The Cubs finally cured what ailed them by sweeping the Padres at home earlier in the week. Now it’s time to put that 12-game losing streak aside and go on a tear that puts .500 in sight by the All-Star break, right? Right?
Not so fast. The Cubs don’t get the luxury of staying at home to try and build up some momentum. They’re on the road this coming weekend in San Francisco, followed by a series in Milwaukee and another in Minneapolis. Throw in the fact the Cubs are already 6-17 on the road this season, and it may be that 3-7 or 2-8 is a reasonable expectation for the trip. Anything better would simply be out of character for the Cubs we’ve seen already this season.
A fair question to ask might be whether Ryan Dempster has pitched his last game in a Cubs uniform. Everyone knows this is his last season under contract, and resigning him for the eight-figure salary he’s been getting just isn’t going to happen ever again. The reasons for trading him, and convincing him to drop his right to veto any trade, are clear enough.
But think about it from Dempster’s point of view. The last game he won for the Cubs came last summer, the day before Carlos Zambrano lost it in Atlanta. Dempster has now started 18 games without a win, which must keep him awake at night. For a starting pitcher like him, wins are the coin of the realm. Other teams that need pitching may look at his ERA of under 3.00, and his WHIP of 1.15, but they’ll have to close their eyes to the fact that he hasn’t recorded a single win this season. In truth, a trade out of Chicago might be the best thing that could happen to Dempster at this point.
And at what point will the Cubs promote Anthony Rizzo to the majors? And what will they do about their outfield situation when that happens? Bryan LaHair may stay at first base for now, but calling up Rizzo is just a matter of time. The Cubs already have a full house in the outfield with Alfonso Soriano, David DeJesus, Reed Johnson and Tony Campana competing for playing time. Moving LaHair to the outfield to make way for Rizzo would make the outfield even more crowded, especially with Brett Jackson still a top prospect in triple-A.