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The Chicago Tribune had a poll up Sunday asking which Cubs collapse broke your heart the most. Honestly, I’d have to rank it, and this is only in my lifetime, the 2003 team, the 1984 team, and then this 2008 team. After the 2003 meltdown, I was literally numb for about two weeks. Mountain Dew wasn’t as sweet, Snickers bars weren’t as nougaty, and Old Style still tasted like crap. I believe when, or should I say if, the Cubs win the whole shabang, Old Style will be as fine as a vintage champagne. Yeah, who am I kidding. I didn’t even watch Game 3 on Saturday evening. I was done, the Cubs were done, and to listen to Dick Stockton one more evening would of driven me to the heights of insanity. I had lost my heart in Cubs baseball, all in a matter of four days.

 When Joe asked about each of us doing a “what do they do for next year” post, I actually had no ideas. On paper, and for most of the season, I saw nothing glaringly wrong with the team as it was. They needed a centerfielder, Jim Hendry grabbed Reed Johnson, and later Jim Edmonds. A starter to help fend off the Brewers, he traded for Rich Harden. What else could you ask for? Maybe a little bullpen help, but most of the time they were fine. Do you really make a major change with a team that just won back to back NL Central titles? I don’t think so, much to the chagrin of all some of you that want major changes. My bigger gripe about the team’s failure in the post season. Management. Why in god’s name did Lou reinsert Kosuke Fukudome into the lineup? Better yet, why did he bat him second? Why would you mess with a lineup that you’ve stuck with almost the whole year, and change it for the biggest series of the year? Blame the offense all you want, I blame Lou just as much. He tinkered when it wasn’t necessary.

Here’s my realistic ideas:

  • Re-sign Reed Johnson. Platoon him with Pie in centerfield.
  • Make Mark DeRosa your everyday right fielder. Put Mike Fontenot in as your second baseman. You’ll get two good bats in the lineup, and a lefty which is sorely needed in the right handed heavy Cubs lineup. You lose some defense in right, but after this year, they need to reward Mark with an everyday position, not as a super sub. If necessary, go sign a Felipe Lopez, utility type player to fill the super sub role.
  • Kosuke Fukudome heads to Iowa to learn American styled hitting and pitching. The Mets did it with Kaz Matsui, maybe it’s Kosuke’s time. He’s in Lou’s doghouse as it is, I don’t see this ending well, any way you slice it.
  • Micah Hoffpauir becomes the pinch hitter. He’s no worse defensively than Ward. And cheaper.
  • Re-sign Dempster and Wood. With the NLDS loss, they may take a hit in salary to see if they can get the job done, like they should have this year.
  • Sign Jeremy Affledt to strenghten up the middle relief, and give Lou another lefty in the pen. 
  • Resign Hank White. He’s a great mentor to Geo, and is one of the few people that can probably keep Zambrano under control.

And of course, some pie in the sky ideas:

  • Don’t resign Dempster. Make a serious run at CC Sabathia. Heck, sign Dempster, then go get Sabathia. Get us a dominating scary #1 pitcher.
  • Go balls out, and sign Manny Ramirez. Move Soriano to right field. Again, Fukudome gets to check out the cornfields of Iowa for awhile.

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  • Trade for Robinson Cano.  The Yankees are looking for pitching and a centerfielder. We seem to have both of those. If you trade Pie, you resign Edmonds. I think a full Spring Training will benefit him. He became a clubhouse leader, from what I’ve been told, the day he arrived.

I’ll be honest. I’d be very happy to see the same team next year, with a tweak or two. Hendry’s close, and I think this team is going to be hungry next year. Really hungry. Not to mention, the free agent crop is below average, and most of them are past their twilight years. I’m not sure it’d be worth the risk. Of course, I see a nice young power pitching right hander is available. Mark Prior anyone?

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Been blogging on VFTB since 2006. It's been a long silly run thus far. I still play baseball in the Chicago North Men's Senior Baseball League.