Epstein aglow over upbeat July
The month of August isn't off to such an august start for the Cubs.
But July? Now that was a month.
Well, in some ways it was, and some important ways at that.
Before the Cubs lost 6-2 to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a long and sloppy affair Friday at Wrigley Field, Cubs president Theo Epstein visited with the media.
Epstein cited the Cubs' 14-13 record in July, their first winning month since they went 15-10 a year ago in July. He also the team's recent player acquisitions.
"I thought it was a really productive month of July," he said before the Cubs lost their second in a row and their fifth in six games. "We acquired a lot of young talent, a few buy-low guys, a few upside prospects. Obviously, it was quiet right at the (July 31 trading) deadline, but looking at the month as a whole, we were really pleased. We'll see how it plays out."
The record is probably the least important of the factors Epstein stated. The Cubs continue stocking their farm system through trades, by signing all of their key draft picks (including first-rounder Kris Bryant) and through international free-agent signings.
"It's been a good month," Epstein said. "You know, the big league club played, I think, over .500, not that that's our goal, but that's better than the alternative. We obviously added a lot of young talent through trades and the international signings.
"So it is a good time for people who are wanting things to go well in the organization looking for progress. They can see the progress, seize onto it and see that it is time for hope and optimism."
That said, there's always caution when an organization is at this stage of development, with a losing record at the major-league level and the top prospects still anywhere from 1-3 years away
"It's a good time to remind ourselves that the progress isn't linear," Epstein said. "There are going to be other really bad months. There are going to be times when prospects go through difficult half-seasons, seasons. It looks like, 'Hey, we thought these guys were going to be impact guys, and now they're scuffling at Double-A. What's going on?' There are going to be times when we have really, really difficult periods in the big leagues.
"Just like with a player's development, the progress of the organization isn't always linear. The trend line as a whole is going in the right direction. There are going to be peaks and valleys, but right now, we're excited about certain things that happened (last) month even as we brace for what's an uncertain future. We need to keep really working hard to take advantage of every opportunity we have to get better."