The Rundown: Cubs 1 Game Back of Wild Card, Dan Haren and Tommy Hunter Added for Depth, Padres Decide Not to Sell

This season has been filled with tight ballgames, so last night’s 4-1 win almost felt like a laugher. If the Cubs would like to start winning some games by large margins, I’d be just fine with that.

The win, coupled with a Giants loss, puts the Cubs only one game out of the second wild card spot. The Cubs’ offense looks like it might be heating up, and the Brewers roster is pretty depleted now post-deadline. A sweep against Milwaukee would be nice.

Cubs at the deadline

After a week filled with big names all over the league changing teams, yesterday — deadline day — was fairly quiet. The Cubs made two moves, picking up a fifth starter (Dan Haren) and a bullpen piece (Tommy Hunter).

Both moves are relatively minor, but they make sense. Haren is an upgrade over the current fifth starter problem, something the Cubs have been trying to figure out since Spring Training. Hunter should help provide some more reliability in the bullpen.

Neither deal cost the Cubs much, either.

Theo Epstein said before last night’s game that the Cubs were pursuing two players that ended up not being moved, writes Jesse Rogers. This quote from Epstein sums up why I’m happy with what the Cubs did at the deadline:

“[Would we] have liked to hit a HR of a deal? Absolutely. If you’re dead set on making a big deal for the sake of making a big deal you make a bad deal. We explored everything very aggressively. Came close but we still have that talent in the organization.”

While it definitely would have been fun if the Cubs had pulled off a big deal with the Padres, as rumored, I’m sure San Diego was asking for more than the Cubs were willing to give up. And I’m totally OK with that.

Biggest surprise

If you had told me a few days ago that the Cubs and Padres wouldn’t get together on any kind of deal before the deadline, I wouldn’t have been shocked. However, if you had told me the Padres wouldn’t have made ANY significant trades with any other team, I wouldn’t have believed you.

Jayson Stark does a good job of breaking down what the Padres could have been thinking by not pulling the trigger on any trades. The Padres publicly said they are now “going or it,” and Stark points out how difficult it’s going to be for them to snag a playoff spot.

What a mess this year’s Padres team has turned out to be. It just goes to show how dangerous it can be when you try and fix your team in one offseason with free-agent signings and risky trades.

The biggest move on trade deadline day was probably the Tigers sending outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to the Mets. As the team directly behind the Cubs in the wild card race, the Mets definitely improved with a number of moves.

But will Cespedes be enough to put their offense over the edge? I’m not so sure.

Some other moves from yesterday:

* The Cardinals boosted their bullpen depth (as if they needed any more) by obtaining Jonathan Broxton from the Brewers.

* The Pirates acquired IF/OF Michael Morse and lefty starter J.A. Happ.

* The Blue Jays picked up outfielder Ben Revere from the Phillies. Boy, the Jays are really going all out this year.

Other notes

* To make room on the 40-man roster after acquiring both Dan Haren and Tommy Hunter, the Cubs designated RHP Ben Rowen for assignment. They’re going to need to open a spot on the 25-man roster as well — I’d expect Yoervis Medina to be sent down to Triple-A, but we’ll see.

* Anthony Rizzo homered last night for the third game in a row. Funny how the Cubs have been winning once Rizzo has begun to heat up, isn’t it?

* Starlin Castro is glad to have made it past the trade deadline. The shortstop admitted after last night’s game that the trade rumors were starting to get to him, writes Jesse Rogers. “I was a little frustrated thinking about this. Now it’s over, (I can) just try and finish my season strong,” Castro said. Hopefully now Castro can relax and start heating up at the plate. He had a hit and two RBIs last night, and one of his outs was a hard-hit line drive.

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