Theo Epstein says Cubs will ‘take a step back’ after trade
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter July 5, 2014 11:06PM
Updated: August 7, 2014 6:52AM
WASHINGTON — In the wake of Friday night’s stunner trade that sent the Cubs’ top two trading pieces to the Oakland A’s nearly a month before the trading deadline, Cubs team president Theo Epstein said he plans to “take a step back” before any more possible trade activity.
“We’ll see,” he said Saturday while scouts from several other teams continued to evaluate the multitude of available players still on the roster. “We’ll certainly listen, but we also like the way the team has been playing [25-20 since mid-May].”
Whether players such as reliever James Russell, swingman Carlos Villanueva or outfielder Justin Ruggiano get moved before the July 31 deadline, Epstein said he doesn’t plan to deal this month from the newly stocked depth of hitting prospects.
“I don’t foresee anything immediate on that front,” he said. “We acquired all these guys because we like these guys. Obviously, we’re going to keep an open mind going forward.”
Sources say the Cubs feel they might have several options now for acquiring bigger pieces – including pitching – for a competitive turnaround starting as early as this winter.
For now, Epstein said he wants to see how the prospects develop, with some looking at potential position changes.
“We’re not smart enough to know how all the pieces fit together, but it’s easy to be excited about a lot of the different permutations,” he said. “I think we have a chance to have really good homegrown solutions at a lot of positions.
“Of course, if teams want to talk to us about trades at some point, we have a nice inventory to discuss.”
Epstein said he had no problem with Hammel’s parting shot at the organization over his anger at being pulled from his final start after just 92 pitches following a leadoff double against him in the seventh.
Hammel called out the front office for what he believed was a pitch-count policy “the most severe I’ve ever seen.”
Epstein, who called Hammel soon after being made aware of the comments, suggested the problem arose because manager Rick Renteria had been informed of a possible trade and was told “just to be smart” – something that wasn’t communicated to Hammel before he talked to the media.
“I told Jason, `You’re 100 percent right; 92 pitches is not fair, and that’s overly conservative,’ “ Epstein said. “And we don’t believe in strict pitch counts like that. We don’t have a policy that forbids our starting pitchers from going well beyond 100, 110 pitches, 115 pitches. And he’s right. And I admire [him] for wanting to stay in the game. …
“And I don’t blame him for voicing his opinion. … No hard feelings either way on that one.”
Left-hander Chris Rusin was recalled from AAA Iowa to take one of the two vacated roster spots and came out of the bullpen to pitch 3 2/3 innings of Saturday’s loss.
◆The Cubs haven’t made a decision on who takes Hammel’s spot in the rotation Wednesday but plan to add reliever Blake Parker from Iowa in the meantime.
◆Lefty Tsuyoshi Wada will be added from Iowa to start one of the games in Tuesday’s doubleheader, said manager Rick Renteria, who wouldn’t say whether the club wants to give Wada an extended run in the rotation after that.