Sunday, October 15, 2006

Five Easy Steps to Becoming an NL Central Contender

Have you ever seen those self-help programs that promise you “Three Easy Steps to a Happier You” or “Seven Steps to Re-growing Your Hair?” You know the type of thing I’m talking about. The author takes a complicated problem, finds the (alledged) solution, and then reduces the solution down to just a few steps that anyone can do. This is my version of the oversimplified “how to” programs, but this one is aimed right at the Cubs.

Five Easy Steps to Becoming an NL Central Contender

Okay, if I really wanted to sell my plan, I’d promise a guaranteed World Series Championship. But let’s not get nuts. A winning record would be an immense improvement, so turning the Cubs into a contender is a tall order indeed. So let’s just build a contending team and then let fate take care of the rest.

To begin with, the Cubs need a new manager. They currently have two good ones vying for the job. Both Lou Pinella and Joe Girardi are good managers. The Cubs will be in good hands, provided Hendry doesn’t find a way to screw it up.

Steps two and three involve adding two starting pitchers. Jason Schmidt would be at the top of my list, but my guess is that the Cubs won’t be in the running for Schmidt. So where do they turn then? Zito and Matsuzaka would be the obvious choices, but just like Schmidt, the Cubs will probably not go after these FA.

For step two, Hendry can pick from a list of Adam Eaton, Andy Pettite, Ted Lilly, Randy Wolf, Vicente Padilla, Jeff Suppan, Gil Meche, Tony Armas, Jr, Miguel Batista, and Mark Redman. Step three choices include Jamie Moyer, Greg Maddux, Tomo Ohka and Chan-Ho Park. These two new pitchers will be joining a rotation that could include Carlos Zambrano, Mark Prior, Rich Hill, Sean Marshall, and Angel Guzman. Other pitchers that might be available (depending on the exercise of options) include John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Mike Mussina.

A twist to steps two and three is trading for a starting pitcher. Possible candidates include Dontrelle Willis, Jason Jennings, Freddy Garcia, and Javier Vasquez.

Step four involves signing a FA power hitter. My choice is Alfonso Soriano. Personally, I’d like to see Soriano play center or right, but if he has to play left (or even second base), I’m okay with it. Other FA power hitters include Carlos Lee, Nomar Garciaparra, Moises Alou, Barry Bonds, Jim Edmonds, and Gary Sheffield. I’m not overly interested in any of these guys. Hendry should set his sights on Soriano and not stop until he gets him.

Finally, step five involves trading for a position player. Tops on my list is Alex Rodriguez. I’ve written extensively on the trade possibilities for ARod, so I won’t re-hash them here. Vernon Wells is another guy I’m written about trading for. Add Miguel Tejada to the list of trade candidates. Any of these trades would substantially improve the Cubs.

There you have it. Five easy steps to contend in the NL Central. It’s time to get started, so let’s get busy and start with step one.

Watch for Five Easy Steps to Becoming an NL Central Contender coming to an infomercial near you.


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