What a lot of transactions--particularly teams looking at the second half, and dropping dead weight--were placed during the last cycle.
So, let's start with Arismendy Alcantara, another of the young Cubbies who might just well lead the team out of their 100-year plus World Series victory drought.
A 22-year-old Dominican, Alcantara has literally advanced a level of play every season since he signed in 2009, going .271-15-69 with 36 doubles and 31 swipes at West Tennessee last year, prompting a promotion to Iowa this year where he went .307-10-41 with 11 triples and 21 Triple-A swipes.
With a minor league line of .284-40-254 over 530 games, with 41 triples and 112 swipes, Alcantara burst onto the Wrigley scene with a four-hit debut. Furthermore, with the ability to play second, short and the outfield, Alcantara really fits the mold of the new young player--a la Brock Holt--who can perform all over the diamond and help their team move forward.
In other words, I like him as a second half crap shoot.
...Let's see, Alfonso Soriano gets released and Carlos Pena gets signed. Joe Saunders is released and Jair Jurrjens is called up, and then Saunders is signed after all. So, of course Dan Johnson is signed by the Jays to fill the Edwin Encarnacion hole.
Now 35, Johnson has a wunderkind of minor league numbers with a .285-238-878 line that includes 794 walks to 893 whiffs (.393 OBP) and a ridiculous .903 OPS over 13 seasons, which translates to .236-56-194 and a .748 OPS over parts of eight years. Pass.
Then we have Grady Sizemore, again trying to jump-start something in Philly. Pass.
As for Marco Scutaro, he will probably not play full time now that he has returned to the Giants, meaning Joe Panik should get the playing time in the near term. Scutaro can hit, but similarly, he has been suffering with back issues. He could be a of some help. He could also break tomorrrow, but, I think if Scutaro shows any stick at all and can stay healthy through the end of July, those things could change.
OK, so old, new, A.J. Pierzynski gets sent packing, while Christian Vazquez was brought up. Vazquez was signed out of Puerto Rico, and he has a .265-38-251 line over 500 minor league games. Vazquez has a pretty decent .344 OBP (204 walks, 361 whiffs). He has had a nice start for the Sox and with David Ross as his only obstacle, he will get at-bats. And, though I do like Vazquez as a gamble, I cannot help but think Ryan Lavarnway and Jarrod Saltalamacchia and the ghosts of Boston catchers past.
Finally, I see the Pirates promoted Jaff Decker, and I don't really have an issue with that, but I have to wonder just how badly Jose Tabata must have pissed off the Pittsburgh front office (not that he is faring so well at Indianapolis with a .219-0-2 line over ten games).
* * * *
OK, so it is the break and I usually dispense with some thoughts about how to spend it.
Like taking your partner out for the evening to some event of their choosing.
Like spending time with your kids, if you still have them at home with you.
Like, even take your own hiatus for a day or two from stats and trades and such.
In other words, it is a break.
So take one.
Your family will thank you, and so will your brain. And, that could help kick it during the second half.