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Cubs gain minimal satisfaction from Crosstown Cup

Chicago White Sox v Chicago Cubs

Chicago White Sox v Chicago Cubs

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Updated: June 1, 2013 12:41AM

During the long process of getting the final out in the Cubs’ 8-3 victory over the White Sox on Thursday, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts stood with arms folded, watching closer Kevin Gregg battle.

Then came the grounder for the out. Applause from the chairman. And the presentation of the shiny, silver Crosstown Cup.

For whatever that’s worth.

(Apparently not enough to attract a sponsor this time around.)

The Cubs swept the three games against the Sox that didn’t get rained out, which is great for morale and gives them a season-high four-game winning streak.

But the crosstown title? This “Cup”? Does it matter?

“Not really,” said Cubs veteran Alfonso Soriano, who played in two World Series with the Yankees. “It’s good that we won, but that trophy means nothing. That’s not the trophy that I want.

“When we get the real one, I’ll get champagne [to drink from it]. Not that one.”

What goes in this one?

“They already put beer in it,” Soriano said.

As if arriving on cue to make his point, Blackhawks players Bryan Bickell and Andrew Shaw roamed the clubhouse as Soriano talked, less than 24 hours after moving a step closer to their second Stanley Cup title in four years.

Make no mistake: Travis Wood might say the big week was “absolutely awesome.” But that doesn’t mean Soriano is not absolutely right.

So don’t be fooled by the Cubs’ first season series victory against the Sox in six years.

What Ricketts watched with his arms folded probably won’t even be around in two months, much less winning a real trophy in the next two years.

The reality is that even after the Cubs clobbered the Sox all week, it’s the other guys who left Wrigley Field on Thursday with the less-obstructed path to that real trophy anytime soon.

Gregg could be moved at the trade deadline. Probably center fielder David DeJesus, too. And maybe right fielder Nate Schierholtz.

Friday’s scheduled starter, Matt Garza, the best pitcher on the staff and a potential key to the rebuilding timeline, is the most valuable commodity the Cubs hold as they look to the trade deadline July 31. Scott Feldman is right behind him.

Their pitching hopes for a rebuilt core involve Jeff Samardzija, Wood, a $52 million free agent (Edwin Jackson) who is 1-7 with a 6.11 ERA and perhaps the player they pick June 6 in the amateur draft.

Their top young impact pitcher with big-league time, Arodys Vizcaino, just had debridement surgery on his reconstructed elbow and has yet to pitch for the Cubs since being acquired at the trade deadline last year.

Their top impact pitcher in the minors is in Class A ball. Their best impact hitting prospects are there, too.

It’s a process long on patience and short on guarantees.

When it comes to that process, the Cubs are — as they like to tell everyone — “committed.”

Which, for now, means there’s no way out.

Even without the well-documented, debt-related spending limits the baseball department faces, the free agents who could solve the Cubs’ problems quickly don’t reach the market anymore (because of the trend of signing younger players to long-term deals).

And take a look at the standings. The top three teams in the National League Central also have the top three records in baseball, and they’re built to last with young cores and strong prospects in the wings.

This long, system-building, prospect-driven process the Cubs have undertaken might be their best — maybe their only — way to retool effectively. But it isn’t going to make the beer from the Crosstown Cup taste any better in the meantime.

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