The Cubs' outfield is overcrowded right now; Tyler Colvin made sure of that with his good rookie year, and the Cubs would probably like to deal Kosuke Fukudome not only to make fulltime room for Colvin, but to free up $14 million dollars off the 2011 payroll.
Fukudome, though, has been playing well lately; in 21 games this month he is hitting .367/.465/.617 with three HR and 10 RBI (71 plate appearances). His two-run homer last night broke a 1-1 tie and made the difference in the Cubs' 3-2 win over the Reds, their first win over Cincinnati since July 3. It also tied Fukudome's career high of 11 homers, set last year. The Cubs improved to 4-1 under Mike Quade.
Xavier Nady provided the other run for the Cubs with a solo homer, his first since June 10. I doubt Nady will be back next year; it has taken almost five months for him to really begin hitting as the Cubs hoped he would. Nady, too, is having a good August, hitting .306/.386/.468 with seven doubles and one HR in 70 plate appearances.
Meanwhile, Randy Wells posted his first win in over a month by throwing six solid innings on his 28th birthday -- his "golden birthday", since yesterday was the 28th of the month. Wells has had an up and down season. He has had 19 starts in which he's gone at least six innings, but also two horrific outings in which he didn't make it out of the second inning. Those two starts account for 14% of his earned runs allowed this year; take those out of his record (yeah, yeah, I know you can't, but bear with me for a minute) and his ERA in the other 25 starts is more than half a run lower than his season era (4.50) at 3.93.
Andrew Cashner had one of his quick innings last night, throwing only eight pitches. He's done this before -- that seems to be his specialty. When he has his command he gets hitters to beat the ball into the ground. The bad outings seem to occur when his 95+ fastball is flat and hitters sit on it and hit home runs. That's something for him to work on before next year.
James Russell also made his case for next year's bullpen with a scoreless inning. Of all the rookie relievers this season, it would appear that Russell and Cashner are probably the only ones who will return in 2011 -- and yes, I believe Cashner is better suited to a setup role than starting.
The Cubs have a chance to win a series from the Reds for the first time this year and although they'd still have a bad record against Cincinnati, at least that would end the season series on an up note. The game preview will post at 10:30 am CDT.