8:30 AM CDT, July 16, 2012
The Cubs have won 12 of their last 16 games.
Their starters have an ERA of 1.13 in their last five.
The staff itself averaged an earned run a game in the weekend sweep of Arizona.
They are playing the kind of baseball we haven’t seen all season and you’re thinking, maybe even saying out that that they’re playing the kind of ball you want to see all year because next year is the year, for sure, right?
Stop right there. Listen to yourself. You sound like the last 104 years. That kind of sucker play is exactly how past administrations at Clark and Addison handled things. They became mesmerized by a nice short-term result. They lost track of long-term goals, if they even had a long-term idea.
This administration won’t make that mistake. At least, that’s what Theo Epstein and his pals said. This hot streak spurred by some terrific games by some of the best rumors on the market creates the perfect situation to test Epstein’s resolve. A hot streak doesn’t mean that sustained success is complete. In this case, it means that Epstein ought to be able to wring out top value by the trade deadline on July 31. The new, extra wild-card berth this season gives Epstein even more suckers to fleece.
That’s the play now. That was the play all year, but it’s especially important to be reminded of it now. When you finally see the Cubs play actual baseball after the ugliness the first half, it’s easy to think great thoughts about all of these suddenly wonderful future Hall-of-Famers.
I don’t expect Epstein to do that. Ryan Dempster and his 33 consecutive scoreless innings still must be traded. Same goes for Matt Garza and his seven shutout innings against the Diamondbacks on Sunday. Carlos Marmol, too, if someone has a stadium equipped with defibrilators. Darwin Barney, Bryan LaHair and Reed Johnson, hang loose.
I love the way Barney has been playing. He has been good for a web gem a night and he is showing some offensive life. How much am I offered for him?
How much am I offered for any of them? The Wrigley yard sale must go on as scheduled.
Cubs fans who are finally getting their money’s worth likely hate this idea after finally getting their money’s worth. But, sorry, this team isn’t that good and this is no time to overlove your heroes.
Look, this is the type of streak that even bad teams enjoy. The trick is not to get fooled. Remember, Mike Quade had a good streak when it didn’t matter in a dead season. He earned a big-boy contract, and how’d that work out for everybody?
Past general managers and TribCo dolts would look at this current Cubs surge and believe that a little tinkering would make this group a winner.
Don’t be those guys. Be smarter.
The plan must remain the plan. I trust that Epstein won’t get suckered by a pretty, shiny winning streak. I trust that Epstein still realizes that half of his roster needs to pick up the white courtesy phone.
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