Hey buddy, got any change?
If you’re a Cubs fan, that’s pretty much what you’re thinking about, hoping for and expecting come this off-season. And the Cubs have no choice. Staying put is a recipe for disaster. Last year they won back to back division titles and made significant moves. This year their go to guys couldn’t get a hit in the clutch when it mattered most, the starting pitchers had no run support and many turned in sub-par seasons when the organization and fans had hopes and dreams of so much more. This off-season therefore, should show significant action above and beyond what we saw last winter.
Zambrano has a no-trade clause and apparently he’s not budging. Ok, fine. You know what then? My feeling is that it’s not time to give up on Zambrano, simply time to expect less. He’s no longer the ace of this staff. Well, let me rephrase that. He is the ace of this staff, however not deservingly so. He’s seen his last consecutive Opening Day start, his last year as the number one guy. We had guys on this roster this year who performed more like the ace of the staff than Zambrano did, never mind the possibilities of what we may come up with in a trade or a free agent signing elsewhere across the league. So that’s what needs to be done with Z. Knock him down a peg. Bring in a true ace. The Cards are deep in the ace category which is why they are destroying us this year. It seems like their entire staff dominated this season, two of their starters vying for the Cy Young award in the NL. We need a guy with the right stuff literally up his sleeve, and in his head. A leader. A true ace. Move Z down and find that guy. A rotation where Z is your number 2 or 3 guy instead of your 1 is a huge upgrade right there.
So Z needs a change of spot in the rotation and change of expectations to carry on his shoulders. Others need a change of location in the lineup. Soriano isn’t capable of leading off any longer and Piniella has already announced those days are done. Good. Move him to the sixth hole where power is more of a commodity. Where you’re practically a DH expected to field your position only slightly above average. Come to think of it…why not experiment moving Soriano back to 2B in the Spring? His knee is clearly a problem. Covering the hole at second calls for a lot less hustle and grind over the course of 162 than covering a large amount of room in left. His knee can’t take it and the final games showed that he may not be our guy out there defensively. Sure he was in pain, but who’s to say that won’t happen again after another long season in left? Perhaps moving Soriano to the sixth hole to take advantage of his power and to 2B to take advantage of other options in the outfield is the way to go. Love Sori’s bat potential…his detriment to our defense is too much to have him as our regular LF though. Sori to the 6 hole and 2B. Something to consider.
Other guys simply need a change of scenery. Enter, Milton Bradley. Or should I say, Exit. Bradley has been suspended by the Cubs organization for the remainder of the season. Comments he’s made were determined detrimental to the team and organization and I believe we’ve seen the last of Milton Bradley in a Cubs uniform. You can’t simply come in with a history of being a problem child, sign a three year deal which pays you 10million a year to play a game for a living, be expected to bring the power left-handed bat the team needs to put them (at least) out of the realm of being swept in the first round of the playoffs…then only produce a .257 AVG, 12 HR and put up 40 RBI. And then on top of it all, blame everyone but yourself for your poor performance while trashing the organization that gave you a great opportunity in the first place. Why doesn’t he get what he could potentially be a part of? Imagine if this team won it all? He’d get to be a part of the largest celebrated, most talked about sports championship in the history of sports. And he’d be marked as a huge reason why. Instead, he limps out of a game, refuses to bat and disgraces his time here in every which way. I don’t believe Milton Bradley deserves any racist comments that may have been thrown his way by fans. And I’m not equating taking that kind of abuse to having to read poor stats in the box scores every day…however, I believe Bradley and the fans deserve better. As far as I can tell, it looks like both may very well get just that.
Mathematically, we’re still in (blah, blah). However, with reality comes the expectation that our season will end come the final game of the regular season. The thing that makes these remaining games fun to watch is simply Cubs baseball, rivalries, playing spoiler and watching the young guys get their shot. Think about how you feel just weeks after the final out is recorded in a Cubs game. Think about how much you can’t wait for Spring to come around again so that the Cubs are back. That feeling is right around the corner, so enjoy watching the remaining games while you can. Sure, it’s not always pretty, but at least it’s there. And the rivalries…good times. Who doesn’t love watching Cubs/Brewers, Cubs/Cardinals no matter the time of year? Those are always entertaining. I don’t care if all are eliminated, simply fun to root for the Cubs to beat those teams and we got a week of the Brewers coming up. Let’s go out strong and make a statement to take with us into the winter and into the Spring that we don’t just lay down and die. The players, management, or the fans. And let’s enjoy watching the young guns get their shot at the grand stage. I’m excited about Tyler Colvin coming up. I can’t wait to see what he may have to contribute as a potential future Cub great. He’s a coveted Cub prospect, his season is over and now is his time to shine. Shining in Spring training only means so much. Shining against division rivals when the games still matter is something else. Our outfield is depleted. Our team is hurting and so are our chances of making the playoffs. So let’s get out there, change our outlook on the ending of this season starting today and enjoy the remaining games and the FEW positive things we have left to root for in ’09 Cubs fans.
I mean really, what’s the alternative? Cry about it? Not this year. Besides…if you cry about the Cubs into the Fall and Winter this year, when will you have time to do so about the ’09 Bears? Pace yourself. Expect change. Enjoy this ’09 team while you can. Gorzelanny on the mound tonight (see that, change already). Colvin on the grand stage up from AA ball. Let’s beat Milwaukee…get that W Gorzelanny! Go Cubs Go!