Yesterday we took a look at what the roster would look like, assuming free agent potentials left the team. I think we saw that the team still has a very solid nucleus to build around. That being said, let’s take a look at those players that were missing from yesterday’s roster and talk about some of the possibilities involving them.

Bring ‘Em Back

Ryan Dempster
I went back to see what people were saying about Dempster at the beginning of the season and this was what I found:

Dempster should not be a starter. A great guy and a team player, but definitely not a major league starter. ~ Adam_ (March 26, 2008)

I’m glad he, and all of us really, were wrong about him. Dempster was the ace of the staff all year long. He was the most consistent starter throughout the course of the season and deserves to start the game tonight. Unfortunately, the Cubs find themselves with a bit of a decision to make about him. Looking at what the rotation would be without him, it’s tough to see Hendry not come to an agreement with Dempster. Jon Heyman mentions Panic Room rip that Jim Hendry has plans to bring Dempster back. I think is the only decision possible. He’s worth the chance you take on him. I don’t see him bringing in Sabathia type money, but he should get more that someone like Lilly got a few years ago. I can live with that. Just in case you were wondering, other options are: Jon Garland, Derek Lowe, CC Sabathia, Ben Sheets, Randy Wolf

Rich Harden
There was some confusion yesterday on whether Harden was coming back. Just to set the record straight, the Cubs have a club option on Harden for 2008. Simply put, the Cubs choose whether or not they would like to bring back Harden for $7 million or grant him free agency. I think you’ve got to bring him back as well. At that price tag, the upside is too high to let him walk. Granted, the injury risk is there (Harden hasn’t pitched a full season in his career), but for what you get when he’s healthy, Harden is a value. If I’m making this decision, it’s a no brainer for me.

Kerry Wood
This guy took a hometown discount to come back and prove he can still be a meaningful part of the team. He’s not going to be a starter again, but you have to admit his presence in the bullpen was a welcomed surprise. He took one of the team. Now it’s time to reward that with a contract to bring him back for the bullpen. I think he needs to start the year as the closer, but I believe Carlos Marmol is just about ready to ascend to that role. Down the stretch our pen was less than elite. Wood can help solidify that need late in the game next year.

Reed Johnson
We got him off the scrap him. Bring him back on a short deal (1 or 2 years) as a 4th outfielder / platoon partner for someone like Felix Pie or Kosuke Fukudome. He’s played his butt off all year and made the most of every opportunity he was given. Given that the other options in the outfield are slim, another year of Reed is fine with me.

Nice Knowin’ Ya

Jim Edmonds – We caught lightning in the bottle, but it’s foolish to think he has more in the tank for next year. Let’s get him a ring to go out with and thank him for his time.

Bob Howry – He served his purpose at one time, but lately just serves up home runs. He’ll catch on somewhere, just not here.

Jon Lieber – He’s a good guy, but he’s not the same guy that won 20 games for us back in the day. Take care Jon.

Henry Blanco – This is one that I debated on for the simple presence that he brings. In the end, this is an area I think we can cut a corner on with Geo catching well and Koyie Hill serving as a serviceable back up.

Daryle Ward – He has his place on the right team. Unfortunate for him, Micah Hoffpauir has stepped up and finally deserves a spot on the bench of a Major League team. He doesn’t have the pinch hitting experience of someone like Ward, but he’s less of a defensive liability.

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers as well as host of VFTB Radio. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail