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updated: 8/10/2014 5:40 PM

Cubs front office steps on the accelerator

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  • Even Cubs broadcaster Len Kasper was surprised when the team promoted Javier Baez last week from Class AAA.

    Even Cubs broadcaster Len Kasper was surprised when the team promoted Javier Baez last week from Class AAA.
    Associated Press


Bob Dylan's anthem "The Times They Are a-Changin'" would be an appropriate theme song for the current state Chicago Cubs.

Roster moves have been coming at a fast and furious pace. Over the last five weeks or so, the Cubs have traded away or cut Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel, Darwin Barney, Emilio Bonifacio, James Russell and Nate Schierholtz.

They have added youngsters Kyle Hendricks, Arismendy Alcantara and Javier Baez to the roster and soon may bring up Jorge Soler.

They have acquired struggling pitchers with big league experience whom they hope can get back on track -- Felix Doubront and Jacob Turner -- and brought in one of baseball's top prospects in minor league shortstop Addison Russell.

While the talent-compiling process went at a rather slow and steady pace, it feels like the Cubs have suddenly shifted from second to fifth gear in a snap of their fingers.

That's how this game can work. You have to know when to be patient and when to strike, and it is clear this front office is pressing the accelerator as it looks ahead to 2015.

I was surprised as anyone when the Cubs brought up Baez last week. I figured he'd dip his toes in the big league pool in September during a short trial period. Instead, they decided to give him a longer look after he checked off all the appropriate boxes at Class AAA.

As we look ahead, it is worth reiterating a couple of key traits of this regime.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are upfront with the media. When they speak publicly, they tell you pretty much what they are thinking. People just need to listen carefully.

At every turn, Epstein and Hoyer have mapped out the process in almost excruciating detail. Epstein even predicted (correctly) the end of the honeymoon period after some difficult times with the big league club.

One hint that keeps being repeated is that they know they are light on pitching. So, if you are wondering how they will proceed on the trade and free agent market moving forward, you can impress your friends by predicting that area as being the main target the next couple of offseasons.

The other interesting thing about this group is their unpredictability.

How can they be transparent and unpredictable? Very easily. The transparency is in the big picture. The clever maneuvering is in the details.

It is not as if the Cubs are trying to pull the wool over anybody's eyes in baseball. That's difficult to do these days with so much technology and brainpower available to every club.

But subtle moves such as increased spending on the international market last year, targeting undervalued starting pitchers every year and hoarding young shortstops and catchers are meant to gain slight advantages here and there. When put together over the long haul, those moves could add up to significant edges over the competition.

This is also a front office that understands that the mercurial nature of this business forces you to be adaptable.

Dale Sveum, this regime's first manager, was let go after two seasons. Arismendy Alcantara, at first a two-day fill-in for Darwin Barney at second base, now plays every day in center field while Barney is no longer in the organization.

Nobody working under Theo Epstein, let alone the man himself, is gloating right now. There is a long way to go and more detours and sharp turns along the way.

But for the moment at least, they've hit a little straightaway, allowing them to open the throttle a bit and let the process pick up some speed.

This is getting fun.

• Len Kasper is the TV play-by-play broadcaster for the Chicago Cubs. Follow him on Twitter@LenKasper and check out his baseball-blog with Jim Deshaies at

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