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Trade Rumors And Going For Six Straight: Cubs vs. Astros Preview, Tuesday 7/28, 7:05 CT

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With three days till the trading deadline, rumors are still flying. Bruce Miles confirms two of them:

A left-handed reliever appears to top the Cubs' priority list. Two names to keep an eye on are Washington's Joe Beimel and Pittsburgh's John Grabow.

Each checks in at or near the $2 million mark in salary. The Cubs' ownership situation is still not settled, but team chairman Crane Kenney said at the winter meetings the team should have flexibility at the trade deadline to make a move.

What we don't know regarding "flexibility" is whether things have changed since the winter meetings. We also don't know how B.J. Ryan is going to throw at Iowa -- he should make his Iowa debut tonight, and likely will throw again before Friday's deadline. If he does well enough, I can see the Cubs not making a deal for a lefthander at all, figuring that Ryan could do the same things that Beimel or Grabow could do and at no cost of giving up players.

And for those of you who think you can just take a handful of prospects and trade them for a major league player, check out Rob Neyer's take on why Freddy Sanchez may not be going anywhere. So before you yell "GETITDONEJIM!" again, remember that there are many factors involved in making a major league trade, and that any and all of the rumors you hear flying, including the ones I have heard myself, may be true when they are heard, only to become dismissed an hour later. We may see a lot of action before Friday -- or none at all.

Note from last night's game: Alfonso Soriano's walkoff grand slam was the 2nd-latest walkoff slam (by innings) in Chicago baseball history. On August 8, 1980, Cliff Johnson hit a walkoff slam off the Expos' Dale Murray in the 14th inning and the Cubs beat the Expos 8-4. Note that the date on the boxscore reads May 28, 1980 -- in that pre-lights era, games were often suspended for darkness and that was one of them. Thus Johnson, who was acquired by the Cubs on June 23, 1980, gets credit for hitting a game-winning homer for them almost a month before he was actually acquired.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Ryan Dempster
Ryan Dempster
Cubs
vs. Roy Oswalt
Roy Oswalt
Astros
5-5 W-L 6-4
4.09 ERA 3.66
89 SO 104
44 BB 33
13 HR 15
vs. Hou -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Ryan Dempster 5-5 17 17 0 0 0 0 105.2 101 53 48 13 44 89 4.09 1.37


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Roy Oswalt 6-4 21 21 3 0 0 0 135.1 126 55 55 15 33 104 3.66 1.17

Roy Oswalt used to be tough on the Cubs (and everyone else), but he's 0-1, 4.15 in two starts vs. the Cubs this year. However, he's been hot lately, with a 2.00 ERA in his last six starts. Aramis Ramirez (4 HR in 63 lifetime AB), Derrek Lee (3 HR in 55 lifetime AB) and Alfonso Soriano (3 HR in 39 lifetime AB) all have taken him deep multiple times. I think we can now say Soriano's in one of his hot streaks; since his season-low average of .223 on July 4, he is hitting .388/.431/.627 in 17 games with 4 HR and 13 RBI.

Ryan Dempster has had two good starts vs. Houston this year, totalling 13 innings with a 2.08 ERA. He has two no-decisions to show for those starts; the Cubs lost both games (April 7 and June 11) in extra innings. Dempster says his toe is fine and since this injury was not arm related, I don't expect any problems, though he may be on a pitch limit of 80-85 pitches tonight. Lance Berkman, who has homered 4 times off Dempster, is out -- so Hunter Pence (8-for-20, 1 HR) becomes Dempster's nemesis.

The Cubs are back on WGN today, also on FSN Houston. For other games today see the MLB.com Mediacenter.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Astros site The Crawfish Boxes.

Overflow comment threads will post today at 8 pm, 9 pm and 9:45 pm CDT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.