Will Dempster be dealt before the trade deadline?

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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.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Cubs visit White House as World Series champions

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Cubs visit White House as World Series champions

On the latest edition of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, David Kaplan is joined by David Haugh (Chicago Tribune) and Jason Goch (SB Nation Radio) to discuss the Cubs' visit to the White House.

The guys reflect on the historic day and Theo Epstein's speech. Then, the panel breaks down the Packers' impressive run and question whether it's okay for Bears fans to appreciate Aarond Rodgers and company.

Finally, are the Wild the Blackhawks' biggest threat come playoff time?

Listen to the SportsTalk Live podcast below.

 

Does Cubs president Theo Epstein have a future in politics?

Does Cubs president Theo Epstein have a future in politics?

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama has a job for Theo Epstein whenever the Cubs executive gets bored or starts to feel restless and wants to think about life beyond baseball.  

After building up the Boston Red Sox and turning around the Cubs, how about Epstein using his leadership skills, analytical personality, sense of conviction and Ivy League education to save the Democratic Party?    

"His job is to quench droughts – 86 years in Boston, 108 in Chicago," Obama said during Monday's White House ceremony honoring the World Series champs. "He takes the reins of an organization that's wandering in the wilderness and delivers them to the promised land. I talked to him about being DNC chair."

Epstein stood behind the president doing a cut-it gesture and that became one of many laugh lines during an entertaining Obama speech that lasted more than 20 minutes and took place against the backdrop of Donald Trump's looming administration. Epstein – who headlined a Lincoln Park fundraiser during the 2012 reelection campaign and attended the president's farewell address last week at McCormick Place – doesn't see his future in politics.

At least "not as a candidate or an elected official," Epstein said during a media scrum afterward. "But I think there are a lot of ways that we can all impact our communities without necessarily running for office."

Epstein – a private person who would never want to subject his young family to that kind of scrutiny – looked like official Washington in a navy blue suit and a striped silver-and-blue tie. He delivered his own speech in the East Room, beginning it by saying "what a tough act to follow."

"We know you may have certain allegiances to another team on the other side of town," Epstein said to the world's most famous White Sox fan. "But we know you're a very proud Chicagoan. And we know your better, wiser half – the first lady – has been a lifelong and very loyal Cub fan, which we appreciate very much.

"Of course, we have great faith in your intelligence, your common sense, your pragmatism, your ability to recognize a good thing when you see one.

"So Mr. President, with only a few days remaining in your tremendous presidency, we have taken the liberty here today of offering you a midnight pardon.

"And so we welcome you with open arms."

This formal ceremony sounded personal for Epstein, who led the presentation giving Obama white and gray No. 44 jerseys, a 44 Wrigley Field scoreboard panel, a lifetime pass to the iconic stadium and an autographed W flag to someday fly at his presidential library on the South Side.  

"Everyone – no matter where you fall politically – can appreciate the dignity with which he served the country," Epstein said. "He did an unbelievable job handling the office and raising his family while here. I think, across the board, folks would agree that he's very dignified and brought a lot of integrity to the office. It was our pleasure to thank him for that today."

[RELATED: 'Among Sox fans, I'm the Cubs' No. 1 fan']

The DNC – or whatever Epstein does for his next act – will have to wait. Before that epic playoff run began, the Cubs locked up Epstein with a five-year deal believed to be worth in the neighborhood of $50 million, putting the future Hall of Fame executive in position to make another trip to the White House with a championship team.          

"Good thing I signed a contract with (chairman) Tom Ricketts," Epstein said. "He was kicking me, saying I can’t leave. It was a kind offer, though."