Pitching is key to a Cubs' turnaround

Changes will be made with the Chicago Cubs in the second half as general manager Jim Hendry will try to add some pitching in the organization before the trading deadline July 31, and into August during the waiver period.

Hendry also will try to promote some of the good, young players in the organization.

Besides the disappointment of the Cubs' starters -- fewest innings pitched, second-worst ERA -- the team's top minor league players have had some injuries and issues with a lack of innings pitched.

But Cubs fans can look forward to two young prospects being up by August or September, centerfielder Brett Jackson and multi-position player Ryan Flaherty appear on the fast track. Both were promoted to Triple-A Iowa during the All-Star break.

Jackson, a five-tool player, most likely will be the Cubs centerfielder to open 2012.

Flaherty has played every position except pitcher and catcher this season and fits into the versatile type of player the Cubs are trying to develop in the minors.

Vice president of player personnel Oneri Fleita has told his player development people to move players from position to position if they are athletic enough to handle the workload.

On the major league level, Mike Quade pointed at his pitchers to lead a turnaround in the second half.

"It starts with our top three pitchers," Quade said. "[Ryan] Dempster, [Carlos] Zambrano and [Matt] Garza must pitch well for us. Dempster had a hell of a June until he got sick, he needs to continue that. Z has been pretty good all year. Garza has had his ups and downs, but overall he's been OK.

"Add Randy Wells to that, we need him to improve his game. We get all that and we'll be better."

The Cubs' run producers like Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena must be productive in the second half while Kosuke Fukudome, Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro must set the table.

Castro probably will begin to hit for more power and solidify his grip on the third spot in the lineup. Unfortunately for the Cubs, Castro is Quade's best first-place, second-place and third-place hitter.

For improvement in the second half, it's imperative that Hendry pulls the deal on some smart deals. Those are the deals where you trade people who are not on your radar for 2012 and beyond. Fukudome, John Grabow and possibly Pena fit into that scenario.

The problem of trading Pena is that leaves a gaping hole in your run production, and it's possible that void won't be able to be filled in the second half or the offseason.

Two other key areas to watch are the general manager and manager's positions. Quade understands that when a team underachieves his job will be under scrutiny.

"Can't worry about it," he said. "I concern myself with doing my job as manager every day. That's all I can do, I understand the other stuff. And with Jim, I guess I shouldn't speak for him, but I'm sure it's the same way with him. You go out every day, put your [job status] aside and do the best you can for your organization."

Quade and Hendry each have a contract that runs through 2012.

The near future of the club is in the hands of Hendry and Quade, the long-term future is in the hands of Tom Ricketts, who must decide at some point soon if he believes he has the right mix in his baseball department.

Or he'll have to make some changes.