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Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel reportedly traded to Oakland A’s

Jeff Samardzija CubsJeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel are headed to the Oakland A’s in a trade, according to a report.

Multiple reports on Friday night said the A’s and Cubs were in serious talks about a trade, and Ken Rosenthal reports it’s a done deal.

Rosenthal says shortstop prospect Addison Russell is part of the deal. Russell was not in the lineup Friday for the Midland RockHounds, which is Oakland’s Double-A team. Keith Law reports that Dan Straily, a pitcher who has gone 13-11 in 41 career MLB starts, is part of the deal. 2013 first-round pick Billy McKinney is also going to Chicago.

Samardzija has been part of trade talks all season and is finally being dealt. Both he and Hammel have sub-3.00 ERAs this season for the last-place Cubs.

The A’s already have the best record in baseball at 53-33. They already had Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir and Jesse Chavez pitching well, and now they’ve just strengthened their rotation even more. Billy Beane has done it one again and is showing everyone he is serious about trying to win it all this year.

Kirk Gibson to Jeff Samardzija: ‘Shut the (bleep) up and pitch’

Kirk-Gibson-skips-sons-graduationJeff Samardzija has been piling up a ton of strikeouts as a starting pitcher for the Chicago Cubs this year, and that trend continued during a 12-4 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday. Samardzija fanned 11 hitters in 6 1/3 innings of work, but he was charged with two runs that scored after he left the game and ended up earning a no decision. His evening also included a bit of drama.

At one point, Samardzija came close to hitting opposing starting pitcher Ian Kennedy with a couple of pitches. That led to the Cubs pitcher getting into it with Kennedy and D-Backs third base coach Matt Williams, which seemed to irritate Arizona manager Kirk Gibson.

“It’s part of the game,” Gibson told MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert after the game. “Whatever. He didn’t get the win did he? Maybe the next time he should just shut the [expletive] up and pitch.”

As far as his pitching performance was concerned, Gibson had nothing but good things to say about Samardzija.

“He’s throwing the ball really good this year,” he said. “I told [bench coach Alan Trammell] before the game, ‘I hope we can hang in there and get his pitch count up.’ He used to go shorter distances before it happened. He’s really improved a lot. I’ve been watching him.”

Despite his 3-6 record, Samardzija has held opposing hitters to a .203 batting average and has an ERA of 2.96. He has dominated in spurts for Chicago, which Gibson alluded to. But this is the same Kirk Gibson who skipped his son’s high school graduation because graduating is something you’re supposed to do. That should tell you all you need to know about his opinion on Samardzija barking at his third base coach.

Fist bump to Hardball Talk

Jeff Samardzija told Theo Epstein he would dump his girlfriend to focus on improving

Jeff Samardzija CubsJeff Samardzija was so intent on becoming a successful pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, he once told Theo Epstein that he was going to dump his girlfriend in order to focus on improving.

Epstein was the subject of an excellent feature written by Joe Posnanski. The article discussed Epstein’s efforts to overhaul the culture of the Chicago Cubs organization after becoming the team’s President of Baseball Operations following the 2011 season. When he first took the job, Epstein thought that only shortstop Starlin Castro would be part of a winning future in Chicago. He soon realized that Samardzija, a former Notre Dame wide receiver who signed with the Cubs in 2006, could also help the team win.

Epstein recalled something Samardzija told him and new manager Dale Sveum that delineated the pitcher’s dedication to the game.

“Welcome guys,” Epstein remembers Samardzija saying on his first day with Sveum, Posnanski writes. “I just want you to know one thing about me. I will do whatever it takes to help this team. And I think the best way to help this team is by being a starting pitcher. I’m eliminating everything in my life that gets in the way. I’m dumping my girlfriend. I’m moving to Arizona. I just want the chance to show you that I’m a starting pitcher.”

We don’t know if Samardzija actually dumped his girlfriend or if that was a figure of speech, but he wouldn’t be the first professional athlete to dump a girl in order to focus on training. Whatever Samardzija did definitely worked.

After pitching out of the bullpen from 2008-2011, Samardzija became a starter last season and went 9-13 with a 3.88 ERA. He lowered his previously high walk rate, and he impressively struck out over a batter per inning. He will even be the team’s Opening Day starter, and the Cubs are so pleased with him they have even approached him about signing a contract extension.

Hopefully Samardzija hasn’t completely cut off contact with the opposite sex, but the good news is it sounds like he is following one of Epstein’s most important tenets for Cubs players.

CSN Chicago has the full feature on Epstein if you’re interested in reading it.

H/T Paul Sullivan

So Jeff Samardzija Throws Pretty Hard

To understand how I feel about Jeff Samardzija, all you need to know about is one play. Does 20-17 say enough to you? In case it doesn’t, here’s a refresher. Anyway, it’s pretty incredible to see the guy go from balling on the football team at Notre Dame to pitching for the Cubs in only two years. As much as I couldn’t stand the guy, Samardzija was a darn good receiver for the Irish. It’s not too often that you see college-level D-I athletes playing more than one sport and playing well at it.

Anyway, after getting drafted in ’06 and going on to pitch in A-ball, Samardzija split his time between A and AA ball last year. This year, Samardzija got promoted from double-A to triple-A ball and even got called up after Kerry Wood went on the disabled list. I don’t know about you, but it pretty much blows my mind to see this guy pitching in the majors leagues so shortly after his college football career came to a close. This is a guy who could be in training camp right now and instead he’s already made the majors. Though he gave up a run to the Marlins in relief and blew the win for Ryan Dempster, the kid looked good humming between 97 and 99 mph. I don’t think he’ll be able to get by on speed alone at the majors (we already saw him get burned by Jorge Cantu), but I think it’s pretty amazing that he’s this talented at two sports. Makes you wonder, why wasn’t he playing quarterback instead of Quinn?