SAN FRANCISCO -- Before Sunday's game, Carrie Muskat tweeted this quote from President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein:
Theo on #Cubs 1st half: "If you wanted to sum up the first half, you'd say it went really well for the first seven innings"— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) June 30, 2013
Ha, ha. Nice to know Theo has a sense of humor. Or maybe I should say "had" a sense of humor, because little did he know that Sunday's 7-6 win over the Mariners would be another perfect example of that exact quote, even though the Cubs did hang on for the victory. The Cubs did just fine through seven innings -- six decent ones from Edwin Jackson, who posted just his sixth quality start in 16 appearances, and one good inning from Shawn Camp.
Then Camp lost it in the eighth, allowing two home runs, one to Raul Ibanez -- no shame there, Ibanez hit 10 home runs in June, tied for second-most in the major leagues behind Baltimore's Chris Davis -- and one to Kyle Seager with a man on base. Later in the inning, it appeared Welington Castillo had Brad Miller picked off first base, but Anthony Rizzo never tagged Miller as he dived back into the bag. Isn't it about time for the Cubs to give Camp the proverbial gold watch and let him go?
Fortunately, Kevin Gregg slammed the door in the bottom of the ninth for his 13th save in 14 chances. The Cubs survived bad bullpen work past the seventh inning in this one and won their third straight series (and have six wins in their last nine games), but I'm guessing Theo doesn't make that joke again. (Credit to Darwin Barney for an excellent play on a sharply-hit grounder from Ibanez in that ninth inning.) In winning Sunday, the Cubs really did improve their record in one-run games to 10-17.
Earlier Sunday, it was Double Day (not Abner) for the Cubs; six doubles helped produce three runs in the second inning and four runs in the fourth. Alfonso Soriano, now getting hot at just the right time (i.e., to help produce a trade for him somewhere else) and Barney had a pair of two-baggers apiece. Anthony Rizzo and Brian Bogusevic also doubled to lead a nine-hit attack. In case you were wondering about the 2008 game I mentioned above:
#Cubs have 1st 4 double inning since 8/17/08 at Florida. Lead 3-0— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) June 30, 2013
It was a good thing they scored all those runs early, because the offense shut down with just one single (Nate Schierholtz) after the fourth inning. One of these days this team will be able to figure out how to pitch, hit and play defense for all nine innings.
Still earlier Sunday, it was announced that Ryan Sweeney suffered a fractured rib when he ran into the wall in center field Saturday night. As Jim Deshaies mentioned on the telecast, it's odd that the Cubs have had two outfielders injured within the last month by running into outfield walls -- on the road. The Wrigley brick wall hasn't been an issue, it's been the padded walls away from the North Side of Chicago. It's really too bad, as Sweeney had been given a real chance to show what he could do after the injury to David DeJesus and Sweeney had produced over the last three weeks. Now he'll be out possibly as long as two months.
Here's what Dale Sveum said about a possible roster move:
Bogusevic will play CF for now. #Cubs Sveum says they may add another pitcher if necessary— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) June 30, 2013
Oh, no. Please, no. Not the 13-man pitching staff again for the man who doesn't know how to use relief pitchers well in the first place.
I know this was mentioned in one of the threads with some negativity, but I would not be opposed to the Cubs taking a flyer on Jeff Francoeur, who was DFA'd by the Royals Saturday. Now, before you go all "Al's gone completely nuts" on me, hear me out. This article by Joe Posnanski, a writer I very much admire, tells the tale of Francoeur, and he's absolutely correct. However, I note he writes, near the end of his excellent summary of Frenchy's career:
He will find another job, I’m sure. People do try to find the good in him. I’ve said before that if teams would use him almost exclusively against lefties, he’d have a shot. He’s hitting a decent .287/.339/.471 against lefties in his career.
Now, isn't that what the Cubs would do with him, at least for now? Stick him in right field against lefthanders, and let Scott Hairston platoon with Bogusevic in center? (While Hairston has not played center field this year, he did play 14 games there last year, and 149 in his career. Surely, he could handle some platoon action out there. And stop calling me Shirley, I know.)
The problem, of course, is that the Cubs need a righthanded-hitting platoon outfielder now, and you wouldn't want to claim Francoeur off waivers and pay the (approximately) $4 million left on his deal. You'd want to wait until the DFA period is over and then sign him and only have to pay him a pro-rated portion of the minimum salary. But by then nine more games have gone by, and personally, I don't really want to see any more of Dave Sappelt, though I suppose that's the most likely move. There really isn't anyone else on the Iowa roster I'd like to see replace Sweeney, unless the Cubs want to give Jae-Hoon Ha a shot, and that'd be only a week after his promotion to Triple-A. Adding Ha or Francoeur would require a DFA for the Cubs, as the 40-man roster is full.
Francoeur, I admit, would be a total scrap-heap reclamation project. He's been really bad this year, and hasn't hit lefties much, either. I keep thinking, though, at 29 he might still be a useful platoon player. It might be at least worth thinking about. Vote in the Frenchy poll below.
So the Cubs head to Oakland for their first-ever regular-season series in the O.co Coliseum. I'll be at the first two games; if you're in the area and planning to attend, I'll tweet my seat location before game time Tuesday and Wednesday. Scott Feldman will throw Tuesday night, and Matt Garza Wednesday... unless Garza is dealt by then. Theo says it's "50-50" the Cubs could deal before the All-Star break. (And maybe he's more likely to pull the trigger after his "joke" nearly came true.)
That's yet another thing to discuss. We'll have some more installments in the "411" trade-partner series here on the off day Monday.