Fresh off a second-half opening win on Thursday night, Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster knows that trade rumors are a reality of the business.
He also knows of one way the scuttlebutt surrounding the movement of several of his teammates will subside -- a prolonged win streak.
"I think, as a player the only thing you can control is going out and playing," said Dempster on Friday's "Waddle & Silvy Show."
"The politically correct answer is 'yes,' all we can do is go out there and win one game at a time. But the reality is we have to win as many series as possible. I looked at it today and I was thinking all it takes is gaining one game a week for the rest of the year and you can win your division ... that's all we need to do is gain one game on the Reds or one game on the Cardinals every week. We have a lot of games against both those teams -- especially the Cardinals. We just have to play good baseball. It's going to take 50 wins or so from here on out to go out there and win this division, and we're capable of doing it. We have the guys here to do it and you look at how Aramis [Ramirez] has been lately, and he's been a huge spark to the middle of our lineup to drive in runs. The reality is it's time to put up or shut up."
Thus far, the Cubs are 2-0 after going 39-50 in a disappointing first half of the season. That subpar record has caused much speculation that the Cubs are going to be sellers before the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline.
Dempster and his teammates are doing their best to tune out any conjecture.
"We can't control the rumors about whether or not somebody's getting traded or is this guy going somewhere? The only thing we can do is if we win as many games as possible," Dempster said.
The starter of Friday's contest, Ted Lilly, might be the Cubs player drawing the most interest. ESPN's Bruce Levine has reported that a number of teams -- including the Mets, Twins, Tigers and Dodgers -- have expressed interest in Lilly.
Dempster is hopeful Lilly will remain in Chicago.
"I've always said if you had five Ted Lillys in your starting rotation, you'd have the best rotation in baseball," Dempster said. "The heart the guys has ... what he does is he goes out there every fifth day and he's prepared. Win or lose, he's the same guy. He puts [in] the preparation that he needs to, and he's got the heart of a champion. And he goes out there and gives everything he's got every fifth day, and he leads by example. He's been a tremendous teammate and hopefully he'll be here not just this year but past this year."
With Friday's result the Cubs notched their first back-to-back wins in nearly a month. Dempster's next scheduled outing is this coming Tuesday against the Astros.