#Cubs Theo: “If we keep playing like this, good things will happen”
The Cubs finished June with a winning record, and have posted a .500 or above mark each month. They’ve won 42 of 78 games played; last year, the Cubs didn’t win their 42nd game until July 25, which was the 101st game of the season. This is the best record since opening the 2008 season 48-29.
“If we keep playing like this, some good things will happen,” Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said.
But the Cubs do need depth as far as starting pitching. They hope to have taken a step to address that with the addition of lefty Clayton Richard, who will start Saturday. A year ago on the Fourth of July, the Cubs created fireworks when they dealt Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Athletics for Addison Russell, Billy McKinney and Dan Straily.
At that time, the Cubs were in rebuilding mode. That mood has changed with the success this season. The Cubs are in the mix for a Wild Card spot, and with the Trade Deadline coming, what’s next? Epstein cautions that demand outweighs supply at this time of year.
“You have to be creative and you have to be patient and you have to be understanding and you have to recognize the Trade Deadline is not a panacea,” Epstein said. “It just gets a ton of attention for natural reasons but if you go back and look it’s rarely the defining factor.”
In 2004, when Epstein was the Red Sox GM, he made a blockbuster four-team deal at the Trade Deadline which included sending Nomar Garciaparra to the Cubs. But Epstein cautions that it’s rare for a deadline deal to help a team get to the World Series.
“It’s an opportunity to address things maybe for this year, areas of need, maybe do something to set yourself up for next year, address something that might be hard to address in the off-season,” he said. “It’s not the be all, end all, the panacea, the complete focal point that it’s portrayed as.”
That said, Epstein knows he’ll be asked about trade rumors until the July 31 deadline.
“We know what we’d like to do,” he said, “but we’re realistic about what we’re able to do.”
The Cubs will get Jorge Soler (ankle) back soon from the disabled list and newly signed reliever Rafael Soriano was expected to join the team after the All-Star break. Tsuyoshi Wada and Zac Rosscup, both on the DL with shoulder injuries, should be back in the second half and infielder Mike Olt (wrist) is playing for Triple-A Iowa.
Manager Joe Maddon isn’t making demands.
“I’m happy with where we’re at,” Maddon said. “I don’t expect; I just try to work with what we have.”
He’ll meet with the players after the All-Star break for one of his three in-season meetings — he also has one prior to the start of the season and another before the playoffs begin. His message will be the same: “Respect 90,” and “Do Simple Better.”
He’d like to see rookies Kris Bryant and Addison Russell not chase as many pitches out of the strike zone as they have been doing. It’s been a good first half.
“You don’t win any blue ribbons or gold stars for half a decent season,” Epstein said. “We’re just trying to get better, trying to see what we need to do so we’re still relevant three, four months from now. This doesn’t matter too much where we’re at right now. It’s part of the process, part of the grind and our guys are doing a great job staying focused.”
— Carrie Muskat