Top Prospects: Javier Baez, SS, Cubs

BOSTON -- Monday was the Cubs' 81st game and marked the halfway point in their season. And for the third straight year since Jed Hoyer became the general manager and Theo Epstein took over as president of baseball operations, the team has a losing record.

"I wish the conversation was more about being a buyer than a seller," Hoyer said Monday, looking ahead to the non-waiver Trade Deadline. "That will be a great position for us, and a milestone for us when we get to that point when we're talking about extending a window of being really good instead of trying to create something for the future.

"I think we're happy with the progress we've made," Hoyer said. "I think there are a lot of positive things to talk about."

That would include the performances by first baseman Anthony Rizzo and shortstop Starlin Castro, and the young talent in the system, including top prospects Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Albert Almora among others.

Hoyer agreed with Epstein that overhauling the organization was the only path to take.

"I do feel you can be happy with the progress and see good things along the way," Hoyer said, "but ultimately, this is a performance-based game and this is about winning on the field."

Which is something the Cubs have not been able to do since 2009. Hoyer and Epstein are hoping the Cubs can someday celebrate the way the Red Sox did in 2004 with a World Series championship.

"Where the similarities are is this was a place that had the narrative of being unable to win, having the narrative of having a curse," Hoyer said of the Red Sox. "I think when you watched the team last year, the last thing you thought about was a curse. They got past it and had the best team and they won a World Series.

"I still look at this place as the perfect blueprint for what we're trying to do," he said. "We want to build a team of great homegrown players who can climb that mountain and defeat that narrative and bring something that will make Chicago very proud."

Hoyer and Epstein both returned to Boston earlier this year to celebrate a reunion of the 2004 team.

"After all that's happened, you forget just how monumental that team was for the city and the culture here and the organization to break through," Hoyer said. "We want to build that team. They call them here the '25' -- the guys who won the first one. We want to build the '25' in Chicago."

Back in Boston, Rizzo making bid for All-Star Game

CIN@CHC: Rizzo opens the scoring with solo homer

BOSTON -- Anthony Rizzo watched the World Series last year, but says he didn't think for a minute that it could've been him playing first base for the Red Sox.

Rizzo came up through Boston's system, but he was dealt to the Padres in December 2010 for Adrian Gonzalez. The Cubs then acquired Rizzo in January 2012.

"If I was the [Red Sox] first baseman last year, I'd have a nice shiny ring on," Rizzo said Monday. "As a kid, even when you get drafted, you play for an organization, but you play for the other teams out there. You just have that organization's name on you. I know first hand -- you're playing for a lot of other teams as well."

It was tough for Rizzo to be traded. He admits he felt "untouchable," and he has some bad memories from his days in Boston. He was diagnosed in April 2008 with limited stage classical Hodgkin's lymphoma.

"We passed [Massachusetts] General Hospital, and I didn't think it would, but it brought back a few knots in my stomach," Rizzo said of one of the places he had treatment.

Rizzo passed the facility on his way to do a Boston Ducks tour, his third in Boston. Life is good now. The first baseman has 14 homers since April 30, the most in the National League in that stretch. He's one of the Cubs' candidates for the All-Star Game, to be played July 15.

Manager Rick Renteria was in the Padres' organization when they acquired Rizzo, and he said they could see the first baseman's potential then.

"I think when we got him, everybody was extremely happy to have him there because he could develop into part of the future," Renteria said. "As long as he continues to perform and adjust, we're hopeful he'll have a very, very good career."

But Rizzo, who watches the World Series every year, doesn't have that ring.

"You respect it," Rizzo said. "You respect whoever wins, and it doesn't matter if it's the Cardinals or a team we don't play, like the Red Sox. You respect that they had a goal in Spring Training, and they got better every day and they won their division, which is not easy to do here, and they won the playoffs.

"I still get chills watching the reactions from the guys," he said. "It's something I just respect how hard it is to get to that point, and I don't even know how hard it is."

Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday at 10:59 p.m. CT. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15.

Fans may submit up to 25 online ballots, but they can also earn a one-time bonus of 10 additional online ballots. To access these additional online ballots, you must be logged into your MLB.com account when you submit any online ballot. If you do not have an MLB.com account, register on the site in accordance with the enrollment instructions for a free MLB.com account.

Fans this year once again can participate in the Home Run Derby Fan Poll. Fans will have the opportunity to select three players in each league who they would most like to see participate in the Gillette Home Run Derby. The 2014 Home Run Derby will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio in the United States beginning at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 14.

The 2014 American League and NL All-Star teams will be unveiled on the Taco Bell All-Star Selection Show on Sunday, beginning at 6 p.m. on ESPN, with further details to follow on MLB.com. Immediately following the announcement of the AL and NL All-Star rosters, fans can begin voting to select the final player for each league's 34-man roster via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian. Fans will cast their votes from a list of five players from each league over the balloting period.

And the voting doesn't end there. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.

MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.

The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.

McLeod no longer candidate for Padres' GM job

Jason McLeod aspires to be a general manager one day.

BOSTON -- Cubs senior vice president of scouting and player development Jason McLeod said Monday he has removed himself from consideration for the Padres' general manager job, even though it was a tempting offer to consider.

"I'm very humbled and flattered that the Padres were interested," McLeod said Monday. "[The Padres are] my hometown team and it's always been kind of a dream job for me, but as I got to sit and reflect and think about it, this is just where I want to be right now.

"We've got so many good things going on, and it'll sound corny, but we've put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this. I just really believe in the vision and the direction, and I really want to be here when we win."

McLeod was the Padres' assistant general manager before joining the Cubs and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein in fall 2011.

"Being a GM is something I certainly hope to do in the near future," McLeod said, "but right now, I felt this is where I want to be."

McLeod said he contacted Padres team president Mike Dee recently.

"Those jobs are coveted, and like I said, it's something I aspire to do," McLeod said. "We have a special thing going on here [with the Cubs]. I don't mean this to sound corny, but I truly believe that. I want to be a part of this and I want to see this through to fruition. I think we'll be really good in the next couple years."

The Cubs are counting on several players in the Minor League system to have an impact, such as recent Draft picks Albert Almora, Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber.

Extra bases

Emilio Bonifacio, on the disabled list since June 13 with a right oblique strain, was rehabbing in Mesa, Ariz., at the Cubs' complex. There is no timetable for his return.

• Outfielder Jorge Soler, slowed this season by hamstring injuries, was scheduled to play nine innings for the Cubs' Rookie League team in Mesa on Tuesday, and he could rejoin Double-A Tennessee soon, said Hoyer.

Ryan Sweeney was the designated hitter Monday, and Renteria said they'll talk about who to insert there for the rest of the series.

• Four players in the Cubs' Minor League system were honored as players of the week in their respective leagues, including Triple-A Iowa infielder/outfielder Arismendy Alcantara, named Pacific Coast League hitter of the week, and No. 1 Draft pick Kyle Schwarber, who was honored by the Midwest League.

Double-A Tennessee pitcher Dae-Eun Rhee was named Southern League Pitcher of the Week. Rhee was 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA in two starts, striking out 13 over 12 2/3 innings.

Kane County's Daury Torrez was named Midwest League pitcher of the week after he threw eight shutout innings against Wisconsin last Thursday, striking out seven. Torrez is 8-3 with a 3.14 ERA in 14 starts this season.