Cubs got their trades done early, so now what?
By now, you know the Cubs did not make a trade Wednesday, the deadline for nonwaiver deals in Major League Baseball.
There were some interesting things I took away from a post-deadline confab with general manager Jed Hoyer. And now that the Cubs have held on to several key players, there are some questions about what's going to happen and how many games the Cubs will win over the final two months of the season.
Hoyer said he was somewhat surprised that he and team president Theo Epstein were not able to make at trade, even though players such as Dioner Navarro, Nate Schierholtz, Kevin Gregg, Carlos Villanueva and David DeJesus all drew interest from contending clubs.
"Probably a little bit surprised," Hoyer said. "We really never really got that close in the last couple days to doing anything. I guess the good thing is we felt like we were incredibly productive this month, made a lot of deals, felt we got a lot better as an organization.
"The last couple of days we had a lot of irons in the fire, but never really got that close."
The Cubs effectively "jumped the market" by making their trades in the first week of July and last week. Scott Feldman went to Baltimore for pitchers Pedro Strop and Jake Arrieta, who started Tuesday's game and left a good impression.
Outfielder Scott Hairston brought a pitching prospect from Washington. Pitcher Matt Garza garnered a nice haul from Texas, including third baseman Mike Olt and pitching prospect C.J. Edwards, who got off to a good start in the Cubs system.
The Cubs even managed to move Alfonso Soriano, getting some salary relief and a minor league player.
As for why there was so little movement around baseball Wednesday, Hoyer said it had a lot to do with teams valuing their young players.
"Teams are valuing prospects higher than ever," he said. "Some of that, I think, is because the media talks so much about prospects. They're so well-known. Twenty years ago, no one knew the 15th-best prospect of someone's system, and now they do. I think that does change the dynamic of the game.
"The new CBA makes acquiring talent harder. In the past, if you were trading a player away, he might be a (Type) B compensation guy you're going to get one pick for. He might be an A that you're going to get two picks for.
"Teams are a lot more likely to give up a good pitcher in high-A if they know they're going to get a draft pick in the future. Now that they can't do that, it really limits how much teams are willing to give up."
Now let's sit back and watch what happens with this club over the final two months of the season. Unlike last year the front office did not gut the team, especially the starting rotation.
The Cubs don't have to run out the likes of Jason Berken and Justin Germano and Chris Volstad to start games, as they did last year.
That means they should be more competitive from now until the season ends, even if there still are some serious flaws. The Cubs also have most of their players under control for next season.
"It's been an interesting few weeks," Hoyer said. "Until the last couple days, we've played better baseball. We played a lot of really close games, and the only non-1-run game was Monday night and that was 0-0 in the ninth.
"We're playing a lot of close games, and those games can go either way with a bounce. I expect us to be competitive."
Everyone knows about the Cubs' bullpen struggles. Hoyer also had some interesting comments about the team's offense, which entered Wednesday 13th in the National League in on-base percentage. The Cubs also were batting .225 with runners in scoring position.
"I hope our approach gets better the next couple months," Hoyer said. "I think that's something we really have to focus on. I think we still struggle getting on base and we still struggle with runners in scoring position.
"I'd really like to see that get better going into next year. I think we will have a lot of the same faces on the team next year, and it'd be nice over the next 60 days to show we can do those things better.
"If we're sitting here over the winter and those things never get better, it's going to be an area we're going to have to think about addressing, because those are two areas that continue to plague us."
Cubs scouting reportCubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers at Wrigley Field
TV: Comcast SportsNet Thursday; WGN Friday and Sunday; FOX Saturday
Radio: WGN 720-AM
Pitching matchups: The Cubs' Chris Rusin (1-0) vs. Ricky Nolasco (6-9) Thursday at 7:05 p.m.; Travis Wood (7-7) vs. Hyun-Jin Ryu (9-3) Friday at 3:05 p.m.; Jeff Samardzija (6-9) vs. Chris Capuano (3-6) Saturday at 3:05 p.m.; Carlos Villanueva (2-7) vs. Zack Greinke (8-3) Sunday at 1:20 p.m.
At a glance: This will be the Cubs' first look at rookie sensation Yasiel Puig, who took a hitting line of .370/.413/.589 with 10 homers and 23 RBI into Wednesday. Adrian Gonzalez leads the L.A. attack in almost all key categories with a line of .299/.351/.470 with 15 homers and 65 RBI heading into Wednesday. The Dodgers have charged to the top of the NL West after a slow start. L.A. ranked fifth in the NL in ERA (3.52); the Cubs were 10th (3.91). The Dodgers were second in on-base percentage (.327); the Cubs were 13th (.303).
Next: Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, Tuesday-Thursday
-- Bruce Miles