The clock is ticking on the Chicago Cubs as Jed Hoyer remains in wait-and-see mode: ‘Ultimately you are what your record is’

15 July 2023

At some point in the next 2 1/2 weeks before the Aug. 1 trade deadline, the Chicago Cubs will commit to a buyer or seller direction with their roster.

The front office spent time during the four-day All-Star break discussing the criteria for the yet-to-be-determined parameters of when and what path the Cubs will take as the trade deadline moves closer. President of baseball operations Jed Hoyer doesn’t plan to reveal the specifics of what will go into the decision-making process or time frame to see on-field results.

However, the Cubs’ performance during this 10-game stretch at Wrigley Field will, in totality, affect whether they add or subtract from the big-league roster.

“We’re trying to make decisions in the most educated fashion as possible, not using emotion and not using one day’s loss or one day’s win, and that’s most important thing,” Hoyer said before Friday’s series opener against the Boston Red Sox. “And like I said before, the simplest way to say it is that we do need to make up ground on first (place), we do need to make up ground on .500.”

The second-half schedule begins favorably for the Cubs, who entered Friday at 42-47. After three games versus the Red Sox, their next four series are against teams with a losing record: the Washington Nationals (three games), St. Louis Cardinals (three games), White Sox (two games at Guaranteed Rate Field) and the Cardinals again (four in St. Louis). That stretch takes the Cubs through July 30, and they likely will need to be locked in to buying or selling.

But it presents a great opportunity for the Cubs to get on a winning roll they desperately need if Hoyer is going to look to acquire help for manager David Ross and a veteran-heavy roster. Hoyer acknowledged the frustration that their first-half record wasn’t better despite a plus-26 run differential, the only team in the National League Central with a positive mark in that category.

Even so, the Cubs entered Friday sitting seven games back of the first-place Cincinnati Reds.

“They’re not going to fly a banner for component stats (like run differential), ultimately you are what your record is,” Hoyer said. “I do think it’s really important in this job that you try to look at that stuff. … It is important to look at it, you have to take an educated and look at what you’re actually doing. But you can’t go back in time, like, the teams that have had fortunate first halves aren’t giving those wins back and we can’t go grab them now. So we are where we are.”

If the Cubs pursue upgrades at the deadline, the corner infield positions with an emphasis on power and the bullpen are the obvious areas to address. The rotation has largely been a strength this year, especially All-Stars Marcus Stroman and Justin Steele. That combination allows them to avoid the pricey top-level starting pitching trade market and sets up the Cubs well if they can get to the postseason.

“By and large, that’s been a staple for us, and when we’ve been steady we’ve gotten one good start after another, so it is comforting,” Hoyer said. “This team has shown they can go on a roll.”

The Cubs have been susceptible to following good stretches with bad runs — their 1-6 Marlins-Nationals trip at the end of April into May to derail a solid start and a 1-5 homestand against the Phillies and Guardians after the London Series were momentum killers.

Those inconsistencies are an enemy the Cubs must defeat over their next 16 games to put them in buyer mode.

“The times that we played exceptionally well then we also followed it with giving back way too many games to .500 quickly and that’s something we have to stop,” Hoyer said. “We’ve shown we can be good for long stretches, but we need to not have those kinds of dips.”


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