Ahhhhh, trade season is upon us.  It’s our first of the Epstein era and to be quite honest probably the most exciting one in years.  We may see the largest single season change of a roster in Cub history.  We could legitimately say goodbye to six, maybe seven players …….if all goes well.

Hang on a second though….. yes, there are actually some out there crying for the Cubs to press on, attempt to make the post season and become buyers.  Putting up an 8-3 record in the first two weeks of July will make the idiots fall from the woodwork.  Some feel that adding Rizzo was something of a missing link to the puzzle, and while I love what he has done, he ain’t the only picture in a championship montage.

During my relatively new commute, I actually listened to a caller on sports radio rant on and on about the Cubs needing to seize the momentum for once and try to get that brand new wild card spot.  He ended his rant with the all too familiar, “I’ve waited my whole life and they are finally playing well and we are going to tear them apart?  They could make the post season!”  I almost ripped my stereo out and threw it into oncoming traffic.  A few wins seem to turn this fan base to mush all too often, it’s about time they finally witnessed a year in year out contender so they know what championship caliber baseball looks like.

Maybe I am just as much a rube to think Theo and Co. can make this club shine.  I will tell you this much,  I can’t wait for them to gut this sucker and start over.  We can lose out the rest of the season, I don’t care….and truly, neither do you if it means playing for the post-season every year from 2014 on into the future.  Without further ado, here are the current major league Cubs I think MUST return for the 2013 opening day roster in no specific order….

1) Starlin Castro

2) Anthony Rizzo

Okay, so that’s a short list.  These are only the guys I see as MUST returns.  There are others I wouldn’t mind keeping but also wouldn’t mind trading such as:

1) Travis Wood

2) Shark

3) Jeff Russell

4) Bryan Lahair

5) Darwin Barney

6) David JeJesus

7) Shawn Camp

As you can see, I am not too high on this team as a whole.  I didn’t include Garza and Dempster on this list because I need them to go.  I respect their service for the Cubs but we need to get some young players and they are the best trade chips, so I am hoping they are gone by August 1st with a nice stash of prospects coming our way.

On The Topic of Trades…..  

A lot of people seem to believe that we won’t get back any top of the line prospects for Garza or Dempster, but something we need to remember is this market is different from years past.  There are far more buyers then sellers.  Of those that are selling, the options for teams trying to add pitching pale in comparison to what we have.  It is not unrealistic to think we could get a Nick Castellanos or Jacob Turner back from the Tigers for either one of our trade chips.  If you are a team built to win now, you do just that, and you forgo a bit of the future to make that World Series happen.  It’s happened for years, as a matter of fact it happened back in 1987.   Does Doyle Alexander for John Smoltz ring a bell?  It does if you were a Tiger fan in the 80’s and then of course in the 90’s.  Doyle was the modern day equivalent to Dempster, not a flashy pitcher but a guy who was available and having an okay season (he was actually 5-10 but coming on strong at the trade deadline…..I think.)   The Tigers needed the push and parted with their top prospect….John Smoltz.  The Tigers made it to the post season and Doyle went 9-0 with a 1.53 ERA.  Of course, he only gave them that season, the next two were less then great and we know what happened to Smoltz.

I guess I am saying this, when it comes to winning now, teams will gamble to make the best push possible and, all things staying the same, Dempster and Garza are this years best push.

Here is a great article on this very point.  If I had my druthers I would throw Barney and Garza at the Tigers for Castellanos and call it a day.  We will also eat Soriano’s contract and throw him in as you could use a power bat to hit DH, of course now we need Jacob Turner too….oops , did I go too far?

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Chet West is an IT professional living in Minneapolis, MN with his wife and two daughters. He has a pug named Banks and loves photography. Follow him on Twitter @chetwest19