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Cubs vs. Mets Preview, Saturday 8/16, 6:10 CT

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The Cubs will try to even up their series with the Mets Saturday evening.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Starlin Castro is having a fine comeback year from his down 2013; he made his third All-Star team and entering tonight's game is hitting .286/.335/.429, on pace for career highs in doubles and home runs. He's under contract at a team-friendly rate for five more years with an option for 2020.

Yet, rumors that the Cubs are going to trade him persist. They seem to come up most often when the Cubs play the Mets, since the Mets are looking for a shortstop and have quite a bit of young pitching, which the Cubs are seeking. Mark Gonzales of the Tribune writes:

Many see the Mets as a possible match for the Cubs because of their young starting pitching depth and the Cubs' stock of shortstops, with marquee prospect Addison Russell at Double-A Tennessee after Javier Baez moved to second base from there before his major league promotion 11 days ago.

Mets pro scout Roy Smith watched Castro for four games in late July.

Wow, a pro scout saw four games Castro played and suddenly he's on his way to LaGuardia Airport? Kind of a flimsy case, if you ask me. A scout probably just doing due diligence.

Castro's defense has improved this year and remember that he is still just 24 years old; his best years are probably still ahead. I wouldn't trade him -- nor would I move him off of shortstop.

Here are tonight's particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Coghlan LF, Baez 2B, Rizzo 1B, Castro SS, Ruggiano RF, Alcantara CF, Castillo C, Valaika 3B, Straily P

Mets lineup:

Granderson RF, Murphy 2B, Wright 3B, Duda 1B, d'Arnaud C, den Dekker LF, Lagares CF, Flores SS, Niese P

Today's Starting Pitchers

Dan Straily

Dan Straily


Cubs

vs. Jon Niese

Jon Niese


Mets

vs. NY

--

vs. Cubs

One game won't make a Cubs career for Dan Straily, but he has had major-league success before, including a postseason start last year. He wasn't good in the big leagues for the A's this year, nor at their Triple-A Sacramento affiliate, but he's made seven decent starts for Iowa (39 innings, 1.282 WHIP, 3.00 ERA). He's going back to Iowa after tonight's game, but he'll be back (possibly, I'd think, for the split doubleheader in St. Louis August 30). He has never faced the Mets nor anyone on their current roster.

Jon Niese is having a good year. He's about as average a pitcher as you can get (102 ERA+ this year, 96 ERA+ for his career). He last faced the Cubs June 15, 2013 at Citi Field; again, those box scores are only useful to see how many Cubs from those games aren't on the team any more. Current Cubs are 13-for-60 (.217) against Niese with one home run (Starlin Castro).

Today's game is on WGN.

Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Mets site Amazin' Avenue.

For 2014, we are going to have the same game-thread routine as 2013. Here's how it works.

You'll find the game preview -- like this one -- posting as the first link in the StoryStream™, which will then contain all the overflow threads and the recap. The recap will also be on the front page as a separate post; once I post a game recap, the stream for each game will be retitled "Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of Week) Game Threads" so you can go back and find every thread related to that particular game.