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7545
MDR Blog 8/19
08-19-2016
09:57 AM ET (US)
The Cubs demonstrated their dominance and showed how many ways they can beat you in a sweep of the Brewers this week.

First, spot starter Trevor Cahill pitched five scoreless innings and the bullpen took it from there in a 4-0 win in the first game of a day-night doubleheader on Tuesday. Then, Jason Hammel continued the pitching dominance in a 4-1 win in the nightcap.

Jon Lester again gave up only one run in a 6-1 win on Wednesday. Jorge Soler and David Ross homered for the Cubs.

When the pitching faltered somewhat on Thursday, Kris Bryant, who along with Anthony Rizzo might be the leading candidate for NL MVP, had five hits, including his 29th and 30th homers, and drove in five runs in a 9-6 win to complete the sweep.

You can argue that the Brewers are sliding, and lost starter Chase Anderson and leftfielder Ryan Braun, to injuries in the series. But, the Cubs have been playing dominant baseball against everybody since the All Star break. Chicago has won 24 of the last 32 games since the All-Star break.

“"It’s a difficult lineup on a tough day to pitch," Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said of the Cubs. "They did a good job all series. It’s a good lineup."

That good lineup extends to the pitching staff. Jake Arrieta, Lester, Hammel, John Lackey and Kyle Hendricks form what is probably the most solid starting rotation in baseball. Add Travis Wood and Cahill when needed.

The bullpen, especially with the addition of Aroldis Chapman, also has become solid, despite some injuries to Joe Smith and Pedro Strop in recent weeks.

Manager Joe Maddon has such depth that he can go with completely different outfields and catchers in successive games. Ben Zobrist, Javier Baez, Matt Szcur, Willson Contreras, Bryant and others are very versatile.

About the only slouch this season has been free agent Jason Heyward, but Maddon is sticking with him.

“We’ll continue to work through all these moments,” Maddon said. “I do believe there’s going to be a tremendous reward at the end of all this, for him and for us. I know it’s difficult, outside looking in, but our record’s pretty good and he’s been on the field for most of those games. He’s a winner. He’s an absolute winner.”

Of course, the key for the Cubs is to not exhaust it all in the regular season. They already have a huge lead in the NL Central, so Maddon might start resting some regulars so the club has their best left for the post-season.

This isn’t about just having the best regular season record in baseball. This is about finally breaking the Billy Goat jinx and the World Series.

Updated Notes

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

Brewers

** Ryan Braun is day-to-day with a sprained knee and ankle after crashing into an outfield wall at Wrigley Field.

** Left-hander Brent Suter, a 31st-round Draft pick in 2012, will make his Major League debut Friday, becoming the first southpaw to start a game for Milwaukee in nearly three years.

** The Brewers have lost 24 of their last 32 road games. They are 0-6 at Wrigley this season.

Cubs

** Kris Bryant became the fifth Cubs in history to reach 30 homers at age 24 or younger. The others are Ernie Banks, Sammy Sosa, Anthony Rizzo and Ron Santo.

** Joe Maddon on the MVP competition between Bryant and Rizzo: "Maybe 'Bryzzo' could be named MVP."

** Tommy La Stella ended his holdout and reported to the minors.

Twins

** Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki cleared revocable trade waivers and is free to be traded to any team, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (on Twitter).

** Twins third baseman Miguel Sano’s MRI on his right elbow came back clean today, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The 23-year-old slugger has been playing through some soreness in his elbow that has impacted his throwing in recent weeks.

** Twins left-hander Andrew Albers has cleared waivers after his Friday designation for assignment and been optioned to Triple-A Rochester, per Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press (Twitter link).

White Sox

** Todd Frazier hopes to stay with the White Sox even if the team undergoes a rebuild, as Frazier tells MLB.com’s Scott Merkin that he would embrace the role as veteran leader of a younger clubhouse.

** Robin Ventura wants to return as the White Sox manager in 2017, though he tells Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times that “you have to have somebody ask you to do it and all that. That’s stuff that happens after the season is over, if you get there.”

** The Sox play their next nine games at home.

Player of the Week

Kris Bryant’s big day and overall good series against the Brewers makes him a no-brainer for MDR Player of the Week. In case you missed it above, he had five hits and five RBIs and reached 30 homers, all on Thursday.

Other MDR teams’ Players of the Week included: the Brewers’ Keon Broxton, who hit .316 in six games; the Twins’ Brian Dozier, who hit .346 with four homers and seven RBIs in seven games: the Sox’s Adam Eaton, who hit .417 with two homers and six RBIs in six games.

What’s Ahead

The Cubs will try to keep their hot play going when they travel to Colorado this weekend. Kyle Hendricks, who has been on a hot streak himself, will open the series.

##

You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.
** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/MDR Blog
7544
MDR Blog 8/13
08-13-2016
09:42 AM ET (US)
Two former Brewers and MDR stars made news with sad stories this week. Even though, they are no longer MDR players, their stories are worth leading with for this week’s blog.

Slugger Prince Fielder announced he cannot play anymore because of a second neck injury in three years. Centerfielder Carlos Gomez, a fan favorite in Milwaukee, was designated for assignment by the Astros.

At a Rangers’ press conference Wednesday, Fielder announced that he will not be able to resume his career after undergoing neck fusion surgery in late July.

“I can’t play Major League Baseball anymore,” said Fielder, who was placed on the DL last month with a herniated disk in his neck before having surgery. It was the second season in the last three he has had season-ending neck surgery, also having undergone fusion surgery in 2014.

Gomez’s designation represents a fall from grace for the 30-year-old, whom Houston acquired from Milwaukee last July in a blockbuster deadline deal that also saw right-hander Mike Fiers join the Astros in exchange for four prospects.

Gomez’s career began going down hill after the Astros acquired him. He hit a meager .242/.288/.383 in 41 contests down the stretch in 2015. But that line looks appealing compared to the .210/.272/.322 Gomez has compiled this season in 323 trips to the plate.

“It’s not a secret that I’m not doing my job and I’m really disappointed in myself,” Gomez admitted to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com (Twitter link).“I still have a long career. I wish the best to this organization, this team.”

A couple points about both moves: First, this writer and others more or less called them. When Fielder was first drafted and came up to the majors, you could see by his body type and how hard he swung that he likely would not have a long career.

The Brewers caught some flack when they allowed him to sign as a free agent with Detroit, but one team insider told me Fielder already had a body of a veteran player beyond his age and that the club had concerns about a long term contract.

Fielder is 32 and under contract through 2020 at $24MM per year. Given that Fielder is medically unable to play and not technically retiring, the Rangers will still owe him $9MM per season through 2020, with $6MM annually coming from the Tigers (as per the terms of the trade that brought Fielder to Texas) and $9MM coming via insurance payments due to Fielder’s inability to play. Those figures could be on the Brewers’ budget if they had re-signed him.

Just as an aside, Fielder lasted just about as long as his father, Cecil, with whom he was estranged at one time. They both had 319 lifetime homers.

Gomez’s trade also caused some flack, since he was a fan favorite. But, he too had started to suffer some nagging injuries because of his reckless style of play. He also struggled in the big leagues until he got to Milwaukee.

Once there, former coach Dale Sveum and others worked with Gomez. The fans also embraced him, and he took off. In a different, less nurturing environment, the chances of Gomez not enjoying the same kind of success were rather high.

Gomez has said he would like to end his career in Milwaukee. The Brewers did not rule that possibility out, but would be foolish to bring him back unless they could get him for a song.

Fielder and Gomez will always be part of Brewers’ history. Their stories this week are sad ones. But, the Brewers are better off having parted with them when they did.

Updates Notes

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

Brewers

** The Brewers became just the 19th team since 1900 to plate at least one run in every inning on Thursday against the Braves

** Catcher Manny Pina hit his first big league homer Friday.

** The Brewers have announced that lefty Wei-Chung Wang is moving from Double-A Biloxi to Triple-A Colorado Springs and RHP Devin Williams is heading from Class A Wisconsin to Class A+ Brevard County.

Cubs

** The Cubs won their 11th straight Friday, hitting five homers in the process. It's the first time the Cubs have won 11 in a row since a 12-game streak in 2001.

** Cubs reliever Pedro Strop has been diagnosed with a torn meniscus, the club announced (via Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Twitter links). He’ll undergo surgery, with the expectation that he could be back within four to six weeks.

** Tommy La Stella remained on the temporarily inactive list after refusing to report to Triple A Iowa.

Twins

** The Twins have designated lefty Andrew Albers for assignment, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press was among those to tweet.

** The Twins demoted Byron Buxton to Triple-A, the fourth time the heralded prospect has been sent back to the minors since his initial call-up in June 2015.

** Twins right-hander Phil Hughes hopes to begin throwing again in three to four weeks after undergoing surgery to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome earlier this summer.

White Sox

** Pitcher Miguel Gonzalez was put on the disabled list Friday with a right groin strain and right-handed reliever Chris Beck was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte.

** Over 11 innings covering 11 appearances entering Thursday, closer David Robertson had yielded nine runs on 11 hits and five walks.

** During an appearance on WSCR Radio’s “Inside The Clubhouse” show (hat tip to CBS Chicago’s Bruce Levine), White Sox GM Rick Hahn said that discussions with manager Robin Ventura and the coaching staff about their futures with the team will wait until the end of the season.

Players of the Week

The Cubs’ Jorge Soler continued his comeback from the DL by hitting .471 with two homers in five games. That earns him the MDR Player of the Week honor.

Other MDR teams’ Players of the Week included: the Brewers’ Keon Broxton, who hit .471 in five games; the Twins’ Jorge Polanco, who his .357 in seven games; and the White Sox’s Adam Eaton, who had four hits on Friday and hit .333 for the week.

What’s Ahead

The Cubs will try to stretch their winning streak even farther against the Cardinals this weekend at Wrigley Field. They then host the Brewers next week.

##

You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.
** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/MDR Blog
7543
MDR Blog 8/5
08-05-2016
12:16 PM ET (US)

Midwest Diamond Report Blog - 8/5











Gregg Hoffmann

2 mins ·


.


Brewers’ fans knew they were going to have to endure during a rebuilding effort. This week, they got a sign that their patience might eventually be rewarded.

 The franchise’s minor league system improved from ninth in a pre-season poll to first in a mid-season poll of MLB Pipeline, an online service that covers the minors for MLB.com.


 MLB.com’s Jim Callis wrote: “Thanks to a strong draft and a commitment to rebuilding, the Brewers improved their farm system more than any other organization did from the beginning to the end of 2015. First-year general manager David Stearns has continued to build for tomorrow throughout 2016, including a pair of dazzling deals at Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline.”

 The deals at the trade deadline included sending Will Smith to the Giants for hard-throwing right-hander Phil Bickford (No. 65 on MLBPipeline.com's recently revamped Top 100 Prospects list) and young big leaguer Andrew Susac. The Brewers also shipped Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress to the Rangers for five-tool center fielder Lewis Brinson (No. 21), precocious righty Luis Ortiz (No. 63) and a player to be named.

 Some observers believe the Brewers didn’t get enough for Lucroy and Jeffress, but of course that will be determined later.

 Callis continued: “The additions of Bickford, Brinson and Ortiz, all former first-round picks, pushed Milwaukee's system from good to the best in baseball. Only the Astros can match the Brewers' total of eight Top 100 Prospects: shortstop Orlando Arcia (No. 13), Brinson, outfielder Corey Ray (No. 35), left-hander Josh Hader (No. 43), Ortiz, Bickford and outfielders Trent Clark (No. 74) and Brett Phillips (No. 76). They have a nice balance of hitting and pitching talent, as well as depth at the top and bottom levels of the minors.”

 Arcia was called up during the week and inserted at shortstop, with Jonathan Villar moving to third base.

 Callis also wrote: “The Brewers, whose system placed ninth in MLBPipeline's preseason rankings, have amassed this talent in a variety of ways. Arcia is a product of a revitalized international program that also has landed youngsters such as shortstop Gilbert Lara and right-hander Miguel Diaz. Ray was the fifth overall pick this year in the Draft, an avenue that also has produced Clark, righty Cody Ponce and lefty Kodi Medeiros.”

 In his analysis, Callis praised former GM Doug Melvin for starting the rebuilding process last season, as well as giving Stearns credit. He also acknowledged it could be a while before the revitalized farm system leads to winning at the big league level.

 “The rebuilding process is far from over in Milwaukee, which will miss the playoffs for the fifth straight year, but there's definite cause to be optimistic about the future,” Callis wrote.

 The Yankees and Astros ranked second and third in the ranking. No other MDR teams’ farm system ranked in the Top 10.

Updated Notes

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

 Brewers

 ** Jonathan Lucroy on being traded: “Afterward I felt a little sad, a little excited. Honestly, I was scared because I didn't know what was going to happen next. I was thinking about my wife, Sarah, and our young daughter, Ellia. If I got traded, how would it impact them? How would we get our stuff to our new city? They'd be by themselves, sorting things out, and I wouldn't be there to help. But I had to keep going like nothing was going to change in our lives.”

 ** The three earned runs allowed by Junior Guerra in the first inning of Wednesday’s 12-3 loss were one shy of the total Guerra had allowed in the first innings of his first 16 starts. The loss was just his second since the start of June.

 ** The Blue Jays announced that right-hander Ben Rowen, who was designated for assignment by Toronto following Monday’s acquisitions of Francisco Liriano and Scott Feldman, has been claimed off waivers by the Brewers. He’ll head to Triple-A, according to an announcement from the Brewers.

 Cubs

 ** Addison Russell has moved to second on the Cubs in batting with runners in scoring position (.261) behind Anthony Rizzo.

 ** The current trip is the Cubs' first to the West Coast since they played the Giants from May 20-22. They've been enjoying home cooking since the All-Star break, and they boast the best home record in the National League (37-17).

 ** RHP Jason Hammel was placed on the bereavement list. Justin Grimm was called up to take his roster spot.

 Twins

 ** Minnesota left-hander Hector Santiago took the loss Thursday in his debut with his new team, allowing four runs on five hits.

 ** Struggling Miguel Sano could be sent to the minors to work on his swing.

 ** Long-time Little League® supporter, Torii Hunter, will soon be honored with enshrinement into the Little League Hall of Excellence. Hunter, who played in the National Little League in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, during the 1980’s, will be honored in an on-field ceremony prior to the 7:30 pm game of the 2016 Little League Baseball® World Series on Wednesday, August 24.

 White Sox

 ** LHP Chris Sale recorded his 32nd career game with 10 or more strikeouts (first since 9/1/15 at Minnesota), extending his franchise record over Ed Walsh (17)

** Newly acquired outfielder Charlie Tilson suffered a season-ending hamstring injury.

 ** Rookie shortstop Tim Anderson is day-to-day with a hand injury.

 Player of the Week

 The Twins’ Brian Dozier hit five home runs in five games and took a 13-game hitting streak into the weekend to earn the MDR Player of the Week honor.

 Other MDR teams’ Players of the Week included the Brewers’ Manny Pina, who went 2-for-5 in his debut at catcher; the Cubs’ Ben Zobrist, who hit ,389 in five games: and the White Sox’s Melky Cabrera, who hit .357 in six games.

 What’s Ahead

 Some featured series are:

 The Brewers play the D-Backs, who they beat three of four in Milwaukee, in Phoenix this weekend before returning home to host the Braves.

 The Cubs play two AL teams, the Athletics and Angels, before hosting their arch-rivals, the Cardinals next week.

 ##

 You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.
 ** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
 ** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/MDR Blog
7542
MDR Blog 8/1
08-01-2016
06:24 PM ET (US)
All four MDR teams pulled off trades before the deadline Monday.

The most impact, at least short term, will be felt from the Cubs’ acquisition of Aroldis Chapman from the Yankees, which actually happened about a week before the deadline. The flame thrower strengthens the back of the bullpen, which continues to also have Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon.

Closer to the deadline, the Cubs acquired reliever Joe Smith from the Angels. The Halos will receive minor league pitcher Jesus Castillo from the Cubs.

The deals make the Cubs’ bullpen very strong from the sixth inning on. That should be valuable as the club moves to win the NL Central title and go deep into the post-season.

On the other side of Chicago, there was rampant rumors about trades of LHPs Chris Sale and Jose Quintana and reliever David Robertson, but no deals involving the three had been announced at the trade deadline. Discussions with the Red Sox and others continued right up to the deadline, according to reports.

Sale has acted like a player who would like to be traded since spring training when he protested management’s treatment of Adam La Roche, who retired after a disagreement about having his son in the clubhouse. Sale was suspended for five days last week after he tore up some retro uniforms the Sox were supposed to wear.

The Sox did send left-handed reliever Zach Duke to St. Louis in exchange for outfielder Charlie Tilson,

The Brewers were sellers, sending Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress to the Rangers for top prospects Lewis Brinson and Luis Ortiz and a player to be named later.

Lucroy actually was traded to the Indians a day earlier, but vetoed that deal because Cleveland was on his no-trade list. Lucroy wanted the Indians to waive an option for 2017 and allow him to go free agent after this season, but the club refused.

The Brewers also sent left-hander Will Smith to the Giants for a top pitching prospect and a young catcher in a Trade Deadline deal that re-emphasized the high demand for relievers.

Milwaukee gets 21-year-old right-hander Phil Bickford, who was No. 1 on MLBPipeline.com's list of the Giants' Top 30 Prospects and No. 65 among the Top 100 Prospects in the game, plus 26-year-old catcher Andrew Susac, a former top prospect who was blocked in San Francisco by Buster Posey.

The Twins announced that they’ve picked up left-hander Hector Santiago and minor league RHP Alan Busenitz from the Angels in exchange for Ricky Nolasco and minor league righty Alex Meyer.

Steve Adams wrote in www.mlbtraderumors.com: “The move is certainly a curious one for both clubs, as neither would’ve been pegged to add starter that is only controllable through the 2017 season. However, the Twins’ signing of Nolasco has been a bust, and they’ll now swap him out for a starter that has had considerably more success in recent seasons. Minnesota will come away with the superior big league arm in this deal — a positive if the team intends to contend in 2017, as they’ve previously indicated.”

The Twins sent reliever Fernando Abad to the Red Sox for relief prospect Pat Light earlier on Monday.

Trades can still be made up to Sept. 1, but players now must clear waivers before a deal can be made.

Updated Notes

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

Brewers

** It’s not clear who will emerge as the closer now that Jeffress and Smith have been traded.

** Keon Broxton will get extended playing time in center as the Brewers try to figure out what they have in the young outfielder.

** The Brewers are 64-17 against Pittsburgh at Miller Park since 2007. Sunday's win stretched the Crew's home winning streak over the Bucs to nine games.

Cubs

** The Cubs have reinforcements coming in Trevor Cahill and Jorge Soler, who are both rehabbing in the Minor Leagues. Cahill (patellar tendinitis in right knee) was starting for Triple-A Iowa, while Soler (left hamstring strain) was playing for Double-A Tennessee.
The Cubs recently optioned infielder Tommy La Stella and right-handed reliever Justin Grimm to Iowa to open roster spots

** Travis Wood pitched well and made a great catch in left field in the Cubs 12th inning win over the Mariners on Sunday night.

** On Monday, Ichiro Suzuki arrives at Wrigley Field for the start of a three-game series between the Cubs and Marlins. Suzuki is two hits shy of 3,000. The only player to collect his 3,000th hit at Wrigley was Stan Musial, who did so on May 13, 1958, with a pinch-hit double off Moe Drabowsky in the sixth inning.

Twins

** Right-hander Jose Berrios, the No. 1 prospect in the Twins' organization, received his long-awaited recall to the Major Leagues on Saturday night and will make his fifth MLB start on Monday night against the Indians.

** Twins center fielder Byron Buxton exited in the second inning of Sunday's 6-4 win over the White Sox with right knee soreness and is considered day to day. He will not travel with the team to Cleveland and will undergo an MRI in Minnesota.

** After playing 11 years with the Twins, earning four All-Star nods and being named the 2006 American League MVP along the way, Justin Morneau returned to Target Field on Friday as a member of the rival White Sox, starting at designated hitter and batting fifth against his former team.

White Sox

** The Sox went 3-4 against two MDR rivals during last week. They split with the Cubs, winning 5-4 and 3-0, and losing 8-1 and 3-1. Over the weekend, the Sox lost two of three against the Twins, losing 2-1, winning 6-5 and losing 6-4 Sunday..

** RHP James Shields got off to a brutal start when he came over to the Sox in a trade with the Padres, but he has turned in six straight quality starts and is 3-3 with a 1.71 ERA during that stretch.

** Radio announced Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, who cut back on his schedule this season, said he will return in 2017.

Player of the Week

The Cubs’ Travis Wood earned the MDR honor for his versatility in the afore-mentioned 12 inning game against the Mariners. Wood pitched, then went to left in a double switch, made a spectacular catch up against the ivy that was shown on every highlight film and then went back to pitch. Not a bad day’s work.

Other MDR teams Players of the Week included: the Brewers’ Scooter Gennett, who hit .440 in his last seven games; the Twins’ Brian Dozier, who hit .385 in six games and had two homers; the White Sox’s Melky Cabrera, who hit .444 in seven games.

What’s Ahead

The Cubs continue their homestand at Wrigley Field against the Miami. It will be interesting to see how Joe Maddon configures his bullpen and uses Jorge Soler, when he returns from the DL.

Again, deals can still be made if players clear waivers. So, you could still see some from MDR teams.

##

You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below:
** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/MDR Blog
7541
MDR Blog 7/21
07-21-2016
06:47 PM ET (US)
Coming off series wins against contenders Texas and the Mets, the Cubs will travel north this weekend to Miller Park and try to avoid stumbling against their MDR rivals, the Brewers,

Milwaukee is well below .500 coming into the series. The Cubs are 57-37 and fighting for the best record in baseball.

But, the Brewers have extra incentive because of the I-94 rivalry. Any win against the Cubs gives the Brewers credibility and shows they can compete against the best teams, as they try to rebuild.

The Cubs cooled off some before the All Star break, but the series wins against the Rangers and Mets seem to have re-established them as one of the top 3-4 teams in baseball.

They hope to stay among the elite, especially as they get reinforcements with players coming off the DL and via other sources.

The series comes one weekend before the July 31 trade without waivers deadline. Rumors circulate around both teams. The Cubs are considered buyers and, in fact, made a deal on Wednesday.

LHP Mike Montgomery came from Seattle to bolster the bullpen. See details of trade in the Updated Notes section of this blog.

Before that deal, the Cubs had been rumored to be pursuing the Yankees’ Andrew Miller or Aroldis Chapman. It’s not clear whether getting Montgomery means the Cubs have given up on acquiring either of those pitchers.

The Brewers’ main trade rumor has been catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Several teams have reportedly been interested in him since last winter. The Indians are the latest and hottest rumor.

LHP Will Smith also has been mentioned in rumors involving the Indians and other teams.

Jason Hammel will face the Brewers’ Jimmy Nelson on Friday. John Lackey and Milwaukee’s Zach Davies match up on Saturday. Jon Lester and Junior Guerra will face each other in the series finale on Sunday.

Updated Notes

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

Brewers

** The Brewers’ win on Wednesday marked the 100th time they have beaten the Pirates since 2007.

** Lucroy is hitting .338 with 31 RBI over his last 42 games

** The Brewers and 620 WTMJ extended their radio contract.

Cubs

** In the deal for Montgomery, the Cubs also received minor league right-hander Jordan Pries from the Mariners. In exchange, the Cubs are sending Triple-A first baseman Dan Vogelbach and Double-A right-hander Paul Blackburn to Seattle.

** Montgomery, plus Dexter Fowler and reliever Joe Nathan, could join the Cubs by this weekend.

** With the Cubs looking at any number of possible means of upgrading at the deadline, GM Jed Hoyer says to “expect the unexpected,” as Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com writes.

Twins

** The Twins announced to the media that right-hander Neil Ramirez has been outrighted to Triple-A Rochester (Twitter link via Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press). Left-hander Buddy Boshers has been recalled in his place, giving the Twins a third lefty alongside Taylor Rogers and Fernando Abad.

** The Twins are receiving the most trade interest in shortstop Eduardo Nunez, catcher Kurt Suzuki, right-hander Brandon Kintzler and Abad,

** Twins upper management told Terry Ryan a month ago that he wouldn’t be retained beyond the present season, and allowed him to choose his own method of departure, Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN reports (links to Twitter).

White Sox

**GM Rick Hahn acknowledged that his club will not be pursuing short-term upgrades to the MLB roster, as Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago was among those to tweet. He added that the Sox will be willing to consider all other transactions.

** The Rangers have acquired minor league righty Scott Carroll from the White Sox in exchange for cash considerations, according to an announcement from both clubs.

** The Sox are getting quite a few calls on outfielder Adam Eaton,


Player of the Week

After striking out four times in a game for the first time in his career, the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo hit two homers and drove in three runs on Wednesday. He has now hit in 37 of his last 44 games and has 13 homers and 36 RBIs in that stretch. That makes him the MDR Player of the Week.

Other MDR teams’ Players of the Week included: the Brewers’ Lucroy, who continues to excel at the plate and behind it amidst all the trade talk; the Twins’ Max Kepler, who hit his 10th homer of the season in a clutch situation; the White Sox’s Jose Quintana, who stranded the go-ahead runner in scoring position in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings until the White Sox eventually broke out for a 6-1 victory over Seattle to snap a five-game losing streak.

What’s Ahead

After playing at Miller Park this weekend, the Cubs will return home to Wrigley Field to host the Sox next week in another MDR Rivalry series.

The next meeting of the Ken Keltner Badger State Chapter of SABR will take place on Saturday, July 23, at J&B's Blue Ribbon Pub located at 5230 West Bluemound Road. The featured speaker will be Brewers radio announcer, Jeff Levering.

Next week’s MDR Blog actually won’t run until Aug. to include any deals that are made before the trade deadline by MDR teams.

##

You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.
** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/MDR Blog
7540
MDR Blog - 7/16
07-16-2016
09:32 AM ET (US)

Jonathan Lucroy has heard the trade rumors for months.

 

At one point during the off-season, the Brewers’ catcher even told the Journal Sentinel that he thought a trade might be a good idea for the team and him.

 

"I'm not going to sit here and say we're going to compete for the playoffs this year," Lucroy told the newspaper in a telephone interview. "If I did that, you'd call me a liar. I'd lose credibility and respect. I want to win, and I don't see us winning in the foreseeable future. I want to go to a World Series. That's what all players want. Rebuilding is not a lot of fun for any veteran guy."

 

But, as of this writing, Lucroy was still with the Brewers, and playing very well, behind and at the plate. He was the team’s All Star selection and singled in the ASG. He has made it clear he will play hard for the club as long as he is in Milwaukee.

 

“I want to compete. I want to win,” Lucroy said. “That’s all I was saying. I am committed to playing the best baseball I can, whether I’m here or elsewhere. If I can help the Brewers win, I am ready to do so. That’s all I really have control over.”

 

Lucroy, also an All Star in 2014, has been more committed to coming back from an injury-riddled season in 2015, and has managed to do so. He got off to a bad start at the plate last season before fracturing the big toe on his left foot in late April. He returned before the end of May and put up decent numbers before sustaining a concussion on Sept. 8 in Miami that kept him from catching the rest of the way.

 

“It was a frustrating year,” Lucroy admitted. “All I could do was work hard during the off-season to get in the best shape I could and be ready.”

 

He worked out with college friend Eugene Kwarteng, who played football at Lucroy's alma mater, the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, and later in the Canadian Football League. Lucroy's brother, David, who Milwaukee's 20th-round Draft pick last June, also joined in.

 

The results have been evident. Lucroy has been consistent at the plate this season. In May, he hit nine home runs. In one series against the Reds in late May, Lucroy drove in nine runs.

 
Lucroy became the first Brewers player to drive in three runs in three straight games since Robin Yount in 1987 in that series.

 

Of course, Lucroy has batted fourth in many games this season, so he feels he should be driving in runs.

 

"It's an approach thing, a mental approach," Lucroy said. "Whenever my mental approach is correct and my mechanics are correct in my swing, I feel like I should do it more times than not. It's a matter of pride. I take it personally when I don't get a guy in with less than two outs."


 As this blog is being written, rumors are circulating that Lucroy could be traded to the Rangers, who reportedly were interested in him last winter.

 

Updated Notes

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

Brewers

** LHP Will Smith also has been included in rumors about a deal with Texas and others.

** RHP Corey Knebel rejoined the team after a DL rehab and outfielder Domingo Santanta could be ready soon to go on a rehab. Michael Blazek was sent to the minors to make room for Knebel.

** The Brewers have announced that they’ve claimed righty reliever Rob Scahill from the Pirates and optioned him to Triple-A Colorado Springs.

Cubs

** Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein says the his club will be flexible in the build-up to the deadline, as Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago reports. “I don’t think its productive to pigeonhole yourself into thinking you have needs in just one specific role as the key to improving this club,” Epstein said.

** Cubs outfield prospect Eloy Jimenez is getting trade attention but the Cubs aren’t eager to part with the talented 19-year-old, CSN Chicago’s David Kaplan tweets.

** The Cubs have been heavily connected to bullpen trade rumors, though they could potentially receive help from within if veteran Joe Nathan is able to regain any of his old form, CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney writes.

Twins

** The last-place Twins, who have the worst record in the American League, have had surprising success against the Indians and Texas Rangers, the two best teams in the AL. They are the only team to have a winning record against the Indians, despite a loss Friday.

** Longtime center fielder Torii Hunter will be inducted into the Twins' Hall of Fame in a pregame ceremony. The five-time All-Star and nine-time Gold Glove Award winner retired after the 2015 season, spending 12 of his 19 Major League seasons in Minneapolis.

** RHP Tyler Duffey went 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his last three starts before the All-Star break

White Sox

** The White Sox have activated first baseman/designated hitter Justin Morneau from the disabled list and optioned outfielder Jason Coats to Triple-A in a corresponding move.

** The Sox are promoting right-hander Carson Fulmer to work out of their bullpen, according to Dave Williams of Barstool Sports (links to Twitter).

** Right-hander Scott Carroll has been outrighted off the White Sox’ 40-man roster, according to Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link).

 

Player of the Week

 

Give the honor to Lucroy, who had a hit in the All Star Game and a key RBI on Friday night as the regular schedule resumed. It might be the last time he can get the honor if he is traded.

 

Other MDR teams’ Players of the Week included: the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo, who hit over .600 in the short week of action and started at first base for the NL in the All Star Game; the Twins’ Brian Dozier, who represented the Twins in the ASG and homered Friday night; the White Sox’s RHP Miguel Gonzales, who pitched six solid innings on Friday night.

 

What’s Ahead

 

The Mets and Cubs will play the highlight series for the week ahead. Also, look for the trade rumor mill to heat up as the July 31 date comes closer.

 

The next meeting of the Ken Keltner Badger State Chapter of SABR will take place on Saturday, July 23, at J&B's Blue Ribbon Pub located at 5230 West Bluemound Road. The featured speaker will be Brewers radio announcer, Jeff Levering.

 

There will be two research presentations: Tom Rathkamp's is titled; "Happy Felsch: Banished Black Sox Center Fielder." Tom also has a book with the same title. Dennis Degenhardt's presentation is; "When Chicago Came to Milwaukee in the '60's."

##

 

You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below:
 ** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
 ** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/MDR Blog
7539
MDR Blog 7/8
07-08-2016
10:17 AM ET (US)
The Cubs are sending seven players to the All Star Game. The Twins and White Sox have one player each. The Brewers have one, with a possibility of a second since Ryan Braun is part of the final vote gimmick.

But, the Brewers have made the most news going into the final weekend before the ASG break. On Thursday, they traded veteran infielder Aaron Hill to the Red Sox for two minor leaguers, RHP Aaron Wilkerson and infielder Wendell Rijo.

GM David Stearns said Will Middlebrooks and Hernan Perez will likely fill in at third base, but the deal makes sense only if it opens up a spot for prospect Orlando Arcia. The Brewers said they will announce Hill’s replacement on the 25-man roster later on Friday.

It could be Arcia, but they also might wait until after the All Star break to call up the shortstop. For one thing, they already have a shortstop who has played very well in Jonathan Villar.

That should not stop the callup of Arcia, however, and it does not mean the Brewers should send Villar along the same route as Hill. Instead, call up Arcia and put either him or Villar at third base.

There will be those who argue that third is a place for a RBI, slugger type, but that’s somewhat outdated thinking. With Arcia and Villar playing side-by-side, it would be tough getting a ball through the left side of the infield. The pair hitting 1-2 in the lineup also would give the club speed at the top of the order.

Rijo is a middle infielder. You have to ask how many of those the organization needs. But, if Rijo simply takes the place of Arcia in the minors, it makes sense.

The Brewer also made news when they sent RHP Kyle Davies down to the minors until after the All Star break. The rationale was that Davies, who has pitched very well for 11 straight games, would not appear until after the ASG and the Milwaukee bench needed another player, which turned out to be utility player Andy Wilkins.

Scott Boras, Davies‘ agent, had another spin on the move: “In this game, performance earns respect. After beating one of the best teams in the National League, he was told he no longer was a member of the team. It's disrespect for someone who will be a principal part of the organization for years to come, to add a bench player for 10 days. In this game, teams do not send down starting pitchers who are performing well.

“Flying a starting pitcher cross-country interrupts his regular routine and his normal bullpen sessions. This is not how you prepare successful starting pitchers.”

Stearns said the Brewers were within their rights to make the move and made no disrepect to Davies: “We certainly value Zach's contributions to the club and consider him an important part of our starting rotation. Given that he wasn't scheduled to pitch for a 10-day stretch, we wanted the extra flexibility of another player on the bench.”

The move does cost Davies 10 days of major league service time and about $24,000 in salary. Davies simply said, “Baseball is a business.”

But, the move brings back some memories of a move that led to the departure of J.J. Hardy from Milwaukee. In 2009, during a low-performing season through July, Hardy was optioned to the Triple-A Nashville Sounds on August 12. It cost him MLB time, affected his free agency date and led to ill feelings between him and the Brewers. Hardy was traded in the off-season for to the Twins for Carlos Gomez.

Updated Noted

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

Brewers

** Will Middlebrooks’ minor league deal with the Brewers included an assignment clause for July 1, MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy writes. Milwaukee was required to offer the third baseman to the other 29 teams if Middlebrooks wasn’t on the big league roster by July 1.

** The Brewers have struck a $1.2MM deal with 11th-round draft pick Chad McClanahan, Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com reports on Twitter.

** Scooter Gennett swiped home on a double steal for a tie in an eventual loss Wednesday, the Brewers' first such achievement in three years.

Cubs

** Andrew Miller sits atop the Cubs’ wish list this season, according to Jon Heyman. The Yankees southpaw is humming along with a 1.47 ERA and 13.2 K/BB ratio.

** The Cubs have designated right-hander Joel Peralta for assignment in order to clear a spot on the roster for the return of Adam Warren, per multiple reporters out of Chicago, including the Sun-Times’ Gordon Wittenmyer (Twitter link).

** The bullpen is the only “real problem” facing the Cubs, ESPN.com’s Jesse Rogers opines.

Twins

** Ervin Santana is the “most likely” member of the Twins to be traded this summer, per ESPN’s Jayson Stark. However, executives that have spoken to the Twins about trades tell Stark that Minnesota is willing to talk about virtually anyone on their roster.

** Assuming he clears waivers, the Rays have interest in a reunion with reliever Kevin Jepsen, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter). Jepsen was designated recently by the Twins, who had picked him up from the Rays last summer.

** The Twins have outrighted Darin Mastroianni off their 40-man roster, the club announced. The outfielder was just activated off the disabled list, as he has been recovering from a left oblique strain since late May.

White Sox

** White Sox backstop Alex Avila headed to the DL with a hamstring strain, as Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago tweets.

** Outfielder Tony Campana is headed to the White Sox on a minor league deal after being released by the Nationals.

** The White Sox have announced that they’ve acquired catcher Alfredo Gonzalez from the Astros and optioned him to Double-A Birmingham.

Player of the Week

The White Sox’s Chris Sale takes a 14-2 record into Friday’s game and could end up the AL All Star starting pitcher. It’s Sale’s fifth straight ASG for the Sox. For this, he gets the MDR Player of the Week honor.

Other MDR teams’ Players of the Week included: the Brewers’ Aaron Hill, who hit .368 in his last five games in a Milwaukee uniform; the Cubs’ Willson Contreras, who hit ,.310 with two homers and four RBIs for the week; the Twins’ Rob Grossman, who hit .381 for the week.

What’s Ahead

The All Star Game is the main event for next week. After the ASG break, the Cubs will have the highlight series against the Rangers, who are competing with Chicago for the best record in baseball.

##

You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.
** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/MDR Blog
7538
MDR Blog 7/1
07-01-2016
08:41 AM ET (US)
Balloting for the All Star teams ended at midnight Friday. American League and National League rosters will be revealed at 6 p.m. CT on July 5 in the Esurance All-Star Selection Show on ESPN.

One thing that is clear is that the Cubs will be well represented. Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Addison Russell, Kris Bryant and Dexter Fowler led voting at their positions going into the final day. That means the Cubs could have the entire starting infield for the NL.

At least Jake Arrieta and perhaps another pitcher or two could be added from the Cubs. This would put the team among the top in ASG selections in history.

In 2015, the Royals had eight players leading balloting going into the final days of voting, but 65,000 votes were ruled to be fraud and KC ended up with four representatives.

The Reds had seven players voted All Star starters in 1957. Stan Musial was the only non-Red position player voted as a starter. But, commissioner Ford Frick appointed Willie Mays and Hank Aaron to replace the Reds’ Gus Bell and Wally Post, and took away fan voting.

That sounds a little like the Republicans trying to deny Trump the nomination at the GOP convention. You won’t see anything as drastic as the ‘57 move -- or the GOP situation -- in baseball this season.

With the possible exception of Russell and Fowler, the Cubs voted in by the fans deserve to be selected as starters. Certainly, Fowler deserves to be at least a backup.

Turning to other MDR teams. The Brewers’ Ryan Braun was in the top six outfielders. He likely will be the lone Milwaukee representative. You could make an argument for Jonathan Lucroy, but he finished well behind Yadier Molina and Buster Posey in catcher balloting. The Nationals’ Wilson Ramos should be the starter at the position.

Jonathan Villar also could have been considered a candidate at shortstop, but was fourth in voting.

The Twins will be one of those teams that gets a representative because it is required. Eduardo Nunez seems to be the favorite possibility in the Twin Cities.

Chris Sale is a lock as the White Sox All Star selection and is receiving support as the AL starting pitcher. The Sox might not have a position player picked.

Again, you can check out the final selections next Tuesday.

Updated Notes

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

Brewers

** RHP Zach Davies had his streak of effective starts snapped in a loss to the Dodgers Thursday. Davies was 5-0 with a 2.46 ERA in 10 straight starts.

** RHP Taylor Jungmann, who started the season in the Brewers’ rotation, was assigned to Double A Biloxi after posting a 9.87 ERA at Colorado Springs in AAA.

** The Brewers designated outfielder Alex Presley for assignment, per a club announcement. Taking his place on the roster was utilityman Jake Elmore, whose contract was purchased by Milwaukee.

Cubs

** Albert Almora Jr. hit his first MLB homer Wednesday.

** Anthony Rizzo had his first inside-the-park home run as a big leaguer on Wednesday.

** The Cubs selected the contract of 40-year-old RHP Joel Peralta and option LHP Gerardo Concepcion back to Triple-A Iowa, reports Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times (via Twitter).

Twins

** Byung Ho Park is hitting only .071 with 22 strikeouts in his last 12 games.

** Ervin Santana “is seen as perhaps the most viable trade deadline pickup on the market,” with one AL assistant GM describing the Twins veteran as “the one guy out there who could be a sure thing in the middle of the rotation.”

** Twins right-hander Phil Hughes will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery, tweets Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The operation will alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome, according to Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

White Sox

** The Sox took two of three from the Twins in a MDR Rivalry series. James Shields got his first win with the Sox in a 6-3 decision on Tuesday. The Twins won 4-0 on Wednesday, and the Sox took the rubber game, 6-5/

** Matt Davidson broke his foot Thursday and will go on the DL. He had his first hit and RBI as a Sox earlier in the game.

** Justin Morneau feels that he can be ready to join the White Sox after about 30 at-bats on a minor league rehab assignment, he tells Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago (Twitter link). Levine estimates that Morneau will be ready to join the big league roster around July 15.

Player of the Week

The Cubs’ Kris Bryant became the only player in MLB history to hit three home runs and two doubles in a single game on Monday. For that, he’s a runaway pick for the MDR Player of the Week honor.

Other MDR teams’ Players of the Week included: the Brewers’ Junior Guerra, who continued his surprising season with a two-hitter in eight innings of a win over the Dodgers; the Twins’ Kyle Gibson, who held the White Sox to five hits and no runs in a win; the White Sox’s Brett Lawrie, who hit .458 in six games with three homers and four RBIs.

What’s Ahead

The Cubs will continue their series against the Mets in New York after dropping the opener on Thursday. They then return to Wrigley Field for a series against the Reds and a makeup game of a previous rainout against the Braves.

The Brewers will meet the Cardinals twice within a week, traveling to St. Louis this weekend and hosting the Cards at Miller Park next weekend.

##

You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.
** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/MDR Blog
7537
MDR Blog 6/25
06-25-2016
08:39 AM ET (US)
All four MDR teams have struggled in the last couple weeks and need to make adjustments if they want to go into the All Star break on better notes.

The Brewers were 3-7 in their last 10 games, and that was after two straight wins. A disastrous West Coast trip, especially series in San Francisco and Los Angeles, set back the Brewers, who were 33-40 through Friday action.

The Cubs stood at a very good 48-24 overall, but had lost four straight before their win Friday night. The Cardinals had swept them, the first sweep by an opponent at Wrigley Field this season. Chicago stood at 5-5 in their last 10 games.

On the South Side of Chicago, the Sox also were 5-5 in their last 10, despite winning four of their last five games. They were 37-37 for the season.

The Twins continued to struggle with 3-7 in their last 10 games and were 23-50 in what already is a lost season.

Milwaukee continues to struggle because of inconsistency overall. Especially troubled on the road trip was the bullpen. The Brewers were tied or ahead in seven of nine games on the trip, but came out with only two wins.

Will Smith and Tyler Thornburg had problems on the road. Jeremy Jeffress also was unavailable because of an eye injury. They hope to get healthy in more than one way before the ASG.

The Cubs had been hit with some nagging injuries, as detailed in the Updated Notes section of this blog. As written last week, it might be getting close to the time for the club to bring in some reinforcements with some deals.

Manager Joe Maddon didn’t seem too upset, however. "It's very difficult to sustain the level we're at," Maddon said. "When you do get off to a good start, you can absorb a bad moment. When I look in the newspapers and see us at 70 percent, I can't be too upset."

Reports from execs from teams that have engaged the Cubs in trade talks were that Chicago has shown “no interest” in trading Kyle Schwarber, Willson Contreras or Javier Baez. GMs around the league believe that Albert Almora is more or less off limits as well.

That might change later in July if the Cubs still are struggling a bit and feel they need help for the stretch run.

The White Sox have been plagued with inconsistency all season, but did look better in winning four of their last five. Some of the team’s top hitters, such as Todd Frazier and Jose Abreu, have been inconsistent. Frazier did have a key hit Friday, and Abreu was starting to heat up before sitting out with leg soreness.
James Shields has struggled since being brought in to bolster the starting rotation. The Sox need him to come around.

The Twins have been a disaster since the start of the season, leading to some speculation that Paul Molitor could end up going from AL Manager of the Year to being unemployed. But, Twins management continues to back Molitor and look for solutions to both pitching and offensive woes. You could see some selling off by the club after the ASG.

Updated Notes

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

Brewers

** OF Keon Broxton hit his first MLB home run Friday night.

** LHP Chris Capuano and OF Domingo Santana likely will not return from elbow problems until after the All Star break.

** RHP Michael Blazek returned from the DL and went back into bullpen action.

Cubs

** 1B Anthony Rizzo could return this weekend after suffering some back problems.

** INF Ben Zobrist was day-to-day with an ankle bruise.

** Catcher Miguel Montero was suffering with right knee soreness.

Twins

** OF Oswaldo Arcia was traded to the Rays for a player to be named later and cash.

** 3B Trevor Plouffe was day-to-day with a groin problem.

** The Twins committed a season-high three errors Friday and have struggled on defense all season.

White Sox

** 3B Todd Frazier was 3-for-30 with runners in scoring position before a clutch hit on Friday.

** 1B-DH Jose Abreu was day-to-day with leg soreness.

** Reliever Zach Putnam could be facing elbow surgery.

Player of the Week

The Cubs’ rookie Willson Contreras hit .412 with a game-winning hit on Friday to earn the MDR Player of the Week honor.

Other MDR teams Players of the Week included: the Brewers’ Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who had two key homers during the week; the Twins’ Kurt Suzuki, who was hitting .379 since switching to an “axe bat” with a different style of handle; the White Sox’s Melky Cabrera, who hit .370.

What’s Ahead

The Twins travel to Chicago to meet the Sox in a three-game series Tuesday through Thursday of next week.

Voting for the All Star teams ends next week.

##

You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.

** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/MDR Blog
7536
MDR Blog 6/17
06-17-2016
09:30 AM ET (US)
MDR Blog - 6/17

 It might be time for the Cubs to consider calling in some reinforcements.

 The Washington Nationals had pulled to within two games of the Cubs for the best record in MLB, as of Friday morning. That’s hardly a reason to panic, but the fact the Cubs are 5-5 since starting June with four straight wins does support the idea that the team has cooled off considerably.

 Two areas that seem to need shoring up would be catcher and the outfield. Miguel Montero has not hit well since returning from the DL, and David Ross, headed for retirement after this season, cannot play every game without fading.

 The Cubs acknowledged these facts by calling up catching prospect Willson Contreras this week.

 In the outfield, injuries to Kyle Schwarber and Jorge Soler have depleted the ranks. Schwarber is out for the season. Soler should return soon, but he was not hitting before his injury (.223).

 Albert Almora and Matt Szcur have hit over .300 since they started filling in out in the outfield. Infielders Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist also have seen time there.

 The Cubs also acquired Chris Coghlan, one of manager Joe Maddon’s favorites, this past week. Coghlan played for Maddon in Florida and with the Cubs last season.

 But, you have to wonder how much Contreras can help behind the plate as a rookie, and if Almora and Szcur will continue to produce. Coghlan was hitting less than .200 when he was picked up from the A’s. Also, will Soler heat up once he returns.

 So, it might be time for a deal. The Cubs have been mentioned in rumors about the Brewers’ Jonathan Lucroy. Ryan Braun even has been mentioned in some Cubs‘ rumors. Don’t hold your breath on those.

 The club also has been mentioned in other rumors about position players, but overall Theo Epstein and his crew look to be more interested in adding relief pitching.

 Hottest rumor about the Cubs: Yankees’ relievers Andrew Miller or Aroldis Chapman for Schwarber or Soler. One would likely become the closer, replacing Hector Rondon.

 Apparently, the Cubs feel they can weather the storm in the outfield and that Contreras might strengthen them sufficiently behind the plate.

 They might end up right. At the same time, the Cubs have looked more mortal in the last couple weeks. Expectations have risen for this club, so reinforcements might end up being needed.

 Updated Notes

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

 Brewers

 ** Brewers owner Mark Attanasio says that his club is “not actively shopping” either Jonathan Lucroy or Ryan Braun, as Tom Haudricourt of the Milwakee Journal-Sentinel reports.

** While Lucroy is perhaps the most-cited trade candidate in baseball, GM David Stearns told some media that an extension can’t be entirely ruled out.

** Braun tells MLB.com’s Michael Wagaman that he’s aware of the trade rumors swirling around his name and has had conversations with Stearns about the possibility of such a move. Braun says he has a “great relationship” with the team’s management.

 Cubs

 ** Jake Arrieta hopes to join crosstown Chris Sale with 11 wins when he starts against the Pirates Friday night.

 ** Righty Brandon Gomes has been released by the Cubs, as Baseball America’s Matt Eddy recently reported.

** The Cubs designated catcher Tim Federowicz for assignment in order to clear a spot on the roster for Contreras, The Cubs have signed free-agent lefty Brian Matusz to a minor league contract, reports Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (via Twitter).

 Twins

 ** The Twins have designated outfielder Oswaldo Arcia for assignment, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger was among those to report on Twitter. His roster spot will go to Danny Santana, who was activated from the DL.

 ** Twins closer Glen Perkins has been diagnosed with a torn labrum that will likely require season-ending surgery, reports La Velle E. Neal of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

** The Twins have claimed right-handed reliever Neil Ramirez off waivers from the Brewers and transferred Phil Hughes (knee) to the 60-day DL.

 White Sox

 ** Robin Ventura is on the hot seat again with the White Sox, Jon Heyman writes. A team source tells him that there’s a feeling that “patience has been shown” and a change could benefit the team. Bench coach Rick Renteria, who formerly managed the Cubs, could succeed Ventura. Not that it’s particularly surprising, but Heyman adds that former skipper Ozzie Guillen wouldn’t be a candidate to return to his old post.

 ** The White Sox announced they’ve requested waivers for the purpose of granting RHP Mat Latos his unconditional release.

** Avisail Garcia has been moved to DH, at least temporarily.

 Player of the Week

 The Sox’s Chris Sale became the first MLB pitcher to 11 wins this season. Sale gave up three runs on six hits in seven innings of a win over the Tigers and in the process won the MDR Player of the week honor.

 Other MDR teams Players of the Week included: the Brewers’ Jonathan Lucroy, who hit .364 for the week with a home run and five RBIs’ the Cubs’ Albert Almora, who hit .417 in limited action; and the Twins’ Kurt Suzuki, who hit .361 with a homer and five RBIs.

 What’s Ahead

 The Cubs play NLC rivals, the Pirates, this weekend. The Sox meet the Indians, who lead the ALC.

 The Ken Keltner Badger State Chapter of SABR will have its next meeting at 11 am on Saturday, July 23. It will take place at J&B's Blue Ribbon Bar on 53rd and Bluemound Road. Guest Speaker will be Brewers radio announcer Jeff Levering.

##

 You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.
 ** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
 ** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/MDR Blog
7535
MDR Blog - 6/10
06-10-2016
07:38 AM ET (US)
Ryan Braun recorded his 1500th career hit this week. When you consider he missed much of one season because of his PED violation, Braun has averaged well over 150 hits per season in his 10 years with the Brewers.

This writer has been as critical of Braun as anybody in how he handled the PED controversy. He just plain lied, which has forever tainted his reputation, turned him from a fan favorite to a villain with most baseball fans other than the Brewers' faithful and undoubtedly cost him millions in endorsements and other financial benefits.

Those criticisms stand. Plus, Braun has repeatedly suffered nagging injuries that often plague post-steroid players -- wrists, back, neck, intercostal, etc.

With all that said, Braun also deserves credit for how he has performed this season. He is near the top of the batting average leaders in the National League, has continued to supply power and RBIs. Back in his more comfortable left field spot, he also has played well in the field.

National rumors repeatedly say Braun's good performance makes him trade bait later this summer. That could, in fact, turn out to be true. But, the Brewers also have performed better than expected thus far in their first year of what has been billed as a major rebuilding season.

Braun has been a major factor, at least on offense, in that team performance. So has Jonathan Lucroy and Chris Carter, who also have been subject of trade rumors. Only Jonathan Villar, who has been very good at shortstop, really qualifies as a young player among that group.

GM David Stearns has shown he believes in youth, and indeed the Brewers have some players in their farm system that very well could add to their core in a season or two. However, the club also could use the production, and leadership, that Braun, Lucroy, Carter and Villar have provided.

The rebuilding might not be as painful if Stearns retains these guys at least through this season and maybe next. Instead of dumping off these four, trade either Aaron Hill or Scooter Gennett before the trade deadline and bring up Orlando Arcia to play either second or third. Or shift Villar to one of those positions and put Arcia at his natural shortstop spot.

Get along with the committee of three or four players in center until Brett Phillips is ready to take over that position. Ride Lucroy at catcher until Jacob Nottingham is ready to take over at catcher.

Finally, stick with Braun as your proven star. By doing so, the Brewers will have a better chance of rebuilding quicker and also will give Braun ample chance to still salvage something of his reputation and legacy.

Updated Notes

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

Brewers

** Corey Ray, an outfielder from the University of Louisville, was the Brewers' top pick at #5.

** The Brewers announced they activated right-hander Corey Knebel from the disabled list and designated fellow righty reliever Neil Ramirez for assignment in order to clear a spot on the roster.

** The Brewers promoted pitching prospect Josh Hader to Triple-A Colorado Springs, assistant general manager Matt Arnold announced prior to Wednesday's game against the A's. Hader, the Brewers' No. 4 prospect by MLBPipeline.com, is third in the Minors with a 0.95 ERA and a WHIP of 1.00 in 11 starts for Double-A Biloxi and was named a Southern League All-Star just hours before the announcement. He has not allowed more than one earned run in any of his starts and has 73 strikeouts to only 19 walks in 57 innings.

Cubs

** The Cubs will make their first draft pick when the third round starts on Friday.

** The Cubs have brought back veteran infielder/outfielder Chris Coghlan in a trade with the Athletics, per an announcement from Oakland. Young utilityman Arismendy Alcantara will go back in return.

** The Cubs have agreed to a minor league deal with 40-year-old veteran righty Joel Peralta, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. The agreement is pending a physical.

Twins

** High school outfielder Alex Kirilloff was the Twins' first pick at #16.

** Former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire returned to Target Field on Wednesday in his role as special assistant to general manager Terry Ryan.
It marked the first time Gardenhire had been at the ballpark since he was dismissed as manager following the 2014 season after managing the club for 13 years. Gardenhire has already visited each of the organization's Minor League affiliates, and Ryan asked him to see the Twins in person this week, especially with the MLB Draft on Thursday and David Ortiz's pregame ceremony before Friday's game against the Red Sox.

** After right-hander Brandon Kintzler picked up his first career save with a scoreless ninth in the Twins' 7-5 win over the Marlins on Wednesday night, manager Paul Molitor announced he'll be backing off closer Kevin Jepsen in the short-term, using Kintzler and lefty Fernando Abad in save situations based on matchups.

White Sox

** Catcher Zack Collins of the University of Miami was the Sox's top pick at #10.

** The White Sox have signed veteran first baseman Justin Morneau, the club announced. It’s a one-year, $1MM contract. Morneau will head straight onto the 15-day DL as he continues to work back to form after undergoing elbow surgery.

** The White Sox have designated right-hander Mat Latos for assignment, according to Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago (Twitter link). Hayes tweets that Latos’ roster spot will go to 2013 second-round pick Tyler Danish — a 21-year-old right-hander with a 4.42 ERA, 5.6 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 75 1/3 innings (12 starts) for Double-A Birmingham this season.

Player of the Week

Jose Abreu of the White Sox hit .450 with a homer for the week to earn the MDR Player of the Week honor.

Other MDR Players of the Week included: rhe Brewers' Jonathan Lucroy, who hit over .390 for the week; the Cubs' John Lackey, who threw a 3-hitter over seven innings in a win over the Phillies; the Twins' Byron Buxton, who hit .364 in six games,

What's Ahead

The Cubs will take their top record in baseball on the road ovet the weekend and early next week to Atlanta and Washington D.C. before returning home to host NL Central rivals, the Pirates and Cardinals.

Mike Haupert will be hosting SABR chapters from a multitude of states Saturday, July 9 at Copeland Park in LaCrosse. The afternoon meeting (registration begins at 12:30 p.m.) will have a guest from the LaCrosse Loggers Northwoods League team, an official scorers panel, research presentations, and a trivia contest by Howard Luloff.

##

You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.
** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/MDR Blog
7534
MDR Blog 6/3
06-03-2016
08:41 AM ET (US)
The annual MLB draft will be held next week. Here are some selection projections for the four MDR teams.

The Brewers have the highest pick at No. 5. Many of the so-called experts’ mock drafts have them picking an outfielder, most likely either Corey Ray of Louisville or Kyle Lewis of Mercer.

Milwaukee also has the No. 46 pick. Many are projecting LHP Kyle Muller, a Texas high school LHP for that spot.

The White Sox will pick at No. 10, and projections for that pick are all over the map. Some have the Sox taking Mississippi State RHP Dakota Hudson. Others are projecting Miami catcher Zack Collins.

The Sox also have the 26th pick. Again, take your pick with Kent State LHP Eric Lauer, Chaminade Prep OF Blake Rutherford and Georgia’s RHP Robert Tyler among the players most often mentioned. Rutherford could move up from this position.

Minnesota has the No. 15 ;pick, Two prep pitchers -- LHP Joey Wentz of Shawnee, Kansas, and RHP Ian Anderson of New York -- are the top projections for that spot.

The Cubs forfeited their first round pick when they signed John Lackey. They don’t pick until No. 98, where many experts are projecting they will take prep RHP Dustin May of Fort Worth.

Looking at some of these projected picks, Ray has speed and has hit over .300 at Louisville. Lewis, another of the Brewers’ projected picks, is a power hitter. He could go earlier in the draft to the Rockies.

Turning to the Sox, Hudson went through a dead arm period at Mississippi State, but has rebounded and has been throwing well.

Collins is one of the more interesting selections for the Sox. He stands 6-3 and weighs 220, almost in the stature of Carlton Fisk, who starred for the Sox. He hit .381 for the Hurricanes and led the nation in walks with 62 during the regular season.

Rutherford is said to have an exceptional combo of power and speed.

Moving to the Twins, Wentz has committed to the University of Virginia, but could sign a pro contract if he is drafted high enough. The Dodgers seem to be the Twins’ competition for Wentz.

Anderson has formed a battery combo with his brother, Ben, at Shenendehowa High School in Clifton Park, N.Y. Ian has committed to Vanderbilt, but like Wentz could sign a pro contract depending on his draft position and team.
Of course, every year many of these so-called mock draft experts prove to be wrong. So, check back next week to see who the teams pick.

Updated Notes

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

Brewers

** RHP Chase Anderson lowered his ERA over his past five starts to 2.97 by allowing a run on three hits and no walks in 5 2/3 innings Thursday.

** LHP Will Smith was activated from the DL and had a scoreless relief appearance Thursday. RHP David Goforth was sent back to the minors.

** RHP Michael Blazek was put on the DL with a sore elbow. Reliever Jacob Barnes was recalled from the minors.

Cubs

** The Cubs’ winning streak behind Jake Arrieta ended at 23 Tuesday night, but Arrieta did not take the loss.

** LHP Jon Lester posted the 13th complete game of his career Wednesday, against the Dodgers.

** Five Cubs led their position voting in the NL All Star selection. First baseman Anthony Rizzo led all voting.

Twins

** Eduardo Nunez became the first Twins player to hit an inside-the-park homer at Target Field and the 50th to do it in franchise history on Thursday. He was also the first Twins player to lead off the first with an inside-the-parker since the franchise moved to Minnesota in 1961.

** RHP Kyle Gibson came off the DL and made his first start since April 22.

** RHP Phil Hughes was sent to the bullpen to make room for Gibson in the rotation.

White Sox

** Rumors persisted that the Sox are talking to the Padres about acquiring RHP James Shields.

** LHP Jose Quintana leads the American League with a 2.13 ERA and ranks sixth in innings pitched (72) over 11 starts.

** The Sox’s losing streak hit seven before they beat the Mets on Tuesday night.

Player of the Week

The Brewers’ Jonathan Villar added some power to his strong overall game with a home run on Thursday. Villar’s continued performance in the field, at the plate and in stolen bases earned him the MDR Player of the Week honor.

Other MDR teams Players of the Week included: the Cubs’ Jon Lester, who posted his 13th career complete game in a win over the Dodgers’ the Twins’ Eduardo Nunez, who had the afore-mentioned historic inside-the-park homer; the White Sox’s Matt Albers, who pitched two scoreless innings in relief, hit a key double and scored what turned out to be the winning run in Wednesday’s 13 inning victory.

What’s Ahead

Three of the four MDR teams will play inter-league opponents next week, with the Brewers meeting the A’s, the Sox vs. the Nationals and the Twins vs. the Marlins.

The Cubs will stick with a NL opponent, the Phillies, during the week.

##

You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.
** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/MDR Blog
7533
MDR Blog 5/27
05-27-2016
08:15 AM ET (US)
The Cubs’ Jake Arrieta keeps making news even when he doesn’t pitch that well.

The Cubs held on for a 9-8 victory over the Cardinals on Wednesday at Busch Stadium. They now have won in Arrieta's last 23 starts -- a franchise record and tying the Major League mark set by the Braves behind Kris Medlen in 2012. Arrieta also is the first Cubs starter to open a season 9-0 since Ken Holtzman did so in 1967.

This all happened in a game where Arrieta lasted only five innings. He scattered seven hits over those five innings and was charged with a season-high four runs, snapping his record run of 30 straight starts of three earned runs or fewer.

"I came out and felt really good," Arrieta said. "My timing was as good as it's been all year. They put some good swings on some pitches. The cutter down to Randal Grichuk that he hit out in the second wasn't a bad pitch. He put a good swing on it. Same thing with Matt Adams. I had a manageable pitch count to pitch in the game a little longer, but I got extended in the fifth.

"They had a good game plan coming in," he said of the Cardinals. "It's a good thing our offense was productive today."

Arrieta has earned 20 straight wins. The other three Cubs’ wins came in games he started, but did not get a decision in.

His manager Joe Maddon insists Arrieta will get better. "He has not pitched as well as he can yet," Maddon said. "You'll see the day when he goes out with that fastball command and it'll be the eighth inning with 92 pitches and it'll be a good day."

Arrieta said he and the Cubs hope to keep riding the streak for as long as they can.

“You can go out and give up one run and get the loss,” he said. “We'll ride it out and see where it goes. The way we're swinging the bats and the way I'm capable of throwing on an extended period, I think we can keep it going a little longer."

Updated Notes

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

Brewers

** The Brewers posted their first sweep of the season with their three wins over the Braves and their first ever sweep at Turner Field. It was the Brewers’ last appearance at the ballpark since the Braves are moving to a new park next season.

** LHP Chris Capuano went on the DL with elbow inflammation and RHP David Goforth was called up from the minors. LHP Will Smith is close to returning from a rehab assignment.

** The Brewers held a workout for Cuban outfielder Yadiel Hernandez.

Cubs

** The Cubs have showed a lot of versatility, with Kris Bryant shuttling between third base and left field, Javier Baez at third base (when Bryant is playing the outfield) or second (with Tommy La Stella when Ben Zobrist receives a rest) or La Stella at third base or second (when the situation calls for a left-handed batter against a tough right-hander).

** Cubs left-hander C.J. Riefenhauser has cleared waivers and had his contract outrighted off the 40-man roster, the team announced on Thursday. The move drops the Cubs’ 40-man roster count to 37.

** The Cubs released 35-year-old outfielder Shane Victorino.

Twins

** The Twins announced Thursday that they have indefinitely suspended, with pay, pitching coach Neil Allen for his pending DWI charge.

** The Twins have placed outfielder Darin Mastroianni on the DL and filled his roster spot by selecting the contract of left-hander Buddy Boshers from Triple-A Rochester, per a club announcement. Minnesota transferred closer Glen Perkins to the 60-day disabled list to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.

** LHP Sean Burnett, 35, signed a minor league deal with the Twins.

White Sox

** The Sox have lost 11 of 16 overall and dropped five straight series.

** White Sox ace Chris Sale is exhibiting diminished velocity and a lower strikeout rate, but he’s even better than ever, Ben Reiter of Sports Illustrated writes.

** The Sox released OF-IF Travis Ishikawa.

Player of the Week

The Cubs’ Kris Bryant hit four home runs on the road trip and drove in nine runs in seven games to earn this week’s MDR Player of the Week honor.

Other MDR team Players of the Week included: the Brewers’ Jonathan Villar, who continued his good play in the field and at the plate with a 5-for-12 series, including a game-winning hit and a homer, in Atlanta; the Twins’ Robbie Grossman, who hit .444 in seven games, including a homer and four RBI’s; the Sox’s Austin Jackson, who hit .381 in seven games.

What’s Ahead

The West Coast comes to Chicago next week when the Dodgers and D-Backs meet the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

The Sox will try to hang on to their narrow lead in the AL Central with a series against the Royals this weekend, and one with the Mets early next week.

The NCAA DIII World Series starts Friday and runs through Memorial Day at Fox Cities Stadium outside Appleton. Wisconsin-La Crosse and Wisconsin-Whitewater are in the tourney.

The historic Baseball Hall of Fame Tour (We Are Baseball) will come to Miller Park beginning July 15 as the first-ever Major League city stop on its multi-year journey to dozens of cities across North America,

The tour brings fans “a one-of-a-kind baseball experience through the illustrious history of the game with cutting-edge technology and digital media.” Baseball fans in Milwaukee will be able to visit the one-of-a-kind mobile exhibit galleries in one of Miller Park’s parking lots from July 15-31.

##

You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.
** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/MDR Blog
7532
MDR Blog 5/20
05-20-2016
09:49 AM ET (US)
Thousands of Cubs’ fans came to Wrigley Field North this week, expecting to see their club dominate a three-game series. Instead, they found out a team called the Brewers, with their own set of fans, occupy the place called Miller Park.

The Brewers’ pitching matched the Cubs pitch-by-pitch and won the series, 2 games to 1. Chase Anderson pitched the best game of his career, taking a no-hitter into the 8th inning on Tuesday. Ben Zobrist broke up the no-no, and Anderson, obviously out of gas, gave up two homers in the 9th. But, the Brewers went away with a 4-2 win.

On Wednesday night, the Brewers led until the Cubs tied the score in the 9th and took the game into extra innings. What decided that contest for the Cubs was grizzled vet manager Joe Maddon schooling the relative rookie Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell.

When the Brewers threatened to score by loading the bases, Maddon went to five infielders, pulling Kris Bryant into the infield. Before the inning was over, Bryant played left, third base, first base and left again. Travis Wood got the Cubs out of the jam by retiring three Brewers on what amounted to pop-ups.

Counsell didn’t come out as well in the strategy wars. He decided to intentionally walk Miguel Montero to ,load the bases because the Cubs were out of position players. Wood had to be used as a pinch-hitter.

The move was somewhat understandable, but it also moved the potential go-ahead run to third base with two outs. This often is considered a cardinal sin because a runner on third can score at least four ways -- steal of home, passed ball, wild pitch or walk.

Carlos Torres, who has been somewhat erratic all season, walked Wood to force in what turned out to be the winning run in a 2-1 Chicago decision. Wasted in that loss was a great starting performance by Milwaukee’s Jimmy Nelson.

But, on Thursday, journeyman Junior Guerra pitched the game of his career with 11 strikeouts, Tyler Thornburg picked up his first save of the season and the Brewers beat Cubs’ starter Jason Hammel for the first time ever, 5-3.

The Cubs had come into the series with perhaps the best pitching in baseball. John Lackey had the worst ERA of the rotation, just a little over 3.00.

Meanwhile, the Brewers’ starters had the worse ERA in the game. They still do, at 5.43, but in their last 10 games the ERA is 3.05 and the starters have eight quality starts in those 10 games. In the first 31 games of the season, the starters had seven quality starts.

Maddon noted on Thursday how the Brewers pitched and played overall. "They were very close games, and they never gave in to us. We had good at-bats the first two nights. Today, they got us and out-pitched us today. Give them credit. They're playing really well, and they hurt us on defense and they hurt us on the mound."
The series result does not mean the Cubs are collapsing and the Brewers are becoming contenders. One can note that the Brewers were lucky enough to miss Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester in the series.

But, the Brewers did play well, giving their fans and their manager some reason for hope. "I'm just proud of how the guys played today after the tough game last night," said Counsell on Thursday "That was our toughest game of the year, without question. We had a couple guys out of the lineup, but we played a really good game today. It was a satisfying win. Very satisfying."

Updated Notes

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

Brewers

** Kirk Nieuwenhuis had a productive game (two hits, two runs scored, two RBIs) Thursday to cap a homestand in which he batted .363. He is hitting .340 (17-for-50) this season at Miller Park and has emerged as the Brewers' regular center fielder by batting .311 in May with seven RBIs.

** Ryan Braun (back) and Domingo Santana (shoulder) continue to be in and out of the lineup.

** Rule 5 second baseman Colin Walsh and out-of-options outfielder Ramon Flores are both struggling immensely for the Brewers, but Counsell tells Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that the team isn’t planning to give up on either player anytime soon.

Cubs

** Dexter Fowler got the Cubs going with a leadoff home run, hitting the second pitch from Guerra over the right-field fence. It was Fowler's fourth homer this season and 15th career leadoff blast. He now has hit safely in 21 of his last 26 games.

** With the series loss to the Brewers, the Cubs have lost five of their last eight games.

** The Cubs hope that veteran RHP Joe Nathan can return to readiness at some point in the middle of 2016. Given his 60-day DL placement, it would appear that mid-July is the earliest possible date for a return to the majors.

Twins

** The Twins had lost four straight and seven of nine going into Friday night.

** The Twins and outfielder Robbie Grossman are in agreement on a minor league pact, per La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (Twitter link). Eddie Rosario was sent to the minors by the club.

** Twins skipper Paul Molitor chatted with Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports about his club’s struggles, saying that he’s still approaching the job with the same vigor. While he didn’t exactly suggest that there’s a significant hope of a full-blown turnaround this year, Molitor did stress that he’ll continue to “choose to see light still” even amidst the difficulties.

White Sox

** The Sox broke a four-game losing streak Thursday with their 2-1 win over the Astros.

** The White Sox have acquired outfielder Jason Bourgeois from the Diamondbacks, Steve Gilbert of MLB.com was among those to report on Twitter. Cash considerations will go back to Arizona in the swap.

** The White Sox are ready to make a significant upgrade this summer if the opportunity presents itself, writes Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago. Sox GM Rick Hahn appeared on WSCR’s “Inside the Clubhouse” show earlier this week, Levine notes, and expressed an aggressive approach toward improving his roster.

Player of the Week

The Sox’s Chris Sale improved to 9-0 with a complete game 2-1 win over the Astros. He became the first Sox pitcher to start a season that way since Eddie Cicotte. His effort also earned him MDR Player of the Week.

Other MDR Players of the Week included: the Brewers’ Kirk Nieuwenhuis for the performance detailed earlier in this blog; the Cubs’ Dexter Fowler; and the Twins’ Juan Centeno, who hit .364 in limited action over the week.

What’s Ahead

The Cubs meet the Giants and the Cardinals in their next two series. They will have to improve on their recent play to win those two.

A series between the Sox and Royals this weekend is another highlight.

##

You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.
** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/MDR Blog
7531
MDR Blog 5/13
05-13-2016
07:44 AM ET (US)
The Cubs were showing some weaknesses for the first time this season as they headed into the weekend and prepared for a series against I-94 rivals, the Brewers, next week.

On Wednesday, the Cubs dropped a doubleheader to the Padres. This was the first time this season they had lost two straight. It also was the deepest the Cubs had gone into a season without losing back-to-back games since 1907. That team did not lose consecutive contests until the 34th and 35th games, May 26-27. Wednesday's second game was No. 33 this season for the Cubs.

So, it’s hardly time to panic for Cubs fans. But, the team did not have its usual offensive pop in the twin bill. Some cracks in the lineup also have shown up. Jason Heyward was hitting .231. Jorge Soler was under .200. Some of the other Cubs hitters who were hot have cooled. For example, Kris Bryant was hitting only .226 in his last seven games.

Of course, Heyward traditionally is a slow starter, and the Cubs do have alternatives to Soler. Bryant will have his ups and downs in any season since he has a long swing that can be exploited at times.

Whether this is a real slump, or nothing but a couple losses on the same day, might be determined this weekend, when the Cubs host the Pirates at Wrigley Field. Chicago swept the Pirates last week to start an eight-game winning streak that ended with the losses to the Padres..

Of more interest to MDR readers might be the series next week at Miller Park. The Cubs have beaten the Brewers in two games thus far, both at Wrigley. But, the Brewers have been playing better ball as of late.

Veterans like Ryan Braun, Jonathan Lucroy and Aaron Hill have been productive at the plate. Jonathan Villar has continued to play well in the field and on offense. Hernan Perez and Alex Presley have contributed. Chris Carter has cooled off, but has been among the league leaders in home runs and RBIs so far this season.

The Brewers’ starting pitching can’t match up against the Cubs. Overall, there is no doubt the Cubs have superior talent and experience and should go on to win the NL Central and challenge for the World Series title.

But, for the first time this season, the Cubs have looked mortal. They might bounce back and get on a roll this weekend, but if not they could come to Miller Park somewhat vulnerable to the hungry Brewers.

Updated Notes

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

Brewers

** The Brewers have acquired righty Jhan Marinez from the Rays, according to a club announcement. To clear roster space, southpaw Michael Kirkman was designated for assignment.

** The Brewers made some other roster moves Thursday, with Scooter Gennett activated from the DL and fellow infielder Yadiel Rivera being optioned to Triple-A.

** Former Brewers outfielder Logan Schafer has signed with the Lancaster Barnstormers of the Atlantic League, the team announced (as Jason Bristol of CBS 21 first reported, on Twitter, yesterday). Another former Brewer, first baseman Matt Clark (a former teammate of Schafer), has agreed to a deal with the Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball

Cubs

** Cubs ace Jake Arrieta won’t offer the team a discount in extension talks, he told reporters, including ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers. According to previous reports, the Cubs have been hesitant to commit to anything greater than a four-year term, and that length clearly isn’t of interest to the 30-year-old reigning Cy Young winner.

** There’s long been talk that Theo Epstein would sign a new deal with the Cubs before reaching executive free agency after the season, but he tells Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link) that there are no imminent extensions — either for himself or with any of the team’s players.

** Catcher Miguel Montero is scheduled to return from the DL next week.

Twins

** Miguel Sano has had some struggles in right field, but ranks second in the MLB for throwing strength with 95.5 mph. Former Twin Aaron Hicks, now with the Yankees, ranks first at 99.

** LHP Pat Dean made his big league debut Wednesday and gave up two runs in 2.2 innings.

** Closer Glen Perkins, who has been injured most of the season, will throw his first bullpen session on May 23.

White Sox

** 3B Todd Frazier was listed as day-to-day after getting five stitches in his lip for a cut suffered when he tried to catch a foul ball in the stands.

** The White Sox have acquired righty Anthony Ranaudo from the Rangers, according to an announcement from Texas VP of communications John Blake. RHP Matt Ball was sent to Texas.

** The Padres have claimed catcher Hector Sanchez off waivers from the White Sox, per the MLB.com transactions page.

Player of the Week

The Brewers’ Aaron Hill started the week with a 3-homer, 7-RBI game and extended his hitting streak to 10 games before it was over. That earned him the MDR Player of the Week honor.

Other MDR Players of the Week included: the Cubs‘ Ben Zobrist, who was hitting .556 with two homers in his last eight games; the Twins’ Trevor Plouffe, who was hitting .316 in his last seven games; and the Sox’s Chris Sale, who moved to 7-0 with a 1.79 ERA.

What’s Ahead

The Cubs-Brewers series at Miller Park highlight next week.

Before that series, you can go to the Milwaukee Braves Historical Association dinner at the Milwaukee Athletic Club on Monday, May 16.. Don't miss the opportunity to listen to former commissioner Bud Selig. They also have a visual tribute to Billy Bruton. Unfortunately, Billy O'Dell will be unable to attend. Call 414-281-5183 for tickets.

##

You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.
** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/MDR Blog
7530
MDR Blog 5/6
05-06-2016
09:47 AM ET (US)
Midwest Diamond Report Blog - 5/6

The Twins and White Sox meet in Chicago this weekend. The Twins were predicted to be contenders in the AL Central by many so-called experts while the previews of the White Sox were mixed.

So far this season, however, the Twins have bombed and the Sox are leading the AL. Why?

Bruce Levine, a respected radio reporter for years in Chicago, recently wrote: “The White Sox have won games the old-fashioned way — with pitching, defense and and by going above and beyond in the ‘little things.’ What defines little things? A good bunt, a clutch catch and putout, a great throw and tag play are a few examples. And all of those components have been a part of the winning baseball the White Sox have played.
 Last season, the team rarely displayed the savvy tactics or low-profile execution that it took to win close games.”

“I don’t want to get into it, comparing players,” manager Robin Ventura said of why the Sox have improved this season. “We do have different players this year (five new position starters). These guys just seem have some things going for them.”

More from Levine: :In the past few years, it hasn’t been so simple for the White Sox. To the credit of the the team’s front office, they identified a group not functioning together and brought in a different mix.”

“You look back at the end of some years and the close games you won and lost,” newcomer Todd Frazier said. “Are we 10 games over because of doing the little things? You want to win those close games no matter what. You know you can contribute to that by doing your job and executing. We really have not been scoring a lot, but we pay attention to defense and getting the job done in game situations.”

Levine’s story seems to have nailed it. Ventura, considered a good fundamental player in his day, could not get last year’s team to execute and thus was widely criticized by fans and some media. The Sox’s front office stayed loyal to Ventura and decided he wasn’t the problem. They stuck with him, and now the Sox are playing the kind of fundamentally sound baseball Ventura has always emphasized.

The Twins’ miserable start to the season is the result of a “total system failure” rather than any individual’s performance, club owner Jim Pohlad tells Chip Scoggins of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

More from www.mlbtraderumors.com: “Pohlad says that GM Terry Ryan ‘is the right guy’ to run the baseball operations department, while skipper Paul Molitor ‘has our total support.’ The owner rejected the idea that more money would have done much good, saying: ‘I don’t believe that the money thing has been a constraint on the team’s success.”
 ‘And he doesn’t seem to believe that the choices made with the funding were ill-considered.

“We’ve been at this for a little while … the owner can’t do a whole lot,” he explained. “But what could Terry do? Or what could Paul do? I just don’t know at this point. It’s just a total system failure, so to speak.”

Like the Sox, the Twins’ brass seems to believe they have the right leadership in place.
 Twins fans can only hope that the loyalty pays off in the long run like it has for the Sox and Ventura.

Updated Notes

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

Brewers

** RHP Wily Peralta will miss a start Friday while on paternity leave. RHP Tyler Cravy was called up and made the start.

** The Brewers have designated lefty Sam Freeman. His roster spot was needed for righty Junior Guerra, who started on Tuesday.

** The Brewers announced they have claimed left-hander Michael Kirkman off waivers from the Padres. San Diego had designated Kirkman for assignment earlier in the week after just one appearance.

Cubs

** CF Dexter Fowler was ejected for the first time in his career.

** The Cubs swept their three-game series at Pittsburgh earlier this week, racking up at least 10 hits in each game. Prior to that series, the last time Chicago swept an opponent while recording at least 10 hits in every game was when they swept a three-game series versus the Brewers in Chicago from September 1-3, 2014.

** The Cubs announced they’ve placed outfielder Matt Szczur on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring and selected the contract of outfielder Ryan Kalish to take his place on the active roster.

Twins

** RHP Erwin Santana will be activated from the DL and start against the Sox over the weekend.

** Righthander J.R. Graham joined the club Wednesday from Class AAA Rochester, where he had a 10.80 ERA in eight appearances. That includes eight earned runs over his last 3⅔ innings.

** The Twins have placed southpaw Tommy Milone and righty Casey Fien on waivers, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reports.

White Sox

** The White Sox are on the lookout for a left-handed bat and an addition to the starting rotation.

** LHP John Danks, who was released by the Sox after 10 years, told reporters, including MLB.com’s Scott Merkin, that he has no hard feelings toward the White Sox organization and is supportive of the team’s decision.

** The White Sox have placed right-hander Jake Petricka on the 15-day disabled list with a left hip impingement, the club announced. Petricka’s DL stint is retroactive to May 2, though there’s no immediate timetable for his return. Chicago announced that right-handers Tommy Kahnle and Erik Johnson have been recalled from Triple-A Charlotte to take the place of Petricka and Danks.

Player of the Week

The Brewers’ Chris Carter his his 10th home run of the season and continued to be very productive at the plate to earn the Player of the Week honor.

Other MDR teams’ Players of the Week included: the Cubs’ Ben Zobrist who had four RBIs against the National and an overall good week at the plate; the Twins’ Joe Mauer, who hit .348 over the last six games; and the White Sox’s Jose Abreu, who hit .375 with a homer and nine RBI’s in a six game stretch.

What’s Ahead

The Twins-Sox series in Chicago highlights the weekend action.

The Chicago SABR chapter will hold their next meeting on May 14 at the Austin-Irving Branch of the Chicago Public Libraries, 6100 W. Irving Park, in Chicago A pre meeting lunch will be held at the Burgundy Restaurant, 5959 W. Irving Park Road (SE Corner of Austin and Irving, a block east of library) from 11:30-12:30. The meeting will be from 1-4:30 p.m.

Just a reminder that the Milwaukee Braves Historical Association will meet at the Milwaukee Athletic Club on May 16.. Don't miss the opportunity to listen to former commissioner Bud Selig. There also have a visual tribute to Billy Bruton. Unfortunately, Billy O'Dell will be unable to attend. Call 414-281-5183 for tickets..

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You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.
 ** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
 ** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/MDR Blog
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