Will Dempster be dealt before the trade deadline?


Will Dempster be dealt before the trade deadline?

Its no secret the Cubs are in a select group of sellers as Major League Baseballs non-waiver trade deadline approaches.

Its also no secret the Cubs prize possession -- right-hander Ryan Dempster -- would be a tremendous addition to any club vying for a playoff spot.

The problem is, with so many teams in contention because of the additional wildcard position, the Cubs arent sure which ones are in position to pull the trigger on a trade before July 31.

When you look at the standings right now, they are so jumbled up, General Manager Jed Hoyer said Saturday prior to the Cubs game against Arizona at Wrigley Field. There are certainly fewer teams that dont feel like they can make a run at that second wildcard than in (past) years.

Dempsters name continues to be bandied about regarding the trade rumors. Dempster makes his second start since a stint on the disabled list today, bringing a 27-inning shutout streak to the mound. Thats the longest shutout stretch for a Cubs starter since 1971 when Ken Holtzman also went 27 consecutive innings.

Hoyer said management hasnt kept him in the loop for any potential trades, instead allowing Dempster to concentrate on his pitching.

Hes very focused on getting through the injury, he pitched well in New York (in a 7-0 victory over the Mets), and hes focused on today, Hoyer said. Hes been pitching and pitching well for the Cubs. When the time comes and we (need to) loop him in, well do that. But he wants -- and we want him -- to focus on pitching well.

Hoyer added Dempster wanted to get back into the rotation as quickly as possible after going on the DL with right lat tightness.

He wants to be out there, and he wants to be a part of this, Hoyer said.

Despite the Cubs improved play of late, Hoyer is realistic about where the team sits. Chicago enters today 34-52, fifth in the NL Central and 14 games out of first. The Cubs are also 13 games behind the second wildcard position.

We made our bed, Hoyer said. That doesnt mean were not happy with how theyve been playing. Its really nice to see a lot of clean games. Were much better offensively. I give the them a lot of credit. When a team is struggling the way we did for a month and half or so, its hard to stay upbeat.

Still, its hard to ignore the Cubs are sellers regardless of the improvement.

Its not a position you want to be in, Hoyer said. Its frustrating because that means your record isnt very good, and it also means the players that are being asked about are good players. Neither one of those is a positive. When youre in this situation you want to do whats best for the organization. You just hope youre not in this position very often.

He’s back: Kyle Schwarber takes center stage at World Series

He’s back: Kyle Schwarber takes center stage at World Series

CLEVELAND – Kyle Schwarber walked into the Progressive Field interview room at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, becoming the biggest Game 1 story at the World Series. He didn’t have a hit all season – and hadn’t played for the Cubs in almost seven months – but there was his name in the No. 5 spot in the lineup against Corey Kluber and the Cleveland Indians.

“Once I hit that line, a lot of emotions will come pouring out,” Schwarber said. “I’ll probably cry at some point today. It was a long road, but once we step in between those lines, it’s game time. I’m going to be locked in. I’m going to be ready to go (and) try to win this.”

It’s hard to overstate how much the Cubs love Schwarber’s energy, presence and powerful left-handed swing, from the time they saw his hard-charging style and football mentality at Indiana University. Theo Epstein’s front office drafted him fourth overall in 2014 – at a time when that almost looked like a reach for a designated hitter with an unclear defensive future behind the plate or in the outfield.

Instead of sending him to Arizona, the Cubs also allowed Schwarber to rehab in Chicago and remain a part of the team after undergoing major surgery on his left knee in the middle of April, making him untouchable in any trade talks, even as the New York Yankees dangled game-changing reliever Andrew Miller, who now looms as another World Series X-factor in the Cleveland bullpen.

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After getting a better-than-expected progress report last week from Dr. Daniel Cooper – the head team physician for the Dallas Cowboys who reconstructed his ACL and repaired his LCL – Schwarber went full speed ahead.

“I called Theo right away and I was like: ‘Hey, I’d love the opportunity to try,’” Schwarber said. “Knowing that I had the opportunity to try and get back, it would kill me deep down inside if I didn’t. And I knew going into it there were no guarantees.

“I didn’t want the media attention. I didn’t want any of that. I did it for my teammates. I did it for me, too. That’s the competitor in me.” 

After playing in the Arizona Fall League in front of about 100 fans on Monday, Schwarber flew on a private plane from Mesa to Cleveland, where he could change franchise history with one big swing, the way he drilled five homers during last year’s playoffs and became a Wrigleyville folk hero.

“It’s going to be a complete 180,” Schwarber said. “You know you’re going in front of a packed stadium here. It’s going to be awesome. That’s what we live for as baseball players. We live to feed off that, especially since we’re in such a hostile environment here in Cleveland.

“I love that. It’s going to be great for our team. We’re in for a really hard-fought battle.”

Cubs confident Indians baserunners won't take Jon Lester off his game

Cubs confident Indians baserunners won't take Jon Lester off his game

CLEVELAND - Jon Lester's yips have been on full display this postseason, but it hasn't mattered.

Lester's issues throwing to bases haven't come back to haunt him in his first three October starts, in part because he's only allowed 16 baserunners in 21 innings.

The opposition can't take Lester off his game if they can't steal first base.

The Indians, however, are one of the game's best baserunning teams and had 134 stolen bases in the regular season, good for fourth in Major League Baseball.

And they don't plan to sit idly by when they get on against Lester in Game 1 of the World Series.

"I can't see us changing now because it's the World Series when it's worked (all season)," said Rajai Davis, who is leading off against Lester in Game 1 and stole 43 bases in 49 chances in 2016.

The Cubs understand the Indians have a clear advantage of the basepaths entering this best-of-seven series.

During Media Day at Progressive Field Monday afternoon, Jake Arrieta brought it up unprompted.

"Their stolen base threats are there," he said. "It's just gonna be up to us to control that."


"I think this time of year - the World Series more so than any other time during the regular season - you don't want to give up 90 feet for free," Arrieta said. "We're gonna have to do our best to hold the ball, vary our times [home], pick when we need to and some good throws from the guys behind the plate."

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Arrieta's attitude embodies the Cubs' mentality all year - embracing the pressure instead of running from it.

The Cubs haven't been able to cure Lester's mental block throwing to first base, but they've found ways to minimize the damage.

Sure, runners stole 28 bases off Lester this season, but they've also been caught 13 times thanks in large part to Lester's quick delivery home and David Ross' excellent throwing and pop-up time behind the plate.

The Cubs also boast maybe the best tagger the game has ever seen in Javy Baez at second base.

In his World Series press conference on workout day Monday, the first question Lester fielded was about pitching with runners on and he put all the credit on his defense behind him.

It's not just when guys get on, however. The opposition is also trying to throw Lester off his game by bunting and forcing him to field his position and make throws to first.

FanGraphs reports Lester fielded 20 ground balls or bunts this season and turned 19 of those into outs without one throwing error.

So it's a risk for teams to weigh - do they want to take the bat out of their hitters' hands in trying to bunt and when they do actually reach base, is it worth the risk to try to run on Lester and Ross?

The Los Angeles Dodgers tried to play all kinds of games with Lester and wound up scoring just two runs off him in 13 innings between two games and lost both.

Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo isn't worried about it now, on the nation's biggest stage.

"We have fun with it," Rizzo said. "I think [Lester is] very underrated in that aspect, to where if he wants to, he could pretty much do whatever he wants.

"He's so quick to the plate where he knows that - especially with Rossy behind the plate - he kinda challenges people to run on him. It'll be interesting to see how it plays out."