By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — The buzz around Wrigley Field and the youthful Cubs players who are starting to make their presence felt has been creating a stir that hasn’t been missed by president of baseball operations Theo Epstein.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Weekend Warmup
Along with general manager Jed Hoyer, Epstein has been enjoying the competitive way manager Joe Maddon’s charges have battled through the first quarter of the season. With that in mind, the question of whether the Cubs would be willing to use some of that good young talent to make a deal to better position themselves to win it all this season can’t be easily answered yet.
“Certainly there are some players who are fundamental to your plan that are keepers,” Epstein said of the organization’s willingness to part company with raw talent for present needs. “There are other players who are more movable because you may have some organization depth. You may have a redundancy at certain positions. You have to decide if players bring more back in a trade than they if they are providing immediate returns.”
Epstein and his club are ahead of schedule in competing in the always evolving National League. Chicago has the fifth-best record, with better than a sample size of games already in the books.
“Nobody is excited about playing the Cubs anymore,” a National League top executive said. “We really thought the past four years it was a layup to beat them in a series. Now they have firepower and improved starting pitching. They play to the last out.”READ MORE: Northwestern Alums Create 'The Seeker,' A Highly Accurate Football Thrower They Call A Robotic QB
After hiring Maddon and spending $155 million on Jon Lester last offseason, Epstein said it was time for his team to compete for the playoffs. With a solid 25-20 start entering Wednesday evening’s game against Washington, the question still needs to be asked about dealing young talent.
Are the Cubs ready to pounce on a veteran or two on a more short-term basis that could impact 2015, at the expense of a young stud?
“You must always try and balance short- and long-term interests,” Epstein said. “We have a fairly competitive team, and we have some needs. You don’t ignore that, but you also do not just add across the board. There is an ebb and flow to it. Opportunities must present themselves. It is not the thing where you just barge the door down. That is not the dynamic (to trades). It never has been, it never will be.”
Epstein and Hoyer have been looking for more pitching help, according to baseball sources. They have checked about bullpen guys with some of the teams that have fared poorly so far. Pitching all the way around will be their focus moving forward.
“We will continue to work hard and be ready to capitalize when an opportunity presents itself,” Epstein said.MORE NEWS: Cariacature Artist, Substitute Teacher Says She Keeps Trying To Reach Illinois Unemployment Office -- Only To Have Calls Dropped
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.