By Danny Moran
As the highly anticipated 3 p.m. trade deadline approaches, the Cubs could be set to jettison at least one of their top pitchers in order to help build for the future. But an offseason trade of their former ace is proving to be one of the club's biggest additions, mainly by subtraction.
Carlos Zambrano, who was traded to the Miami Marlins for Chris Volstad during the offseason, was demoted to the bullpen on Monday. Zambrano relieved another former Chicago pitcher, Mark Buehrle, in the fifth inning of the team's Monday night loss to the Atlanta Braves. Big Z completed the fifth and sixth innings in his first relief appearance since 2010, when he returned from a suspension for a dugout tirade.
He did not allow an earned run on Monday but did allow a single that scored two runners Buehrle left on base and allowed an unearned run in the sixth after a Jose Reyes error kept the inning alive.
The Marlins are in the midst of a disappointing season for a team that had hoped to contend for the National League playoffs this season with Zambrano as a member of their starting rotation.
The 31-year-old Zambrano had struggled as Miami's fourth starter. He was 5-9 with a 4.54 ERA, which puts him behind four of the main members Cubs rotation, including the recently-traded Paul Maholm. Zambrano had also only thrown more than six innings twice over the past two months. During that two-month stretch, his ERA was an alarming 6.61.
Volstad, however, has performed far worse than Zambrano this season. He is 0-7 this season with a 7.94 ERA and he has not made an appearance as a Cub since July 3 against the Atlanta Braves. He is not currently on the team's active roster.
It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.
Sosa's 18th homer of June and 31st of the season came off the Tigers in the Cubs' brief 2-game Interleague series in Detroit.
Sosa connected in the first inning off Tigers starter Seth Greisinger, going back-to-back with Mickey Morandini.
The Cubs wound up getting out to a 5-0 start in the game but still lost 7-6 on a Gabe Alvarez single in the bottom of the 11th.
The aforementioned Morandini homer was only the 3rd of the season for the Cubs second baseman. He finished with 8 homers on the year and 224 total bases on 172 hits in what was a very good offensive season. Yet it paled in comparison to Sosa, who had nearly 200 more total bases (416) and a slugging percentage nearly 200 points above Morandini's (.647 to .471), a testament to how truly incredible Sosa's season was.
Fun fact: Tony Clark was the Tigers' cleanup hitter that day. Clark is now the head of the MLB Players Union.
Fun fact No. 2: Paul Bako was the Detroit catcher in the game. He later became the Cubs backup catcher in 2003 and 2004, when he posted a .611 OPS in 119 games over the two years.
Positive press about the Chicago Bears' offseason is having a strong impact on the jersey sales for the team's highest-profile player, Mitch Trubisky.
According to Dick's Sporting Goods, Trubisky's No. 10 is the fifth-most popular jersey among offensive players over the last 30 days. He's No. 6 among all players, regardless of position.
The Bears' offseason has been full of superlatives since their aggressive approach to free agency. The signings of Allen Robinson, Trey Burton and Taylor Gabriel put the spotlight on Trubisky and the potentially surging passing game. The second-round selection of Anthony Miller and word of Kevin White's offseason emergence has turned positive momentum into higher-than-anticipated expectations for Trubisky this season.
For Chicago to have any chance at meeting those expectations, Trubisky, who's entering his first full season as a starter with a new head coach and offensive system, has to thrive. Fans must be confident that he will, considering the investment they're making in his jersey.
Trubisky ended his rookie season with four wins in 12 starts, throwing for 2,193 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. He completed 59.4 percent of his passes. He should have a much more productive season in 2018 with his new arsenal of skill players and an innovative coaching staff, led by coach Matt Nagy and offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich.