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Cubs viewing week before trade deadline as an ‘opportunity’

12 months agoTony Andracki

Will the Cubs buy or sell this year?

You can look at the team’s record, how they’ve played over the last six weeks, their run differential, how many games back they are in the division, where they’re at in the Wild-Card race and on and on.

For the Cubs, it’s very simple: Win games.

If they continue to pile up wins, they will make the decision very easy for Jed Hoyer’s front office.

“I think [this next week] is about winning baseball games,” David Ross said Tuesday evening before the Cubs’ 7-3 win in the first game of the Crosstown Series. “That’s what we’ve gotta do consistently. And we need to rack up Ws.”

The Cubs are now 49-51, 6 games back in the NL Central and 4.5 games out of the last Wild-Card spot.

They’re in the midst of their softest part of the schedule with 13 straight games against teams flirting with last place (Nationals, Cardinals, White Sox).

After losing the series openers on the homestand against Washington and St. Louis, the Cubs battled back to win the rest of the contests, including 3 straight against the Cardinals to close out the week at Wrigley.

That level of play has given the team belief that it can make a run at the playoffs.

However, this next stretch leading up to the deadline looms as important as any games to date. A strong showing will put the Cubs in an even better position in the standings and have them either closer to .500 or getting over that threshold by the time the Aug. 1 deadline comes.

But even a few losses could lead Hoyer and Co. to lean towards selling players like Marcus Stroman and Cody Bellinger.

“There’s no secret. [The deadline] is obviously a real factor in what’s going on right now,” Nico Hoerner said. “The wins this week count the same as the ones in May. All that is true, but the direction the team’s heading in is significant.

“And I think if anything, it can just be seen as an opportunity in this clubhouse. Instead of putting extra pressure on it, it’s just a chance to show who we are and it doesn’t mean doing any more or less than normal. It’s a nice standard to have.”

Over the last six-plus weeks (dating back to June 9), the Cubs are 23-15 with series wins against playoff teams like the Giants, Orioles and Yankees.

They feel like they’re hitting their stride at what could be the right time.

“I think this team has an opportunity — we haven’t really synced up all parts of our game at once and we’ve shown flashes of each,” Hoerner said. “Just continuing to build on some really solid wins in the last couple weeks.

“We haven’t even gone through a stretch where we’ve really swept teams and rattled off consecutive wins and things like that. But I think we’re doing all the right things to make that possible.”

If the Cubs continue on that path here against the White Sox and Cardinals over the next week, they might find themselves in a position to at least keep the group together to go on a run, if not emerge as buyers.

“I guess that’s fun for you all to write about and fun for us to be able to make their job challenging,” Dansby Swanson said. “We’ve been playing really well recently. I love our at-bats, I love the way we’re playing defense and the way the pitching staff’s going. It’s fun to be part of a collective group that believes in one another and is willing to lay it out there each and every night.”

For his part, Ross is certainly looking forward to be done with the “selling” era after watching his roster depleted at the deadline in each of the last two years.

“Yeah, I think that’s part of where we’re at,” Ross said. “The main thing that I go back to is we gotta win baseball games. We’re continuing to work towards championship baseball. It’s not only the playoffs. It’s conditioned to winning a World Series.

“What that big picture looks like is the ultimate goal and how fast can we get there? If it means trading the entire team to win a World Series sooner, that’s the job that’s at hand. I want to win a World Series. I want to be the manager of a World Series team. The guys out there want to win a World Series. That’s what we’re all pushing for.

“How do we do that? We try to win every single game. We try to win every single pitch. That’s what I’m focused on. The more we keep the good players, the closer we are to doing that this season.”

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