The Chicago Cubs are 19 games under .500 at the All-Star break.
Yet many of their eternally optimistic fans see reasons for hope right now. For one, the Cubs vaulted themselves out of the National League Central basement by taking two of three games from the Mets just as the first half of the season came to a close. Chicago won nine of their last 13 games before the break, as the franchise and their fans look to reach modest goals during the second half of the season.
Players and the staff openly admit that the team would like to simply play .500 ball after the break. The eye is clearly on the future, and the prime goal appears to be achieving respectability again. The Cubs are on their way to shedding the pushover label if their recent play is a true indication. But the roster could be somewhat revamped very soon, and a reworked roster may have to take on the challenge of maintaining consistency, especially in the win-loss columns.
With young standouts such as Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro set to be the centerpieces of the team for many years to come, the Cubs can certainly look forward with confidence beyond 2012.
Veteran pitchers Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza could bring some interesting returns in the trade market. Players such as All-Star Bryan LaHair may also be sent away. It’s far from a secret that the Cubs are looking to restock and concentrate on playing detail-oriented baseball under the steady hand of first-year manager Dale Sveum during the remainder of the 2012 campaign. This team won’t threaten anyone, but will move forward with a patient approach in the present while the new management team of President Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer focus on the years that lie ahead.
Listen to interviews with Anthony Rizzo, Bryan LaHair, Dale Sveum and more over at TheXLog.