The Cubs used the long ball again today, three of them, to defeat the Reds 5-3. That makes three wins in a row, seven of nine (resistance is futile!) since the All-Star break, and nine of the last 13 dating back to the St. Louis series before the ASB. At 50-45 the Cubs are five games over .500 for the first time since May 19, when they were 21-16 and in the middle of that disastrous eight-game losing streak.
And all you guys want to talk about is trade rumors, right?
Let's get started, then. As first posted by tomas21 earlier this afternoon in this FanPost, Milton Bradley may be on his way to becoming a Detroit Tiger. This rumor was confirmed to me from my own sources, so I think this possibility does have legs, and I hope it happens, sooner rather than later. You all know my position on Bradley, but I'm going to be nice here. Regardless of his numbers in the past or whether he can pick up this season to be even close to that (and it's hardly "early" any more, with 67 games remaining), I just don't think Bradley was ever a good fit as a Chicago Cub. Remember a few weeks ago when he was quoted as saying "I don't like the attention, I just like doing my job and going home"? I think being in the fishbowl of attention that comes with being a Cub -- probably more than any team except the Yankees or Red Sox -- was too much for Milton. He may have the ability within him, but I suspect he put too much pressure on himself -- that's a recipe for failure. I'd think he would be very successful as a DH and part-time outfielder in Detroit.
If today's pinch-hit homer -- the first PH homer of Milton's career -- was his last AB as a Cub, I wish him well.
Now, for those who think that Sam Fuld or Reed Johnson becomes a full-time player if Bradley is dealt, that can't be right. Clearly, dealing Bradley would be in part to clear his contract to acquire other players -- perhaps Adam Dunn? The Nationals have said they may not deal Dunn, but they'd be foolish to reject an offer of young pitching. Or maybe Magglio Ordonez, who is off to a start as bad as Bradley's, would come to Chicago from the Tigers in a Bradley trade. In any case, a deal of Bradley would be a beginning, not the end of dealing. More on trades and today's game after the fold.
I have also heard that the Cubs have made inquiries about Dan Haren from the Diamondbacks -- that would be a fantastic acquisition, as Haren is currently leading the NL in ERA and WHIP. Further, I've heard that the Blue Jays have had scouts watching nearly every team in the Cub farm system over the last few days -- could the Cubs be a dark horse candidate in the Roy Halladay derby? The Phillies rejected what the Blue Jays asked from them in an attempt to get Halladay, so perhaps Toronto is looking elsewhere. With Ted Lilly out for an undetermined length of time, the Cubs not only could use the extra bat that could come by clearing Bradley's salary, but another starting pitcher has to be high on the wish list.
Thankfully, Kevin Hart filled in admirably today in his best start as a major leaguer. After a shaky first inning when a run scored (and it could have been more if not for a pinpoint throw by Reed Johnson after he barely missed a diving catch on Chris Dickerson's leadoff single, throwing Dickerson out at 2B), Hart gave up only three hits and struck out five from the 2nd to the 6th. More importantly, he only walked one, after issuing five walks in his other two starts.
Cubs bats put three runs on the board in the first inning, highlighted by Derrek Lee's triple (could his awkward slide into 3B have triggered the neck spasms again?) and Aramis Ramirez's second homer in as many days -- so nice to see A-Ram's bat going again. Alfonso Soriano looked solid at the plate today, with two singles and his 17th homer, and Bradley's 8th-inning jack ended the scoring. Both Angel Guzman and Carlos Marmol looked really good in relief today, and that's especially good news about Marmol, who looks to have gotten back into his groove.
That Bradley homer was nearly necessary, as Aaron Heilman nearly gave the game back in the 9th inning. Here, I'll say something nice about Heilman -- he didn't walk anyone. Instead, he gave up a pair of homers, the second of which, by Jonny Gomes, landed about five rows below us right in the middle of three different bachelorette parties that sat themselves in our section today. A young woman wearing a shirt that read "BITCH #1" (there were eight of them) caught the ball and threw it back. Can we please end the Heilman experiment NOW? Just release him.
There was another "throw it back" incident that nearly caused far more trouble than it was worth. Gomes' double in the fourth inning bounced into the stands down the LF line in foul territory. It was caught by a young boy who looked like he was about seven or eight years old. Adults around him egged him on to "throw it back", but after he did, he was surrounded by two security supervisors and five or six other security guards -- enormous overkill, in my opinion. Two of them started talking to him -- a child, alone. The poor kid looked terrified. Fortunately, nothing happened and later, security guards brought the kid a ball to keep. Since the "throw it back" culture has been so approved by management, it's not surprising people urged the kid on -- so the better idea probably would have been to just let a young boy be.
I hope Jim Hendry is burning up tons of cellphone minutes this afternoon and evening and we have a trade announcement sometime tonight. Things appear to be happening. The team is starting to play better. Keep the faith, and go Phillies (at this writing, leading the Cardinals 3-1 in the second inning).