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Message #24 of 34  *NEW*
To:  Cubs fans
Subject:  Time to Make Big Changes
Date:  7/8/05, 9:25am
The Cubs are done. It's amazing, if you look back to my posts from just a few weeks ago you can see that things were looking pretty good, and the return of Kerry Wood and Mark Prior was supposed to make things even better. They actually had a lead in Game Two of Thursday's doubleheader but still lost their eighth straight game and are now eight games out of a playoff spot. This team has just been pathetic. Jim Hendry and Dusty Baker have continued to say that there's still hope but now hopefully they will realize that it's time to start planning for next year and make some major changes. Corey Patterson going down to the minors was a start, but much more needs to be done. Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Mark Prior, and Carlos Zambrano will stay -- as well as maybe Michael Barrett, Jerome Williams, Will Ohman, and Ryan Dempster. But just about everyone else is trade potential as far as I'm concerned. Remember how the Cubs almost traded Kerry Wood to the Rangers for either Mark Teixeira or Hank Blalock? I'll bet management would do that trade in a heartbeat now. I would strongly consider trading Wood, because not many others on this team are going to bring anything significant in return, including Jeromy Burnitz, Todd Hollandsworth, Todd Walker, or Mike Remlinger. Trading these guys would bring some marginal players in return and save a little money, but it would also allow for some of the great prospects to get some playing time with the big club. I don't think it's time to give up on Patterson quite yet, but he has been a bust so far and needs to show more patience at the plate. He isn't and never will be a leadoff hitter, even though the Cubs tried to turn him into one.

Looking back, management did not do a sufficient job of filling needs in the offseason. Sammy Sosa and Moises Alou left, and only Burnitz was brought in. Matt Clement and Kyle Farnsworth left with no viable replacements brought in. The club looked solid on paper, but there was not much depth and any injuries would really hurt their chances. This offseason, it sounds like the Cubs will have a decent amount of money to spend. In order to rebuild this team into a contender, there needs to be a heavy emphasis on strengthening the bullpen and adding some guys to the lineup and bench with speed and high on-base percentage to compliment Lee and Ramirez, along with a couple of other young players. There must be a strong emphasis on fundamentals, defense, patience at the plate, and good baserunning, because the Cubs have been terrible in those areas under Dusty Baker. And Dusty needs to quit being so stubborn and play the young guys and put guys at the top of the order who take pitches and get on base a lot, and leave them there.

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