Soler Promoted to Iowa. Olt Sent to Iowa.
Almora Promoted to Tennessee.

The Cubs had more roster moves in their back pocket tonight after designating Darwin Barney for assignment earlier in the day.


These moves capped off a wonderful evening of Cubs baseball as the youngsters carried the team. Kyle Hendricks earned his first MLB win and the Cubs were offensively fueled by two home runs by Rizzo and one home run by Arismendy Alcantara.

Jorge SolerBecause of his contract (and spot on the 40-man roster) Jorge Soler is on a different track than the other prospects in the Cubs system. In his third season in the Cubs organization, Soler has under 100 games of experience at levels more advanced than the Rookie League.

Soler has battled injuries last season and the first half of this season, but his impressive numbers at the AA level were enough for the Cubs to move Soler to Iowa. In 21 games at AA Tennessee, Soler was hitting .410/.500/.852 with 6 home runs.
On tonight’s television broadcast of the Cubs game, Len and JD were speaking with Patrick Mooney and the possibility of Soler being called up to the Cubs in September was discussed.

Albert Almora heads to AA Tennessee after hitting .280/.304/.396 in High-A Daytona. His offensive numbers look somewhat puny compared to the silly numbers Soler, Bryant and Baez are putting up, but Almora is a pleasure to watch in the field and that’s where his strength lies. He is no slouch at the plate, but look for him to hit for average more than put up monster home run numbers like the others.

If you’d like to hear an interview we did with Albert Almora, you can listen to it here.

Like the Darwin Barney move, this move with Mike Olt shouldn’t surprise anyone. He’s really struggled this season and the Cubs are sending him to Iowa to get some consistent playing time and probably get a little confidence back. Olt has looked completely lost and overmatched at the plate recently. Olt is striking out in about 40% of his at-bats.

Because 3rd base is occupied by Kris Bryant, Olt will probably play 1st base, DH and some outfield.

I hate to end things on a sour note, but the promotion of Soler and Almora, as well as the performances by Rizzo and Castro this season, and how well Alcantara seems to be adapting to big league pitching should really excite Cubs fans about the (increasingly become more near) future.

I was on the fence about getting back to Iowa for a game this season, but a line-up that includes Bryant, Baez and Soler is pretty enticing.

Darwin Barney DFA’d by the Cubs


With Emilio Bonifacio returning from the disabled list and Arismendy Alcantara holding his own in the big leagues, the Cubs have designated Darwin Barney for assignment.

Barney was an easy player to support after he fought his way onto the Cubs during Spring Training in 2011. A gold glove winner in 2012, he had much more value in the field for the Cubs than he did with a bat.

Darwin BarneyAs far as the season as a whole goes, he’s been pretty ineffective, hitting .230/.265/.328 and those numbers were much worse before his .385 with 2 doubles and 2 triples in the 10 games he’s played in the month of July.

With his recent hot streak, the hope was that the Cubs would be able to move Barney to a team that needs a solid defensive 2nd baseman, but it looks like there weren’t many phone calls coming in.

If Alcantara is staying up with the Cubs, this move would allow the Cubs to use Bonifacio and Alcantara at 2nd and CF.

Like most Cubs fans, I really liked Barney and I hope he lands somewhere and he does well. A move like this was inevitable and there probably weren’t many teams in baseball that would have given Barney the playing time that the Cubs of the last few years could offer.

Cubs Weekly Preview – July 21 – 27, 2014

What happened last week: Swept by Arizona 0-3; 40-57, 5th place NL Central

What’s up this week: July 23 off, July 22-24 vs. San Diego, July 25-27 vs. St. Louis

Who’s pitching: Tuesday (Eric Stults 3-11, 4.98 ERA vs. Kyle Hendricks 0-0, 6.00 ERA), Wednesday (Ian Kennedy 7-9, 3.62 ERA vs. Tsuyoshi Wada 0-0, 0.00 ERA), Thursday (Tyson Ross 8-10, 2.70 ERA vs. Edwin Jackson 5-10, 5.61 ERA), Friday (Joe Kelly 2-1, 2.84 ERA vs. Travis Wood 7-9, 5.12 ERA), Saturday (Carlos Martinez 2-4, 4.43 ERA vs. Jake Arrieta 5-1, 1.94 ERA), Sunday (Adam Wainwright 12-4, 1.83 ERA vs. Kyle Hendricks 0-0, 6.00 ERA)

Who to watch for: San Diego has never had a player hit for the cycle, nor has it had any pitcher throw a no-hitter. Since being called up, Cubs rookie 2nd baseman Arismendy Alcantara is hitting .290 and slugging .548 in seven games.

“Hey Girls! I’m Not Messing Around!”
– Podcast Episode 6.24

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Since we are just one series past the All-Star break, we look back at the Cubs team and individual performances on this, the 262nd episode of the Ivy Envy Podcast.

We look at the positives and negatives that we’ve seen from April to July. If you feel that we spend too much time on the prospects in the minor leagues, this is a very major league team centered episode.

There are some very encouraging performances and some downright horrible performances…bad enough to provide us quite a few scary stats throughout the episode and two in the regular segment.

We answer several listener submitted questions and read three internet muscle flexes.

If you’d like to hear our interview with Cubs 2014 1st round pick Kyle Schwarber, listen here: Kyle Schwarber Interview

If you would like an opportunity to win a Javier Baez Iowa Cubs t-shirt jersey, check out our Patreon Campaign and pledge at any level. Pledging levels start at just $1/month.

Kyle Schwarber Interview
Podcast Episode 6.23

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June 15, 2013:We have a bonus episode of the podcast for you this week. Kyle Schwarber was the Cubs 1st round selection (4th overall) in the 2014 MLB Draft. I had the opportunity speak with Schwarber last week when the Kane County Cougars visited the Quad Cities River Bandits.

Schwarber has since been promoted to High-A Daytona. Considered the best college bat in the draft, he quickly demonstrated that he was prepared for competition greater than he faced with Boise and Kane County.

In the interview, Schwarber talks about his draft day experience, a possible future position change and how it feels to be part of this young and exciting Cubs system.

If you enjoy this podcast, check out the other prospect interviews we’ve done:
Javier Baez
Albert Almora
Dan Vogelbach

If this is the first episode of our podcast that you’ve heard, we put out weekly episodes. This is our 6th of podcasting on the Chicago Cubs. In addition to being available on our website, you can listen to our episode in iTunes, Stitcher and any podcast app.

Wrigley Field Renovations
with Pat Nagle of Wrigleyville Nation
Podcast Episode 6.22

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WrigleyOn this episode of the podcast, we’re talking Wrigley Field renovations. This has been a drawn-out situation with lots of resistance from the rooftops and neighborhoods and lots of altered plans by the Chicago Cubs.

Andy, Kurt and I are 3+ hours from Wrigley Field and fairly ignorant of the neighborhood issues and Chicago politics, so we figured we’d bring in someone that is more familiar with how the city works and this renovation situation. Pat Nagle is one of the hosts of the Wrigleyville Nation Podcast.

Pat is a resident of Wrigleyville and has attended the community meetings with the Cubs. Pat is also a season ticket holder with the Cubs and understands their need to renovate for the purposes of generating revenue and providing players with better facilities.

We cover a lot of angles in this discussion and if you’re not from Wrigleyville or Chicago, I think you’ll enjoy hearing about these issues from the perspective of someone that lives in the neighborhood.

You can find Pat and Wrigleyville Nation at:
WrigleyvilleNation.com
@WrigleyvilleNat on Twitter

Alcantara Gets the Call

Arismendy_AlcantaraCubs prospect Arismendy Alcantara has been called up for the last two games of the Reds series.  Alcantara will be covering for Darwin Barney while Barney is on paternity leave (there are already plenty of muscle flexes from people wanting Barney to take an extended leave).  As far as Cubs prospects go, Alcantara flies under the radar a little as he is ranked seventh among Cubs prospects by MLB.com.  However, the guy can definitely play ball.  

He first grabbed my attention when I saw him hit a homer in the 2013 Futures Game.  With the Iowa Cubs this season, Alcantara is hitting .307 in 335 at-bats (most on the roster).  Despite his somewhat small stature (5’10/170) and a slightly below-average power score on his scouting report, Alcantara has hit 10 home runs this season.  He also leads the I-Cubs in doubles (25), triples (11), and stolen bases (21).  Though Alcantara was originally a shortstop, he has played mostly 2nd base in the minors, and recently, he has been playing center field.  The front office has made it known that this call-up will only be until Thursday, but it will be great to get a little preview of what Arismendy Alcantara can do.

Also, finally there is some dicussion about the pronunciation of his name:


English teachers should also consider using his name as an example of assonance.

Cubs preview for July 7-13

What happened last week: Swept Boston 3-0, Lost to Washington 1-2; 38-48, 5th place NL Central

What’s up this week: July 7-10 at Cincinnati (5 games), July 11-13 vs. Atlanta

Who’s pitching: Monday (Edwin Jackson 5-8, 4.99 ERA vs. Mike Leake 6-7, 3.47 ERA), Tuesday (Game 1 Travis Wood 7-6, 4.62 ERA vs. Johnny Cueto 8-6, 1.99 ERA, Game 2 Tsuyoshi Wada 0-0, 0.00 ERA vs. David Holmberg 0-0, 0.00 ERA), Wednesday (TBD vs. Alfredo Simon 11-3, 2.78 ERA), Thursday (TBD vs. Homer Bailey 8-5, 4.15 ERA), Friday (Alex Wood 6-7, 3.14 ERA vs.  Jake Arrieta 5-1, 1.78 ERA), Saturday (Mike Minor 2-5, 4.73 ERA vs. Edwin Jackson 5-8, 4.99), Sunday (Julio Teheran 8-5, 2.29 ERA vs. Travis Wood 7-6, 4.62 ERA)

Who to watch for: Red right Johnny Cueto is 8-6 with a 2.91 ERA against the Cubs in his career. In Jake Arrieta’s last five starts, he’s 4-0 with a 1.04 ERA and a WHIP of 0.606.

Coming and going: July 4: Traded pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland for infielder Addison Russell, outfielder Billy McKinney, right-handed pitcher Dan Straily and a player to be named. July 5: Recalled left-handed pitcher Chris Rusin from Triple-A Iowa. July 6: Recalled right-handed pitcher Blake Parker from Triple-A Iowa.

Does Samardzija Trade Signal Winning Sooner?

addison-russell-2013-bmEveryone knew that this was coming. The timing was on the early side, but we all knew Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel were going to be moved prior to the July 31st deadline. The return everyone was expecting was lower level, power arms with high upside to bolster their pitching prospects. We all know that the Cubs have the bats, but the arms weren’t there. And for now, that is the way it is staying.

When Hammel and Samardzija were discussed with Billy Beane and Oakland about this trade and Addison Russell was on the table, that was a deal that Theo and Jed had to make, and they did. As a top ten prospect in all of baseball, the 20 year old shortstop pushes the Cubs minor league system to tops in the league. But what else does it mean? A strong chance that the Cubs are closer to winning then we originally thought.

While the original “plan” had the Cubs starting to be competitive in 2014-15, there were strides taken that back-tracked that plan and caused the winning portion of the plan to be pushed back until 2016 or even later. With Kris Bryant jumping up to AAA Iowa recently to join top prospects Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara, the window to winning was getting closer to possibly 2016. Now add in Addison Russell to that mix and it could mean 2015 is the time for the Cubs to regain their competitive edge. The Cubs new acquisition arrived in AA Tennessee and many think that he can be up in the majors and help contribute in 2015.

Granted Baez, Russell, and current shortstop Starlin Castro all play the same position, there is movement that could come. Whether it is moving these three into three different positions or moving them out of the organization in general, by way of a trade, there is flexibility. The trade front is interesting because one of these three players could be a centerpiece in a deal to land a front line starter.

Looking forward, this trade signaled that the Cubs are ready to win sooner rather than later. If they would have traded for younger arms, they wouldn’t have been ready for the majors until 2016 or later. Add Russell in a lineup that already could project Castro, Baez, Alcantara, Bryant, and first baseman Anthony Rizzo, 2015 look very bright. With these young studs at premium positions, you would think that the Cubs would rather sign a big time free agent pitcher rather than trade one of these young potential stars. However, for now, we can dream about 2015 and beyond with these prospects playing at Wrigley, but it is coming soon Cubs fans.

“Here We Is…The Cubs Trade Jeff Samardzija”
– Podcast Episode 6.21

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WINNER (12)We knew it was going to happen, and it did. The Cubs traded Jeff Samardzija (along with Jason Hammel) to the Oakland A’s for prospects. There are lots of aspects of the trade for us to discuss on this episode.

We talk about Samardzija’s years with the Cubs, how we heard about the trade, how Cubs fans reacted, how we reacted, who the Cubs will be getting in return, etc.

Jason McLeod withdraws his name from consideration for the San Diego Padres GM job and we talk about what that tells us about how people around baseball view the Cubs organization. It’s also a great sign for those that like love the direction of the organization.

Andy talks about Jake Arrieta’s last few starts and how great of a pitcher he’s been, essentially becoming the Cubs new ace. Three minor league players in the Cubs organization won Player of the Week awards in their leagues last week and we talk about the performances of Kyle Schwarber, Daury Torrez and Arismendy Alcantara.

We answer a good number of listener questions, Kurt gives us his Scary Stat of the Week (hint: spectacular Kris Bryant stats) and we pick a winner for this week’s photo caption contest.

If you’re interested in our 2014 Ivy Envy Weekend at the Lake, RSVP on the Facebook event or email me – corey@ivyenvy.com

If you enjoy our podcast, please consider checking out our Patreon page to see the pledging levels and perks.