The Cubs figured to be one of the more active teams at the trade deadline. They failed to complete a Ryan Dempster trade last week when the right-hander refused to waive his 10-and-5 rights, but on Monday they got busy.
The Cubbies shipped a different starter to the Braves – left-hander Paul Maholm – along with extra outfielder Reed Johnson in exchange for right-handers Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman. Maholm gives the Braves a notable upgrade over Jair Jurrjens, who had already been demoted to the bullpen in favor of Kris Medlen. He’ll also give them some insurance in case Ben Sheets goes down with an injury. Johnson could see some starts against left-handed pitching, but hopefully not at the expense of Jason Heyward.
Chapman has a chance to be a decent middle reliever, but Vizcaino is a far more interesting get for the Cubs. He was a top-50 prospect coming into the season but underwent Tommy John surgery during spring training. Though he has a history of durability issues, he has the repertoire of a starter and will surely be given a shot to stick in that role.
The Cubs also made a smaller move, dealing Geovany Soto to the Rangers in exchange for minor league righty Jacob Brigham. Soto gives the Rangers better defense than Mike Napoli, allowing Napoli to play more at first base and designated hitter. Yorvit Torrealba has been designated for assignment in a corresponding move.
Chicago might not be done, either, as they could still wind up dealing Dempster and/or Matt Garza, despite the fact that the latter is dealing with a triceps injury. The Reds and Blue Jays are interested in Garza, while the Cubs are still trying to work out a deal with the Dodgers involving Dempster.
Pirates Take A Shot on Snider
Travis Snider was supposed to be a star by now. The Pirates are hoping he just needed a little more time before finally blossoming.
Pittsburgh picked up the former top prospect Monday in exchange for right-hander Brad Lincoln. Snider has dealt with wrist issues this season but mashed at Triple-A Las Vegas when healthy, batting a blistering .335/.423/.598 with 13 homers and 56 RBI over 56 games. Of course, that’s nothing new for him, as he’s a career .333/.412/.565 hitter at the Triple-A level. Snider has been hit-or-miss during his stints with the Jays, though, batting just .247/.305/.429 over 914 plate appearances going into Monday’s game.
However, Snider is still just 24 years old, and has big raw power. It might not be the impact bat for this season that many Pirates fans wanted, but it’s probably the more sensible move. Lincoln is also a pretty interesting guy. He’s shown an uptick in velocity this season while making most of his appearances out of the bullpen, and the results have been impressive, as he’s posted a 2.73 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 60/14 K/BB ratio over 59 1/3 innings. He’ll pitch in relief for now, though the Jays could give him a chance to start eventually.
Oh Boy, Roy
Roy Oswalt hadn’t pitched since July 17 due to a back issue before climbing atop the mound Monday for a showdown with the AL West rival Angels. The results in his first start back were, to put it kindly, less than desirable.
Oswalt surrendered eight runs on 11 hits over just 5 1/3 innings of work in the 15-8 blowout loss. It’s the third time in six starts for the Rangers that he’s given up at least that many hits, and he’s now allowed a whopping 54 over 34 2/3 innings for the year. His ERA sits at an ugly 6.49, and his WHIP is a just-as-unsightly 1.73.
The veteran right-hander’s velocity was fine Monday, and he didn’t appear to be favoring his back at all. It’s discouraging because he had seemed to take a big step forward in starts earlier this month against the A’s and Twins, but what happened against the Angels was obviously a big step backwards.
Colby Lewis (elbow) is done for the season, and Neftali Feliz (elbow) just recently had a setback during his rehab assignment. But, the Rangers are stretching Alexi Ogando out, and they haven’t ruled out acquiring a starter via trade. Oswalt’s standing in the rotation probably isn’t on steady ground at this point.
National League Quick Hits: The Dodgers acquired Brandon League from the Mariners in exchange for a couple minor leaguers. He’ll help set up for Kenley Jansen … Yasmani Grandal exited Monday’s game with a right oblique strain. He hasn’t been placed on the DL yet, but it should be inevitable. Nick Hundley is likely to be called up to share time with John Baker … John Axford on Monday recorded his first save since being demoted from the closer role. He was the third reliever in the ninth to come in, though, so it doesn’t mean he has his job back … Rafael Furcal (back) is expected to return to the lineup Tuesday after receiving treatment. He’s also dealt with shin issues recently … Johan Santana (ankle) is expected to throw off a mound Thursday. The Mets are hoping he can rejoin the rotation by August 8 or 9 … Shane Victorino is reportedly the Reds’ top target in their search for a leadoff hitter, but the asking price is high. They might have to settle for Juan Pierre … Carlos Zambrano has been demoted to the bullpen after posting a 7.62 ERA over his last nine starts. Wade LeBlanc takes his spot in the rotation … The Cardinals have discussed internally the idea of promoting top prospect Oscar Taveras. He would figure to see regular playing time in center field, pushing Jon Jay to a fourth outfielder role.
American League Quick Hits: Mark Teixeira had to leave Monday’s game with a left wrist injury. X-rays came back negative, but Teixeira still needs an MRI, which could be the more important exam … Kendrys Morales belted a pair of home runs and drove in six runs in the sixth inning of Monday’s win over the Rangers. He hasn’t hit for the pop fantasy owners hoped for this season, but perhaps this is the beginning of a power surge … Clay Buchholz gave up two runs over eight strong frames against the Tigers Monday. He’s given up two or fewer earned runs in seven of his last nine starts … The Orioles could be on the verge of a deal for Joe Blanton, as the Phillies have faxed over his medical records to Baltimore … Carl Pavano (shoulder) will begin a rehab assignment Thursday. He’ll likely need at least 2-3 outings before rejoining the Twins’ rotation … Mark Trumbo didn’t play Monday due to upper back spasms. He’s considered day-to-day … Dan Haren is expected to be scratched from Wednesday’s start due to back stiffness. The Angels contend that it’s in a different area than the spot which landed him on the disabled list, and it doesn’t appear that a trip back to the DL will be needed at this point … Jim Thome will receive an MRI on his ailing neck on Tuesday. It’s possible a trip to the DL will be needed … The Mariners picked up outfielder Eric Thames from the Blue Jays in exchange for reliever Steve Delabar.