Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Cubs

warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/managed/grota/drupal/modules/taxonomy/taxonomy.pages.inc on line 33.

Spin Training

Just a few tidbits from Arizona to keep you warm at night:

  • ___________ is in the best shape of his life and will be healthy all year long.
  • ___________ has been working on a few surprise pitches that will take the league by storm in 2009.
  • Lou Piniella has no doubts that ___________ will do an amazing job in his new role with the team.

You could almost drop the "r" and the "g" from Spring Training and it would still be accurrate.  It's always about Spin, and as a Cub fan who's seen plenty of years in which his team started out with great promise - at least according to the journalists covering the team - I take none of it for granted.


Today's headline is this: Lou Piniella postures for Soriano to bat leadoff.  No, sorry, it's actually called Piniella thinks Soriano can steal 30 bases, as written by Goat Friend Paul Sullivan.  Soriano apparently has benefitted from a new "off-season conditioning program in the Dominican Republic."  Plus, Piniella says that the Fonz is only using a half-hop to catch the ball in the outfield.  Frankly I don't understand why Soriano can't try a different rare maneuver called "the two handed glove catch."  It's really old school, but nobody uses it anymore and since he'd be the only one, just maybe he'd make some highlight reels due to the rarity of the move.  Maybe we can snazz up the name a little to catch Sori's eye - call it "the double wobble-dobbler half-hat back turn yellowbird two handed glove catch macgillicutty."  Who wouldn't want to use it?


Anyway, I would caution any reader from getting too worked up by a Spring Training spin job.  Sorry, Cubs fans, but Player A probably isn't in the best shape of his life.  Player B probably won't be bringing shock and awe to the league with each delivery of his mysterious scrizz pitch.  And Player C is furious with his new role with the team and is sowing dissent in the clubhouse.  It's just the way of life.

Spring Training impatience thread

I really expected there to be more going on this week than what we've seen.  So far the most exciting story of Spring has been that Carlos Zambrano grew a mustache.  Apart from that, the Cubs do have a few roster issues to resolve in the next month and a half, and what better way to promote diablog (like dialog, but with a blog) than to open a thread about them?


So, in no certain order ...


Aaron Miles vs. Mike Fontenot


Will the crafty and versatile switch hitting Aaron Miles wind up as the primary starter at second base?  Or will the young, left-handed, and extremely short Mike Fontenot get the chance to prove that his career splits were earned through ability rather than luck?


At this point, despite the rumblings of some journalists who are "in the know," this job has to be Fontenot's to lose.  Even if you pretend that Miles is capable of putting up similar numbers to Fontenot - and he's not - the sheer positional versatility of the ex Cardinal makes him the defacto Top Defensive Sub at perhaps three of his five positions.  Fontenot, meanwhile, has not displayed the ability to play anywhere but second base. 


The Fate of Angel Guzman


He may be out of options.  His arm might be healthy enough for the Cubs to finally rely on him.  He was once seen as a prospect at the same level as Mark Prior - a player whose career path he has practically duplicated since then.  But what used to be true about Angel Guzman was that he had ungodly stuff and was bound to set the league on fire with his talent.


We are Cub fans - ever-optimistic - but it's pretty hard to put faith in the resurrection of this guy's career.  But from time to time every team has that one guy who pulls it together for a special season before burning out and fading back into obscurity.  Just maybe this is Guzman's year.  And let's hope that 2008 wasn't Dempster's. 


Marshall vs. Heilman vs. Gaudin vs. Samardzija


Rob noted yesterday that the poor health of Rich Harden makes the winner of this battle the defacto #4 starter.  Sean Marshall has to be the early favorite because he's been nothing but reliable the last three years.  Then again, the Cubs bullpen appears short on lefties and he may wind up there again.  Aaron Heilman has been a good middle reliever/set up man who had a bad year in '08.  He wants to start and he'll now get his chance.  Cub fans are hoping that he's the Next Ryan Dempster.  Chad Gaudin is still a youngster.  His nickname should be Insurance Policy because that's what he is for Rich Harden.  He's had limited success as a starter in the past.  Jeff Samardzija is the rawest, most gifted of this bunch.  Chances are the Cubs won't waste him in the bullpen again, unless it is out of necessity.


I'm rooting for Samardzija.  It would be terrific if he put it all together and served the Cubs as a steady young starter for the next 6 seasons.  But probably the most likely of this bunch is Marshall or Heilman, with Gaudin and Samardzija serving to ensure that the Cubs have options to turn to when the inevitable injury occurs to one of the Starting Four.


Marmol vs. Gregg


Carlos Marmol is the most dominating reliever on the team.  The argument - a correct one by my view - is that he should be used to get out the 3 deadliest hitters of the opposition, whether they are up to bat in the 7th, 8th, 9th, or 4th innings.  It's not conventional baseball wisdom, which means that it makes sense.  Besides, Kevin Gregg has effectively closed in the past.


The only problem is that baseball is played by people with egos and desires.  Carlos Marmol has to know that 1) you don't get paid to set-up, no matter how well you do at it, and 2) the closer does get paid.  If the Cubs want to keep Marmol, they're going to have to let him have the chance to earn the big bucks doing the Kerry Wood thing, even if the team is slightly worse for it. 


Then again, closing is no easy gig.  Just ask LaTroy Hawkins.  Dude had a sub-2.00 ERA in 2004 when he assumed the closer's role from Joe Borowski.  He was practically automatic.  Only problem is that, for whatever reason, the final 3 outs of the game can often be the hardest even if the pitcher isn't facing the opposition's best hitters.  Actually, I worry that Marmol might not have the mental fortitude for the job, but I cannot deny that he's earned it.  Therefore, I believe he will be the closer on opening day, even if there are other jobs he could do better than anybody else.


Yes they can buttons at the GROTA store!

The jersey of the future!

I'm sure the anticipation has just been torturous for everybody, but your wait is over!  Earlier this week I tinkered with designs for what I would imagine to be cool Cubs jerseys and I will be presenting them below.

The first set is inspired heavily by the classic Braves uniform of the 1970's.  Basically it's the modern uniform minus pinstripes and with some blue piping on the sleeves, along with the retro hat on the home squad and the angry bear logo on the sleeves and road hat.  Here it is:

Uni 1

And here's this look with a blue alternate thrown in:

Blue Alternate

That alternate cap has the potential to be either really cool or really ugly looking in person.

Don't get me wrong, I like this look, but I've always had a fondness for the Cubs logo worn by the team briefly in the early 90's.  That logo is currently being worn by the Iowa squad.  It would look very similar, but like this:

Jersey 2

And now let's imagine what this look would be like with the blue alternate thrown in...

Blue Alternate 2

Not too bad, eh?  I think that trio is perhaps my favorite, but because it would not encorporate what has become the Classic Cubs Logo, there's no way the organization would ever run with it.

Now, how about something a little more traditional?

Traditional Look

It's not too different from the current jerseys, except they'd be sleeveless and minus the pinstripes plus those cool, funky retro hats.  Lastly, let's imagine this look with one other retro aspect thrown in...

Retro 2

So, honesty.  Of these looks, which do you like best?  Are any of these designs better than the current look?

If I had the means I'd consider getting one of these jerseys custom-made, but I'm pretty sure that would just make me the lamest Cubs fan in Wrigleyville.  But I would welcome a few modest redesigns to the current look.  The uniform has been basically unchanged since 1990, and if only for sales reasons the team should consider doing something different.

Me, I'll just be surfing Ebay in search of an Expos Dawson jersey, or a 70's Braves jersey.

GROTA Button

A brief history of the Chicago Cubs baseball jersey

Moment of full disclosure: I am a jersey affectionato.  I realize how much of a loser it makes me, but I would wear a baseball jersey every day of the week if I could.  I don't care if it's January of July, if the Cubs are first or last, I like wearing these shirts.  I'm wearing one right now - my Kerry Wood blue alternate.

Baseball jerseys are my smack.  My h-train is a j-train.  If I see a cool jersey, my pupils dilate, my pulse quickens, and endorphins are released into my brain.  Actually, the same is the case when it comes to hats.

I own the pinstripe home uniform - #8 Andre Dawson - the road grey, two blue alternates (a Sosa that I stopped wearing seven years ago and Wood), a Cooperstown Ernie Banks jersey that is literally falling apart, a Mark Prior jersey that looks like it belongs to a softball team, and a Dominican Republic jersey from the Caribbean Series.  And I.  Want.  More.

I like the Cubs uniforms.  They're nice.  Classic.  Practically unchangeable.  Except I think it would be awesome if the Cubs did just that - changed things up a little bit.  Considering how marketing savvy those guys are, I just can't believe nobody has touched up the uniforms at all.  Besides, the blue pinstripes have only been around since the late 50's.  There are plenty of traditional, classic looks that the Cubs have in their repertoire.

Rather than give you the detailed history of these uniforms, I'm going to highlight some of the most interesting.

(All credit goes to the Baseball Hall of Fame)

1908 - the Cubs C with a bear appears for the first time.  Not without coincidence, this team kicked ass.

Cubs

1916 - For the first time in the team's history, the big C is red.  Note the "walking bear."

Big Red C

1918 - A one-year experiment with pinstripes.  There are several old newspapers which report that the road Cubs - in their atrocious reds - were repeatedly chased out of town by indignant mobs who were angry that their sensibilities had been so greatly offended.

UUUUGGHly

1929 - Steak Sauce.  I'd love to see this uniform sold in the stores around Wrigleyville.  It's all the colors and the basic look of what we've come to love today minus the pinstripes.  (Actually these uniforms first came into use a few years earlier, but this is the first year of a darker road grey with an arm patch.)

Awesome Unis

1932 - Check these ones out.  The Cubs experiment with 4 different choices, including red pinstripes and, for the road uniform, a red hat.  Note that both road uniforms include a arm sleeve Cubs logo.

Cubbies
1933 - More steak sauce.  This is perhaps my favorite home jersey in Cubs history.  Again, why the hell can't they sell this in the team store?  There are idiots like me flailing about with cash-in-hand wanting to buy these jerseys.

Steak Sauce

Behold the innovation of the 1941 Cubs.  Actually in this era the Cubs were responsible for a lot of uniform firsts.  They were the first team to use zippers instead of buttons in 1937 - something that would be common for decades to follow - they were the first team to go sleeveless in 1940, and here they are the first team with the powder blue road uniforms.  The powder blues would last two seasons before the angry mobs crushed the team's will to wear them.  This is also the first time the Cubs logo has most-resembled today's version.

Cubs

1957 - the first year that the pinstripes became common.  This was also the only year in which the Cubs road jersey said "Cubs" in it.  When I was a kid I had the blue hat with white stripes.  Upon reflection, it was pretty ugly.  Incidentally, in 1962 the Cubbie bear patch is added to the home and road uniforms.

Cubs 57

1978 - Why Cubs, why?  Blame the Montreal Expos for the return popularity of the powder blues - I guess the Cubs were just three decades ahead of their time - but in 1978 the Cubs became the first and only team to have white stripes on their blue road jerseys.  Look up ugly in the dictionary ... well, you know.  And yet they sell this jersey but not the other, older, cooler ones.

UGLY

1982 - The coolest ever.  I grew up watching the Cubs when they had the blue road uniforms, which is perhaps entirely why I like the modern alternates so much.  I realize that older Cub fans will scorn me for that, but you guys grew up admiring the powder blues, so you've got nothin' on me.

82's

1990 - And with a few bumps and modifications, this has been the basic Cubs jersey template of the past 19 years.  It amazes me to realize that we've got readers who have known nothing but the uniforms of the last two decades.  But, unbelievably, it's true.

Homes and Roads

I think the Cubs are long overdue for a jersey overhaul.  There are plenty of designs they can incorporate which would not fly in the face of the team's traditional look.  It just seems to me that, with so many cool designs in the team's storied history, it's limiting to pretend that the current look is "old school" and is irreplacable by anything else.

And perhaps as early as tomorrow, I will present to you design options for ... the jersey of the future!

Sunday afternoon uniform madness

I think there's something wrong with my brain.  Every once in a while I get baseball on my mind and this weekend has been particularly bad.  Problem is, it's never anything constructive that I can use to benefit GROTA.

Ever since this morning, I've been chasing uniforms.  I have discovered that I am particularly fond of the home and road jerseys worn by the Braves in the early 1970's - you've seen them, Hank Aaron was wearing one when he smashed Ruth's record.

He had a hammer

Although I'm not a Braves fan, although I care nothing for Atlanta, I have to own one.  I just have to.  I'm nuts that way.

What's more, I also covet the hats.  It all started because the Blue Jays began wearing these ones on Friday night home games:

Jays hat

So far as I can tell, hats with white (or different colored) fronts have been warn by several teams throughout baseball's history - the Brewers, Expos, Jays, Padres, and yes, the Braves.

I don't know why, but I swear that they release endorphins in my brain.  I.  Must.  Have.

Anyway, I take it back.  This coveting of mine will help content for the blog because I'm going to write an article about Cubs uniforms throughout the ages; just not today.  Come back tomorrow morning, it might be here by then.

Saturday Morning Stories

On Saturday's I turn off my brain.

It's really the one day of the week where I (and I'm sure most of you) can just kick back and enter a Zen-like state of complete boredom and minimal brain activity. Plus some of us have to recover from all that "studying" we did on Friday night.

Hence, I decided to take a gander around the media horn for some Cubs stories to stimulate and entertain you instead of trying to come up with my own unique content.

Hooray laziness

Over at the Trib, Paul Sullivan enlightens us about the massive turnover of players on the Cubs roster since 2007. According to Sullivan, massive turnover is usually a sign of a struggling franchise, but the Cubs have won two division titles and 182 games over the last two season. The only players who were on the 2007 Opening Day roster that are still on the Cubs as of now are Soriano, Lee, Ramirez, Dempster, Zambrano, Lilly and Theriot.

While I personally believe constantly changing your roster (especially one that works) can be a bit of gamble to team chemistry and creating consistency, I can't argue against its success so far. During the Dusty era, he collected a set of "his guys" (think Neifi Perez) that eventually contributed to his downfall. While Lou has earned the trust of many fans, I have to take all this turnover with a grain of salt. Messing with success is like playing with fire...or chainsaws...or chainsaws set on fire.

Daily Herald columnist Barry Rozner can't let go of this whole Mark DeRosa thing.

I love when journalists try to recycle a story and present it as being timely. Sure, there's not a lot going on in Cubdom right now, but can we leave this DeRosa thing alone. He's gone. There is nothing we can do about. Some people are unhappy, some people aren't. Everyone has a way of dealing with it. Maybe Cubs fans can't let go of DeRosa, but you have to let go of this story otherwise people will keep talking about it. Do you see the monster you're creating Rozner?!?!?!

On a side note, I want to make mention of Rozner's claim that Aramis Ramirez is "fragile". When he wrote that it might have been a mistake to "give $75 million to someone (Ramirez) so fragile", I felt like someone was trying to get away with a claim without checking their facts. Since 2004 (his first full season with the Cubs), Ramirez has played 145, 123, 157, 132 and 149 games. As someone in the comment section mentions, that's a 141 games-per-season average, which adds up to Ramirez missing about 13 percent of every season since he's been with the Cubs. Go back even farther and you'll see that Ramirez hasn't played less than 123 games in a season since 2000 when he only played 73. Fragile? I think not.

Back to the Tribune where Phil Rogers is reporting that the Astros might be moving to sign Adam Dunn.

I'm not really sure why Rogers describes this potential move as a "sneak attack", but I personally think people are sleeping on the Astros with or without Dunn. There's been some talk around here about the Reds, Cards and Brewers as being the biggest competition to the Cubs in the division, but I'm actually worried about the Astros for some reason. They have a solid group of big hitters (Berkman, Lee, Tejada, Pence) and perhaps the best starter in the NLC with Oswalt. I'm not saying the Astros can pose a serious threat to the Cubs yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if they were the ones right behind the Cubs for most of the season.

I'm sure there's more Cubs-related stories out there, but these where just a few that I happened to stumble across this morning.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go clean up all those "soda" bottles in my living room.

MLB Network's Hot Stove Analysis of Cubs

For those of you who may have missed it Tuesday night, MLB Network's Hot Stove had a segment where they analyzed the Cubs' offseason and where they feel that the team is compared to where they were entering the playoffs last year.  Some of the key points that were brought up:

 

Key Additions: P Aaron Heilman, P Kevin Gregg, IF Aaron Miles, OF Milton Bradley

 

Key Losses: P Jason Marquis, P Kerry Wood, IF Mark DeRosa, OF Jim Edmonds

 

Addition by Subtraction?

 

The question brought up was whether or not they put back more than they lost.  The guys on the show all pretty much agreed that their was a big question mark in the middle of the infield and around the backup situation for Ramirez and Lee since DeRosa was traded.  Obviously, Hendry feels that Miles is a good replacement for DeRosa's versatility and I would have to agree.  DeRosa was average at best at all of the positions he played last year.  He wasn't a gold glover at any position which was obvious so I think that Miles can easily fill the role.  Offensively, Fontenot, given a similar number of at bats, would have performed very similarly to DeRosa in almost every catagory, so Fontenot could end up replacing DeRosa's bat.  The one thing that wasn't replaced however, was DeRo's locker room presence.  What affect will this have? I am not sure, but what I am sure of is that I will miss him when the media starts turning to guys like Soriano for post game interviews. UGH!

 

5th starter and who's in center?


This is funny actually because when you look back a year ago they were asking the same questions.  This was obviously before Dempster had a good spring training and a career year.  The only thing that really is different about this year is that there is only one spot in the rotation guys will be competing for and we have two guys who can hit in the majors (well...kinda) competing for the starting CF job.  The guys on Hot Stove made a quick reference to these positions, but pretty much brushed past them feeling that they are big question marks that Hendry and Pinella will need to address come spring training.  I, however, don't feel that this is the case.  CF is going end up being a straight platoon like last year with Fukudome taking the place of Edmonds and I am content with that.  The 5th starter job will end up being a competition between Heilman and Marshall.  Pinella doesn't seem to be a fan of Gaudin, so I consider him out.  At this point, you could flip a coin with Heilman and Marshall.  Who knows?  What I would like to see happen (and also is the likely scenario) is to have Heilman as the Cubs' 5th starter will Marshall being the swing man.  This would make the most sense because it would give the bullpen a second lefty and provide insurance in case of a needed day off (Harden) or injury (Harden).  This scenario would leave Shark in AAA getting ready to become a big league starter.  Stashing Shark away for a few months would be huge for the Cubs if...and this is a big IF...Harden stays healthy and pitches like he did in the second half last year because he would be a VERY valuable trade piece at the deadline.  It's too early to speculate on July trades, but in a perfect world, it would happen.

 

And finally...

 

Hothead vs. Hothead


Now that Milton Bradley has signed with the Cubs and is being looked upon to balance the Cubs' lineup, people are waiting for Lou and him to go at it much like Big Z and Barrett.  You put two historically explosive guys in the clubhouse together you can expect some fireworks, but for some reason, the guys on Hot Stove don't think so.  And the odd part is...I agree.  I think that Bradley will be great for the Cubbies and for their clubhouse.  They need to lose that "You blew the game, but it ok, you tried your best" attitude that they seem to have.  Bradley is the man to light that fire and really give it to someone when they lose a game they should have won.  Lou seems to have lost his edge in his old age (sorry Lou) and I think that MB is the guy to bring that back.  I see this becoming the Kobe Bryant/Phil Jackson love affair for baseball.  But...I could be wrong and we could see Bradley break Pinella's jaw for taking him out of a game.  Either way, I'll take him.

 

All in all, I think the offseason hasn't been that bad.  It really isn't much different than last year.  I mean we signed our big name lefty to play right field, we have questions surrounding CF and the fifth starter spot, and we were glued to our computers waiting for that big trade to come through only to see our Trade-O-Meter stay at Nuh-uh for 90% of the offseason.  I am sure Hendry still has a few minor things up his sleeve, like he always does, but if the season were to start tomorrow, I would take this team even with the question marks...and so should you.

Goodbye Iowa?

I was talking with an Iowan sports guru not too long ago about the pending sale of the Cubs to the Ricketts clan.  The very first thing he said to me on the subject was that the sale was bad news for Des Moines. 

The Ricketts family has no association with our corn-growing friends, but they are entrenched in Omaha - the home of the Royals AAA affiliate.  They also have heavily invested in the construction of a new baseball stadium there which is state of the art.  Therefore, my friend is concerned that they will essentially negotiate a "trade" with the Royals - Omaha for Iowa. 

In my opinion, Iowa is as much a part of the Chicago tradition as is blue pinstripes and the Cubbie bear sleeve patch.  It would be strange to not have the Iowa Cubs.  Then again, I like shiny.  A new stadium with quality facilities couldn't hurt our minor league players.

Anyway, I haven't seen it discussed anywhere and meant to bring it up here sooner.  If and when Tom Ricketts starts talking to the press, I hope one of the first questions asked will be regarding the future of the Iowa Cubs - but I'm betting it won't get asked at all.

How full is YOUR cup?

Since it certainly appears that the bulk of the off-season manuvering is complete, today's question is: when you look at the roster today, how full is YOUR cup?  Oh, I suppose Hendry's got his sights on some depth positions, like a backup SS and/or a LOOGY.  We don't have a Left-handed One Out Guy, and Aaron Miles is our backup shortstop.  Since Lou Pinella has noticed that Ryan Theriot has ran out of gas the last two seasons, Lou has pledged that Ryan will get somewhat more rest during the course of the season.  He did attempt to put Cedeno in there in May and June, and Ronny did Ronny-esque things, like get picked off of bases.  That's why Theriot was left out there every day, to wilt under the hot summer sun. 

So, when I go out to the official site and peruse the roster, I see a team that, assuming those two small parts are thrown in, will compete in the Central.  They may even win the Central, perhaps even sooner than last year's team.  When you consider that no other teams in the division have made any big improvements, and that we won by 6 games last year, the fact that our net impact is relatively flat can be forgiven, at least as much as the Central is concerned.

I imagine at some point a Kurt or Colin will list out all 25 roster spots, compare and contrast the incumbent (2008) entry with this year's entry, compile the sum values, and draw conclusions based on the numerical facts.  I'm not going to dig that deep today, primarily because I am suffering from the combined effects of a vile winter's cold and the intentional overdose of NyQuil.  But also because I am numerically lazy too.  Hell, let's be honest.  I just want to divert attention away from the epic PTBNL struggle.  Cool

I see rough improvements in productivity from RF and the front end of the bullpen.  I also see slight dropoffs in CF, SS and C, and a substantial dropoff at 2B.  We may gain an edge at closer if Marmol can grow into the role.  Re-signing Dempster was huge, although we will be fortunate if he can merely match his 2008 performance.  In fact, the way we are constructed, I cannot see our starting staff performing any better in 2009 as they did last year. 

This team won 97 games last year - they may drop down several games, and that may still be plenty to win the Central. 

My big question for you, the reader today, is what we have enough to win a World Series? 

The logical answer, all else being equal, is sure.  If a team can qualify for the playoffs, then "anything can happen" once you're there.  It's a very old, very tired adage, but it is so old because for nearly every other team in the league, it holds true.  Last year, Tampa Bay won a Pennant in their first post-season appearence.  The Cardinals won a World Series in 2006 after having won only 85 regular season games as the weakest qualifier that year.  The White Sox broke a 78 year old drought in 2005, and the Sawx broke their own 70-some year old drought the year before.  So I understand that a casual fan can stand there and toss out the "anything can happen" screed without fear of ridicule.  The 2009 Cubs, as constituted, can make the postseason, so therefore they have a shot.

But I know, and if you read this every day, you should also know, by now.  It isn't enough to just MAKE the playoffs.  Are there gaps?  Are there low spots?  Are there parts of this roster that can come back and bite us next October?  I have maintained, and will still maintain until proven otherwise, that for the Chicago Cubs to overcome the competitive and karmic hump placed on themselves, that they need to be built to be foolproof, a sure fire lead pipe lock of a roster, so that any margin for error is eliminated. 

If all you want is to win the division, then your Cubs glass is fairly high and brimmin' with refreshing blue Cub Kool-Aid.  But we're no closer to a title than last year, not really.  I can't help but to be a bit disappointed.  This is what the Peavy trade would have accomplished.  We wouldn't be foolproof, but we'd be closer than we are now. 

What do YOU think?

 

A 20-year-old's letter to the New Owner of the Chicago Cubs

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.)

Chicago Tribune's Chicago's Best Blogs award