The rumor mill keeps on churning, and we’ll have more on it later today, including some thoughts from Theo Epstein. Until then, Bullets …

  • Can the Cubs be competitive … next year? Dale Sveum offered his thoughts: “It’s the starting pitching that’s going to dictate anything. You get quality starting pitching, I think our offense is going to gradually get better and better. But I think when you go into the season, you’ll still put a competitive team together. You have to have all the pieces, though. You can’t have one offense, no bullpen, one starting pitcher. You have to have three or four quality starting pitchers. You have to have a back end of a bullpen when you do get those wins. So it’s a whole combination of things you have to put together during the winter that when you go into Opening Day next year, you’ve got those pieces hopefully put together.” It’s kind of a sobering conversation to be having in July of the preceding year, but, hey, that’s where we are.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer notes that Samardzija will take on increased importance if and when Ryan Dempster (and Matt Garza) is traded, and Samardzija says he’s ready. ‘‘I understand what my role is with this team and what it’s going to be in the future, and I’m really ­trying to do everything I can today so down the road when you are relied upon, you’re ready to take the reins and do what you’ve got to do,” Samardzija said. “Is that the situation you want? Obviously, I want to be the guy, but it also would be nice to have Dempster or Garza throwing in front of you or behind you.’’
  • Darwin Barney continues to draw rave reviews for his defense at second base, the latest coming from Ozzie Guillen. A Gold Glove is really becoming a possibility.
  • Randy Wells went on the Iowa Cubs’ DL yesterday with an elbow strain. Apparently it’s been bothering him for some time, and it reached the point where he couldn’t pitch through it. Maybe that explains some of his struggles this year. Hopefully it’s not serious.
  • As noted in the Minor League Daily, a couple of Cubs’ minor leaguers – Dominican Summer Leaguers whom you’ve never heard of – were suspended for 50 games after testing positive for PEDs. Juancito De La Cruz, 19, and Antonio Encarnacion, 20, are both right-handed pitchers. The former was pitching poorly this year, and the latter hadn’t pitched at all this year.
  • The Chicago Cubs are the 36th most valuable sports franchise in the world, behind a few soccer clubs and a whole bunch of football teams. They were behind the Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers, in MLB. The team is valued at $879 million (and Forbes notes the $580 million in debt that was used to finance the original purchase – who took on the debt? The Ricketts children, not Joe Ricketts).
  • Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis threw out the first pitch and announced the Cubs’ lineup yesterday. It was kind of funny, or, at least, the tiny bit of the replay I saw was kind of funny.
  • Take a few deep breaths before you read this one. Tony Campana and Anthony Rizzo, each a childhood cancer survivor, visited patients at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital for a couple hours yesterday. “Sometimes, we’d go into a room and just say hi, cheer them up,” Rizzo said. “Other times, we’d talk to them a little more and tell them Tony and I are both survivors and what we went through, and we know it’s not fun. Kids were sitting there getting chemotherapy as we’re talking to them. We just tell them to have fun.”


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