CINCINNATI — It’s no secret the next four weeks might mean a lot in terms of the Cubs’ future — in the short term and long term.
Coming off a humbling sweep at the hands of the Brewers that pushed them six games back in the National League Central, the Cubs find themselves in a precarious position.
After a tough June in which they went 12-16 and finished the month on a six-game losing streak, the Cubs limp into what might be their most important month of the next couple of seasons, considering the implications it might have on their long-term future.
The Cubs’ front office must decide what to do with the team’s core after the recent stretch put them in such a hole and when it might be time to pull the trigger on a trade or two.
”The honest answer to that is July 30,” president Jed Hoyer said Friday in Cincinnati. ”I think we have to prepare. We have to have a lot of internal discussions. But it doesn’t mean you make a decision on either side of the ledger before that. We do have all that time, in some ways.
”But in terms of preparation, obviously internally, we have to make sure that we’re prepared to do both and prepare to make the best decisions as an organization.”
The Cubs didn’t play their best baseball in June, and there are clear areas of concern on a team with hopes of winning a division. But the number of injuries they endured and the brutal schedule they played in the month make evaluating their recent stretch a little more challenging for Hoyer and the front office.
Still, it will be a balancing act for management to determine what was a product of a difficult month and what are legitimate deficiencies.
”We’ve witnessed some deep slumps [on offense] like this in the past, and that’s sort of the frustration,” Hoyer said. ”It brings us back to some struggles in other years when we haven’t been able to score without a home run. I think we did a better job at the end of that Milwaukee series, but we have got to get on base more.
”Of all the things I’ve been frustrated with over the course of the month is the lack of walks. That is probably guys who are trying to swing their way out of slumps a little bit, and I think that has gotten us into some trouble.”
If the Cubs are going to get back into the division race before the All-Star break, they have to start immediately. Their next 19 games are against opponents with a combined record of 140-183 entering play Friday. If there was a time for the Cubs to make something happen, it would be right now.
”I think there’s a sense of urgency,” Hoyer said. ”These guys are aware of the importance of this month and the importance of digging into that lead. You can’t make that up with a snap of the fingers, but you have to gradually claw back in some games and start playing well.
”I think you have to see the big picture and look at it that way. You can’t go up and down or buy and sell with every game or every two games. It’s not the way to make good decisions. . . . But you take a step back and try to assess things as it relates to the larger picture.”