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The Cubs Are Showing Signs of Life (For Now)

By Rob Winn in News on Jul 9, 2012 8:20PM

2012_4_9_cubs_logo.jpg The Cubs finished the first half of the season beating the Mets 7-0 Sunday, rounding out a strong road trip where they won four of their last seven games and 9 of their last 14. Things started out rough this season, but as this year has moved along this Cubs team have actually started to look respectable. Rookie Anthony Rizzo has solidified the middle of the lineup and so far has lived up to the lofty expectations that came with being the first major deal of the Theo Epstien/Jed Hoyer era. Starlin Castro's batting average dipped recently but he is beginning to take more pitches and work the count more regularity. Down the line, that will surely help him in his new role as the second hitter in the lineup. Slowly but surely, the fingerprints of the new front office have begun to show up across the board.

Cubs fans might want to remember this recent stretch because Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza will likely find themselves on new teams after the July 31 trade deadline. Dempster helped out his trade value Sunday by extending his scoreless innings streak to 27 innings and lowering his ERA to 1.99. He showed no signs of rust after his stint on the disabled list, proving to possible teams that he is healthy and can help them make a playoff run.

Garza is possibly a more attractive option for contending teams, considering he is only 28 and proven that he can win in the vaunted AL East. Even though he has had a few shaky outings recently, Garza's talent is always there and teams looking for a long-term solution will happily give up several young prospects to get him. So far, possible suitors include the Tigers, Blue Jays, Yankees as well as several others.

Once the Cubs trade their top two starting pitchers, they'll have a hard time keeping up their recent string of playing over .500. Most likely Casey Coleman and Randy Wells will take their spots for the time being. Cubs fans know what to expect from those two and, for the most part, it's not good.

Even though the Cubs will be hovering around last place in the NL Central, the rest of the season should be entertaining. It will be interesting to see Rizzo make adjustments as the league starts to figure out his strengths and weaknesses. And watching Rizzo and Castro at the top of the lineup will be a sign of the future and make losing sting a little less. Plus after the roster expands Sept. 1, fans will get a look at a few other prospects to see what the Cubs have in the pipeline and what they were able to bring back to the team through trades.

Even though they aren't contending, this team has played hard and the new direction of the organization is evident. The emphasis on taking pitches and shifting the defense to account for hitting charts has been on display all year. And although they're still 19 games under .500, they are entertaining and at least showing signs of playing fundamental baseball.

Things are slowly pointing up at Clark and Addison, which should give Cubs fans something to be happy about. That and the fact they still serve beer at Wrigley Field.