Okay, lemme see if I can get these right. The Cubs optioned Tommy La Stella to Iowa in order to make room for Chris Coghlan, then sent Justin Grimm to AAA in order to call Brian Matusz up for a spot-start. The former Oriole was then released and Spencer Patton was called up to hold a place on the roster that was subsequently filled when the Cubs traded for Joe Smith. Grimm came back when Jason Hammel was placed on the bereavement list and Joe Nathan was assigned to AAA so that Jorge Soler could be activated.
With me so far?
La Stella’s prolonged absence has drawn the most attention, but there’s still a lot going on when it comes to the revolving roster door in Chicago. Matusz was outrighted to the minors on 8/3 and elected free agency before agreeing to return to the Cubs two days later on a minor league contract. According to the Fox Sports transactions page, Nathan has cleared waivers and is now a free agent, so it’s possible that he could be pulled back into the fold as well.
I’m actually pretty surprised to see that Nathan made it through, as he’d looked pretty good in his limited action with the Cubs. Then again, not many teams would want to put in a claim on a 41-year-old coming off his second Tommy John procedure. If he’s serious about giving it one last go, maybe he’d be willing to put in a few more weeks in the minors before rosters expand. But would there be room on the playoff roster for him?
Let’s not Trevor Cahill, who will need to come off the DL at some point too. And just in case any of you out there are holding your breath on yet another Clayton Richard resurrection, he has signed with the Padres. I know, it’s tough news for all of us.[beautifulquote align=”full” cite=””]The Cubs churned the roster and fielded a team that looked as if it had been staffed by a temp agency.[/beautifulquote]
At this point, Theo Epstein is like the big kid at the playground who spins the merry-go-round so fast that a few of the smaller children get thrown off. Some, like Richard in the past or Matusz more recently, are able to climb back on. The lastest victim of that centrifugal force is Grimm, who was sent back to Iowa on Monday in order to reactivate Hammel.
Just a couple years ago, we expected this kind of movement as the Cubs churned the roster and fielded a team that looked as if it had been staffed by a temp agency. For all intents and purposes, that’s exactly what it was. Now that they’ve got all their key employees in place, the trick is to manipulate the periphery of the 25-man in such a way that they keep as much talent as possible in Chicago while maintaining a reserve of capable replacements in Iowa.
That can’t be fun or easy for any of the parties involved, but that’s one of those “good problems” that comes with operating a successful organization. It’s going to be interesting (and maybe a little painful) to watch as the front office continues to shuffle the deck over the remaining days of August.