Cubs unlikely to follow swap-filled July with waiver-wire deals
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter August 9, 2013 11:29PM
A story line for the rest of the season will be how Jake Arrieta fares. Acquired in the Scott Feldman trade, Arrieta probably will join the rotation during the upcoming homestand. | AP
Updated: September 11, 2013 6:14AM
ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Cardinals called up a pitcher from the minors to start Thursday. They’ve got another coming up Saturday to start against the Cubs. And a guy who is in his first full year in the big leagues starts Sunday.
And it’s not because they stink.
The Cardinals have the third-ranked starting rotation in baseball and the third-best record in the National League — and what seems like an endless pipeline of quality pitching in their farm system for the Cubs to peruse as they arrive in St. Louis for one of their tri-annual field studies in what’s missing at Wrigley.
“We’re not there by any stretch,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. “That’s the good benchmark.”
Where exactly are the Cubs as they enter the final weeks of Year 2 of the dredge-and-backfill rebuilding project under Theo Epstein and Hoyer?
For starters, the Cubs might be done with the in-season acquisition process this year — despite a desire to make trades this month via waivers, as the White Sox did Friday when they shipped big-ticket outfielder Alex Rios to the Rangers.
After an active July that netted at least eight pitchers and a third baseman in five trades of major leaguers, the Cubs haven’t been able to test the waiver waters with others they’re willing to trade — Kevin Gregg, Dioner Navarro, David DeJesus, Nate Schierholtz and a few others — because their modest contracts make them potential claim targets of too many teams to assure a deal.
“The guys you’re probably talking about are not likely to clear,” said Hoyer, whose only certainties to clear August waivers — $9.8 million Carlos Marmol and $18 million-a-year Alfonso Soriano — were traded in July. “We’ve had a lot of discussions about what we’ll do. …
“We don’t know yet that it’s not likely, but there’s no way to predict it.”
It might mean that what you see is what you get the rest of the way for the Cubs, with most of the moves over the final seven weeks involving minor-league promotions of prospects and the starting pitcher watch at the big-league level for Jake Arrieta and Scott Baker.
Arrieta acquired from the Baltimore Orioes in the Scott Feldman deal, will join the rotation for the rest of the season, probably during the upcoming homestand.
Baker, who had three consecutive minor-league rehab starts rained out last week, is scheduled to begin a new clock on his rehab assignment Wednesday, likely at advanced-A Daytona, with an eye on making his first big-league start since Tommy John surgery in September.
Until then, getting a first-hand look at the most-intriguing roster move to come could involve a drive to Geneva, where No. 2 overall draft pick Kris Bryant soon could be promoted to Class A Kane County from short-season Boise, pending internal discussions in the next few days.
For now, it’s a weekend of drooling in St. Louis and hoping what they see is what might eventually be on the horizon with some of the dozens of arms added to the system through two drafts, two Julys, two international signing seasons and an winter of activity over the last 14 months.
“I certainly feel much better about our pitching than I did a year ago,” Hoyer said. “You read the game reports and we have better arms down there than we did a year ago. We just have to keep doing that year after year after year after year … because you look at what the Cardinals are doing.”