Ex-Cub Report No. 2

By Chris Rewers on Sunday, July 18, 2010

While Japanese import Kosuke Fukudome adjusts to his part-time status and awaits an imminent trade, a Cubs export (after brief stops in Oakland and Colorado), Matt Murton, is thriving in "The Land of the Rising Sun."

The 28-year-old Murton, now playing for the Hanshin Tigers, is leading the Japanese Central League in in batting average (.352) and hits (120).

Murton, who was named to the Central League All-Star team, has quickly become a fan favorite in Japan. He played for the Cubs from 2005-08, arriving in the 2004 trade that also netted Nomar Garciaparra from Boston and departing in the deal that brought Rich Harden from the Athletics.

Murton is on pace for 219 hits this season, which would break Ichiro Suzuki's 16-year-old Japanese professional record of 210.

Angel Pagan, New York Mets: The switch-hitting Pagan - hitting .306 with six homers, 40 RBI, and 20 steals - may displace Jeff Francoeur as the Mets' starting right fielder. Francoeur is hitting just .135 in July.

Mark DeRosa, San Francisco Giants: DeRosa hit just .194 with one homer (it came on Opening Day) and 10 RBI in 93 at-bats before having season-ending surgery to repair a ruptured tendon sheath in his left wrist. He played 21 games in left field and seven at second base. DeRosa, 35, signed a two-year, $12 million contract with the Giants last offseason.

Kerry Wood, Cleveland Indians: If Wood was pitching to his potential, he would be a valuable trading chip for the Indians, but the 33-year-old right-hander has been a disappointing 1-4 with eight saves and a 6.30 ERA in 23 appearances this season. He has a high 1.60 WHIP and has blown three save opportunities. Wood was placed on the 15-day disabled list - his second trip this season to the DL this season and 14th of his career - because of a blister on his right index finger. He is in the second year of a two-year, $20 million contract.

Jacque Jones, Rochester Red Wings (Triple A): Jones may earn a return trip to the majors with his original team, the Minnesota Twins, after spending the last two seasons in the minors. The 35-year-old outfielder is hitting .303 in 65 games at Rochester.

Milton Bradley, Seattle Mariners: Bradley is hitting just .206 with eight homers and 28 RBI while being his usual disruptive self in the Seattle clubhouse. He also has been plagued by a sore right knee.

Rich Harden, Texas Rangers: Harden, who signed a one-year, $6.5 million deal with Texas last offseason, has been a major disappointment for the Rangers. The 28-year-old right-hander, just 3-3 with a 5.68 ERA in 16 starts, continues to struggle with his control and high pitch counts. He is currently on a minor-league rehab assignment at Triple-A Oklahoma City while recovering from a strained glute. He gave up four runs and eight hits in 3 2/3 innings against the Iowa Cubs on Friday in his second rehab start.

Reed Johnson, Los Angeles Dodgers: The 33-year-old Johnson was hitting .291 in part-time duty before being placed on the 15-day disabled list Thursday with a sore back. He has seen action at all three outfield positions.

Kevin Gregg, Toronto Blue Jays: After a hot start as the Toronto closer, Gregg has predictably plummeted to Earth, and was yanked in the ninth inning by manager Cito Gaston after walking the bases loaded Saturday against Baltimore. Gregg is 0-3 with a 3.50 ERA in 36 appearances with the Blue Jays.

Jim Edmonds, Milwaukee Brewers: The 40-year-old veteran, who is hitting .268 with four homers and 12 RBI in part-time duty, has battled an assortment of nagging injuries and spent time on the disabled list in May with a strained oblique.

David Aardsma, Seattle Mariners: The hard-throwing 28-year-old right-hander is 0-6 with 16 saves and an ERA of 5.40 in 31 appearances this season.

Jamie Moyer, Philadelphia Phillies: The 47-year-old left-hander has won 239 major league games since the Cubs traded him to the Texas Rangers on Dec. 5, 1988 and is now considered by some to be a potential Hall of Famer. Moyer, who was roughed up in a loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Thursday, is 9-9 with a 4.88 ERA in 18 starts this season.

Felix Pie, Baltimore Orioles: The 25-year-old Pie got off to a fast start (8-for-20, HR, RBI), but was placed on the 15-day disabled list in April with an upper back muscle strain. He was activated on July 6 and is 7-for-23 with a homer and three RBI since his return.

Jason Marquis, Washington Nationals: The 31-year-old right-hander was scheduled to pitch three innings in a rehab appearance Sunday for the Nationals' rookie-level Gulf Coast League affiliate. Marquis is recovering from surgery in May to remove bone chips from his pitching elbow. He struggled badly in three April starts (0-3, 20.52 ERA).

Casey McGehee, Milwaukee Brewers: McGehee, Milwaukee's starting third baseman, is hitting .275 with 13 home runs and 54 RBI.

Aaron Heilman, Arizona Diamondbacks: The right-hander is 2-3 with a 3.98 ERA in 41 appearances, making him the most reliable member of Arizona's awful bullpen that ranks last in ERA (6.75) in the majors by a wide margin.

LaTroy Hawkins, Milwaukee Brewers: The 37-year-old right-hander (0-3, 9.26 ERA), struggled in a setup role with Milwaukee before going on the disabled list in May because of weakness in his pitching shoulder. Hawkins is scheduled to report to Triple-A Nashville after two solid efforts with Maryvale in the Arizona Rookie League.

Jason Kendall, Kansas City Royals: Kendall has been a workhorse behind the plate, starting 85 of Kansas City's 91 games, but manager Ned Yost has pledged to rest the 37-year-old veteran more in the summer heat. Kendall on Sunday passed Hall of Famer Gary Carter for fourth place on the all-time games caught list. He is hitting .269 and has hit safely in 15 of his last 16 games, going 20 for 61 (.327) over that stretch. He has thrown out 26 of 100 baserunners who have attempted to steal against him.

"He's got such a strong mindset that he totally believes being tired is a frame of mind," Yost said. "He doesn't subscribe to that. You can't ever convince him he's tired."

Corey Patterson, Baltimore Orioles: The 30-year-old Patterson was scratched from the Baltimore lineup Sunday because of a bruised left heel. The outfielder, who is expected to miss two to three more games, is hitting .279 with five homers and 21 RBI.

Ronny Cedeno, Pittsburgh Pirates: Cedeno is hitting .231 with four homers and 17 RBI, but has recently shown signs that he's ready to claim Pittsburgh's starting shortstop job.

Henry Blanco, New York Mets: Hank White, in his customary backup role, is hitting .284 in 74 at-bats. The New York Daily News reported Sunday that Blanco's roster spot is secure despite the emergence of rookie Josh Thole.

Rich Hill, Pawtucket Red Sox (Triple A): The 30-year-old left-hander is 5-3 with a 4.28 ERA in 29 minor-league appearances this season. He was released by St. Louis Triple-A affiliate Memphis before signing with Pawtucket on June 30.

Kyle Farnsworth, Kansas City Royals: The 34-year-old right-hander has been solid as Kansas City's setup man with a 2-0 record and 2.25 ERA in 32 appearances. He is likely to be traded to a contender before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Farnsworth is allowing 2.3 walks per nine innings, down from 3.4 last season and 4.0 in his career.

Mark Grudzielanek, free agent: The 40-year-old veteran was hitting .273 in a part-time role with Cleveland before he fell victim to an Indians youth movement and was released on June 10.

Will Ohman, Baltimore Orioles: The veteran left-handed reliever, who has no decisions and a 2.63 ERA in 47 appearances, should draw interest from contenders ahead of the trading deadline.

Jerry Hairston Jr., San Diego Padres: Hairston has played five positions and is hitting .249 with seven homers and 35 RBI for the surprising first-place Padres.

Juan Pierre, Chicago White Sox: Pierre, the White Sox's starting left fielder, is hitting .263 and has an on-base percentage of .333.

Sean Gallagher, Pittsburgh Pirates: The 24-year-old right-hander (0-0, 5.47 ERA in 17 appearances) was purchased by the Pirates from the San Diego Padres on July 7.

Todd Wellemeyer, San Francisco Giants: The 31-year-old right-hander, on the disabled list since mid-June with a strained quadriceps, is 3-5 with a 5.52 ERA in 12 appearances (11 starts). He is scheduled to throw approximately 70 pitches for Triple-A Fresno on Monday in a rehab assignment.

Cesar Izturis, Baltimore Orioles: The 30-year-old veteran is hitting .240 with one homer and 16 RBI.

Matt Stairs, San Diego Padres: The 42-year-old veteran, playing in his 18th big-league season, on July 8 hit his 20th career pinch-hit homer to tie Cliff Johnson's career mark. He is 10-for-51 with two homers and eight RBI this season.

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