The numbers behind the latest Cubs moves
It's another new day here at Wrigley. As of midafternoon, the wind is howling straight in out of the north, and it's borderline jacket weather. Last night, we had sauna conditions here. The Cubs made a flurry of moves after last night's 6-0 victory over the Padres.
At the major-league level, they optioned struggling third baseman Mike Olt to Class AAA Iowa in anticipation of activating lefty Tsuyoshi Wada to start this evening's game against the Padres. It's really hard to believe Olt's batting numbers. But look we will.
Olt left Chicago with a hitting line of .139/.222/.353 with 84 strikeouts in 212 plate appearances. That is a strikeout rate of 39.6 percent. In last night's game, Olt struck out his first three times up before grounding out to third base. The Cubs simply couldn't continue to carry that lack of production.
Another player still on the roster and also having contact problems is outfielder Junior Lake. Lake is at .216/.243/.379 with 95 strikeouts in 277 plate appearances. That's a K rate of 34.3 percent. Making things even worse is that Lake has a walk rate of just 3.6 percent.
The outfield has been a black hole of offense for the most part this season. One guy who has lost his job is right fielder Nate Schierholtz. He has started just three of the last 11 Cubs games, and in those starts, he went 0-for-13. His season line is .202/.248/.310 with 5 homers and 31 RBI. Last year, he went .251/.301/.470 with a career-best 21 homers and 68 RBI. Most of Schierholtz's production came in the first half of last season. For now, he has lost playing time to Justin Ruggiano. According to fangraphs, Schierholtz has a wins above replacement (WAR) of minus-0.6.
By now, you know the minor-league moves, as well. The Cubs moved outfielder Jorge Soler from Class AA Tennessee to Class AAA Iowa. The also promoted center fielder Albert Almora, from Class A Daytona to Tennessee.
After an injury-plagued start to the season, Soler managed to go .415/.494/.862 at Tennessee with 6 homers and 22 RBI. He was 27-for-65.
Almora also got off to a slow start at Daytona, but he moves up with a line of .283/.306/.406 with 20 doubles, 2 triples, 7 homers and 50 RBI.
We had a chance to talk with Cubs GM Jed Hoyer yesterday, and we may talk with team president Theo Epstein today about the moves. The Cubs are 3-11 since the July 4 trade of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland. I asked Hoyer how the club can remain positive amid the losing, especially if things continue to head south in the second half.
“First of all, you certainly hope that players' pride takes a big part in it,” Hoyer said. “These guys have careers to play for, and they do want to win. It's been frustrating, for sure. It's not unexpected. We were a team that our run differential was solid.
“We were a team that was in last place before the deal. Obviously, trading 40 percent of our rotation is not going to help that but it does give us opportinuties to let guys like Kyle Hendricks come up here and pitch. I do think that things will turn around. I think guys will play better. No one wants to go 2-11 during a stretch. Obviously, it's been a bad run, but hopefully we'll get through it. Really, our struggles all year haven't been on the pitching side until recently. It's been on the hiting side. We're going to have to score more runs to be competitive.”