Reader Blog: Blow it up.
I don't see any difference between finishing in third and finishing dead last. No playoffs = failed season. With that in mind, I suggest the Cubs begin the process of razing the roster now, with the goal to be a threat to win the division again in 2012 or 13. Here's the plan:
IN SEASON: Trade Derrek Lee, Ted Lilly and Kosuke Fukudome. None of these players figure into the Cubs' future, and only Fukudome has a toxic contract. Eat as much of his contract as necessary and move him. Gorzellany moves back into the rotation and Tyler Colvin becomes the everyday RF.
POSTSEASON: Trade Carlos Silva, trade or non tender Ryan Theriot, sign a cheap southpaw power bat to be a warm body at 1B. Andrew Cashner moves into the rotation.
IN SEASON 2011: Call up Josh Vitters, Jay Jackson and Brett Jackson. Trade Marlon Byrd. Shift Aramis Ramirez to 1B.
If the Cubs follow this plan, they will probably be awful next year. I don't care. They will clear payroll allowing them to be aggressive in free agency in 2012, when they will have holes to fill on the roster. The players that remain will mostly be young, with some major league experience, and ready to be competitive again for years. The 2012 roster:
C: Geovany Soto
1B: Open ($12m option on Ramirez)
2B: Open (but Starlin Castro should shift over once Hak Ju Lee is ready to be the major league SS).
SP1: Carlos Zambrano
SP2: Ryan Dempster
SP3: Tom Gorzellany
SP4: Andrew Cashner
SP5: Randy Wells/Jay Jackson.
Hopefully the veteran trades will have netted some nice pieces that can be used on the major league roster as well, or flipped to fill additional needs.