(670 The Score) Being traded from the MLB-worst Tigers to the championship-contending Cubs reinvigorated outfielder Nick Castellanos, who has fit in well quickly in Chicago.
Beyond that, it also meant a lot to the Cubs beyond just his production and box score numbers.
"Castellanos in particular is reminding everyone around here what hunger looks like," President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein said on the Bernstein & McKnight Show on Thursday. "That's not a criticism of anybody else, but I think he did come in with a real focus on showing up, doing everything possible to prepare, go out and put his best foot forward and the team's best foot forward and win on a given day and have fun while doing it."
At the time of the Cubs' acquisition of Castellanos on the afternoon of July 31 just minutes before the trade deadline, they trailed the Cardinals by one game in the NL Central. They've since gone 6-2, including a 5-1 homestand, to open up a three-game lead over the second-place Brewers and a 3.5-game lead over the third-place Cardinals.
Castellanos has played in each of the Cubs' seven games since he joined the team, and he's hitting .379 (11-of-29) with six doubles, one homer, three RBIs and six runs. He has also posted a .400 on-base percentage while hitting in the No. 2 spot.
Epstein mentioned he didn't want to "overstate" Castellanos' impact given the all-around quality play of the Cubs in the past week, but he also explained that sometimes an outside force is what it takes to spark at this point of the season.
"Sometimes it's hard to get that from the status quo," Epstein said. "With the right jolt from the outside, you can have a real catalytic effect and change the whole mood around the club, change the environment a little bit and maybe get better results," Epstein said. "Hopefully that carries over onto the road. I think he certainly helped changed the energy a little bit on this homestand.
"He's brought a real sense of urgency and hunger."