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posted: 6/12/2012 10:53 PM

Epstein says he'll take his time improving Cubs

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The Cubs entered Tuesday on pace for a record of 54-108, which would be their worst in history.

That's not exactly a feather in the cap of the new baseball regime, but team president Theo Epstein reiterated he's not getting caught up in the first-year numbers or shortcuts to success.

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"I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about that; I'm more focused on where we're going, how we're going to get there, and yes, how fast we're going to get there," he said. "But I think when you focus too much on how fast, sometimes you make compromises with exactly how you're going to get there.

"There aren't shortcuts, so we have to focus on putting building blocks in place whether it's acquiring young players who can be part of our core going forward or making sure the right teaching philosophy is in place, hitting and pitching in the minor leagues and big leagues. We just have to focus on those building-block elements of this and work our tails off to make sure we start making progress as quickly as possible."

To that end, Epstein said it's possible trade talks could pick up soon. The Cubs have a couple of marketable starting pitchers in Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza.

"You're constantly balancing and juggling different balls, but it's true once the draft is over, there seems to be more of focus on the trade market across baseball, so there are more phone calls being made now than there were 10 days ago," he said. "Certainly that's something we'll evaluate. We're in a position where any opportunity to get better, any opportunity to improve our future is something that we have to take seriously, even if it means making difficult decisions about the product that we're putting on the field right now."

Epstein added the Cubs are close to agreement with some top draft picks, pending physical exams. That does not include No. 1 pick, outfielder Albert Almora, who last week said his top priority is college. He has a scholarship offer to the University of Miami, and those make for great negotiating tools.

"He's a great student and worked hard to get that full ride to a prestigious university, and he does have options," Epstein said. "They should fully examine them. But the key is he loves baseball, too. We'll sit down and talk about them."

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