Strong June doesn’t figure to deter Cubs brass from trade activity
BY SETH GRUEN Staff Reporter June 20, 2014 10:04PM
Chicago Cubs' Starlin Castro, right, celebrates his three-run home run off Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Charlie Morton with teammate Anthony Rizzo during the third inning of a baseball game on Friday, June 20, 2014, in Chicago. Rizzo and Chris Coghlan also scored on the hit. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) ORG XMIT: CXC112
Pirates at Cubs
The facts: 6:15 p.m., Fox-32, 720-AM.
The pitchers: Vance Worley (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Travis Wood (7-5, 4.48).
Updated: July 22, 2014 6:17AM
The Cubs have resembled a major-league ballclub of late, improving to 11-7 in June after beating the Pirates 6-3 on Friday at Wrigley Field.
They’ve attributed their success to teamwide confidence, but that will be tested as the Cubs approach trading season, when they figure to flip veterans for up-and-coming prospects.
The club is nine games below .500 and even further from being buyers as trade talks heat up. But a team that is looking to develop its talent can’t expect to maintain its spark by looking to trade its best talent, namely starter Jeff Samardzija.
“The last few years it gets everyone down, but you just deal with it, and we all want to keep playing better so it’s harder for them to break everyone up,” Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo said.
The Cubs’ philosophy? Don’t talk about it. Don’t address it. Don’t think about it.
In the minds of players, coaches and management, that will at least eliminate the distraction until the trades happen. The reality for a ballclub that seems to be improving is that ignoring the situation won’t deter the inevitable.
Talks with Samardzija about a long-term contract appear to have broken down. Without a deal, the Cubs have no choice but to trade him.
“He’s probably handling it extremely well, and I say that because I haven’t really had a conversation with him or the club about any of the possibilities, the things we can’t control, and I don’t think that I think about it too much, quite frankly,” manager Rick Renteria said of Samardzija.
But what of the players who will remain? Apparently, there’s nothing to be said.
If the Cubs decide to ship off Samardzija, there’s nothing to suggest more won’t follow — or even precede him. The fact is, the organization likely will listen to any offer that might net talent for the future.
It’s good business, but it’s still ironic for a group of players so focused on the present.
“If and when moves do come, we address them with the players at the time,” president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said. “But there’s no point in preparing players for what might come down the line. This is part of the game. Players come in, players go out and teams change throughout the course of the season.
“Good teams find a way to play well and not get distracted.”
NoteS: If Cubs fans want to see hot-hitting prospect Kris Bryant, they’ll need to take a trip to Des Moines, Iowa, because Theo Epstein said he doesn’t see a scenario in which Bryant will play for the big-league club this season. In his debut with Class AAA Iowa on Thursday, Bryant hit a two-run homer. On Friday, he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.
◆ Epstein said Manny Ramirez, who was signed by the Cubs as a player-coach for Iowa, probably will arrive next week.
◆ Cubs starting pitcher Edwin Jackson was pulled from the win over the Pirates after five innings because of cramps in both calves.