Several Cubs might be headed out of town soon
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org May 26, 2013 8:23PM
Chicago Cubs v Cincinnati Reds
Updated: May 26, 2013 10:33PM
CINCINNATI — As soon as manager Dale Sveum said he didn’t like the new four-games-and-done format for the Cubs-White Sox
series this year, he got the inevitable ‘‘clown’’ question:
You’d rather have the circus come to town twice?
‘‘Yeah. I always liked circuses,’’ Sveum said.
Imagine if he had been around for the days of the Ozzie Guillen and Lou Piniella sideshows, the Michael Barrett and A.J. Pierzynski fisticuffs, the Carlos Zambrano anger mismanagement and the Milton Bradley outbursts.
A lot more than the format has changed in a Cubs-Sox series that has seen its glory days pass it by. Instead, the malaise of swaggerless teams in transition takes center stage Monday for the first of two games at U.S. Cellular Field before the series heads to Wrigley Field for two more.
The Cubs bring no controversy, no big personalities and no chance to score without their pitchers hitting at an American League park. And when they head north to Wrigley — heck, not even the Red Line is working.
As Zambrano once famously said: ‘‘We stinks.’’
So if you’re just starting to pay attention to the Cubs after recovering from that post-Bulls hangover, get a good look this week while you can. Because for all the manufactured hoopla of the four-day series, the next show under the Cubs’ big top likely will involve president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer making half the roster disappear in July.
Now you see him, now you don’t? Keep your eye on the short-term asset with the hot-hand value and say the magic word: ‘‘foundationforsustainedsuccess.’’
And — poof! — who’s gone?
Scott Feldman: National pundits already have projected the right-hander as the top starting pitcher in early trading-season speculation. Feldman was one of the hottest pitchers in baseball for five starts until being cooled off
Friday by the Reds. At 4-4 with a 2.80 ERA, he’s still an attractive player for a contender in need of starting pitching, and his one-year contract was made for flipping.
Kevin Gregg: The pleasant-
surprise closer, who was signed last month after being released by the Los Angeles Dodgers, doesn’t project as a closer for a contender, scouts say. But with his experience and the way he has pitched for the Cubs (no earned runs in 14 outings), he’s looking more each day like a valuable piece for a setup crew on a contending team.
David DeJesus: Scouts say the steady veteran with the .345 on-base percentage, left-handed bat and versatile skills in the outfield should be regarded highly enough this summer to net a decent prospect without the need to be packaged in a deal (as the Cubs did with Reed Johnson last season).
Matt Garza: He’s the most
interesting man in the clubhouse this trading season. Scouts say Garza easily is the Cubs’ most
desirable trading chip if he proves his elbow problems are behind him and pitches better than he did in the fourth inning Sunday. But he also might be a candidate for an extension or a qualifying offer as a free agent if the Cubs decide to make him a core guy or don’t get strong-enough trade offers for him.
Carlos Marmol: The embattled former closer with about $6.5 million left on his contract isn’t considered reliable enough to pursue even if he’s pitching well by July, scouts say. But if Marmol pitches enough scoreless innings, such as the one he tossed in the sixth Sunday, the Cubs might have reason to dream about a scenario in which they get a second-tier prospect while picking up the balance of his contract.