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One in an occasional series tracking the movements of those who have worn Cubbie blue.
1. Luis Valbuena.
Valbuena has appeared in 75 games for the Angels this year with starts at first, second and third. His slash line is a meager .211/.254/.355 and he may not be long for this league. In his last season with the Cubs in 2014, his OBP was a healthy .341, and Theo Epstein felt he was an underappreciated player. As recently as 2016, he hit .260 with a .357 OBP for the Astros. He's a career 8.7 WAR player, but has -.5 WAR this year.
2. Andrew Cashner.
Cashner is actually starting to pull together a decent season for the Orioles in a career plagued by injuries and inconsistency. Last Friday he retired 10 of the first 11 Angels he faced on his way to notching his fourth quality start of June. He has eight quality starts overall this season, though his ERA is a mediocre 4.48. Last year for Texas he went 11-11 with a 3.40 ERA over 166 2/3 innings.
3. Arodys Vizcaino.
Vizcaino was once the the Cubs' closer-of-the-future. Now he's the Braves closer and he just got off the 10-day DL with a shoulder strain to reclaim his spot in the back of Atlanta's bullpen. Before hitting the DL, Vizcaino had coverted 15 of 17 save opportunities this season while registering a 1.82 ERA.
4. Alex Avila.
Avila hit the 10-day DL with a sore right hamstring last week. He's hitting .184 with a .240 OBP for the Diamondbacks. Last season he hit .239 with a .369 OBP for the Cubs. He does have a .996 fielding percentage - compared to .991 with the Cubs in 2017 - and his pitch framing is almost certainly way better than any that of any current Cubs catchers.
5. Peter Bourjos.
Bourjos opted out of his contract with the Braves - again - after being DFA'd. He did that once before this season and wound up back with Atlanta on a minor league deal. He was hitting .205. Bourjos had a strong spring training with the Cubs, but was cut in late March.
6. Carlos Zambrano.
Guess who is trying to make a baseball comeback? Former Cubs star Carlos Zambrano, who is in great shape and has completely changed his life is pitching for Leones de Yucatán in the Mexican League. He hopes to pitch his way back to the big leagues.— David Kaplan (@thekapman) July 1, 2018
7. Matt Szczur.
The Padres designated Matty Caesar for assignment on Monday and we're sad. He was always a Beachwood favorite and we thought he'd blossom with steady playing time in San Diego. He did notch a .358 OBP last season for the Friars, but this season his slash line was a paltry .187/.265/.267. At least his fielding percentage playing all three positions was a sterling 1.000! Maybe the Cubs could use him as organizational outfield depth?
8. Dexter Fowler.
By any measure, this has been a colossally disappointing season for Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler. He is hitting a weak .171/.276/.278 with five home runs in 66 games in the second year of his five-year, $82.5 million contract. A case can be made he is fifth on the team's outfield depth chart behind Tommy Pham, Marcell Ozuna, Harrison Bader and Tyler O'Neill.
On Monday morning, Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak called Fowler's energy and effort into question during his weekly interview with Fox Sports Midwest broadcaster Dan McLaughlin. Here is a transcript, via Hardball Talk:
"It's been a frustrating year for everybody involved. Here's a guy who wants to go out and play well. I think he would tell you it's hard to do that when you're not playing on a consistent basis. But I've also had a lot of people come up to me and question his effort and his energy level. You know, those are things that I can't defend.
"What I can defend is trying to create opportunities for him, but not if it's at the expense of someone who's out there hustling and playing hard. And really I think everyone just needs to take a hard look in the mirror, and decide what they want that next chapter to look like.
"And in Dexter's case, maybe taking a brief time out, trying to reassess himself, and then give him a chance for a strong second half is probably what's best for everybody. I'm hopeful to touch base with him in the near future and decide what makes the most sense, but clearly he's not playing at the level we had hoped."
Meanwhile, the Cardinals placed Fowler on the paternity list Monday as his wife prepares to give birth to their second child.
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