Sunday, September 25, 2005

the sweet release of death

the cubs are now officially done -- though it was long ago plain that they were eliminated. appropriately enough, the final dagger featured houston, shoddy pitching, a lot of rain delay and the klown circling under a morgan ensberg flyball like a wounded dog, playing it into a triple and sparking the decisive astro rally. (how has this bastard remained on the roster?)

now that even the diehards have been forced to concede, let the offseason demolition begin -- please! destroy it! destroy it all! i see only these pieces as unassailable in the 2006 reconstruction: lee, ramirez, barrett, zambrano and prior. and i'm frankly not too sure about all o' those.

in any case, we'll find out shortly just how serious (if at all) the cubs are about succeeding next season. the most obvious indication that 2006 will be no different than 2005 would be the inclusion of patterson on the 25-man roster. if he's still there in april 2006, it should be plain to god and everyone that the cubs don't care whether they win or not -- and neither should you. and if he's the starting centerfielder breaking camp, the management has actively decided to annihilate the team in a fiery blast on opening day -- you should seek cover underground if you live within a three-mile radius of clark and addison.

secondary indications that the cubs don't really care if they win or not next year:

  • the continued tenure of dusty fucking baker, who has been clearly identified now as a snake-oil-selling fraud of a major league manager, unfit for yosh kawano's job, much less the one he's been paid to derelict;
  • an inability or unwillingness to land at least two of the free agent relievers listed here, to bolster dempster and ohman;
  • an inability or unwillingness to sign two legitimate first-tier outfielders to play right and center;
  • an inability or unwillingness to sign a major-league shortstop. a commitment to a significant role for neifi perez on the basis of his 2005 performance -- which some idiots actually think of as successful despite a .302 obp and a .692 ops -- likely dooms the squad to mediocrity. nomar may have proven that he's no longer an effective big-league shortstop, but that doesn't mean one can plug in neifi and expect success. he simply cannot produce offensively.
  • an inability or unwillingness to sign a major-league leadoff hitter. the solution to this problem is bound up in the solution of one of the preceding two points -- the cubs need a rafael furcal, a kenny lofton or (dare to dream) a juan pierre. forget about felix pie -- the kid is still a strikeout monster in the mold of patterson at this point, may well be the product of system hype more than personal talent and won't be ready for the show next year in any case after spending the entire second half on the dl.

  • these initial indicators might surface in october even before the conclusion of the playoffs, as the cubs try to formulate a plan of action (something you just know hendry and macFail haven't done yet) for 2006 -- so keep a lazy eye open as you immerse yourself in the kyle orton era (which appears to be flaming out as i write). more of interest may happen with regards to the cub franchise in the next six weeks than has in the last twelve.

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