I demand baseball that I want to watch. The Cubs are 31-40 and 4-6 during the last ten games. Blah blah blah... more of the same. Since Lou is out of answers and has done everything that he can do, I decided to make the upcoming month and a half a lot easier on owner Tom Ricketts and GM Jim Hendry by providing them with this handy to-do list. If the Cubs did half of the tasks of this list, I would be excited to watch Cub baseball again.
1. Admit this season is over
This is key to the rest of my suggestions. I know the Cubs are "only" 8.5 games back of the Cardinals right now, but come on. Anyone still clinging to the miraculous comebacks of Derek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Zamrano (because you'll need all three if you have any chance of taking the division) needs to let that hope go. You might get something yet from one or two of them, but all three would have to come back at full force at this point to have the type of impact on the team that it needs right now. Once this is taken care of, we can move on to attempting to fix this sloppy mess.
2. Address the Lou situation
He's out of answers and, not to a fault, patience. He's an old man and he really doesn't need to be bothered with pitchers and batters and lineups and scorecards right now; he'd be much better off wading in a kiddy pool somewhere sipping margaritas and yelling at the kids around him to stop splashing. While the Cubs are not going to simply pay him off and let him vacation for the rest of the season, perhaps there needs to be an understanding that Lou should simply keep his mouth shut. He is the manager of this team, and if he is truly out of answers, than he has obviously failed and needs to be relieved of his duties. Since this will not happen, I suggest that Lou either keeps trying things (one of which is my next step to Cub recovery) or simply reads the lines to each game in response to any questions he faces and finishes by saying "We need to do a better job." At least attempt to earn your money Lou, that's all I ask.
3. Start Tyler Colvin every single day(/Never start Nady in the outfield)
My reasoning here will be short: Soriano, Fukudome, Byrd, and Nady. First off, only three of these outfielders are actually outfielders (Nady, you can complain once you can throw over 20 feet on the fly). Of the three that remain, only Marlon Byrd has been consistent in the field and at the plate. Of course Soriano needs to start a majority of games due to his contract, but that gives you the go-to starting outfield: Soriano/Byrd/Colvin. Fukudome will be best used as a fourth outfielder anyway, and Nady can be used to pinch-hit and spell Lee at first.
4. Trade away any of the bums you can
By "bums" here, I am referring to any and all of the aging, underproducing veterans that fill the Cub clubhouse. Naturally, most, if not all, of these players are overpaid and have no trade clauses worked into their contracts, making them hard pieces to move. Simply put, the Cubs need to find a way to move at least one or two of these players. Like the Hawks, though in a much more critical sense for our baseball team, the Cubs need to clear cap space. This will allow for Hendry and Ricketts to start moving the team in a new direction, and the more space we clear, the quicker I believe things will turn around. That being said, Hendry needs to look at these names first when attempting to move some money and begin bringing new talent in:
5. Once step 4 proves to be unproductive, trade away players you might not want to
After glancing at that preceding list, its obvious that moving one of these players may be a daunting task in itself. Assuming this proves to be as futile as it likely will, Hendry will then need to look at some more valuable players that may be more difficult to part with. At this point, the Cubs need to unload salary and acquire some good, young talent in the process. Shopping around some of these players may lead to more fruitful results:
I feel as though some of these names may offend some Cub fans, so let me explain. Again I think the Cubs simply need to look to the future (as in next year and beyond), as far as winning games goes at least. That being said, Dempster has been your best starting pitcher so far, and would likely command the most in return. Teams that actually have a shot at the playoffs will be hungry for pitching, and adding Dempster to any rotation in the majors would be a notable improvement.
For the same reasons, Lilly and Silva may be of interest to other teams. While Lilly has been on and off since returning from his DL stint, I would think the successful lefty starter would be another easy fit for any team in the hunt for an established starting pitcher. Likewise, despite his large contract, Carlos Silva's early production certainly has earned him a few extra looks from GMs around the league. Lilly would bring some talent in return and so would Silva, depending on how much of his salary the Cubs offered to pay. I am a huge Lilly supporter, after all he has easily been our best starting pitcher since joining the team, but he will be a free agent after the upcoming season and I don't see the Cubs shelling out to lock the aging lefty up again-- so why lose him for nothing? Getting rid of Silva would be a nice salary dump, and the Cubs never expected to get anything out of him anyways, so this would have to be a welcomed move. Tom Gorzelanny may bring some interest from teams fiending for a versatile lefty as well.
As for Fontenot, Baker and Tracy, these guys are obviously more complimentary pieces, but such players are always in need around the trade deadline as well. Teams want there benches to get deeper in hopes of being on an extended playoff run. A veteran lefty bat like Tracy's is always easy to move this time of year, and a younger, faster lefty, such as Fontenot, would certainly come in handy to many teams as well.
To be honest, I don't know what the hell Jeff Baker is doing playing baseball. I've certainly seen far worse, but I could not feel more disinterested when he is at the plate. Throw him in with somebody just so I don't have to be constantly surprised that he is taking playing time on our team away from others. In any case, these guys could easily be thrown in to any other deal in the works, or simply moved for equally complimentary pieces, perhaps specifically some mid-aged bullpen help from a team with a deep pen.
6. That's it! Now sit back and wait for the offseason
Of course there is only so much one can do to fix a team while games are still being played. Increasing the youthful talent and bullpen depth of this team, while dumping some salary and aging players, would be a tremendous victory for the Cubs. Once the offseason hits, the real work can be done (i.e. Bon voyage Lou!), until then, fans would have some fresh faces to root for and watch grow.
The Cubs have gone nowhere with this current core of players (sound familiar Bulls fans?), and they are currently heading there again. What will we as fans gain from hanging on to any of these players that we love(d), watching them wrap up another disappointing and mediocre, at best, season? Instead, I say with pride, here's to next year-- uh oh, did I actually write that?! Let's start making next year better now.
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Tags: Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Baseball, Carlos Silva, Carlos Zambrano, Chad Tracy, Chicago Cubs, Derek Lee, Jeff Baker, Jim Hendry, John Grabow, Kosuke Fukudome, Marlon Byrd, Mike Fontenot, MLB, Ted Lilly, Tom Gorzelanny, Tom Ricketts, Trade Rumors, Trades, Tyler Colvin, Xavier Nady