Q. What does the trade landscape look like at the moment?
A. I think every contender in baseball has been perusing the Cubs' roster looking for a potential match.
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Conventional wisdom says Ryan Dempster will be wearing another uniform sooner than later. I would imagine the Cubs are (or will be) receiving calls on guys like Reed Johnson and Jeff Baker.
The Matt Garza situation doesn't have as much urgency considering he is under team control through 2013. But if there is an overwhelming offer, my guess is he will be dealt.
Paul Maholm's name might come up as well. I think the Cubs would consider trading Geovany Soto, Carlos Marmol and Alfonso Soriano, but for other teams to pounce, Soto has to improve his offensive numbers, Marmol must continue to throw his fastball (for strikes) and Soriano needs to prove he is healthy enough to get through the rest of the season.
The key to all this trade talk is the organization being able to acquire impact players in return. The Cubs have been in an impact talent acquisition mode since the winter meetings, and the next few weeks represent another big opportunity to stock the system with prospects, particularly on the pitching side.
Q. Assuming Dempster will be traded any day now, how would you assess his Cubs' career?
A. As big a fan as I've always been of Ryan's (I broadcast Florida Marlins' games near the end of his tenure there a decade ago), I could not have predicted his Cubs' career would be as good as its been.
When he arrived here, he was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and his career ERA (pre-surgery that is) stood at 5.01. Plus, he came back in an unfamiliar relief role.
But he racked up 85 saves over a three-year period, then went back to the rotation in 2008 and became an all-star for the first time in eight years and helped his club post more regular-season wins than any Cubs team since 1945.
And as we look at this season, I don't think he's ever been better. So, he gets very high marks for what he's done on the field and his performance will be sorely missed if he's traded.
But then you add his clubhouse presence, community involvement and incredible passion for being a Cub, and it gets even more difficult to contemplate him pitching elsewhere.
It's just a reminder that this is a business and as an organization, you often have to make tough decisions.
Q. Assess the job manager Dale Sveum has done to this point.
A. I'd give him pretty high marks. His even-keeled nature has made this difficult season not only tolerable, but I think even enjoyable at times in the clubhouse.
Yes, the losing hurts, but he and his coaches have instilled such a ubiquitous work ethic that, at this point, the path to success has taken on more importance than the daily results.
Everybody realizes that this season is about building a foundation for consistent winning and when it comes to how this team plays, it starts with the manager.
In terms of in-game strategy, I don't feel like he leaves in his starting pitchers too long or that he overtaxes his bullpen. There are times he might be overly aggressive with the running game, but that is more about trying to create runs with a struggling offense. And the defensive shifts have, I believe, paid dividends in finding outs where previously groundballs became hits.
Ultimately, a manager's report card is the team's record, but I don't think we can hang that on Dale this year due to the organization's circumstances.
In a couple years? Absolutely. But I have no doubt that when this roster is talented enough to win, it will. And it will do it with Dale at the helm.
• Len Kasper is the TV play-by-play broadcaster for the Chicago Cubs. Follow him on Twitter @lenandbobwww.wgntv.com/lenandbob;http://www.wgntv.com/blogs/lenandbob/[URL]. Subscriber Total Access members can email him [/URL]questions;mailto:cubsquestions%40dailyherald.com?subject=Reader%20question[URL] each week via our online link.[/URL]