With the trade deadline approaching, the subject of the Cubs’ competitiveness came up a couple times before tonight’s game against the Marlins. In other words, if the Cubs trade pitchers Ryan Dempster and/or Matt Garza, who pitches and how competitive can the Cubs be? And what of next year?
We’ve got some stuff from both manager Dale Sveum and team president Theo Epstein, and they address some subjects we’ve been talking about on the blog the last few days. We’ve also got a pretty good minor-league report again today.
“It’s the starting pitching that’s going to dictate anything,” Sveum said. “You get quality starting pitching, I think our offense is going to gradually get better and better. But I think when you go into the season, you’ll still put a competitive team together. You have to have all the pieces, though. You can’t have one offense, no bullpen, one starting pitcher. You have to have three or four quality starting pitchers. You have to have a back end of a bullpen when you do get those wins. So it’s a whole combination of things you have to put together during the winter that when you go into Opening Day next year, you’ve got those pieces hopefully put together.”
We ran down the list of possible pitchers the Cubs could call up in case of a trade, and we’ll get into that in our “take” for tomorrow’s paper, with Theo saying an organization needs “waves and waves” of pitching and that the Cubs hardly having even one wave, by Theo’s own admission.
“Hopefully, we’re very competitive very soon,” Theo said. “Just sitting here and wanting to be so doesn’t make it so. You have to build an organization. You get sick of me saying this, but there are no shortcuts.”
Theo also addressed building a team through free agency, and his words following seem pretty self-explanatory as far as what the Cubs might do this coming winter.
“Sometimes that works out for you, but more often than not, it doesn’t,” he said. “There’s a price to pay for that type of thing. If you get tempted and you get impatient and you try to solve your problems through free agency, there’s always a price to pay. Usually, it happens pretty soon toward the end of that deal. Free agency is definitely a nice way to add talent to an organization without giving up talent, but you cannot make an organization that way. We have a lot of steps ahead of us we have to take care of before we’re in position to add a finishing piece or two through free agency.
“We'll always look to free agency. We'll always be on every free agent and see if it's the right player or the right value. If we sat around and drew up a plan that had free agency as the answer to most of our problems, we’d be on a fool’s errand there. We need to build a foundation based on scouting we believe in, player development we believe in, a steady flow of prospects.”
Before we get started, Theo said recently signed Jorge Soler would start his first AZL game tomrrow as the DH. Pitcher Randy Wells has gone on Class AAA Iowa's DL with a right-elbow strain.
It was another rough outing for Chris Volstad as Iowa fell 7-2 to New Orleans. Volstad worked 5.2 innings, giving up 8 hits and 7 runs, 6 earned. He's 2-4 with a 5.55 ERA. Josh Vitters extended a hit streak to 16 games by going 2-for-4 with his 52nd RBI. He's 20-for-58 in July.
Class AA Tennessee fell 9-2 to Jackson. Nick Struck took the loss, working 5 innings, giving up 7 hits and 6 runs, 5 earned. He's 10-9 with a 3.60 ERA. Logan Watkins had his 28th multihit game, going 2-for-5 with a triple and a run.
Daytona (A) got a nice performance from starting pitcher Matt Loosen in a 6-1 victory over Charlotte. Loosen, a right-hander, pitched 7.1 innings, giving up 5 hits and 1 run while walking three and striking out six. He is 8-3 with a 2.79 ERA.
"The story of the game was Loosen," Daytona manager Brian Harper told the Daytona Beach News-Journal. "He pitched great and was just tremendous. That's about as good as you can get."
"The fastball was working early on, and I was putting guys away with the curveball," Loosen said told the paper. "They were chasing it down in the zone, so I stuck with that for a while and I started feeling stronger as the game went on."
Loosen, 23, was a 23rd rounder in 2010 out of Jacksonville University.
The News-Journal reported that the Daytona club placed infielder Arismendy Alcantara (leg) and LHP Matt Spencer (hamstring) on the disabled list.
Peoria (A) was off, but Boise (A) beat Yakima 5-0. Starter James Pugliese got the win, working 5 innings of shutout ball, giving up 1 hit while walking two and striking out five. Center fielder Trey Martin (.302) was on base five times, going 3-for-3 with 2 walks and his third homer. He also stole a base. The Idaho Statesman, which we cited the other day for a good story on pitcher Hayden Simpson, had a nice story on Martin, a 13th-rounder last year out of Brookwood High School in Georgia.
Martin started off 4-for-33 for Boise. The Statesman reported that hitting coach Bill Buckner and Martin's mom got on his case. Buckner, the paper reported, had Martin out 75 minutes early for batting practice. As for his mom, here is what the player told the Statesman: "My mom actually told me to take care of her batting average -- to get me back to going to work."
Martin did not play pro ball last year. He began this year in Arizona. In his past eight games, he's 15-for-30 (.500) with 5 runs, 8 RBIs, 3 steals and the 3 homers.
Boise manager Mark Johnson said Martin may have pressing at the start. Martin and Shawon Dunston flip-flopped teams, with Dunston going down to Mesa (Rookie) and Martin going up to Boise.
"I was a little disappointed (to start in Mesa)," Martin told the Statesman. "But it's my job to play the game and not worry about where I'm supposed to be at. It meant a lot to me (to get promoted). I wanted to get out of that heat down there."
Mesa won its fourth straight, beating the Mariners 6-5. Dan Vogelbach (.360) hit his seventh homer. Vogelbach, 19, was a second-rounder last year out of Bishop Verot High School in Fort Myers, Fla. He got into six games for Mesa after being drafted.