As expected, the Chicago Cubs traded several players prior to the MLB trade deadline. Chicago traded Reed Johnson, Geovany Soto, Paul Maholm and Ryan Dempster in an effort to trim salary and acquire prospects. However, since making these trades, the Cubs are playing like they've lost their spirit.
Although there was never any doubt that the Cubs would trade Ryan Dempster, the effect of his loss on Chicago's clubhouse and pitching staff cannot be overstated. By all accounts, Dempster was a leader behind the scenes and helped Chicago's young pitching staff immeasurably.
However, the Cubs need to shake off their depression and start playing ball again. From June 25 through July 30, they were 19-10. Since the trades, Chicago is 0-3. It's time for Dale Sveum to step up and motivate this team to play harder. If Sveum wants to be sitting in Chicago's dugout in 2013, he cannot afford to post a 100-loss season.
Even if Chicago's clubhouse isn't as much fun as it was in July, the Cubs need to get their spark back. Once they get out on the field, they need to think of baseball as a game instead of a business and play like they're in high school again. I'd give anything to have the talent to play baseball in Wrigley Field, even if Ryan Dempster had been traded.
If the Cubs can't recapture the joy of youth, then they should realize their jobs are on the line. I can't think of more than a handful of players whose positions are secure in Chicago. If they don't impress Theo Epstein during August and September, many of these players could find themselves in the minors or plying a new trade in 2013.
Young players like Anthony Rizzo, Darwin Barney, Starlin Castro, Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood have the potential to lead Chicago into a new era. The trades should not deter these players from giving 100 percent every day. If Sveum is not up to the task of motivating this team, then a veteran needs to step up and help this team win.
Even if the Cubs didn't make all those trades, they weren't going to the postseason anyway. They still have an opportunity that millions of fans would love to have. The Cubs need to get out of their funk quickly and play like they did in the middle of the season.
Patrick Michael is a resident of New Orleans, but grew up watching the Chicago Cubs on WGN with Harry Caray and Steve Stone as the announcers. A diehard Cubs fan, Patrick's favorite season was 1984 when the Chicago Cubs were one win away from reaching the World Series. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.
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