As will soon become obvious, there are plenty of reasons why I’m neither the Manager nor the General Manager of the Chicago Cubs. But Joe Aiello asked me to play “King For A Day”, so here goes.

For the purposes of this Off-Season drill, I will assume that the Cubs Organization, under its new ownership, has beaucoup bucks; enough $$ to do all the things I suggest without blinking an eye.

Since we have two totally different performances (2008 Regular Season and 2008 Post Season) upon which to base our decisions, there will be a degree of cognitive dissonance inherent to the process. Fasten your seatbelts.

Lou says we need good pitching, good defense and timely hitting. I agree, and we’ll address each of those requirements in that order.

PITCHING
I have confidence in the starting rotation of Ryan Dempster, Rich Harden, Ted Lilly and Carlos Zambrano. From what I’ve seen recently Angel Guzman, Sean Marshall or Jason Marquis could be the #5 starter in 2009.

Now we get into the intangibles. Guzman looked good during his two innings in Milwaukee. I could go with him as the #5 starter based upon that. Marshall looked good in LA against the first 3 batters he faced, but then he gave up a double to DeWitt and was gone in a flash. Maybe there are some historical negatives in his resume that I’m missing. Marquis was superb against the Mets, but since then not so good.

For now I call Guzman our #5 starter and bump Marquis and Marshall to the bullpen in the hope that one or both will become the middle reliever we desperately need.

Carlos Marmol was lights out Saturday night mowing down five in a row. Neal Cotts fired three Ks in the LA’s eighth inning Saturday, but walked the only man he faced on Thursday. Decision time for King Cubbie Dude. OK, Marmol and Kerry Wood will alternate the Closer role. Cotts and Samardzija stay in the bullpen and may serve as set-up men. Gaudin, Hart, Howry, Wells and Wuertz become expendable. I keep Wells and Wuertz if I can.

Just for insurance, and to help in the eventual 2009 postseason, I sign CC Sabathia and Jonathon Broxton.

DEFENSE

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Geovany Soto remains my catcher with Henry Blanco as his backup.

Aramis Ramirez remains at 3B, Ryan Theriot at SS, Mark DeRosa at 2B, and Derrek Lee stays at 1B. Cedeno, Fontenot, Hoffpauir and McGehee stay in supporting roles. Daryle Ward is gone.

Since I have lawyers, guns and money at my disposal, Rafael Furcal may be joining our infield. Albert Pujols, too.

I really like Alfonso Soriano’s arm in left field. Did you see his throw to 3B Saturday night? That was surgically precise, if there is such a thing. Unfortunately, Alfonso’s arm is attached to the rest of him, and I’m just not that fond of the rest of him at the moment. So the Fonz is gone and Manny Ramirez joins us in left field. That was easy. Kosuke Fukudome is our new center fielder. Jim Edmonds is retiring. Reed Johnson and Felix Pie will platoon right field. Unless Manny can’t make it, in which case either Reed or Felix moves to left.

HITTING
The lack of offense killed us in the postseason. Of this there is no doubt. As King, I have tried to fix that problem by hiring Manny Ramirez, Albert Pujols and Rafael Furcal. In addition to those acquisitions, however, I’m gonna bust a move in a different direction.

Rather than hire guys with a history of hitting and then cross my fingers hoping they continue to hit here (I’m not mentioning any names), I’m going to invest big time and create a cabinet level hitting department. I can’t get Ted Williams to head it up, but dammit, somebody is out there who can coach and instruct and motivate and get our guys to provide the offense we need. I’m gonna find that person and build around him. And it’s gonna work. The 2009 Cubs will be a hitting machine: pre, regular and post season.

As you can see, I don’t believe in the “Fire Everybody, Start Over” method of team building. We have a good team. I want to keep the good parts and improve where there’s room for improvement.

I may travel to Arizona in February to personally oversee the implementation of my plan to dominate the world of professional baseball. I’m considering it.

So, for now, that’s my plan and I’m sticking to it!

P.S. I also plan to petition MLB and insist that, henceforth, all Wrigley Field Postseason Games will be day games starting at 1:20 pm CST. Who the hell ever heard of starting an October game at Wrigley at 9:00 pm? Bad Karma. Screw the Extremely Annoying BiCoastal Media Jackals.Ring of Death download

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I'm a third generation cubs fan, living in southeastern Wisconsin.