7/10 Lou: "You can't rope a dope it"

Lou Piniella remains optimistic but realistically, the Cubs will have to stage a miracle comeback to get back in the race in the NL Central. Not being in contention usually means teams start moving their players this time of year in preparation for next season.

“That’s not my department so I don’t think too much about that,” Piniella said. “I think about our team playing good on the field and winning baseball games.”

This is the first time in Piniella’s career as a manager that his team is more in a sell mode than buy.

“In Tampa Bay, we never had anybody to move,” Piniella said. “In Seattle, we had competitive teams and the first three years here, we were in the mix. This would be something new. I don’t know what we’re going to do. Jim [Hendry] and I have not talked about it.”

The trade talk heated up Friday with the Seattle Mariners sending Cliff Lee to Texas.

“The amazing thing about it is we win the last two games, and we’re eight games out of first place,” Piniella said. “The teams in front are giving us opportunities. It’s just a question of taking advantage of it. There are teams trying to add and some teams trying to subtract. I don’t know where we’re at.”

The Cubs still have a half season to go.

“There’s a lot of baseball to be played,” Piniella said. “Put it this way, you can’t rope a dope it. You’ve got to play. There’s just too many games left.”

— Carrie Muskat

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