We will get to yesterday’s trade in a moment, but first Cubs Central would like to congratulate the Eugene Emeralds on winning the South Division title in the Northwest League for the first half! With 23 wins and 10 losses, the Emeralds used quality starting pitching, a deep bullpen, outstanding defense, and team speed on offense to dominate the league. With five games to go, the Emeralds also clinched the best record in the league.
Now onto the trade and other things…
I think the trade for Mike Montgomery signals that a series of changes are about to take place throughout the Cubs organization. As Joe Nathan, Brian Matusz, Aaron Crow, and Jack Leathersich finish up their rehabs and DL stints, the Cubs’ bullpen is going to look markedly different in the second half than in the first. I don’t know if all of the pitchers mentioned above will be in the bullpen come October, but they will all get a chance to prove they belong on the post-season roster.
Dan Vogelbach’s trade also opened up a spot on the Top 21 Prospect List. Originally, I was just going to add one player and move everyone else below him up one spot. But with two players in Chicago, Contreras and Almora, about ready to have their prospect status expire, combined with 10 more days of possible trades, I am just going to wait until the trade deadline passes on August 1 before I post a new list. I’ve been working on one, of and on, for a couple weeks. It’s looking very young.
In addition, I think you’re going to see some promotions take place in the next few days. Most notable is Oscar de la Cruz, a likely top 10 Prospect, who could move to South Bend where he was slated to start this year. He might join Jose Paulino who was promoted to South Bend after last night’s win! Paulino was almost unhittable in the Northwest League for Eugene with a 0.51 ERA.
It is rare for the Cubs to move starting pitchers. They tend to let them simmer and sauté for a whole year. Last year the Cubs did move the Ryan Williams and Jeremy Null mid-season, but I think those are the exceptions rather than the norm.
Another reason there will be more changes is that draft picks have signed their contracts, passed their physicals, and gone through orientation in “The Cubs’ Way.” Several relievers made their debuts this week and I expect Tom Hatch and Tyson Miller to make their debuts by the end of next week. The resulting chain reaction of arms will bleed up through the system.
It should be interesting to see the totality of these changes. Hopefully, the changes will have a positive affect throughout the last six weeks of the minor league season, the last two months of the major league season, and into the playoffs.