The Chicago Cubs certainly are not Major League Baseball's best team this season, but of late, they are the busiest.
As Wednesday's MLB trade deadline nears, the team is overhauling its roster (42 players have seen action for Chicago this season) and since July 2, the team has traded Scott Feldman, Scott Hairston, Carlos Marmol, Matt Garza, and the latest being high-priced and even more highly-scrutinized outfielder Alfonso Soriano.
Soriano was sent to the Yankees for minor-league pitcher Corey Black. Soriano came with a heavy price tag, of which the Cubs helped pay, which indicates how badly they wanted to rid him off of their payroll.
Sending the Yankees money? That's fairly unique.
The Cubs also signed 18-year-old pitcher Jen-Hu Tseng of Taiwan to a $1.25 million signing bonus last week, which indicates that the Cubs fans, who must lead the league in patience, have to summon even more for the future once again.
Chicago general manager Theo Epstein is used to asking fans for their patience, and it ultimately worked for him in Boston (two World Series titles). But can it work in Chicago?
The Cubs host the Brewers tonight before playing a doubleheader tomorrow and then closing the series on Wednesday. It won't get any easier for the Cubs, who then have a 4-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers over the weekend.
As for the AL Central Division-leading Tigers, outfielder Torii Hunter recently blamed his having to leave a game early on a pair of new dress shoes, which he said were too tight. He left Thursday's game before it was over, the only game the Tigers lost in a series with the Chicago White Sox, and then Hunter also missed Friday's game with what was later called an Achilles' injury. He returned to the lineup in Saturday's 10-0 pounding of Philadelphia.
Following its series with the Phillies, Detroit hosts another under performing National League team when Washington visits Comerica Park for a pair of games tomorrow and Wednesday, followed by a 3-game stint against the ChiSox.
Is October here yet?
Keeping with the “under performing” theme, the White Sox had another tough week in a never-ending season of frustration.
Chicago pitcher Jake Peavy threw a great game at U.S. Cellular Field recently, in what could be his last appearance in a White Sox uniform prior to Wednesday's trade deadline. However, with his history of injuries, don't expect Chicago to get a whole lot in exchange for him.
As of Wednesday, the White Sox had 74 games of their first 98 decided by three runs or less, and had lost 23 of their last 33.
Chicago will visit division foe Cleveland for a 4-game series today through Thursday, before going on to another tough series with Detroit for three games over the weekend.
No place like home
The Cleveland Indians are home for much of early August (today starts a stretch of 11 home games out of 14), as they host Chicago today through Thursday, before battling the Marlins in Miami Friday through Sunday.
The Tribe has to take advantage of these home dates if it hopes to remain in the divisional race. Last August, a rotten month (Cleveland opened the month with seven consecutive defeats) ended the team's season and cost manager Manny Acta his job.
New Indian skipper Terry “Tito” Francona doesn't need to worry about job security at this point, especially with the recent play of lead-off hitter Michael Bourn.
Bourn's home run Saturday against Texas was all of the offense that pitchers Justin Masterson and Chris Perez needed to defeat Ranger pitcher Yu Darvish 1-0. The two games prior to Saturday, Bourn registered a combined six RBIs to help his club.
HUGE series looms for Reds
As for Ohio's other team, the Cincinnati Reds end their long road trip with three games in San Diego tonight through Wednesday. But then a massive series with the National League's best team, the St. Louis Cardinals, will be played at Great American Ballpark over the weekend.
If the Reds need a dose of inspiration, the players can look at Cincinnati third-base coach Mark Berry.
Berry recently returned to the club after undergoing chemotherapy and radiation for two months, as the 50-year-old battles throat cancer. In Berry's return, the Reds prevailed 11-0 and 9-3 over San Francisco in the coach's first two games back.
"Mark's over there at third, and I guess everybody is inspired to hit," Cincinnati pitcher Tony Cingrani told Reds.com after earning a victory on Tuesday.
With 30 years in the Reds organization, Berry is definitely part of the Reds family.