And now it’s time for a gimmicky little thing I like to call, Fact or Fiction:

Fiction:
The Cubs are still in the Wild Card hunt.

Fact:
With a patchwork rotation, a terrible bullpen, an injury riddled infield, Corey Patterson starting in centerfield, and 6 teams ahead of them in the standings, nothing short of a miracle (like Bud Selig suddenly moving them into the NL West) will get the Cubs into the playoffs. In fact, they’ll be hard pressed to fight off Cincinnati to stay in 4th place.

Fiction:
The Cubs need to play Nomar everyday to evaluate him and determine if he should be brought back next year.

Fact:
Nomar can’t be considered anything more than a plan C for 2006. I like Nomar, he seems like a good guy, and he’s a tremendous hitter when healthy, but in his year and a half in Chicago we’ve leaned the truth; the guy is an injury waiting to happen. If there’s even a question of whether or not Nomar’s going back on the DL this week, then the Cubs should put him on it now, and start Ronny Cedeno from here on out. Nomar isn’t going to do this team any good playing once a week, and Ronny needs an extended audition to determine if he’s good enough to be next year’s starter, or if the Cubs need to target Rafael Furcal in free agency next year.

Fiction:
Courtesy of Dusty Baker:

As of right now, its hard to take Neifi out the way he’s playing. You got to reward the guys who busted their butts for you. That’s how it is, man.

Fact:
Baloney. Neifi’s done as well as can be expected filling in this year, but playing him instead of a younger player at this point is ridiculous. As for rewarding him, well, the Cubs are rewarding him with a paycheck every two weeks. That ought to be enough.

Fiction:
This Cubs team is just a few players away from being a real contender next year.

Fact:
A few healthy ones maybe. It’s pretty clear that this team needs an overhaul. With the exception of Dempster and Williamson (who I believe rushed back from surgery too soon and will be better next year) nobody in the bullpen should consider their spot sewed up for next year. In addition, the entire outfield needs to be revamped and the shortstop position will have to be addressed. And our vaunted starting rotation has become a question mark. We know what to expect from Carlos Zambrano and Greg Maddux, but we don’t know if Prior and Wood will be ready to go at the start of next season, or who else will even be in the rotation. Jerome Williams has been better as of late, but will need to control his weight in the offseason. Glendon Rusch might be off to greener pastures. Angel Guzman is finally pitching again, but who knows if his arm will be strong enough to give the Cubs a full season next year. Granted, Jim Hendry may pull off some genius moves this offseason and solve the team’s problems once and for all.

Let’s hope so.

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