New York Mets: Carlos Villanueva

Series preview: Mets vs. Cubs

June, 13, 2013
6/13/13
9:53
PM ET

Getty Images/USA TODAY SportsThe Mets face (l to r) Edwin Jackson, Scott Feldman and Matt Garza this weekend at Citi Field.
METS (24-37, fourth place/NL East) vs. CHICAGO CUBS (26-38, fifth place/NL Central)

Friday: RHP Shaun Marcum (0-7, 4.96) vs. RHP Edwin Jackson (2-8, 5.76), 7:10 p.m. ET

Saturday: LHP Jonathon Niese (3-5, 4.24) vs. RHP Scott Feldman (5-5, 3.22), 1:10 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (1-6, 4.11) vs. RHP Matt Garza (1-1, 6.26), 1:10 p.m. ET

Cubs short hops

Matt Garza is the most logical Cub to be traded before the July 31 trade deadline, ESPNChicago.com’s Bruce Levine reports. Garza drew interest last July from the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays, but any trade discussions were scuttled by an elbow injury. Since being acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays before the 2011 season, Garza is 17-18 with a 3.60 ERA. Other potential trade chips include Scott Feldman and relievers Kevin Gregg and Carlos Villanueva, according to Levine.


Gene J. Puskar/Associated PressStarlin Castro is hitting .122 in June.


Garza, who made his season debut May 21 after returning from a lat injury, is coming off an outing in which he surrendered nine runs in five-plus innings against Cincinnati.

Villanueva moved to the bullpen when Garza was activated from the DL.

• Shortstop Starlin Castro was hitting .059 (2-for-34) in June before a 3-for-7 performance Thursday against the Cincinnati Reds.

• Second baseman Darwin Barney has not committed an error this season. He has a 53-game errorless streak dating to last Sept. 30. However, Barney is hitting .208 with a .283 on-base percentage this season.

• Before breaking out with 15 hits in a 6-5, 14-inning win against the Reds on Thursday afternoon, Chicago had scored 11 runs in its previous six games and had not produced more than six hits in a game since June 5. The Cubs are 3-10 against Cincinnati this season. They had lost a record 12 straight to the Reds at Wrigley Field before the series-ending victory. The Cubs’ longest losing streak against one opponent at Wrigley Field previously was 10, done three times, most recently against the Montreal Expos in 1982 and ’83.

• The Cubs acquired right-handed reliever Henry Rodriguez from the Washington Nationals on Tuesday for prospect Ian Dickson. Rodriguez had been 0-1 with a 4.00 ERA in 17 relief appearances with the Nats before being designated for assignment on June 4.

• Reliever Kyuji Fujikawa underwent Tommy John surgery on Tuesday.

• The Cubs suspended Ian Stewart, who had been playing with Triple-A Iowa, because of his series of critical tweets about the organization that included imploring the club to release him. Although Stewart is in the minors, he has a $2 million salary this season.

• Left fielder Alfonso Soriano has 379 career homers, tied with Orlando Cepeda and Tony Perez for 64th all time. Next up: Albert Belle with 371.

Scott Hairston (.155, 5 HR in 83 ABs) is off to a slow start in limited playing time as a Cub. Hairston signed a two-year, $5 million deal with Chicago after waiting for a Mets offer that did not come.

• First baseman Anthony Rizzo, 23, signed a seven-year, $41 million in May that includes team options for 2020 and 2021. The guaranteed portion covers one year Rizzo otherwise would have been eligible for free agency.

Series preview: Mets at Cubs

May, 16, 2013
5/16/13
7:26
PM ET

Getty Images
The Mets face (l to r) Edwin Jackson, Scott Feldman and Travis Wood this weekend at Wrigley Field.
METS (15-23, fourth place/NL East) vs. CHICAGO CUBS (17-23, fourth place/NL Central)

Friday: RHP Matt Harvey (4-0, 1.44) vs. RHP Edwin Jackson (1-5, 6.02), 2:20 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (0-4, 4.61) vs. RHP Scott Feldman (3-3, 2.53), 1:05 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Dillon Gee (2-5, 6.13) vs. LHP Travis Wood (4-2, 2.03), 2:20 p.m. ET

Cubs short hops

Scott Hairston (.125, 3 HR in 48 ABs), whom the Mets failed to sign because they suggested he was interested in guaranteed playing time, is off to a slow start as a Cub. Hairston signed a two-year, $5 million deal with Chicago.


Reid Comptom/USA TODAY Sports
First baseman Anthony Rizzo signed a seven-year, $41 million contract this week.


• First baseman Anthony Rizzo, 23, signed a seven-year, $41 million deal this week that includes team options for 2020 and 2021. The guaranteed portion covers one year Rizzo otherwise would have been eligible for free agency.

Darwin Barney (.191, 2 HR in 89 at-bats) has started off miserably at the plate, but GM Jed Hoyer recently said publicly that the second baseman is not in danger of a demotion. Barney, who won the 2012 NL Gold Glove, did have a three-hit game Tuesday. He opened the season on the DL after cutting a kneecap in the Cubs’ final spring-training game.

Starlin Castro was installed as the leadoff hitter against lefties a week ago. Center fielder Dave Sappelt (.178) had handled that responsibility until a demotion. David DeJesus leads off against righties. Castro signed a seven-year, $60 million deal last August.

• Dale Sveum indicated he might entertain a six-man rotation when Matt Garza is activated from the DL, likely next week. More likely, Carlos Villanueva or Scott Feldman -- probably Villanueva -- will lose his rotation spot. Garza has been out since Feb. 17 with a lat strain and was expected to make his final rehab start Thursday, with Triple-A Iowa. Villanueva, who originally was signed as a longer reliever, allowed seven runs in five innings Tuesday against the Colorado Rockies.

• Third baseman Luis Valbuena returned to the lineup Wednesday after missing three games with a sprained right pinkie, which he injured sliding into third base. Valbuena was not the intended third baseman this season, but Ian Stewart has been injury-prone after re-signing for one year at $1.5 million.

• Left-hander Travis Wood is coming off an outing in which he tossed seven scoreless innings against the Rockies, which shaved his ERA to 2.03. Wood has an MLB-leading eight quality starts to open the season, matching a Cubs record set in 1919 by Hippo Vaughn in the process.

Carlos Marmol, whose three-year, $20 millon contract expires after the season, has been deposed as closer for a second straight year. Kevin Gregg, who was signed last month after being released by the Los Angeles Dodgers, began handling the role full time last Wednesday.

Marmol recently denied an internet report that he was overheard talking about wanting to get traded. “That is just not true,” he said, according to ESPNChicago.com. “I am very happy here. I always talk about how I love Chicago and I love being here. I love my teammates and everyone here. I feel bad because those words never came out of my mouth.”

Chicago reportedly could have traded Marmol to the Los Angeles Angels in November for Dan Haren, but declined the swap after getting spooked by Haren’s medical report.

Marmol actually is now third on the late-game depth chart, also behind Kyuji Fujikawa. Fujikawa, who spent the previous eight seasons as a reliever with Hanshin in Japan, was activated from the DL last week after missing nearly a month with a forearm strain.

Alfonso Soriano had a dreadful April with only two RBIs, but has been much better this month (12 RBIs in 12 games). Soriano’s $136 million contract runs through 2014. He is a trade candidate this summer. “I would like to be a part of this group, but I am a little old,” the 37-year-old Soriano told ESPNChicago.com. “I will try to have a good time playing with them now. I hope after I retire that they continue to work hard and get better.”

• The Cubs have won six of their past nine games to move out of last place. They are coming off of their first home series win since Aug. 24-26, 2012.

• Owner Tom Ricketts earlier this month threatened to move the Cubs from Wrigley Field if city does not approve changes, including outfield signs at the landmark. Rooftop clubs that look into the historic ballpark object to the potential obstruction to their views from advertising and a planned video board. A $500 million renovation of the stadium and surrounding area is planned.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Daniel Murphy
BA HR RBI R
.295 9 54 75
OTHER LEADERS
HRL. Duda 27
RBIL. Duda 83
RD. Murphy 75
OPSL. Duda .827
WB. Colon 14
ERAJ. Niese 3.55
SOZ. Wheeler 173