The Cubs sign Ryan: low risk, potentially high reward, still kind of depressing

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The Cubs made it official and signed B.J. Ryan to a minor league deal:

Left-handed reliever B.J. Ryan’s loss of velocity and command might
be the Cubs’ gain if he can regain his form in the minor leagues. The
Cubs signed the two-time All-Star to a minor-league contract Thursday
after the Toronto Blue Jays released him last week. Ryan had 1½ years
remaining on his five-year, $47 million contract. That’s a sign of how
far Ryan’s stock has fallen during his second season after having Tommy
John surgery on his left elbow. His velocity is said to be in the low
80s. But for a Cubs team that needs left-handed bullpen depth, the move
represents a no-risk, potentially high-upside signing if Ryan can
regain some level of major-league form.

Definitely a low-risk move for the Cubbies that, if it pays off, will
pay off handsomely. I mean, it’s not too long ago that Ryan was a
fantastic pitcher and stranger rebounds have happened. Even with the
Cubs very recently: remember how bad Jim Edmonds was with the Padres at
the beginning of last year (.178/.265/.233) and remember how good he
was after coming to Chicago following his release (.256/.369/.568)?
That’s certainly the analogy/wish smart Cubs fans I know are making today.

Another analogy: this is the Cubs trying once again to solve a problem
they didn’t need to have. Just as they signed Ryan Freel and then Jeff
Baker in an effort to fill the hole left by the absence of Mark DeRosa,
the Ryan move, among others, is aimed at filling a bullpen hole created
by the absence of Kerry Wood. Which isn’t to suggest that the Cubs
should have kept those guys — they would have been really expensive to
keep around — but it must be disheartening for Cubs fans to see the
team continuing to shovel dirt into the same holes, over and over
again.

Cardinals snap Familia’s saves streak, rally past Mets 5-4

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NEW YORK — Yadier Molina and pinch-hitter Kolten Wong each stroked an RBI double in the ninth inning, and the St. Louis Cardinals ended Jeurys Familia‘s streak of 52 straight saves in rallying past the New York Mets 5-4 on Wednesday night.

Yoenis Cespedes hit a go-ahead homer off Adam Wainwright to cap a three-run comeback in the seventh that gave the Mets a 4-3 lead. But then Familia, who hadn’t blown a regular-season save opportunity since July 30 last year, finally faltered.

Jedd Gyorko drew a one-out walk in the ninth and was replaced by pinch-runner Randal Grichuk. Molina hit the next pitch to deep center field, and Grichuk scored standing up to tie it.

Molina was thrown out at third by Familia (2-2) on pinch-hitter Jeremy Hazelbaker’s comebacker, but Hazelbaker stole second and scored when Wong lined a double just inside the left-field line.

Familia’s franchise-record saves streak was the third-longest in major league history behind Tom Gordon (54) and Eric Gagne (84).

Jonathan Broxton (3-2) tossed a scoreless eighth and Seung Hwan Oh got three quick outs for his sixth save.

Including a split of Tuesday’s doubleheader, St. Louis took two of three from the Mets in a matchup of NL wild-card contenders. It was only the second time in the past decade that the Cardinals have won a road series against the Mets.

Logan Verrett pitched seven efficient innings and slumping Neil Walker went 3 for 3 with a base on balls for the third-place Mets, who have alternated wins and losses in their last 13 games. They dropped 5 1/2 games behind NL East-leading Washington.

New York did manage to keep Gyorko and the rest of St. Louis’ hitters in the ballpark after the Cardinals had homered in 17 consecutive games – their longest streak since a club-record run of 19 games in 2006.

Gyorko went deep in both ends of Tuesday’s doubleheader, giving him seven homers in nine games.

Matt Holliday hit a two-run double off Verrett with two outs in the third, and Matt Adams followed with an RBI double that made it 3-1.

Wainwright, who entered 3-0 with a 0.93 ERA in July, nursed that lead until the seventh – repeatedly pitching out of trouble. He nearly did so again after striking out Curtis Granderson and Asdrubal Cabrera with runners at the corners.

But then Travis d'Arnaud scored on a wild pitch and Cespedes socked a two-run homer off the facing of the second deck in left-center on the 117th and final pitch from the 34-year-old Wainwright.

 

 

Report: Mariners have interest in Reds’ Jay Bruce

ATLANTA, GA - JUNE 14:  Jay Bruce #32 of the Cincinnati Reds waits to bat prior to hitting a three-run homer in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on June 14, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Mariners are among the teams that have contacted the Reds about outfielder Jay Bruce. The Mariners enter play Wednesday 51-48, six games out of first place in the AL West and 4.5 games out of the second AL Wild Card slot. Adding an impact bat like Bruce could help in their effort to reach the postseason.

Norichika Aoki and Seth Smith have handled the bulk of the playing time in left field. While Smith has hit well, Aoki has not. Bruce came into Wednesday’s game against the Giants batting .271/.324/.567 with 24 home runs and a league-best 78 RBI.

Bruce can become a free agent after the season if his controlling team declines his $13 million club option for the 2017 season by paying him a $1 million buyout. If he’s traded mid-season, his new team won’t be able to make him a qualifying offer, so the club option may be more enticing than it looks at first glance.