Cubs

Cubs strengthen rotation with trade for Dan Haren at deadline

danhareninsiderslide.png

Cubs strengthen rotation with trade for Dan Haren at deadline

MILWAUKEE — The Cubs filled a big hole in their rotation, acquiring crafty veteran pitcher Dan Haren from the Miami Marlins during the final hours before Friday’s trade deadline.

For essentially a two-month rental, the Cubs gave up two prospects from Double-A Tennessee — pitcher Ivan Pineyro and infielder Elliot Soto — without blowing up their farm system.

The Marlins also kicked in $500,000 to close the deal. Haren is owed about $3.6 million for the rest of this season, with the Cubs also responsible for up to around $1 million in performance bonuses.

Haren has gone 7-7 with a 3.42 ERA in 21 starts this season, taking advantage of Miami’s defense and the spacious dimensions at Marlins Park. His flyball rate — almost 50 percent this year — should be an issue when it’s hot and the wind’s blowing out at Wrigley Field.

[MORE: Cubs trade Junior Lake to Orioles for Tommy Hunter]

Still, the Cubs definitely needed someone to eat up innings and keep the team competitive during what looks like a push for the National League’s second wild card spot. Haren will likely make his first start in a Cubs uniform next week against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.

Haren’s entertaining Twitter account — @ithrow88 — makes fun of his diminishing velocity, but he can still get by with his guts, experience and intelligence.

“His stuff isn’t what it once was — you can just look at his Twitter handle and figure that out,” said Theo Epstein, the president of baseball operations who almost acquired Haren from the Los Angeles Angels for Carlos Marmol after the 2012 season — until the deal collapsed over concerns about Haren’s medical records.

“But he’s just a master at knowing how to pitch,” Epstein said. “He’s fearless. He attacks with what he has. He knows the hitters really well. He understands pitching. He knows how to shape pitches a lot of different ways and pitch to both sides of the plate.

“He knows how to file an advanced report. He knows how to read swings. He’s kind of an artist out there at this point.”

Haren is far more accomplished than the cast of characters the Cubs have used in the fifth-starter spot. Among active pitchers, he ranks in the top 10 in innings pitched (2361.1), games started (369), wins (149), strikeouts (1,969) and WHIP (1.18). He is 35 years old and positioned to become a free agent after this season.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans]

“This guy has been pitching forever,” said Miguel Montero, who caught Haren during his two All-Star seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2008 and 2009. “He can actually help our bullpen and our starters, (especially) our young guys. He’s throwing 86 (mph) and he’s still getting people out. So he’s got to (know) something about pitching.”

The Cubs acquired Pineyro from the Washington Nationals two years ago in the Scott Hairston trade. The 23-year-old right-hander has gone 7-5 with a 3.69 ERA in 19 starts for the Smokies this season. 

The Cubs drafted Soto out of Creighton University in the 15th round of the 2010 draft. He will turn 26 next month and had been hitting .275 with zero homers and a .388 on-base percentage through 88 games at Tennessee.

Haren certainly wasn’t the biggest name out there — and looked like more of a fallback position — but the Cubs couldn’t risk giving away games almost every fifth day.

“He competes,” Montero said. “That’s the main thing. He knows that he doesn’t have the greatest stuff that he used to (have). So in order to survive, he has to pitch.”

Report: Giants interested in Cubs first base coach Will Venable for manager opening

Report: Giants interested in Cubs first base coach Will Venable for manager opening

The Giants' search for a successor to now-retired manager Bruce Bochy has led them to the North Side.

According to NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic, the Giants are interested in Cubs first base coach Will Venable for their own managerial opening. San Francisco's interest is intriguing, as Venable went to high school just outside San Francisco in nearby San Rafael. His father — Max Venable — played for the Giants from 1979-83. 

Venable also interviewed for the Cubs' manager job earlier this month, telling the Chicago Sun-Times that his interest is in the "organization in general." He is one of several internal candidates for the Cubs' job, along with bench coach Mark Loretta and front office assistant David Ross.

The Cubs also interviewed Joe Girardi and are set to meet with Astros bench coach Joe Espada and former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Cubs games easily on your device.

Former Cub Mark Prior likely to take over as Dodgers pitching coach in 2020

mark_prior.jpg
USA TODAY

Former Cub Mark Prior likely to take over as Dodgers pitching coach in 2020

Mark Prior's big-league playing career unfortunately fizzled out due to recurring injury woes, but he's making a name for himself in the coaching realm.

With Dodgers current pitching coach Rick Honeycutt transitioning into a new role, Prior is expected to takeover the position starting next season.

Cubs fans know the story of Prior's playing career all too well. The Cubs drafted him second overall in the 2001, with Prior making his MLB debut just a season later. He went on to dominate in 2003, posting an 18-6 record, 2.43 ERA and 245 strikeouts in 30 starts, a season in which he made the All-Star Game and finished third in the NL Cy Young Award voting.

However, Prior's season ended on a sour note, as he was on the mound during the Steve Bartman incident in Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS. Prior exited the game with a 3-1 lead, but the Cubs surrendered seven more runs that inning, eventually falling to the Marlins 8-3 before losing Game 7 the next day. 

Prior struggled to stay healthy after 2003, eventually retiring in 2013 after multiple comeback attempts. While many blame his injury-riddled career on former Cubs manager Dusty Baker, Prior does not. 

While we can only wonder what could've been with Prior to the pitcher, it's good to see him still making an impact in baseball in some fashion.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Cubs games easily on your device.