OK, settle down. It’s not time to give up yet. No, really, the Cubs are just below .500. I know that sometimes they look like a little league team in the field, but they are one hot streak away from being back in contention. And sure, most times it looks like our lineup is sleeping at the dish, but they have to start hitting soon. Right? Right?!

I fully believe in being optimistic. The Cubs definitely still have a chance at making the playoffs and even winning the World Series. It’s just not fair to count a team out completely until, say, July 31st.

Oh hey, that’s the trade deadline you say? Well you know what? If the Cubs are out of it- IF- they should make a big splash. I was strolling past Wrigley Field on my way back from my buddy’s house last night, and starting dreaming up some scenarios:

Most plausible trade targets:

Ted Lilly ($12M)

Moving Lilly would be for the sake of dumping a large contract. Teams will probably be a little skeptical with him but he would (or should) get a good return. I would expect an everyday MLB player and 1-2 good prospects- consider it a first step towards rebuilding, which is why this is less likely if the Cubs are still in the hunt come July. Additionally, there’s his stunt-double replacement, Gorzelanny, to fill his vacancy in the rotation.

Derrek Lee (13M)

Sigh. I would hate to see Derrek go. He’s not even a year removed from an MVP-caliber season, and his defense at first remains practically impenetrable. But, his contract is nearing an end and teams are interested. If it has to be done, then we may have to wave goodbye to a Wrigley staple. Trading Lee only seems plausible to me if the Cubs get a good return (prospects with some reasonable MLB experience would suffice) and if we have an instant replacement at 1B. Otherwise, trading Lee could leave a gap at first larger than the Citi Field outfield.

Xavier Nady (3.3M).

There’s just no room for him. You know that guy Tyler? He deserves pretty much all of his at bats. Sorry Xavier- no hard feelings.The problem with Nady is his value. I wouldn’t expect anything in return. A clever GM (earmuffs, Hendry) would just shoot for a bullpen guy that is either unproven or currently struggling. Those guys are always liable to pull 180’s in their year to year performances. As for backing up first base, I still don’t see what’s wrong with Micah Hoffpauir. He even plays a decent right field.

Jeff Baker (975K).

Same deal as Nady. You could argue Fontenot here, but I choose Bake because Font’s a lefty and just may be settling into his fitting role as a utility player.

Alfonso Soriano (nevermind).

I know, I know, it’s possibly the worst contract in baseball. Throw in Jim Hendry’s patented no trade clause and this guy looks like a lock until 2014. And we should be doing everything possible to avoid that. Look, I don’t know how old Soriano is- he probably doesn’t even know- but he runs like he’s 40. And I have sat in the bleachers and watched him turn around and play with the crowd as the pitcher begins his windup. I don’t hate Soriano- I do hate his swing- I still believe he is an above average player. But his defense is killing us. And the final nail in his coffin is that Colvin is ready to play. He’s 25 and deserves his shot. No more wasting talent. Let him flounder, let him struggle; just let him play a full season. And the way to do that is to move Soriano- under any circumstance.

Remember in the recent past when the Cubs got rid of their franchise face? Everyone hemmed and hawed, and bitterly acknowledged “Well, at least we got Jerry Hairston Jr…I guess that’s something.” You know who else came over in the Sammy Sosa trade? Mike Fontenot. Ok, so he didn’t turn into a superstar. But he’s been playing and even starting ever since. Not bad, right?

Then the Cubs decided this past offseason that Bradley had to go, under any circumstance. Keeping him was a liability that outweighed eating the contract or a poor return; the Cubs just had to swallow a very bitter pill and recognize that Jim Hendry made a huge mistake in signing Bradley. But you know what? The Mariners had a similar situation. When that trade went down, if someone said to you that Silva will not have recorded a loss by June, would you have believed it?  Say Soriano is untradeable all you want, but that’s if you want something in return. We have a solution from within- and outfield depth in the minors- so let’s make a change, and take a chance.

John Grabow (2.7M, then 4.8M).

There’s got to be a little league team out there willing to at least kick the tires on this guy. How about some new batting gloves and a pack of big league chew? Sounds fair to me!

And how about more package deals? You could throw in: David Patton, Sam Fuld, Justin Berg or Jeff Stevens. Thoughts on them or any others? I would, however, deem Castro, Theriot, Colvin, Soto, Byrd, Marshall, & Wells untouchable at the moment.

Just to keep us grounded, a lot can still change over two months. If the Cubs are in serious contention, I wouldn’t suggest 90% of these scenarios (Nady=10%). And player values can change dramatically- injuries, hot streaks, PED suspensions, extensions and other trades, etc etc. But if I’m Tom Ricketts, I would be yearning for a clean slate, a new lineup- and there are options that could open up around 20M in payroll or more. We Chicagoans know promises of “change” quite well. And (most) of us understand that change does not always mean success or immediate reward. It could even get worse. But either way, you have to be willing to shake things up.

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