CHICAGO -- A year ago at the July 31 Trade Deadline, the Cubs dealt two of their starters, lost another to injury, and then shut down another in early September. They had to scramble to fill in the gaps.
This year, the Cubs have already traded one starter -- Scott Feldman -- and Matt Garza could also change uniforms. But this year, the Cubs feel they are better prepared to handle the moves.
"There's no question the pitching staff we ran out there in September was short," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Wednesday. "I think we feel a lot better about that. We have more depth in the Minor Leagues, more depth on the Major League roster. It was hard to watch [last year]. ... Shutting down [Jeff] Samardzija was incredibly hard because we didn't have anyone to fill in for him."
The Cubs expect Scott Baker, who has been rehabbing from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, to be ready in about a month. Jake Arrieta, acquired from the Orioles in the Feldman deal, also could start. Plus, they already have Carlos Villanueva, who has gone from the rotation to the 'pen and back to the rotation.
Chris Rusin and Brooks Raley, who both made their Major League debuts last season, also have another year of experience.
"There's obviously no question we're much more equipped than last year," manager Dale Sveum said.
Garza is the prime pitcher on the trade market, and Hoyer acknowledged that he has received a lot of interest.
"There's obviously a lot of incoming phone calls," Hoyer said. "There's a lot about Matt, obviously, but a lot about other players on the team, too. I think in general in the game, phone traffic has picked up. I feel there's a lot of interest in our players. The team is playing well, and a lot of our individual players are playing well. I think that's a big part of it."
Scouts are keeping an eye on closer Kevin Gregg and outfielder Nate Schierholtz.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.