OK, this is a sort of poll, only I don't want to restrict options, so I'll just tally it by hand after a few months.
If you could have one, and only one, top-level professional jersey (this includes MLB, the Negro Leagues, and the Japanese leagues), from any player who
ever played, who would it be?
Personally, I can't decide between Greg Maddux, Mordecai "Three-Finger" Brown, Sadaharu Oh, and Josh Gibson. Although I'm extremely Caucasian, so that kind of rules out Gibson (a Negro Leagues player).
Hello, New Owner of the Cubs. On the off chance that this makes the main page and you actually read it, I'm writing this letter. (Duh.)
A little background info: I'm 20 years old, I live in North Carolina (where we have no pro team). I became a Cubs fan because the local minor-league team used to be a Cubs affiliate, and because of WGN, Harry Caray, and Sammy Sosa, as well as the movie "Rookie of the Year". (I still maintain Sosa did not use steroids until it is proven otherwise, however foolhardy this may be.) I am writing this letter because, although I am only 20, I fear I will not see the cubs reach, let alone win, the World Series in my lifetime. The only time they got close, our idiot manager didn't go out to talk to his rookie pitcher after a play involving a certain not-to-be-named fan, and we proceeded to give up 8 runs in the inning after leading 3-0 and being 5 outs away from the World Series.
I have the following requests:
1. Do not increase the Cubs' payroll *unless you think it will help them reach or win a world series*. We're willing to pay higher ticket prices to see a winning team, but if we suck, after a few years it'll get a bit old (see: Wrigley attendance records during the 1960s.)
2. Do not change the name of Wrigley Field *unless the money will go directly into payroll*. This includes any increases made to the scouting budget, a department we have historically sucked in. Also, if you change the name, try to keep Wrigley in there somewhere, i.e. "Wrigley Field at General Motors Stadium" rather than "General Motors Field". (I still refer to the White Sux ballpark as Cominsky.)
3. Increase the scouting budget. This is a department we have historically sucked in.
4. See if Greg Maddux is at all interested in being a pitching coach. He may not be able to help guys throw 100 MPH, but he can help the older guys stay crafty. He's also a pretty good opposing player scout from what I hear, as well as a good source of levity in the clubhouse.
5. Focus on winning, or at least reaching, the World Series. (Once we're there, schmurse over, and winning won't be so hard as reaching -- it's a virtual coin-flip, maybe even a rigged one given that any Cubs team that can break the schmurse has to be pretty damn good.)
6. Look for bargains, especially at backup positions. We want backups who can play defense -- hitting is a bonus, not a necessity. We don't really have a backup first baseman other than Daryle Ward, who can't play defense -- Doug Mientkiewicz might be a cheap remedy, for example.
7. Build the farm system. I know I keep talking about scouting and player development, but that's because we've sucked at it for as long as I've lived.
8. If you have the opportunity to make a trade or free agent signing (or a combination of trades and signings) that you feel gives us at least a 25% chance of winning the world series, but it will make the team suck for up to 5 years after that, PULL THE TRIGGER. After all, our current world-series-winning rate is 2 out of 104, less than 2%, while the sucking for a few years will pale in comparison to the 1946-1983 playoff drought.
9. If you can, aim to win the World Series while Barack Obama is still in office, just because we'd get to send the Cubs to meet with him, and he's a known White Sux fan, and we'd get to rub it in a little bit.
10. At the very least, win another world series before the Phillies do -- it's bad enough being tied for last place among original-16 franchises for world series wins (we have 2, 1907 and 1908, both over the tigers), I'd hate to be last by ourselves.
11. Do not be afraid to trade with the White Sox as long as it improves our team. If it improves their team too, fine by me -- I want revenge for the 1906 All-Chicago World Series, and no better way than by a modern Cubs-White Sox series.
12. Do be afraid to trade with the Cardinals, unless you are absolutely sure you are getting a good deal -- do NOT cause the next Brock-For-Broglio.
13. If the Cubs win the world series, consider selling cheap plastic replica world series rings for something like $50 each. I'm betting about a million of those would sell, at least. I'd buy one, anyway.
14. If we don't win the world series next year, and Jim Hendry doesn't pull some moves to try to improve the team between now and the trade deadline, fire the SOB. We're tired of him. Hire one of those Red Sox guys with all the brains.
15. Don't let Bob Uecker sing the 7th-inning stretch at Wrigley again. I like the guy, liked his book, but you don't sing "brewers" in place of "cubbies" at Wrigley.
16. I like powers of two, so I'm adding a 16th point. Uh... Consider getting a tape of Harry Caray singing the 7th inning stretch in place of actual live singers, most of whom have sucked (or worse, see Ozzy Osbourne and Bob Uecker.)
Ok, here's what I say we do for right now.
Given that Lou Piniella has just announced we're "set" for starting pitching, I'm taking that into account and not adding any starters.
SP5: Note 1
SP6/Swing man: Note 1
Closer 1: Note 1
Closer 2: Note 2 and Note 4
Set-up 8th inning: Carlos Marmol
Set-up 6-7th inning: Kevin Hart *OR* Michael Wuertz
Long Reliever/Mop-up guy: Rich Hill
Lefty One-Out GuY: Neal Cotts
Catcher 1: Soto
Catcher 2: Blanco (Having this good a backup catcher is worth 3 million)
Backup 2B/SS: Theriot
CF2: Reed Johnson
RF: Fukudome, presuming he can re-learn to hit
Util/PH 1: Hoffpauir, or if he suddenly starts sucking, sign Doug Mientkiewicz while his price is low (We need a backup first baseman other than Daryle Ward)
Util/PH 2: Note 3
Util/PH 3: Note 4
Note 1: As of now, Marquis is the fifth starter, and Samardzija is the closer. If we can sign/develop someone else to be closer, than Samardzija is the 5th starter, and Marquis is the Swing Man.
Note 2: I believe in having two closers: that way you can bring in one in a critical situation (i.e. bases loaded, none out, small lead) early in the game, and bring in the other in the 9th inning. However, the 9th-inning closer should be gotten as cheaply as possible, as he's not as important (in my opinion) as the guy who can get you out of bases-loaded no-out jams with minimal damage.
Note 3: I don't know who's available to fill this slot. I advocate Nick Punto, who can play 2B, 3B, and SS, and well (although he might need some practice at wrigley, being used to the Metrodome) and who earned $2.4M last year while putting up decent numbers. He can probably be had for a discount.
Note 4: Realistically, we aren't going to get the two closers I advise, so drop one of them for another backup bat, preferably an outfielder who can play all outfield positions. Maybe Scott Podsednik, who earned $750,000 last year, doesn't hit too well, but can play both LF and CF fairly well, and has just over 100 career innings in RF (and did well in those games.)
In short, the three guys not on the Cubs last year I advocate signing are 1. a closer, any closer; 2. Nick Punto, 3. Scott Podsednik. For the closer role, one possibility that can be had cheap is Juan Rincon; yes, he's sucked the last two years, but was dominant for 3 years before that; if we can make Lilly not suck, and Marquis suck less, we can probably fix up Juan Rincon. He made $2.5M last year but
can probably be had for less given the ERA the last two years; maybe even sign him to a minor league contract and see if he can put it together in spring training.
I think these three guys can be had for a total well under $10M, as we'd be "buying low" on all three. This wouldn't put much of a dent in the budget while retaining the other 22 guys I mentioned.