Cubs

On The Farm: Charlotte wins a tight one

On The Farm: Charlotte wins a tight one

Monday, Aug. 2, 2010
11:30 PM
By Kevin Czerwinski
CSNChicago.com

WHITE SOX
Charlotte (AAA)
Robert Hudsons leadoff homer to left in the eight inning propelled Charlotte to a 2-1 victory over Rochester Monday night at Knights Stadium.

The Red Wings had taken a 1-0 lead in the sixth before Charlotte tied it in the bottom of the inning on a Luis Rodriguez homer. It was his 14th homer and second in as many days and his ninth since July 16.

Brandon Hynick started and had a nice bounce-back effort, allowing a run in six innings. He had allowed 19 runs in his first 23 Triple-A innings. Hynick didnt get the decision, though, that went to Jon Adkins, who pitched two scoreless innings.

Winston-Salem (A)
Jon Gilmore continued his tear through the Carolina League Monday night as Winston-Salem rebounded from a bad weekend against Myrtle Beach with an 8-3 victory over Wilmington.

Gilmore had a pair of doubles with two RBIs and is hitting .400 (16-for-40) over his last 10 games, raising his average to .336. Seth Loman added a homer and two RBIs to make a winner of Nate Jones (8-4). He picked up his first victory since July 4 after allowing three runs in six innings.

Kannapolis (A)
The second through sixth hitters each collected a pair of hits for Kannapolis on Monday night in what turned out to be a 7-4 victory over Greensboro at Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium.

Nick Ciolli did the most damage with his two hits, connecting for a homer and driving in four. Tyler Saladino (three runs), Ian Gac, Brady Shoemaker and Kyle Colligan also had two hits apiece.

Cameron Bayne picked up his second consecutive victory after allowing two runs in seven innings.

In other action, Bristol managed only two hits and dropped a 1-0 decision to Burlington. Jordan Keegan got both the hits, extending his hitting streak to seven games. Brandon Tripp scored on a Henry Mabee wild pitch in the 10th inning, giving Jacksonville a 5-4 victory over Birmingham. Sal Sanchez had two hits, including a homer, and three RBIs.

CUBS

Daytona (A)
The Cubs saw their winning streak reach 14 games Monday evening when they topped Bradenton in the opener of a doubleheader, 2-1. The streak came to an end, however, when Dayton dropped the nightcap, 4-3, at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

Daytona managed only two hits in the opener but pushed across the winning run in the eight when Smailey Borges scored on a wild pitch. DJ Lemahieu and Mark Reed had the hits while Alex Maestri picked up the win after pitching three scoreless innings.

Chris Siegfired took the loss in the nightcap, allowing three runs on five hits in two innings. LeMahieu added two more hits and a pair of RBIs. LHP Chris Rusin was promoted to Tennessee while RHP Oswaldo Martinez was sent down from Tennessee. RHP Robert Whitenack was promoted from Peoria and player coach Matt Matulia was deactivated.

Iowa (AAA)
Austin Bibens-Dirkx overcame a shaky start on Monday to help lead the I-Cubs past Oklahoma City, 5-3, at AT&T Bricktown Ballpark.

Bibens-Dirkx (3-0) allowed three first-inning runs before settling in. He would last five innings, striking out four before a trio of relievers took care of Oklahoma City. Welington Castillo and Jason Dubois each homered for the I-Cubs.
In other action, Peoria dropped a 7-5 decision at Beloit. Brett Wallach made his Chicago debut and allowed five runs on seven hits in 4 13 innings to take the loss. Matt Cerda had a pair of hits and two RBIs while Matt Szczur had a hit in what could have been his final game for the Cubs. Outfielder Franscisco Guzman was placed on the disabled list. The AZL Reds scored three times in the 12th inning and bested the Cubs, 6-4. Ryan Hartman started and tossed two scoreless innings. He has yet to yield an earned run in six innings this year. ... Craig Albernaz's RBI single in the 10th inning gave Montgomery a 4-3 victory over Tennessee. Matt Spencer had four hits for the Smokies.

Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at ktczerwinski@gmail.com.

The curious ripple effects of the Cubs' trade for Martin Maldonado

The curious ripple effects of the Cubs' trade for Martin Maldonado

While the Cubs put the finishing touches on a lackluster loss to the Reds Monday night at Wrigley Field, the game quickly took a backseat as reports of a trade filtered through Baseball Twitter.

In came a veteran catcher — Martin Maldonado — from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for Mike Montgomery, who will live on in Cubs history books forever as the guy who threw the curveball that notched the final out in the 2016 World Series to break a 108-year championship drought.

There are many layers to this move, including the corresponding aspect of Cubs All-Star catcher Willson Contreras hitting the 10-day injured list with a strain in the arch of his right foot. Contreras had an MRI Monday afternoon/evening, which revealed the issue. 

Contreras felt like he could play through it and passionately pleaded his case, but the Cubs want to exercise an abundance of caution with one of their most important players.

"Our medical staff feels like if he were to try to play on it, that he'd be risking exacerbating the injury and turning it into something long-term," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said. "So we have to get ahead of it, take it out of Willy's hands and take him off his feet. 

"We don't expect it to be longer than 10 days — that's what we hope for, anyways."

But even before the severity of Contreras' injury was known, Epstein said the team was already in talks with the Royals front office.

"We've been having discussions with Kansas City and they had an opening in their rotation after trading [Homer] Bailey and they'd been talking to a couple teams about Maldonado and we knew that," Epstein said. "We'd actually been working on a version of the deal beforehand and it was something we wanted to quickly finalize once it became clear that Willson was gonna miss some time."

That's interesting.

So the Cubs' interest in Maldonado is not solely based on Contreras' injury, which means they value the veteran catcher as more than just a short-term, couple-week insurance policy to pair with Victor Caratini. 

On the one hand, that leaves the Cubs free to trade Caratini over the next couple weeks if a deal developed.

But the move for Maldonado also shores up a major area of depth for the Cubs, which is exactly what Epstein talked about before Monday's game, referencing the change in MLB rules that eliminated the August waiver wire deadline. Now, every team has to make their moves ahead of the July 31 deadline and that's it.

"Teams need to keep depth in mind a little bit more, that you have to anticipate where you might be vulnerable to an injury and try to build that depth up in advance — preemptively, really — knowing that there's no escape valve in August," Epstein said. "So you gotta really do all your work this month as much as possible and really take a hard look at your organizational depth."

Well, despite fantastic seasons from Contreras and Caratini, the Cubs actually have very little in the way of catching depth beyond those two. Taylor Davis is the only other backstop on the 40-man roster and he has almost no big-league experience. When Caratini was on the IL earlier this year with a hand injury, Davis rarely played in the month-plus he was on the roster.

Even if Contreras' injury is as minor as it appears, it underscores the point that the Cubs' depth is very fragile at the most physically demanding position on the field. What would the team do if Contreras or Caratini suffered an injury in August or September?

Now, they can add Maldonado into the mix — a veteran catcher who draves rave remarks for his defense and game-calling. 

The right-handed-hitting catcher is due to turn 33 next month and is in his ninth big-league season. He hasn't done much with the bat in his career (.289 on-base percentage, .351 slugging) and that hasn't changed this year (.647 OPS), but his work behind the plate was enticing to the Cubs and their veteran-laden pitching staff.

"He's an established catcher in the league who does a lot of great things behind the plate," Epstein said. "He can really receive, he can really throw. He's caught playoff games. He's handled some of the best pitchers in the game; he's a favorite for pitchers to throw to.

"He's very calm back there, very prepared, calls a great game, really soft hands, lot of experience, lot of savvy and someone who we think can step in and share the job with Vic and get up to speed really quickly in what we hope is a brief absence from Willson."

The Cubs haven't yet shared a plan for how they plan to manage the roster crunch for all three catchers when Contreras returns from injury in a week or two, but that might be because they don't yet have a plan. That's more of a "cross that bridge when it comes" type of situation.

When everybody is healthy — if everybody is ever healthy all at the same time — the Cubs could carry three catchers and utilize Contreras' ability to play the outfield and Caratini's first/third base versatility. They could also option Caratini to the minors for a couple weeks and bring him back up when rosters expand in September or if another injury strikes.

Either way, the Cubs front office, coaching staff and pitching staff can rest easier knowing they have another experienced backstop on the roster. 

The other aspect to all this, obviously, is in the Cubs bullpen and starting depth. Montgomery is out, which means there is an easy open spot on the roster for Alec Mills, who is making a spot start Tuesday while Cole Hamels continues to rehab his oblique injury.

In the longer term, this could be a good thing for the Cubs bullpen, as Montgomery was miscast and rarely used as a short-inning reliever. The 30-year-old southpaw last threw on July 2 and has only made five appearances in the last month. 

Montgomery was slowed by injury in spring training and then again in the first couple weeks of the season, but he had been building up his workload of late - throwing at least 2.1 innings in each of his last three outings. Still, the Cubs opted to go with Mills Tuesday against the Reds instead of Montgomery and they also had Tyler Chatwood and Adbert Alzolay in the rotation at various points earlier this season.

Montgomery hasn't started once in 2019, but he made 28 starts in a Cubs uniform, including 19 last year while filling in for the injured Yu Darvish.

The Cubs clearly feel good enough with their rotation depth as is (Mills, Chatwood, Alzolay) and Hamels' return looks to be right around the corner, so the writing was on the wall that Montgomery wouldn't get many chances to start in the short or long term in Chicago.

It's also good for Montgomery, a guy who got the last out in the World Series and did everything asked of him in his three-plus years in Chicago, bouncing between the rotation and bullpen. 

Now he gets an opportunity to start, which he's been vocal about wanting to do, and he'll be thrown right into the fire — the Royals have him penciled in to start Friday...in Cleveland.

How's that for full circle?

After short stint in the majors, White Sox send Zack Collins to Triple-A

After short stint in the majors, White Sox send Zack Collins to Triple-A

When general manager Rick Hahn has talked about bringing up key prospects, he says he wants those players to be able to come up to the majors and stay there. That won't be the case with Zack Collins.

The White Sox sent the catcher down to Triple-A Charlotte following Monday's 5-2 loss to the Royals. No corresponding move will be made until Tuesday, but it is expected Welington Castillo will return from his rehab stint and rejoin the White Sox.

Collins was called up on June 18, but only played in nine games with seven starts in his 28 days on the big league roster. Collins drew a pinch-hit walk in his first plate appearance at the Cubs on June 19. He then homered two days later in his first start in Texas.

After that, Collins struggled. He goes back to Charlotte after hitting .077 (2-for-26) with five walks, the one home run and 14 strikeouts in 31 plate appearances.

It's unclear if Collins had a chance to stick on the roster or if the plan was for him to go back to Triple-A once Castillo was ready to return. Collins certainly didn't do himself any favors at the plate, but he also didn't see regular playing time.

Collins, a first-round pick in 2016, was seen working out at first base in fielding practice before games, but he stuck to catcher and DH. He could have played some first base or DH when Castillo returned. However, the White Sox claimed A.J. Reed off waivers and he debuted after the all-star break. Reed has taken the at-bats at DH, leaving Collins without regular at-bats.

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