal Cotts, acquired from the Brewers on Friday.

** Miguel Sano became the fastest to reach 10 home runs in Minnesota history (41 games). The previous mark was set by Marty Cordova, who did it in 48 games.

** Top prospect Byron Buxton rejoined the Twins, as fellow center fielder Aaron Hicks was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left hamstring strain suffered in Wednesday's 4-3 loss to the Yankees.

White Sox

** LHP Chris Sale struck out 14 Mariners Friday, giving him 29 punchouts in his last 14 innings and 222 for the season, the current Major League lead.

** 2B Carlos Sanchez drove in a career-high four runs Friday night.

** The Mariners could end up bringing in White Sox president Kenny Williams to head its front office, Bob Nightengale reports. But Williams may also be in the running to become the new president of the Blue Jays.

What’s Ahead

Look for the possibility of some post-waivers trades this coming week. The Brewers and Twins already did one Friday which sent Neal Cotts to Minnestota. Players must be added before Sept. 1 to be eligible for post-season play.

After Sept. 1, the roster expand so prospects can be called up, but they are not eligible for the post-season.

The Cubs will go head-to-head with their closest Wild Card competitor, the Giants, in San Francisco this coming week. They then travel to Los Angeles to meet the Dodgers.

The Twins hope to keep their fading AL Wild Card hopes alive with series against the Rays and Astros.

##

The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below:

** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
7504
MDR Blog 8/13
08-13-2015
07:01 PM ET (US)
The Cubs and White Sox start the second phase of the Crosstown Cup Classic this weekend, which is why this blog is being distributed early.

Pitching matchups for that series are in the What’s Ahead section, but first we’ll take a look at the long-awaited decision on Brewers GM Doug Melvin and some possible candidates for his replacement.

Let me say right upfront that Melvin, in my opinion, is the second best GM ever for the Brewers -- with Harry Dalton ranking tops. Both were largely responsible for building talented teams that made it to the post-season. Both kept the Brewers competitive for relatively decent stretches of time.

But, near the end of their careers, both seemed to slip. In Dalton’s case, he had little resources to deal with under the Selig-led ownership group. That wasn’t the case for Melvin, who had rather strong payroll support coming from Mark Attanasio and his group. In fact, this year the Brewers started the season with a six-figure payroll, the largest in franchise history.

So what led to Melvin’s decline, if you believe there was one? Some will argue his decision to rent-a-player, C.C. Sabathia in 2008 and Zack Greinke in 2011, depleted the Brewers’ farm system.

The argument doesn’t really hold water with Sabathia, since only one player sent to the Indians, Michael Brantley, really made it big. And, what Brewers’ fan can argue that watching C.C. put the team on his broad shoulders and carry them into the playoffs was not one of the biggest moments in team history.

The argument in the Greinke trade seems stronger. Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar have been regulars for the Royals and have helped them become one of the best teams in the AL. Jeremy Jeffress is back with the Brewers after a trip to rehab and around baseball. Jake Odorizzi is with the Rays.

Ultimately, Melvin traded Greinke away a season and a half later, acquiring Jean Segura, Johnny Hellweg and Ariel Pena in exchange. Only Segura has turned out to be a contributor on the big league level.

Melvin also advocated for extensions for Carlos Gomez (three years, $24MM), Ryan Braun (eight years, $45MM, followed by an additional five years, $105MM), Jonathan Lucroy (five years, $11MM) and Rickie Weeks (four years, $38.5MM). You could argue that the Braun and Weeks contracts were mistakes.

Melvin’s more recent transactions have been something of a mixed bag. The Adam Lind-for-Marco Estrada swap has benefited both parties, and the re-signing of Francisco Rodriguez has, to this point, been a solid move. Kyle Lohse made good on the first two years of his three-year, $33MM contract, but then turned into Jeff Suppan. The Matt Garza contract currently looks like a big mistake.

Even more recently, Melvin drew praise for the return in the deal a couple weeks ago that sent Gomez and Mike Fiers to Houston for Brett Phillips, Josh Hader, Domingo Santana and Adrian Houser . He also landed pitcher right-hander Zach Davies from the Orioles when trading Gerardo Parra to Baltimore. The results of those deals will only be revealed in time. As Attanasio said Tuesday, “We will see Doug’s handiwork for years to come.”

Some of Melvin’s most questionable moves might also have not been his sole doings. Insiders will tell you that Attanasio played roles in the 2008 firing of Ned Yost as manager, the signing of Garza and the decision to stand relatively pat after the collapse last season, only to find out that the 2015 Brewers were closer to that team that flopped than they were to the club that stayed in first place for months in 2014.

People will argue the pros and cons of Melvin’s record for years. This writer would like to wrap up by saying he always was upfront with those of us in the media, even when he had screwed up, and went out of his way to be accessible. He and his wife also became involved in the community and some very worthy causes. By all my observations in dealing with Melvin for several years, he is a good man.

These things don’t always come out in a results-oriented business like baseball. But, in the large scheme of things they might be more important.

Candidates

Attanasio outlined a “composed and orderly search” for his organization’s next GM. “The process needs to be exhaustive, so as a result, there is no timetable for the process,” he explained.

The organization is likely to go with a “younger person” as its chief baseball decision maker, Attanasio added, and he’ll consider candidates from inside and outside not only the organization but also the game of baseball. He’s also hired a consulting firm to aid in the search.

Melvin has submitted to Attanasio a list of internal candidates to consider for the job, but is keeping the names private to avoid issues of office politics.

Some outside candidates mentioned early in rumors include Tampa Bay vice president of baseball operations Chaim Bloom, Cleveland assistant Mike Chernoff, Atlanta assistant John Coppolella, New York Yankees assistant Billy Eppler, Boston assistant Mike Hazen, Oakland assistant Dan Kantrovitz, Los Angeles Angels assistant Matt Klentak and MLB executive Chris Marinak.

MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy tweeted that he’s heard current scouting director Ray Montgomery has a good chance at being tabbed to fill the vacancy. Montgomery was mentioned in this blog as a possible candidate on July 3.

Of course, right now because of the Cubs’ rise, everybody is looking for a clone of Theo Epstein. But, Attanasio should keep in mind he is hiring a baseball GM, not a corporate CEO. Call me “old school”, but there is something to be said for a GM that has come up through baseball -- as a player, perhaps manager or coach, and with some front office experience.

For instance, in Epstein’s case, he provided the corps of young players who are helping the Cubs rise again, but it took an old baseball vet in Joe Maddon, who often relies on instincts and savvy, to mold them into a winner.

Milwaukee fans saw what can happen when somebody who has primarily just front office, or corporate, experience is hired. Remember Dean Taylor, who was hired before Melvin. Ouch, those were bad years.

This writer is pushing for Scott Servais, and not only because he is from the small town just to the north of where I currently live. Servais is the assistant general manager for the Angels. He's also a retired player and former director of player development for the Rangers. He is 48, just a few years older than field manager Craig Counsell.

Servais has a rich background in scouting and is up on the “analytics” that Attanasio and other new age baseball people like to talk about so much. His return to his home state also would made for great PR. The Brewers will need that after this bad season.

My first mention of Servais came July 12 on the MDR page. He was mentioned by Bob Nightendale of USA Today as a possible candidate this week.

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

Brewers

** Though he has experience in the Brewers front office, manager Craig Counsell told reporters (including MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy) that he is “not a candidate” for the team’s vacant GM job.

** RF Ryan Braun hit his 250th home run Wednesday, one shy of Robin Yount’s franchise record.

** The Brewers have lost seven straight to the Cubs.

Cubs

** The Cubs have 11 walkoff wins this season, the most in the big leagues.

** The Cubs could still look to add some pitching help this month, but president of baseball operations Theo Epstein tells Bruce Levine of 670 The Score/CBS Chicago that the team isn’t currently close to any deals (Twitter link). As Epstein noted, sometimes things don’t really pick up on that front until the end of August.

** Starlin Castro has lost his starting shortstop job to Addison Russell and is now facing a move to (or even a platoon role at) second base, but Castro is positive about his new position. “Whatever helps the team win. We don’t think about (ourselves). We think about us as a team,” Castro told reporters, including CBS Chicago’s Bruce Levine. His agent Paul Kinzer said, “Sometimes a change can help everyone. Starlin would hate to leave Chicago. The one thing he is adamant about is being a team player and not becoming a distraction to this very good team.”

Twins

** Phil Hughes will head to the disabled list with lower back inflammation. As a result, Trevor May will start on Friday. The Twins will call up Tyler Duffey from Triple-A Rochester to pitch Saturday and Tommy Milone will be activated from the disabled list for Sunday's start.

** Miguel Sano’s six RBIs in one game Wednesday tied a Twins rookie record.

** On Monday, the Twins reinstated outfielder Byron Buxton, their No. 1 prospect, from the 15-day disabled list and optioned him to Triple-A Rochester. "The short amount of time that he had up here, we all saw and it was a struggle, so it isn't going to hurt him to have time at Triple-A is about what it came down to," general manager Terry Ryan said on Tuesday.

White Sox

** Avisail Garcia picked up his second walk-off hit and fourth game-ending play of the season Wednesday. Garcia's four walk-off RBIs are the most in the Majors.

** Sox outfielder J.B. Shuck has moved closer to starting an injury rehabilitation assignment to test his strained left hamstring, while utility infielder/outfielder Emilio Bonifacio began his assignment with Triple-A Charlotte on Tuesday.

** Trayce Thompson hit his first career home in the a 3-0 White Sox victory over the Angels on Tuesday night at U.S. Cellular Field. He received a low-five from manager Robin Ventura, but then he got the silent treatment from his teammates. That moment finally broke when Thompson, who was giving imaginary high-fives, tapped Jose Abreu on the chest and Abreu's laughter started a celebratory mosh pit.

One More Pitch

VMP Manor Park resident and Baseball Hall of Famer Marjorie Peters made the news yesterday.

The soon-to-be 97-year-old is an original member of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League and the Rockford Peaches, the team based on the movie “A League of Their Own.”

Marjorie’s wish “I want to pitch one more time.” Wish granted. Check out the links below for her story.

http://www.wisn.com/news/at-97-rockford-pe...-last-time/34635746

http://fox6now.com/2015/08/10/96-year-old-...itch-one-last-time/

What’s Ahead

As mentioned earlier, the Crosstown Classic between the Cubs and White Sox will stage its second series on the South Side this weekend.

Pitching matchups include: Friday - Cubs Kyle Hendricks vs. Sox Jeff Samardzija, Saturday - Cubs Jake Arrieta vs. Sox Jose Quintana, Sunday - Cubs Dan Haren vs. Sox Chris Sale.

Game times are 3:10 p.m.on Friday, 6:10 on Saturday and 1:10 on Sunday.

Look for Anthony Rizzo’s spectacular catch from Wednesday’s game to be a strong candidate for the MLB Defensive Play of the Year.

##

The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below:

** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
7503
MDR Blog 8/8
08-08-2015
08:56 AM ET (US)
Two MDR teams find themselves at the opposite ends of a rebuilding process.

The Cubs are starting to enjoy the results of several years of rebuilding. The Brewers have just started the process.

Some have raised the question whether Brewers’ fans will be as patient as the Cubs’ fans during a long rebuilding. First, some evidence exists that the Chicago fans were not always that patient. Attendance at Wrigley Field dropped, and the Ricketts family, Cubs owners, caught a lot of criticism. Some of the latter also had to do with debates over the future of Wrigley Field and the surrounding neighborhood.

The Cubs started the rebuilding process in 2010. It started by dumping some veteran, high-priced players who had become dead wood. Alfonso Soriano and others were among them.

Under Theo Epstein’s approach, the Cubs went after the best talent available in the annual draft and international talent. Today, Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler and Kyle Schwarber, all products of the draft or international market, are rookies who start for the Cubs. Javier Baez is another talented prospect who could still play a role with the club.

Addison Russell, a fourth rookie starter, was added via a trade with the A’s. Epstein has supplemented the core of rookies with players like Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero (when healthy), etc. via trades and free agent market. And, Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo already were with the club as established stars, although Castro might have slipped from that ranking and could be dealt elsewhere.

Perhaps the main area where the Cubs have used trades to help rebuild is pitching, where Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta and Jason Hammel all have been added via that route. Lately, the Cubs also picked up Dan Haren and Tommy Hunter for the stretch drive.

This process has taken five years. The Cubs showed some promise last year, but this is the first year they have actually been contenders for a NL Wild Card spot.

The Brewers missed an opportunity to start the rebuilding process over last winter. They chose to stick with many of the same players who helped the team stay in first place for more than 100 games in 2014 and also were part of a collapse in the last couple months of that season.

When the club got off to a horrible start this season, GM Doug Melvin and principal owner Mark Attanasio finally started rebuilding. They are in the first phase, of dumping some veterans in Aramis Ramirez, Jonathan Broxton and likely Kyle Lohse, who was placed on revocable waivers Friday. Carlos Gomez, Gerardo Parra and Mike Fiers were still productive players, but were marketable for prospects.

The Brewers have a couple players who likely are not marketable. Matt Garza is owed more than $20 million over the next couple years and at best can be described as inconsistent. Ryan Braun also will make big money and has the taint of his steroids scandal. So, expect them to stay with a core of players in Jonathan Lucroy, Jean Segura and some promising young pitchers.

The Brewers hope the young players picked up in the deals that sent Gomez and Fiers to the Astros and Parra to the Orioles give them the core the Cubs received with Bryant, etc.

Melvin said at a press conference last week that the Brewers hope to shorten the rebuilding process because they picked up prospects who already are at Double A and Triple A. Milwaukee also has talent at Double A Biloxi.

For this veteran reporter, the Brewers remind me a bit of the 2002-03 teams. They had some talent, but basically were ballclubs in waiting, for a core of J.J. Hardy, Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart, etc. close to coming up. Perhaps one advantage the current team has over those clubs is the promising young pitching. Ben Sheets was more or less it for those other teams.

Only time will tell if the Brewers can become competitive again at a faster pace than the Cubs have.

The Cubs and Brewers will meet this coming week in Wrigley Field. Look for the starting pitching matchups in the What’s Ahead section of this blog.

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

Brewers

** INF Jason Rogers was recalled from Triple A and Hector Gomez was outrighted.

** RHP Tyler Cravy took the loss in a 6-0 decision to the Cardinals in his first start since replacing Kyle Lohse in the starting rotation.

** In 10 of his 11 starts, RHP Taylor Jungmann has allowed two or fewer earned runs, including his last eight games in a row.

Cubs

** Catcher Miguel Montero was activated from the DL and utility player Matt Szcur optioned to Triple A.

** LHP Clayton Richard, who was designated for assignment on Monday, rejoined the team on Wednesday when reliever Rafael Soriano was placed on the disabled list with inflammation in his right shoulder.

** Dan Haren's first start for the Cubs didn't go as planned, as he gave up two HRs and the defense made costly errors in a loss to the Pirates.

Twins

** Torii Hunter homered to give the Twins a 10-9 win in a slugfest with the Indians Friday.

** The Twins have designated catcher Eric Fryer for assignment, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports on Twitter. Minnesota made a series of roster moves, including the recall of backstop Chris Herrmann from Triple-A.

** RHP Tyler Duffey, who was recalled from Triple-A Rochester to replace injured left-hander Tommy Milone, lasted two innings against the Blue Jays, surrendering six runs on five hits and two walks.

White Sox

** CF Adam Eaton jammed his shoulder while making a catch, but does not expect to miss an extended time.

** Free agent outfielder John Mayberry Jr. has signed a minor league deal with the White Sox, according to a tweet from the club’s Triple-A affiliate in Charlotte. Mayberry, a client of CAA Sports, was released by the Mets following the team’s acquisition of Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe.

** RHP Nate Jones was brought back from his rehabilitation assignment from Tommy John surgery at Triple-A Charlotte and reinstated from the 60-day disabled list. Daniel Webb was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a back strain.

What’s Ahead.

The pitching matchups for the Cubs-Brewers series at Wrigley includes: Tuesday - Brewers Taylor Jungmann vs. Cubs Dan Haren, Wednesday - Brewers Matt Garza vs. Cubs Jason Hammel, Thursday - Brewers Tyler Cravy vs. Cubs Jon Lester.

The Cubs and White Sox meet starting Friday. The MDR Blog will be posted before that series starts to include advance info.

##

The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.
** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
7502
MDR Blog 7/30
07-30-2015
08:10 AM ET (US)
The Cubs and Brewers enter this weekend’s series at Miller Park under different circumstances.

Still in the NL Wild Card picture, the Cubs will be looking to take at least three of four in the series. Also, any moves they might make before the trade deadline of 3 p.m. on Friday will be meant to make them more competitive in the home stretch.

Meanwhile, the Brewers’ biggest goal left for the season is to climb out of last place in the NL Central. They could unload a couple players before the deadline to primarily trim payroll and get some prospects for rebuilding.

Jake Arrieta will open the series Thursday night against the Brewers’ Jimmy Nelson. The Cubs will send Jason Hammel against Taylor Jungmann on Friday night.

Kyle Hendricks and the Brewers’ Matt Garza are set to start Saturday. The Cubs had not named their starter for Sunday. Kyle Lohse will start for the Brewers if he has not been traded.

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com)

Brewers

** The trade that would have brought Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler and infielder Wilmer Flores to the Brewers was nixed because of New York's concerns over Carlos Gomez's hip, according to JSOnline.com and other sources. Reports persist, however, that Gomez will still be traded before the deadline.

** Gerardo Parra, another trade candidate, extended his hitting streak to 13 games Wednesday.

** RHP Wily Peralta returned from the DL and pitched six shutout innings before allowing two runs to the Giants on Tuesday.

Cubs

** LHP Jon Lester struck out a season-high 14 on Wednesday.

** The Padres have engaged in at least some discussions with the Cubs regarding young infielder Javier Baez, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Chicago is said to be pursuing pitching.

** The Cubs added two fresh arms to the bullpen on Wednesday, recalling right-handed pitcher Yoervis Medina and selecting the contract of right-handed pitcher Ben Rowen from Triple-A Iowa. To make room for Rowen on the 40-man roster, infielder/outfielder Mike Baxter was designated for assignment. Right-hander Dallas Beeler, who started on Tuesday night, was optioned to Iowa.

Twins

** Manager Paul Molitor said a big move was not a 'necessity' before the trade deadline.

** The Twins announced the call-up of highly-regarded shortstop prospect Jorge Polanco, who will take the roster spot of Trevor Plouffe as he heads to the paternity list.

** The late Twins great Harmon Killebrew, who died in 2011 after a battle with esophageal cancer, has been nominated to be featured on a commemorative postage stamp. Fans can sign the petition urging the United States Postal Service's Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee to select Killebrew. A Twitter account (@HarmonUSStamp) has also been created. The goal is to try to get 1,000 signatures on the petition.

White Sox

**The White Sox won their seventh straight game Wednesday, 9-2 over the Red Sox.

** With the White Sox now climbing past the Tigers in the standings, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets that he believes there’s a better chance of Detroit moving David Price than there is of Chicago parting with Jeff Samardzija.

** In the sixth inning Tuesday, Jose Abreu was awarded a home run when the Red Sox’s Mookie Betts caught his long fly ball just before leaping into the short wall and tumbling into the Boston bullpen. Although originally ruled an out, television replay showed the ball rolling out of Betts' glove as he landed. White Sox manager Robin Ventura challenged, and the call was overturned following a lengthy review.

What’s Ahead

The rosters of at least a couple MDR teams could look different next week, or even later this weekend, after the trade deadline.

Milwaukee writer Jim Cryns has published “Bench Jockey”, which includes stories from Game Day over the years. Cryns is holding a signing for charity at the Lakeshore Chinooks' game on Monday, Aug. 3. All proceeds go to Hometown Heroes, Kapco's charity.

##

The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.

** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
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