Cubs president Theo Epstein was blunt in his assessment Wednesday of the team's organizational pitching depth.
"We need to have a lot of pitching in the system," Epstein said before the Cubs played the Marlins at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs took a 5-1 lead in the bottom of the seventh inning with 4 runs before rain hit in the top of the eighth, delaying the game. After a wait of 1 hour, 17 minutes, the rain-shortened victory was official.
"It's not enough to have a handful," Epstein said of pitching. "You need that waves and waves of pitching coming through your system, and we don't have that.
"We hardly have even one wave. We need to build a lot of pitching depth."
The subject came up because Epstein was asked if the Cubs could be competitive if they traded top pitchers Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza.
"Hopefully we're very competitive very soon," he 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."
If Dempster and/or Garza goes, one of the pitchers who will have to step up is Jeff Samardzija, who started Wednesday and worked 5 innings, giving up 6 hits and 1 run while striking out nine.
"He's that guy we all feel we have a chance of building a rotation on, depending obviously on what happens here in the next couple of weeks," manager Dale Sveum said. "But he's that guy. He's going to be that guy that hopefully we can build around and be the No. 1, be the No. 2 guy."
Samardzija is in his first full year as a major-league starter, and he's had his ups and downs this season. Lefties Paul Maholm and Travis Wood have been good, for the most part, but beyond that there isn't much to get excited about in the Cubs' minor-league system.
Chris Volstad, who opened the season on the big-league roster, now is in his second stint at Class AAA Iowa, where he is not faring well.
The Cubs have some prospects pitching reasonably well, but none appears ready for a big-league call-up.
That's one reason the Cubs went heavily after pitching in the June amateur draft. It's also why they'll be asking for young pitching in any potential deals.
"I think you can express a preference for pitching, but if you're dealing with a club that has better position-player prospects and you feel the position players in a certain system are a safer bet or offer higher upside, I don't think it's right to pigeonhole yourself to one situation," Epstein said.
Samardzija, who hadn't started since July 7, ran his pitch count to 97. The only run he gave up came on a leadoff homer by Jose Reyes in the third.
The Cubs got the run back in the fourth, when Starlin Castro led off with his eighth homer of the season, a line shot into the left-center field bleachers.
It took until the seventh for the Cubs finally to break through against Marlins starting pitcher Josh Johnson. They batted around, scoring 4 runs on 5 hits and chasing Johnson. The big hit was a pinch 2-run double by Jeff Baker against reliever Mike Dunne.