Goatriders of the Apocalypse

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It's my right and I'll cry if I want to

There has been entirely too much optimism and "oh thank you Cubbies for a great year" posts from fans with not enough Cubbie's history lessons.  ENOUGH.Yell

After watching Boston win their Division series tonight here are some random thoughts from a bitter, jealous rambling incoherant Cus fan.

WHERE IS THE PROGRESS? Yes I know two division titles . Yay.Frown

On this website I was told when I predicted that this years team did not "have it" that I would have no right to partake in the celebration when they did win it. I guess you have to drink the Kool-aide without asking any questions.

I was at the "clincher" with my family on the Saturday game against the Cardinals. It was one of the most beautiful days to be at Wrigley field ever. My daughters are now infected and cried themselves to sleep after the infield booted every Zambrano sharpley hit grounder on Thursday night. The celebration after the clinching was bigger than any World Series winning celebration I had ever seen. I had hoped we at least would have saved that for an NLCS. At least we were spared the embarrasment of Division clinching caps and tee-shirts. NOT. Almost as bad as the "Wild Card" tee-shirts from 98. Whoopee I'm a Cubs fan I have a meaningless shirt. At least wear the 1908 Series shirt for God's sake.

How many sharply hit grounders were fielded by Boston tonight ? How many two out hits?  How about relievers that come in and do not give up a home run every time they pitch. How many batters took pitches, fouled off close ones and made the pitchers work ?

Derosa is a keeper. He has heart and versatility. Dempster did not have it but Lou did not realize it. Demp busted his ass this year and deserves to stay. Kerry deserves to stay. Howry goes. Theriot stays. Fountenot stays. Soto stays. Johnson better stay. Edmonds goes. Fukodome I have no idea.

Let's talk about the last month of the season when every reliever coming in gave up a  run or so it seemed. Let's talk about Aramis...the new A-Rod and Vlad . Awesome in the regular season pitiful when it really counts. D-Lee is on the downside. Show me otherwise.

Every playoff team has those players that step up and get hot when it counts and I bet that Hoffpauir, Fontenot and Johnson would have been those players. Finally let's call a piece-of sh...t a piece of sh...t . Soriano is more selfish and less productive than steroid enhanced Sammy. No offensive production. Very little defense. Big mouth. I saw him lost without a clue up against the vines on clincher Saturday. Yes I know he can throw runners out whoopee.he has to he let's them get on ! What a ridiculous waste of money. " He can carry a team "! Yeah for about two weeks.

Boston blew it like the Cubs did in 2003 but stormed back in 2004, 2007 and moving again when it counts in 2008. Jim Hendry you are overmatched. Lou Pinella you Dustified us two years in row. Soriano please leave. How many more reconstructed and failing arms can we sign to the pitching staff ? Wow that Harden was a great pick-up ! Has to leave in the fifth inning so our give em a run bullpen can come in earlier.

By the way the shrine is a great idea maybe someone can add a Division championship tee-shirt to it. Thank you for letting me vent and good night.

A Farewell to the 2008 Chicago Cubs...

I have to thank the Cubs of 2008 for all of the happiness and wins this year.  It was a momentous, incredible season.  I don't think I have ever cheered as loud and as hard as I did this past summer.

And despite a disappointing end, this season went a long way to renewing my faith in the team...and emboldening and strengthening the hope I have for this team that I hold deep within me.  I have to tell myself that I cannot let an unfathomable final act diminish any of the joy and delight that his summer brought to me.  Yet, I can also allow myself time to grieve; as ridiculous as it will sound to some, these past two days felt to me as if I had lost a dear, true friend.

Because of the somewhat operatically tragic and crushing blow delivered to our season and the heartache, pain, and sadness it brought to me, I had to wonder, how are other Cubs fans reacting to this hard-to-believe ending?

Well, check out this article...

http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/cubs/1204322,CST-NWS-cubsfan06.a...

Pretty bleak, eh?  I had to wonder what the intentions were of the person who wrote, "Dear Chicago Cubs 2008; It really hurts knowing I'll never see you again. We had some great times."  Man...can I relate to that one person.  Was this person merely saying farewell to the team of 2008?  I have to hope that's the case.

Or was it something more?  Abandoning the team as a fan?  Suicide?  As preposterous as it may seem to some, those last two, drastic options have actually been considered by more than one Cubs fan since this past Saturday night.

I want to find these people, grab them, hold them, hug them, tell them it's going to be all right.  I want to tell them that it's okay to cry...to scream...to yell...to curse...to be depressed...to feel completely numb.

But it's NOT okay to stop hoping...we cannot, we must not EVER give up on our dream.  I want to tell them that we can NEVER abandon this life, give up this or any of our dreams, or desert OUR team; we cannot do any of those things because those are decisions for the weak-hearted.  And...true Cubs fans, the ones that have been there their whole life...are NOT weak-hearted.

There are two very special people I owe many heartfelt thanks to for reminding me of all of those things this past weekend.

Cubs fans have to find a way to yet again renew their passion.  I want to remind those people who have lost all hope that, as Eddie Vedder says in "All The Way", his song dedicated to the Cubs and their fans, "we are NOT fair-weather, but foul-weather fans".  We are there through the best AND the worst.  We're not like Dodger fans...who fill their park for only half of the regular-season games but pack it to capacity once their team is on the brink of the Playoffs.  In defense of this fact, some people say, "Well, what do you expect?  It's LA."  Or they'll say, "Well, most stadiums around the country don't sell out EVERY game.  Most regular-season games are played in front of half-empty stadiums."

My point exactly; it's not like that at Wrigley Field.  We fill that stadium for every, single game.  And some people would say we're "losers", or "idiots" for doing so...for showing such devotion and loyalty to a team that "can't win".  But, we don't pack the place wall to wall for 81 games because of those reasons; we do it because we hold onto hope...we have faith...we believe.

I want to help Cubs fans cling to hope, give them some of the strength that those who love me have helped me to find within myself.  Reassure them that if we just keep believing, holding on, waking every day knowing that SOMEDAY our faith will be rewarded...that's enough to keep us hanging on.  Isn't it?

I want to find those people who have "given up"...and I want to make them promise me that they will never lose their hope.  If I can find the strength to come back again, so can they; I want to make them promise me that.

It HAS to happen eventually...

 

...doesn't it?

Regardless as to whether it's next year, the year after, or ten years from now, I will keep hoping, believing, and cheering.  And with help from those who love me (special thanks to Jennifer, George, Ana, Mina, King, Emily, and Jim)...I will find the strength to hang on.  I'll hold that one, beautiful vision in my head and use it as inspiration to come back again next year, to risk suffering the same heartache.

To quote Eddie Vedder again, I will look to the memory of the day I was "blessed and healed...the first time I walk[ed] into Wrigley Field" and remind myself that it is a journey, a long voyage, one filled with both joy and misery.  I will cherish the notion of the "magic in the ivy", the vision of sitting in that ballpark with some of the people I love; Jennifer, Ana, Mina, George, Mindy, my Father, my Mother.  I will hold onto that feeling of joy, love, and comfort and remind myself that part of the joy of winning the big one...is enduring the process of getting there.

I will take it day by day...I will wear my Cubbie blue with pride...and I will know that it means more than just the symbol on my chest or hat...it means that I have a strength and conviction that's rare to find.  I will summon the courage to hold my head high, I will remind myself that "in a world full of greed, I could never want more than" one dream, and I WILL in my heart of hearts...believe...

...someday...we'll go all the way.

Thank you, Chicago Cubs....see you next year...

...I promise.

How to deal without booze

My first blog.

I'm 19, I attend UIC, and I live in Cicero. These factors combined equals a rather poor student. I work hard all summer to afford my few extravagant purchases, the main one being cubs tickets. I attended three games this year, two of which our boys lost. I was fine though, because I just loved watching them play. I knew this team had what World Series were made of, and I knew we were the best in NL, if not all of MLB.

I kept my hopes up for a comeback, even after the second loss. I looked forward to a game 5 on Oct. 7, my brothers birthday, and the infamous anniversary of game 5 from 1984 (the year he was born. Cursed day....) I kept faith especially high when we started to produce in the 7th and 8th. Men got on, and I could swear the miracle was going to happen. Momentum was shifting, and the dodgers would fall behind. Somehow, I think that if that Toe lickin' umpire at third had made the correct call in the first, LA would not have scored that inning. I think we would have won. But I am young and naive, and find enjoyment in blaming an entire game loss on one f***ed up moment.

Having a hatred of the announcers, and living in the Chicagoland area, I had all three games muted, and Ron Santo was my man on the radio. So I heard the end, before seeing it. I still watched, just in case it had somehow been horribly wrong. Sadly, it was horribly correct. I didn't cry. I called my boyfriend, and let him know it was all over; he quickly came over. I looked at him, and he was wearing his Boston Red Sox baseball cap. Memories of '04 flashed through my head, when our once co-loveable losers got their miracle. That also made me remember '03, and the pain of not getting what was ours. Then I recalled last year, losing three straight and deciding to support the red sox team. I rooted with my guy when Manny Ramirez would step up to the plate.

My hatred of Manny, miracles, and so many good, lost years finally drove me to the brink. I started to cry, and I didn't stop for a long time. My father wants the place just demolished, in hopes of ending this teams inability to succeed in post season. My grandfather, whom I found out today won't make it to christmas, will never experience a cubs win in his life time. And me?

I will be like my father. He has been a cubs fan through the worst losses, starting with '69. It has taken decades to break his spirit, which is currently shattered. But I am young, and though I do not have booze to help ease the pain, I have stupid, youthful hope. I can look at this team and think about how they are one good shrink away from being succesful in the post season. Pay Soriano a couple million less, and hire a good team of motivational speakers.

Meanwhile, I will mourn the loss of cubs fans who will pass this year, starting with one very close to my heart. And as for the ones we will lose, not to illness, but to a broken heart? They will be back. The cubs are a drug that we cannot do without. We all want to experience that ultimate high, somthing that no dealer can give for any price; we want to see the cubs win it all.

They will win it soon, because I am young and can believe that next year, every piece will fall into place. I will believe in next year until there is no next year.  I still cry a little over last nights loss, and I know it will keep me a bit more weary of the play offs, like my father was all along. But what upsets me the most is the fact that I can't watch a cubs game until next April.

I'll be there, though. I will find my cubs hat in some messy corner of my room, and sit with my brotheren. After all, it had been 100 years since we won, but 99 years of losing. NEXT year will be 100. Because of this absurd, ridiculous, completely illogical reason, I believe that next year is the year. We will get over 100 wins, NL will win the all star game, and we will sweep the white sox in both series.  I have to hope for these things, because this loss will drive me insane if I do not have something to look forward to, to desire, to feel excited about. 

Who needs booze when you got senseless hope? I'm 19, I'm young, and I am still a cubs fan. In my life, the first two factors will change, but cubbie blue is stuck in my blood for ever.

Just shattered

I got home today around 7pm. I went and watched the game at Irish Oak with some friends. I was so angry and pretty much mourning the whole season after game 2. I was trying to prepare myself mentally. Stupid me, I got my hopes up sometime between Friday night and Saturday. I went into that bar determined to go down with the ship but positive we'd escape from the Titanic.

NOPE.

God, where the HELL was our offense? All I could do was just stare at the tv and go WHY? JUST WHY? I'm going to leave the analysis to other folks right now.

I'm just so sad and tired. About the only thing that made the whole situation bearable was being with my friends and drinking copious amounts of alcohol. We managed to stagger into my friend's downtown apartment and crash on the floor. Soon we wound up consoling ourselves with the good memories from the regular season. We just couldn't focus on what had just happened. There wasn't enough kleenex for that.

I need to get some distance from all this, and yet I can't stay away. I'm sick of reading so much rage. Mark DeRosa made a blog entry shortly after the game and there were two trolls who immediately started jumping in with completely uncalled for commentary. COMPLETELY. I won't even repeat what some of it was - it was just vile and disgusting. It's real damn easy to be an armchair-baseball player.

These guys didn't go out to break our hearts on purpose. Duh. They choked, yes, but I really highly doubt this is what any of them wanted. They can't tell us what went wrong; they're probablly still trying to figure it out themselves. This also wasn't one man's failure (I see a lot of people in various places picking on DeRosa for some reason), hell, the WHOLE TEAM had issues and plenty of them. Our so-called "Big Three" (Soriano, Aramis and Lee) were anemic like last year. And these are the guys we are told we are supposed to rely on. I, personally, have more issues with Soriano because he is getting paid ridiculous numbers, and that IMO, means you are getting paid to produce and produce big.

Get the entire team a shrink or WHATEVER. Practice some zen. Somehow, the players need to be able to block out so much of what we as fans unfairly burden them with: the Herculean task of making up for the failures of other Cubs teams which they had nothing to do with.

I just missed the players as they came back to Wrigley from the airport while I was taking the el/walking to get my car where I'd parked it near Wrigley. There were a few people waiting, wanting to get autographs (which was incredibly ill-timed IMO). If I were one of the players, the last thing I'd want to do is sign autographs after what just happened. I would want to be making love to a bottle of Jack and that's about it.  I heard (from my friend's brother who did make it there in time) Harden was one of the few (or possibly the only one) to actually step out and talk to some of the fans and thank them. Pretty much everyone else just got in and out as fast as possible.

It looked so incredibly forlorn. It's like when the carnival or fair picks up and leaves. The party is done. Nothing is sadder to me, sportswise, than an empty ballpark in the fading October sunshine. The scoreboard still had information on it. Except for Cubs and LA it said "NO GAME". I could have wept right then and there. I really wish we all could have seen the ivy changing colors at Wrigley deep into October.

Alas, it was not meant to be.

Dismantle the team.........

For the second straight season, the Cubs have been swept out of the playoffs. Once again I was reminded by Cardinals fans how the Cubs once again choked in the playoffs. This doesn't surprise me because the city of St. Louis is more dependent on the failures of the Cubs than the success of their own teams, but that is another story for another day.

I admit it I am one of the fans Kurt refers to as being negative. I simply consider myself as realistic, but at times stark realism is negativism. After losing game 1, I felt the Cubs had a slim or no chance of coming back to win the series. It had nothing to do with curses, goats, or manbear pig. Zambrano's inconsistency in the last month of season was the reason. Which Zambrano would the Cubs get? Would we get the Zambrano that pitched a no hitter, or would we get the pitcher who was lit up 16 runs in the other three games. Yet, in game two he pitched a very good game. If the infield didn't play like they were T-Rex's with short stubby arms, he would have come out smelling like roses.

Outside of Zambrano, the majority of the Cubs players had a terrible series. This has prompted fans to scream out to dismantle this team. Given their frustration, we can understand why they feel this way. However, we should remember one thing. This team was designed to "reach" the postseason. Soriano was a great regular season player. His hot streaks helped turn this club around on a number of occasions, but lets not get ahead of ourselves. He is not a great playoff performer. This season he was batting .252 against right handed pitching. Translation, that is a .252 average against good and bad right handed pitching. Did Soriano choke in these playoffs? No, he simply did what he normally does. It just happened to be against quality pitching. Aramis Ramirez disappeared as well. Historically, he hadn't hit very well against the Dodgers pitching, but outside of that something else should be noted. Many pundits and fans lauded his success in later innings. This may have him appear as clutch hitter, but this also a product of facing mediocre to bad relievers. He was about a .260 hitter in the first six innings of game this season. That was both against good and bad pitching. A large chunk of his power production came from the last third of a game. Now, to our friend Double play Lee. Fifteen of Derrek Lee's home runs have come with the bases empty. His batting average is the lowest since 2004. Is that what the Cubs need in a number 3 hitter.

With all this being said, let us remember one thing this team was built to reach the playoffs. The Cubs have to beat down the Pirates of the world to reach the post season. When the Cubs reach the postseason, they still need players who can perform. This doesn't mean dismantling the entire team. It means replacing some of the parts that are not working. I think Zambrano's performance the last two postseasons is cause for optimism. In both games he came up big, it is too bad his teammates didn't return the favor. The question is which teammates should be replaced. I think Derrek Lee should be safe. Even with the gaff in game 2, his glove has been crucial to the Cubs success. I think even though that Hoffpauir has been impressive he hasn't shown a solid enough fielding ability to overtake Lee. In fact, he should be used as trade bait. I will return to that in a second. Derrek Lee also batted .308 on the season with runners in scoring position. I really believe Derrek Lee should remain on this team, but he should not be a number 3 hitter. Sure, he hit only one measily home run in that situation, but he also had 63 RBIs. Aramis Ramirez as I have stated before has been less than mediocre in the early part of the game, and he has been bad against good pitching. After considering these facts, who would you consider his replacement? The two good third basemen who are available on the free agent market are Chipper Jones and Hank Blaylock. Chipper Jones is getting old has some issues with injuries. Blaylock hasn't been very good since 2005 having to deal with injuries of his own.  Hank hasn't played over 100 games since 2006. Another great stat is the fact that the only third basemen that have done better than Ramirez this past season are Alex Rodriguez, David Wright, and Chipper Jones. Given the fact that A-Rod grounds into a lot of double plays and is anything but clutch leaves David Wright as the only real player that would be an improvement on Ramirez, it is safe to say A-Ram is staying put. Clearly, I think Aramis should keep his job. Now, we come to short stop. Ryan Theriot is solid but clearly not spectacular. He has a decent bat, but lacks a strong arm. If you look at who is available, there are clearly slim pickings. Orlando Cabrera, Edgar Rentaria, Rafael Furcal, and Cesar Izturis are free agents for 2009. I may as well cross a line through Izturis; we all know how that experiment went. The Cubs tried to sign Furcal before the 2006. Given his injuries, he may be a cheaper acquisition. If the Dodgers continue their postseason success, he will be resigned. Cabrera wouldn't be bad addition except his overall numbers(sans power)are not better than Theriot. Theriot's arm hasn't caused the Cubs a great deal of trouble either. At second base, we have the two headed monster, of Fontenot and DeRosa. DeRosa is coming off a great regular season, and outside of a miscue in the second game of the playoffs has been one of the only bright spots in the playoffs for the Cubs. He shouldn't go anywhere. Soto will stay at catcher. Given his penchant for hard work in the offseason, he will be better next year even if his power numbers could possibly dip. He can develop more patience at the plate and he could be better than Brian McCann of the Braves. Now, here is the area where the real offensive mess is: the outfield.

Given Soriano's regular season production and contract it would be hard to dump. The only real replacement would be to sign Manny Ramirez and to deal Soriano with the promise of paying a chunk of the salary. With Manny, you have to ask yourself which Manny will show up. He has been gangbusters recently because he knows he can get an A-Rod type deal if he does well. The question is what about year two or three of whatever deal he gets? Would he find a hidden room in the ivy to sneak between innings? When the Cubs signed Soriano I was ecstatic, I couldn't remember the last time the Cubs signed someone of his caliber. The previous season (during 2006) I was screaming that the Cubs should make trade with the Pirates for Jason Bay. I couldn't believe the Cubs snagged someone who I thought was better. In hindsight, I wish the Cubs could have traded for Bay. He is a good fielder, and decent hitter. I think Soriano has been great, my only problem (okay I guess outside of swinging at everything) is the fact he can not hit anywhere but in the lead off spot. He would be better served hitting behind a decent batter. I feel it is detrimental to the Cubs having hit behind a pitcher. Despite the fact that the Cubs pitchers have hit decently this season, they are still fairly close to a guaranteed out. Meaning that there will be a guaranteed out when Soriano comes to the plate on the second or third passes through the lineup. There was a reason why Pinella batted Theriot 8th in game one of the Dodgers series. Theriot gets a hit, Dempster sacrifices him over and Soriano gets a hit that sends Theriot home. It is too bad for the Cubs it didn’t work out.

Center field is a major question mark. There were rumors that Jim Edmonds would retire after this season. He came back strong after signing with the Cubs. I would love to see what he could the entire season. If he returns, will there be anything left in the tank? If he retires, the Cubs are left with Reed Johnson, unfortunately it seems like Johnson is best suited for facing left handed pitchers. He had a nice year for the Cubs, and it would be great to keep in that role again. There isn't a quality center fielder in the coming free agent class. I really wanted the Cubs to sign Aaron Rowand before this season. Unfortunately, management is still enamoured with Felix Pie and his inability to hit anything outside of a fastball.

Right field is a mess because Fukudome so far has been a flop. Maybe flop is a bit harsh, but the Cubs are paying him $48 million over four years to bat under .260. He is a great fielder if nothing else. It is too bad the Cubs will probably continue starting him next year. I am not 100% sure what they expected from him. Scouts predicted he would bat .290 have 15 home runs and maybe drive in 75-90 RBIs. Boy did he fall short of that. I really hope that Jim Hendry didn't expect him to be a 20+ home run guy. He had decent power in Japan, however their parks are smaller. Consider that Ichiro had a couple of seasons where he hit over 20 home runs and you get the general idea(also Ichiro is nearly legendary here). Vladimir Guerrero is a free agent(with player option), but given the size of Fukudome's contract there is no way there will be another right fielder. Of course, if Fukudome is fed up with the United States and goes back to Japan that is another story.

Barring any trades of monumental proportions there is really no way this team could be dissolved and rebuilt to be an instant World Series contender. There is one move the Cubs should do. I am simply not sold of Rich Harden's health. Toronto's Roy Halladay wants out of town, the Cubs have an extra first baseman burning a hole in Hendry's pocket. Lyle Overbay has not been spectacular at first for the Jays. Hoffpauir could be converted to a right fielder(maybe with the Cubs?.) I saw package a deal for Halladay including Hoffpauir. Halladay has two more years on his current deal. In the long run $15 million a year will be cheaper than shelling out a lot of cash on long term deal for Sabathia.

Conservative commentator George Will once mused, "Cubs fans are 90% scar tissue." That speaks to how resilient Cubs fans are in the face of continued failure. With this level of loyality, as fans we can only hope this team can finally bring us winner. For the time being, we need to accept that this is built for getting to the playoffs. Hopefully, one more piece will be the keystone for a championship run. Till then we will have to revert to the old mantra, "There is always next year."

 

Wait til next year

Well, I guess it's another year of wait til next year. It was sad to see Big Z the only one who actually tried to have good at-bats.

I am lucky though, I have a little one who has seen the post season for two years in a row. Also, my dad who got me started loving the Cubs in the 70's made it through a heart attack this summer. Thank goodness he didn't pass (although I am sure this didn't make his heart any stronger).

I will always cheer for the Cubs but I feel that this was just a wasted season after leading the NL in wins and gettting DESTROYED in the playoffs with another sweep.

I guess it's back to the drawing board Hendry.

The good news is Cubs Convention is only three months away.

Maybe Next Year? A Look At The Offseason

Overview

The Cubs are already committed to roughly $115 million in salary going into next season, and while they do have a few holes on the roster to fill, I seriously doubt that the Cubs front office plans on dismantling a 97-win team. So expect some mild tinkering, not the radical remakes of the past two offseasons.

Pending Free Agents:

Henry Blanco, C – The Cubs have a $3 million option on Blanco, a long-time fan favorite. Three mil is probably a lot to pay for a backup catcher, and while Blanco is probably an upgrade over Koyie Hill, that’s money that could be spent elsewhere. The Cubs could also be eyeing prospect Wellington Castillo as Soto’s backup of the future, and the future could be soon.

Jim Edmonds, CF & Reed Johnson, CF – The Cubs have a lot of decisions to make in the outfield this offseason, and they’ll probably break up the most successful outfield platoon for 2008 in the process. Edmonds has to decide whether or not he’s still interested in playing after this season. Johnson may see if he can find full-time work elsewhere. The Cubs need to figure out if they’re interested in a long-term answer or another one-year stopgap in center field.

Ryan Dempster, SP – Ryan Dempster is probably the single-biggest decision facing the club this offseason. Coming off a career year, he’ll probably be the third-most sought-after pitcher in free agency, possibly the second-most if the Jays are able to sign A.J. Burnett to an extension. (Sheets may have really hurt his cause with his late-season arm problems.)

That said, we’re talking about a guy with a career ERA identical Jason Marquis’, and the Cubs already have a lot of money locked up into the rotation, with commitments to Zambrano, Harden, Lilly and Marquis. They also have Marshall, Gaudin and Samardzija, all of whom could be competing for a rotation spot. Hendry stayed out of the Zito and Schmidt bloodbath, to no small credit, and he may decide to sit out on the bidding for Dempster. He’ll almost certainly rate Type A compensation, which means a first-round draft pick if the Cubs let him walk.

Rich Harden, SP – The Cubs have a $7 million option on Harden that’s simply a no-brainer. He’ll be back next season.

Kerry Wood, CL – And Wood’s the second-most likely guy on this list to return, right after Harden. He loves the Cubs, and the Cubs love Wood, and as a closer he was worth every penny to the team, some minor health issues notwithstanding.

Bob Howry, RP – Howry could be a Type B free agent, but after the year he’s had the Cubs may decide to not risk him accepting arbitration. I don’t think he’s in the team’s future plans.

Jon Lieber, RP – Lieber is most likely out of baseball at this point.

Daryle Ward, 1B – With the emergence of Micah Hoffpauir, it’s not clear that the Cubs need Ward (if they ever did). This is one area where the Cubs could trim a little salary without anyone noticing.

Trade Bait:

Jason Marquis, SP – After a blessedly mediocre season, Marquis could finally be tradable, especially with only one year remaining on his contract. He’s certainly expendable at this point.

Felix Pie, CF – The Cubs kept Pie on the postseason roster in preference of Micah Hoffpaiur, but that’s the only sign in a long time that the organization still holds Pie in any sort of high regard. Pie’s last minor league option year has been used, so the Cubs must keep him on the 25-man roster next season or lose him to waivers. The Cubs might decide to shop him instead.

Mark DeRosa, 2B – This is an outside shot, but I figured I’d mention it. The Cubs have Mike Fontenot, a capable replacement for DeRosa at the keystone. They could go out and get someone like (ugh) Willie Bloomquist for peanuts to fill the utility role, no doubt not as well as DeRosa but probably well enough. DeRosa is coming off a career year and has probably peaked as far as trade value goes.

Possible Acquisitions:

Outfielder – The Cubs were able to find a stopgap in center field, but may attempt to address the issue long-term. There’s little chance they go into camp with little more than Pie and a prayer for a third time.

The free agent market for center fielders is thin at best and nonexistent at worst. The trade market looks pretty much the same as the last time we looked at it – Marlon Byrd? Coco Crisp?

The Cubs do have an inhouse candidate who seems ideal for the job – Kosuke Fukudome. Fukudome is probably never going to give Lou the offensive production he desires; his MO seems to be Ichiro Light, but with walks instead of singles. He’s a talented defender who could probably handle center well, and moving him out of right field relieves him of expectations on offense – particularly power – he likely can’t meet.

That opens a whole as soon as it creates one, though, leaving the Cubs with an opening in right field. They could consider moving DeRosa out to right field to make room for Mike Fontenot. Trader Jim could get creative, although after the Harden deal it’s not clear he has a whole lot to offer in trade.

There are some free agent corner outfielders available, although none of them sound like strictly good ideas. One free agent name to idly consider is Adam Dunn, the sort of lefty power Lou always seems to be after. Manny Ramirez is of course available, baggage included. There’s no indication that the Cubs are after that caliber of free agent, however. The Cubs could go back to kicking the tires on Raul Ibanez.

Shortstop – Don’t expect much on this front – Theriot put up a career year that should solidify him in the eyes of the organization going into next season. (I’m sure my own feelings on the matter are well known.) But if the organization still hasn’t forgotten about the allure of a switch-hitting leadoff man, Rafael Furcal is available through free agency.

On The Farm

There isn’t a lot of potential impact available from the farm system right now. The most interesting options are bench players – Micah Hoffpauir and Wellington Castillo. Hoffpauir you’re all familiar with by now, and it seems plausible that he’ll step into Daryle Ward’s spot on the bench next year.

Castillo is the organization’s top catching prospect following Soto’s matriculation. Nobody thinks he’s got Geovany’s potential on offense, but as a catch-and-throw type he has real potential. Could possibly be ready to be a backup as early as next year. Could also be trade bait, with Soto seemingly locked into the catcher position for a long time to come.

The Cubs also have a lot of fungible pieces when it comes to pitching in the minors – not really impact players but capable enough of slotting into middle/long relief roles out of the bullpen.

Tis better to sneak in or cruise in ? That is the question

2003 Cubs mid season aquisitions energize the club(like a true lead off hitter) we get into the playoffs just barely as a hot team that has just caught fire. 2008 dominate the National league and you know what has just happened. Lou's Mariners. This years' Angels.. This year the Dodgers have a massive mid-season aquisition that super charges the club they just get in and blow out the stronger(on paper anyways) team. Why have so many wild card teams done so well? What happened to Reed Johnson and for God's sake somebody tell me where the frosty malts are!

Game 3 Pitching Matchup

Your pitching projections for the evening:

Rich Harden: 3.25 ERA, 6 IP

Hideki Kuroda: 4.25 ERA, 7 IP

We'll look at the revised lineup later tonight.

UPDATED: Cubs odds of winning tonight: .529. Pitching matchup really favors the Cubs for the first time, but the Dodgers have home field. Putting in Fontenot didn't really move the needle any; the difference between two individual hitters in just one game isn't all that great, unless you're talking about the difference between Tony Pena and Albert Pujols.

There sure are a lot of Cub blogs out there - post 'em if you've got 'em

When we redesigned the blog, we came up with a theoretically fun/interesting way to make our blog roll more interactive and informative.  Kevin asked Byron to give him an updated list of the blogs that we'd include in our roll, but Byron didn't get back to him in a timely fashion - although our good friend and GROTA co-creator has been blogging semi-regularly back at The Cubdom, in case ya didn't know.

I decided this morning to finally compile that long overdue list, and I was shocked to realize that there are close to four dozen active Cubs blogs out there right now.  Four dozen! That's crazy!

Taking a look at many of those blogs for the first time, I have to say I'm impressed by our passion.  A lot of people have put a lot of hard work into talking about the Cubs in an open forum.

However, while I pulled my list from the Cubs Blog Army, don't assume I caught your blog.  If you have a Cubs blog that you'd like to be a part of our blog roll, post a link in the comments of this article.

If I can pull aside an hour later today, I might do a quick Goat Cast, as well about the Year in Review for Goat Riders.  It will be a can't-miss if you enjoy gossip.

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