Did the Chicago Cubs Do Enough Before the Deadline?

Tab BamfordSenior Writer IAugust 1, 2009

CHICAGO - JULY 08: Manager Lou Piniella #41 of the Chicago Cubs paces in the dugout during a game against the Atlanta Braves on July 8, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Braves defeated the Cubs 4-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The non-waiver trade deadline passed on Friday afternoon.

Chicago Cubs' General Manager made one move, trading for left-handed pitchers John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny.

Meanwhile, other National League contenders made significant moves of their own.

The Los Angeles Dodgers traded a couple of their top prospects to the Baltimore Orioles for closer George Sherrill, who moves into a set-up role in front of Jonathan Broxton.

The San Francisco Giants made two moves, acquiring first baseman Ryan Garko from the Cleveland Indians and second baseman Freddy Sanchez from the Pirates for a number of prospects.

The Philadelphia Phillies made perhaps the biggest statement in the National League, moving none of their top five prospects to the Indians for reigning Cy Young winner Cliff Lee, who was spectacular in his first National League start Friday night.

The St. Louis Cardinals made three moves, all of which were consummated before Friday. They brought in veteran infielders Julio Lugo and Mark DeRosa, and then made a bold statement by trading for outfielder Matt Holliday. DeRosa and Holliday have hit everything in sight since being acquired.

While the rest of the National League Central was quiet, the Cubs' moves on Thursday were just part of the evolving picture in Chicago.

The Cubs are hanging around in the division race despite having missed arguably their best hitter, Aramis Ramirez, for two months. It appears that Hendy believes simply adding Ramirez back into the order is the only bat the Cubs need for a stretch run.

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Now manager Lou Piniella has more than one lefty in his bullpen, something Sean Marshall is probably thankful for after holding down the fort for three months. He also needs to find playing time for one of his hottest bats, Jake Fox, in a lineup full of expensive veterans.

Did the Cubs add enough to win either their division or the National League wild card?

Entering the weekend, the Cubs trail the Cardinals by one-half game in the division and both the Giants and Colorado Rockies by one game for the wild card.

The division appears to be a two-team race between the Cubs and Cardinals. The Astros have overachieved all season, but didn't have the money or prospects to make an impact deal and are starting to have health concerns. The Brewers have struggled with their pitching all year and their offense has been inconsistent as well.

While Cubs fans have been reminded regularly that the Cubs have exceptional starting pitching, having the fifth best team ERA (3.77) in the National League, what the Cubs marketing group happens to ignore is that three of the teams of the four better than Chicago are in the playoff hunt: the Giants (first - 3.51), Dodgers (second - 3.59) and Cardinals (fourth - 3.75).

So if the Cubs greatest strength, and foundation for their confidence, is their starting pitching, then is Grabow enough to compensate for two of the teams the Cubs are chasing for October games having statistically better pitching?

The Cubs have also been selling their fans on what the return of Ramirez will mean to their offense. Indeed, the team has seen a significant upgrade to their order with his return, having scored more than 10 runs in six games already since the All-Star Break.

But there are also the dips in performance, the inconsistencies that have become hallmarks of this team all season. The same team that has eclipsed 10 runs in six games have scored three or fewer runs in nine innings five times (one of which ended up a victory when Alfonso Soriano hit an extra-inning walk-off grand slam).

The Cubs are now 11-4 since the break, which has elevated them into the contending position they are in now. The Cardinals are just 8-7 since the break, allowing the Cubs to make up three games in the standings in just a couple weeks. However, since acquiring Holliday the Cardinals are 4-2.

Meanwhile, the Giants have slid to just 7-8 since the break. Whether or not adding a contact hitter in Sanchez and a low average, high distance hitting Garko to their order can propel their offense moving forward.

If the Cubs can continue scoring runs, and Soriano specifically can continue his hot streak since being dropped to sixth in the order, the Cubs could make a serious run at both the division and wild card.

So while there has certainly been more excitement generated by the moves of other teams in the National League, and Chicago itself, the Cubs might be positioned well moving forward for another postseason appearance.

The Cubs will need more consistent offense and their bullpen roles to be more defined with the addition of Grabow to the mix for this team to succeed in August and September. If the bats can be hot, or at least warm, and the pitching continues as it has all year, there's no reason to believe that this underachieving Cubs roster can't make a move in October.


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