No help wanted? Joe Maddon says answers for .500 Cubs are in-house
NEW YORK — Cubs president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer make no secret of their plans to pursue pitching as they move on from this week’s draft and head toward the July 31 trade deadline.
But after the team’s hitting woes sunk to the point Tuesday that manager Joe Maddon used Anthony Rizzo as his seventh leadoff man, is it time to add a bat to the summer wish list?
Maybe. But that doesn’t mean the Cubs will do it.
“I think the bats are here, I honestly do,” Maddon said before his Rizzo experiment paid off with a home run leading off the game to jump-start a 14-3 rout of the Mets at Citi Field.
“We have not performed at our level yet offensively, but I believe our bats are here. With good health and everybody being able to participate, there’s enough offense out there.”
Maddon noted Jason Heyward’s offensive uptick this season and rattled off the names of several players in his lineup with recent track records of production: Addison Russell, Kris Bryant, Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Kyle Schwarber.
“They still haven’t achieved what they’re capable of this year,” Maddon said. “So there’s a lot still in that group. I really believe in our guys. We’re hitting young, but we’ll get through that.”
Even with the blowout victory behind seven impressive innings from Jon Lester, the Cubs’ rotation remains the area of clearest need as the trading season kicks off.
Lester allowed only five hits and a run — three hits in six scoreless innings after the first. It lowered the rotation’s ERA to 4.68.
But Maddon won’t lobby for help.
“I am not hoping for anything,” he said when asked about the front office’s efforts to add pitching. “I really support what we have right here.
“Theo and Jed are going to constantly look for whatever they perceive to be upgrading our team. So if it happens, wonderful, based on their evaluation. If it doesn’t, my job is to make this work.”
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