On the field, they look for eventual payoff from a now
well-stocked farm system and subsequent positive impact on the
Off the field, there's a $575 million renovation looming that would
bring new clubhouses, training facilities and infrastructure at
100-year-old Wrigley Field up to 21st century standards. The
project, which awaits expected final city approval, could start
within weeks and pick up speed up in the offseason.
A renovated Wrigley Field will feature a series of video boards and
advertising signage to produce new revenue to entice more
The convergence could come as soon as 2016. In the meantime, the
Cubs have a difficult -- but not bleak -- second half as the
National League Central title chase continues without them.
The Cubs, 40-54 and 12 games out of first at the break,
realistically face another season with 90-plus losses, the third in
the executive regime of team president Theo Epstein and general
manager Jed Hoyer.
But Epstein was quoted as saying he now sees light at the end of the
tunnel and that better days lie ahead.
Cubs manager Rick Renteria, who has instilled a positive atmosphere
in the clubhouse despite first-half struggles, said he saw the
potential down the line even before he took the job.
But the final 11 weeks of the season may mirror the first part as
the Cubs proceed without two ace pitchers (Jeff Samardzija and Jason
Hammel -- both traded to Oakland). And despite Epstein's pledge of a
pause, there's still the possibility of more trades to come as the
July 31 deadline approaches.
Some help may arrive from the minors, but not all top prospects will
be called up in September. Officials said third baseman Kris Bryant
is staying put at Triple-A Iowa for the rest of the season. Others
like versatile infielder/outfielder Arismendy Alcantara had a
pre-All Star Game sampling in Chicago and hit .391 (9-for-23) in
MLB Team Report - Chicago Cubs - NOTES, QUOTES
STREAK: Lost two
FIRST-HALF MVP: SS Starlin Castro bounced back from a miserable
2013, a year in which he hit a career-low .245 with just 44 RBIs. So
far this season, the 24-year-old shortstop is batting .276 with 103
hits, 11 home runs and 52 RBIs in 93 games. His average and hits
rank second among major league shortstops. Castro was named to his
third All-Star Game this month, just the third Cubs shortstop so
honored. Honorable mention goes to 1B Anthony Rizzo, an All-Star who
is batting .276 with 20 home runs -- third in the National League --
and 49 RBIs.
FIRST-HALF GRADE: C-minus -- It may seem a generous grade for a team
struggling with one of the major league's worst records, but manager
Rick Renteria's upbeat attitude and positive approach to players won
plenty of admirers. The team's All-Stars, SS Starlin Castro and 1B
Anthony Rizzo, were the biggest offensive stars, while RHP Jake
Arrieta (5-1, 1.95 ERA) was a pleasant surprise. The Cubs were
competitive in most games they played, and they might have a few
more wins if the bullpen were more consistent. Despite the
departures of RHPs Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, the remaining
pitching wasn't bleak.
PIVOTAL POST-BREAK PLAYER: RHP Jake Arrieta (5-1, 1.95 ERA) could
claim the mantle of staff ace after the departures of RHPs Jeff
Samardzija and Jason Hammel in a trade with the Oakland A's.
Arrieta, acquired last year from the Baltimore Orioles in a trade
for RHP Scott Feldman, has the second-lowest ERA in the majors since
May 1. "I think it was something everybody believed he was capable
of," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. "It's not so much a surprise,
just satisfaction and thankfulness that he's been able to do what
BUY OR SELL: The Cubs' biggest bargaining chips -- RHPs Jeff
Samardzija and Jason Hammel -- were traded to the Oakland A's in
early July, and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said
the club would pause after that deal. But that doesn't mean he is
through. Perhaps a contending club might make a bid for a
left-handed reliever such as James Russell (0-1, 2.54 ERA, one save)
or Wesley Wright (0-1, 2.36 ERA). Both were the subject of trade
speculation this month.
INJURY STATUS: INF Emilio Bonifacio, currently on the 15-day
disabled list with an oblique strain, is working his way back with a
rehab stint at the Cubs' rookie-level affiliate in the Arizona
Rookie League. RHP Kyuji Fujikawa has spent the entire season
sidelined while recovering from Tommy John surgery, but he made a
tentative step back with his recent work in Mesa, Ariz. RHP James
McDonald, out since spring training with right shoulder problems,
remains on the 60-day disabled list.
[to top of second column]
TOP PROSPECT: 3B Kris Bryant, 22, is batting .346 with 31 home runs
and 81 RBIs in 92 games between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A
Iowa. Even so, the Cubs are reluctant to bring him up without more
seasoning, saying he will stay at Iowa for the rest of the year.
Others who could merit a September call-up include 21-year-old Iowa
SS Javier Baez (.240, 14 home runs, 55 RBIs through 84 games) and
perhaps even 20-year-old SS Addison Russell or 22-year-old OF Jorge
Soler, both at Double-A Tennessee.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think we've done well as a club. Obviously early
we had certain things, little things in the game that we weren't
doing as well as we liked. The pen was a little erratic at times but
our starting pitching has been good the whole season. We've
continued to just try to play the game. There have been times where
we've had some hiccups, but all-in-all there have been very few
games where you look at our club and say 'this is terrible.' They've
plugged away and we've been in almost every game of the season. ...
There are more opportunities before us." -- Cubs manager Rick
MLB Team Report - Chicago Cubs - ROSTER REPORT
--INF/OF Emilio Bonifacio (sore right rib cage) went on the 15-day
disabled list June 13. He was rehabbing at the Cubs' complex in
Mesa, Ariz., as of June 30. He began a rehab assignment in the
rookie-level Arizona League on July 11 and was transferred to
Double-A Tennessee on July 16.
--RHP Kyuji Fujikawa (Tommy John surgery in June 2013) went on the
15-day disabled list retroactive to March 21, and he was transferred
to the 60-day DL on May 3. He pitched June 2 in extended spring
training. He began a rehab assignment in the rookie-level Arizona
League on July 6.
--RHP James McDonald (right shoulder inflammation) went on the
60-day disabled list March 30. There is no timetable for his return.
RHP Jake Arrieta
RHP Edwin Jackson
LHP Travis Wood
RHP Hector Rondon (closer)
LHP James Russell
LHP Wesley Wright
RHP Justin Grimm
RHP Neil Ramirez
RHP Brian Schlitter
RHP Carlos Villanueva
RHP Pedro Strop
LHP Zac Rosscup
1B Anthony Rizzo
2B Arismendy Alcantara
SS Starlin Castro
3B Luis Valbuena
INF Mike Olt
INF Darwin Barney
LF Chris Coghlan
CF Junior Lake
RF Nate Schierholtz
OF Ryan Sweeney
OF Justin Ruggiano
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.