The Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox. Two old ballparks and two franchises with storied histories face off at Fenway for a three game match up.
Chicago, in the process of reloading, is mired in last place in the NL Central. The Red Sox, not to be outdone, have disappointed in 2014 after a World Series championship in 2013.
The Monday evening match-up will feature Jake Arrieta (4-1, 2.05), with a strong June (3-0, 1.14), against floundering Jake Peavy (1-6, 4.93).
Tuesday has Edwin Jackson (5-8, 5.22) facing Rubby De La Rosa – oops, scratch that. Rubby’s efforts have been rewarded by shipping him to Pawetucket. Clay Buchholz (3-4, 6.75), fresh off a win in Seattle, will see if the pitching magic has returned.
The final game of the three game set has Travis Wood (7-6, 4.52) with a road ERA of 6.07 taking the hill against Boston’s Brandon Workman (1-1, 3.27). No doubt a stellar effort will get Workman his shipping papers to Pawtucket.
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Time for some serious Cubs input.
BSI: Into their third year of the Theo (and Jed) regime. Any rumblings of dissatisfaction?
CC: Mainly, people are just incredibly impatient. They’re tired of losing and they expected Epstein and Hoyer to come in, snap their fingers and turn everything around on a dime. That being said, as the likes of Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and others ascend the minor leagues, the organization’s followers are beginning to grow more excited.
BSI: Javier Baez is on the fast track and has demonstrated significant HR punch. Starlin Castro is signed through 2020. Any predictions on this?
CC: Castro will likely slide over to second base or Baez will move to third. Should the latter happen, Kris Bryant would likely move to a corner outfield slot. Either way, I fully anticipate both Baez and Castro to play for the Cubs simultaneously.
Jun 18, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro (13) connects for an RBI double during the first inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
BSI: While on the prospect trail, who should fans keep a look out for down the road?
CC: Kris Bryant has actually exceeded Cubs’ fans love of Baez of late. He was just promoted to Triple-A this week, despite being just 22. He was drafted with the Cubs’ first-round pick last season and has tore up low-level pitching. He could be a 40-homer guy once he makes the transition to the big leagues in the next couple years.
BSI: What moves do you anticipate the Cubs making during the season and into 2015?
CC: Jeff Samardzija will almost certainly be traded by the deadline, as will Jason Hammel. Both are valuable trade commodities and will be flipped, similarly to the Matt Garza and Scott Feldman trades of recent years. Luis Valbuena could also be a dark horse trade candidate, given his breakout season he is quietly having (.284/.382/.458)
BSI: The NL Central is a strong division. How do you see the NL shaping up for the playoffs?
CC: My money is still on the Cardinals. Once this team starts hitting regularly, they’re the best top-to-bottom team in the division. Pittsburgh has been sporadic, Milwaukee is solid, but riddled with injury. Cincinnati has regularly underperformed, and the Cubs are not going to contend.
BSI: Looking from the other side, what Red Sox players are you impressed by? Which do you consider overrated?
CC: John Lackey continues to impress me. He’s been a very valuable member of that rotation of late (and dating back to last season) and fills a major void for that club. You can’t overstate the importance of David Ortiz in the middle of that lineup, but the young guns need to step up for Boston to get things rolling here in the season’s second half. In terms of overrated? Stephen Drew, I feel, was a waste of money. He had a good year last year, but was injured and is providing no help to this club (as demonstrated by his .133 clip at the dish, coupled with a dismal .161 OBP).