Cubs remain on trade clock
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com July 30, 2013 10:38PM
Brewers at Cubs
The facts: 7:05 p.m., Ch. 9, 720-AM.
The starters: Wily Peralta (7-10, 4.54 ERA) vs. Edwin Jackson (6-11, 4.89).
Updated: July 31, 2013 12:17AM
Nate Schierholtz, one of the Cubs’ top hitters the last two weeks, was left out of the lineup Tuesday night against a right-hander.
Drama? Intrigue? Trade?
Or maybe just the second game of a doubleheader against the Milwaukee Brewers on a long day for two division-trailing teams planning to get most of their roster some at-bats.
After all, David DeJesus was in the lineup, in center field as usual, and even delivered a go-ahead double in the seventh inning of Game 2 as a scout from the Pittsburgh Pirates, in need of an outfielder, dutifully watched from behind home plate.
The Cubs’ final game before the 3 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline Wednesday concluded without a trade but with another loss. Two, actually. The Brewers swept the day-night doubleheader with victories of 6-5 and 3-2.
The club’s likeliest players to be dealt made late-inning appearances in Game 2. Schierholtz grounded into a fielder’s choice as a pinch hitter in the eighth, and closer Kevin Gregg came on in the ninth, only to blow a 2-1 lead.
None of which did anything to ease the building anxiety among players with reason to think they could be next after a four-week stretch in which the busiest sellers in the game traded Matt Garza, Alfonso Soriano, Scott Hairston, Scott Feldman and Carlos Marmol.
“It’s there. People know,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “It’s the way the game is this time of year. People are aware of it, but you can’t worry about it. You can’t dwell on it. It’s part of the game.”
At least three contenders with sights on players from the two rosters had representatives scouting the doubleheader: the Pirates, Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers.
The top starting pitcher on the block for either team, the Brewers’ Yovani Gallardo, left the opener in the fifth inning because of a hamstring injury that might have derailed the team’s chances to move him.
The Tigers, whose championship bid last year was derailed in large part because of a late-inning bullpen problem they didn’t immediately fix, still are said to be in the hunt for relief help such as Gregg (or lefty James Russell), even after acquiring Houston Astros closer Jose Veras on Tuesday as a setup option.
The Toronto Blue Jays also have been following the Cubs for the last week, but sources say the Jays don’t look as much like 2013 buyers as a team looking for commodities into next season.
The Arizona Diamondbacks, who appear heavily involved in seeking pitching, including left-handed relief, don’t have a strong interest in Russell, who likely would require a strong offer for the Cubs to part with him.
Meanwhile, even some of the Cubs not associated with trade talks and speculation are bracing for anything.
“I got traded before, so I don’t think about it. But if somebody wants me and the Cubs want to deal me, then I’m gone, I guess,” said Carlos Villanueva, who pitched especially well Tuesday in Game 1 until putting a couple of runners on in the seventh. He exited with one out, then watched Russell give up a tying three-run homer.
Villanueva, who didn’t get a decision in the 6-5 loss, has a 4.33 ERA this season — 3.06 in 16 relief appearances, 4.62 in 13 starts.
Under contract through next year for the same $5 million he makes this year, he isn’t expected to be traded, if only because of his value as pitching depth for a club that figures to be shuffling its deck next year, too.
“I don’t lose much sleep over it,” Villanueva said. “For me, as long as I’m wearing a Cubs uniform, I’m giving my heart out there every time, and I want to give the fans and everybody the best I’ve got.”