Rozner: Will Chicago Cubs make another move as trade deadline approaches?
Two weeks ago, the Cubs were not in the same league as the Dodgers, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Rockies and Astros, to name just a few teams that were playing significantly better baseball than the North Siders.
But much has changed since the all-star break.
The Cubs made the biggest move, acquiring Jose Quintana to bolster their rotation, but it was as much a deal for the future as it was for 2017.
Since then, Houston has lost Carlos Correa for 6 to 8 weeks with a thumb injury, and George Springer left Monday's game with left quad tightness after slipping in the outfield.
The Dodgers lost Clayton Kershaw to another back injury, and he'll probably be out about two months. Kershaw was gone two months last summer with a herniated disc.
The Nationals got a scare Sunday when Stephen Strasburg left his start with forearm soreness, particularly frightening given his lengthy injury history.
The Diamondbacks had lost 10 of their last 15 going into Tuesday's action, and the Rockies had lost 17 of their last 28.
The Red Sox, Yankees and Indians all have flaws, and the young Brewers are seriously leaking oil heading toward the trade deadline.
So just that quickly, the Cubs have won nine of 11 and the rest of the best have come back to the Cubs in varying degrees and fashions.
Last week on the Score, I asked President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein if the Cubs had an opportunity in the final days leading up to the deadline to convince him that they are worthy of more help for the stretch run.
"The better we play, the more in it we are," Epstein said. "We've been a strong second-half team, so we're looking at this year as a chance to win the World Series, which is how every contender should look at it.
"That said, we've given up significant assets already this trade deadline -- and last trade deadline -- so we're not going to do anything irresponsible.
"We're going to look first and foremost at things that help not just this year's club, but also subsequent years.
"But we'll see.
"If there's the right piece that fills a need and makes us better and maybe adds an extra weapon where we don't have one, certainly there's always the possibility for just a rental to enhance this year's chances.
"We had a bad first half and we own that, but with our track record of playing well in the second half and the postseason pedigree of the players on this team -- which is something I haven't been able to say in previous years, but our players do have a postseason pedigree now -- you have to look realistically at what we can accomplish.
"If we continue to play good baseball, we're a very strong contender and we have to treat it as such."
If the Cubs were still 5 or 6 games out of first with only a few days left before the nonwaiver deadline, it's unlikely that Epstein would give up much to feed a team playing mediocre baseball, but they have given him reason to think they can go deep again while the best teams in the game have allowed them to creep back into the conversation.
They need to keep it going the next few days. If they do, Epstein might just reward them with another gift.
• Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.