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.