Cubs Notes: De La Cruz Suspended, Almora’s Title Chase, Gimenez Clears Waivers

You know that whole thing about how the Cubs haven’t been able to develop pitching at the highest level and how we keep hearing a few names touted as potential breakthroughs on that front? One of those, Oscar De La Cruz, was just suspended 80 games under MLB’s drug testing program. He’s subject to that program because he’s on on the Cubs’ 40-man roster.

Though he wasn’t pitching particularly well for AA Tennessee — 6-7, 5.24 ERA — De La Cruz was still one of the top prospects in the system and this is a big blow for both him and the Cubs. Only 23 years old, he’s still plenty young enough to come back and resume his career, but you have to wonder how this will impact him moving forward.

Don’t expect to hear too much about this matter or about De La Cruz in general for the rest of the season, at least not from the Cubs. They released the following statement in the wake of the suspension:

We are disappointed to learn today that Oscar De La Cruz has violated Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The Cubs fully support the Program and its efforts to remove performance enhancing drugs from the game. We also expect Oscar to learn from this experience and will support him on his journey back. Per Program protocol, the Cubs will not comment further on this matter.

Almora’s average

I think we can all agree that batting average isn’t the best measurement of a hitter’s production, or at least that it’s not viewed as such in light of all the other metrics we have. It’s still, however, the most universally understood and there’s a certain cachet to being a .300 hitter and having the league’s highest mark.

Albert Almora Jr. is right there in the hunt, tied atop the NL leaderboard with the Reds’ Scooter Gennett at a .328 average. That indirect battle takes center stage this weekend, but Almora says he’s not paying any attention to it.

“We’re not even at the All-Star break,” the center fielder said. “He’s having a great year. We’re just trying to get him off the bags as much as they’re trying to get us out.”

I know a lot of the more intellectual commentators and consumers of baseball probably scoff at the notion that anyone’s paying attention to batting average, which almost makes me want to tout it even more. After all, there’s still something to be said for putting bat to ball and reaching base safely afterward.

Gimenez stays in org

Chris Gimenez began the season in AAA Iowa with an eye toward being called up prior to June 1, which would have allowed the Cubs to keep him in the organization. But after hitting .143/.219/.143 over 32 plate appearances, the club decided to flip-flop catchers once again.

Victor Caratini coming back up meant designating Gimenez for assignment, which also meant Gimenez clearing waivers. He did that Friday, so the Cubs are keeping him around and have reassigned him to AAA Iowa. Probably not a season-altering move on any level, though it might prove worthwhile as Yu Darvish works back.

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