Friday, January 2, 2015

Touch 'Em All: A's get Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel from Cubs

Jeff Samardzija had a 2.83 ERA and 103 strikeouts in 108 innings. BRIAN KERSEY /Getty
Jeff Samardzija had a 2.83 ERA and 103 strikeouts in 108 innings. BRIAN KERSEY /Getty
Jeff Samardzija had a 2.83 ERA and 103 strikeouts in 108 innings. BRIAN KERSEY /Getty Gallery: Touch 'Em All: A's get Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel from Cubs
The beginning of July's first blockbuster trade occurred about a month ago, when Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane called Chicago Cubs executive Theo Epstein to ask about Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel.

Beane told Epstein he liked the starting pitchers, and he was going to be aggressive in an attempt to improve the AL West leaders. Fast-forward to this weekend, when Beane proved just how serious he was during that initial call.

Oakland and Chicago announced a big trade on Saturday, with Samardzija and Hammel heading to the West Coast for a package of prospects that included the A's first-round selections in each of the last two drafts.

The Athletics began the day with the best record in baseball, but Beane believed he needed to add depth to a rotation that responded well to season-ending injuries for Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin. Drew Pomeranz also is on the disabled list with a broken right hand.

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Samardzija and Hammel join Scott Kazmir, Sonny Gray, and Tommy Milone in one of the majors' best group of starting pitchers.

"We had to dig into our depth really early, and we felt like we needed two [starting pitchers]," Beane said.

Minor-leaguers Addison Russell, Billy McKinney, and Dan Straily went to Chicago in another painful deal for the lowly Cubs, who have played better of late but are still last in the NL Central. Chicago also gets a player to be named in its latest July sell-off.

The Cubs lost at least 91 games in each of the previous three years. They traded away starting pitchers Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm in July 2012, and Matt Garza and Scott Feldman last July.

"We certainly hope that this is the last year that we're obvious sellers at the trade deadline," Epstein said.

The hard-throwing Samardzija had a 2-7 record for the Cubs, but he also had a 2.83 ERA and 103 strikeouts in 108 innings, making him one of the most coveted pitchers on the market. The former Notre Dame receiver was selected by Chicago in the fifth round in 2006.

Kershaw's streak

In the 57 seasons the Dodgers have called Los Angeles their home, only two pitchers have recorded scoreless innings streaks longer than Clayton Kershaw's.

Orel Hershiser and Don Drysdale. That's it.

Kershaw extended his shutout streak to 36 innings Friday, pitching eight innings in a 9-0 victory over the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.

Some of the pitchers Kershaw moved past Friday night included Dodgers royalty: Sandy Koufax (33 innings in 1963), Fernando Valenzuela (35 innings in 1981), and Don Sutton (35 innings in 1972).

The two pitchers ahead of him, Hershiser and Drysdale, are first and second on baseball's all-time list. Hershiser pitched 59 consecutive scoreless innings in 1988, breaking by one inning the mark Drysdale set in 1968.

Kershaw didn't allow a run in his last four starts, a stretch that started with a no-hitter against the Rockies on June 18.

Associated Press
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