CHICAGO -- The Cubs feel they have enough talent on the roster to catch the Brewers in the second half but added a new piece to the rotation on Thursday, acquiring lefty Jose Quintana from the White Sox.Both Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and manager Joe Maddon stressed
CHICAGO -- The Cubs feel they have enough talent on the roster to catch the Brewers in the second half but added a new piece to the rotation on Thursday, acquiring lefty Jose Quintana from the White Sox.
Both Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and manager Joe Maddon stressed that the answer to getting the team on a good roll is better performances by the current roster.
• Cubs land Quintana for 4 prospects
"They showed it the last two years that they're championship caliber," Maddon said of the Cubs. "I'm not interested in the trade market now. I believe the answers are in our room -- we just have to get it out of our guys. You have to use some foresight. Because they are skillful and young and a lot of them have not reached their level of capabilities -- I work from a scout's perspective, and I see a lot of potential with our guys."
The Cubs have underachieved offensively -- and were nowhere near the run differential numbers they posted last season -- and haven't been as consistent as far as the starting pitchers. Quintana should give the rotation a boost.
Chicago ended the first half with a 14-3 loss to the Pirates and sits 5 1/2 games behind the Brewers in the National League Central. The Cubs are even further back in the NL Wild Card race, 7 1/2 games behind the Rockies.
"I don't think there's any one person in here with the exception of Wade Davis and [C.J. Edwards] who hasn't had an up-and-down period in the first half," Benjamin Zobrist said. "Everybody knows there's a lot more we can bring out in the second half."
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Last year, the Cubs made a big splash when they dealt top prospect Gleyber Torres to the Yankees for Albertin Chapman. Epstein has stressed he wanted to acquire controllable pitching, and Quintana fills that. He's under team control through 2020. The Cubs did need pitching help, especially for the rotation with Jacob Arrieta and John Lackey both free agents after this season.
WHAT ARE THEY PLAYING FOR?
The NL Central title is within reach. Maddon has managed teams that have faced deficits and rallied, including his 2010 Rays, who were four games back on July 23 and captured the American League East. The last team to repeat as World Series champions was the Yankees (1998-2000), and no NL team has done so since the Reds in 1975-76.
THE ROAD AHEAD
The Cubs have nine games remaining against the Brewers, one more series against the Nationals and six games against the D-backs, but the bulk of their second-half games will be against sub-.500 teams. The good news for the Cubs is that of the 74 games remaining, 37 are against Central foes, and the Cubs are 22-17 against teams within their division.
Kyle Schwarber was projected as the Cubs' leadoff man, but he batted .185 in 36 games there. After playing 11 games with Triple-A Iowa to reset, Schwarber rejoined the Cubs and needs to find his World Series mojo. Maddon admitted he may have expected too much from Schwarber, who missed the majority of the 2016 regular season because of a knee injury.
PROSPECTS TO WATCH
With the decision in late June to trade veteran Miguel Montero, the Cubs are relying on Victor Caratini as their backup. That's asking a lot of the 23-year-old catcher, who made his Major League debut June 28. Maddon likes Caratini's swing and how he's interacted with the pitchers. Caratini headed into the All-Star break on a high note, going 3-for-3 on Sunday for his first big league hits.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.