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Bruce, we gave you tha keys, and THIS is what you brought home?

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Wednesday, October 5

Why not?

As seen on Ruz's and Chuck's pages, a nice neat way to summarize the season, and to once and for all, set my embargo in place until Baker leaves town.

Let's start off with the biggest positive in an otherwise disappointing season: Does Derrek Lee deserve the MVP? Will he get it?

Lee can thank Andre Dawson for the fact that never again will a superior performer on a lousy team win the MVP. Lee WAS the best all-around player in the bigs in 2005.

If you had a disposable time machine that could only travel back as far as October 4th, 2004 and was good for only one trip, plus the superhero power to change people's minds and actions - what one move, moment, play or decision from this past season would you alter?

I would fire Baker, and hire Joe Girardi.

Injuries be damned, the reason why we are getting early jumps on hunting season are:

1) He repeatedly trotted LaTroy Hawkins and his full diaper to close
2) He repeatedly had a combo of Patterson, Perez, or Macias setting the table in front of Lee
3) He repeatedly has played sluggish veterans before more productive rookies - Macias before Cedeno, Hollandsworth before Dubois, Lawton over Murton

At what point did you give up on the Cubs this year?

The same date Chuck did, May 5th, when Novoa walked Damian Miller

All signs point to Dusty Baker returning for the final year of his contract in 2006. But what lies ahead for Dusty? Is an extension on the way this off-season? Is he in any danger of losing his job in 2006? Should he be? Any other coaching changes on the horizon?

The entire coaching staff should be sacked, for taking $100 million and winning 79 games with it. Other big-spending, low-producing teams fired their staffs. I cannot possibly discuss any sort of further committment to them.

What about Jim Hendry -- should McPhail and the Trib re-up him or is his fate tied with Dusty's?

Regardless of what stud trades he's pulled off, what free agents he's signed, what holes still remain on the team, if he's the decision maker on Dusty Baker remaining on their payroll, he has to be scrutinized. I don't know if there were obstacles behind our inability to acquire a leadoff hitter. But if you're going to keep Dusty Baker, Professional Motivator, as your manager, then it is up to YOU to make the team Dusty-proof. Baker CANNOT improvise a lineup, so you have to fill all nine slots in the order, all five arms in the rotation, and all six arms in the pen, so Baker doesn't need to make a decision.

If you keep Baker, and you do NOT build a Dusty-proof roster, then it is YOUR fault, and you need to go.

What are the top three that went wrong for the Cubs this year, foreseeable or not?

1) Patterson, Neifi, et al. Leading off
2) Hawkins Closing
3) Garciaparra tearing his groin

How about three that went right, besides Lee's breakout?

1) Ryan Dempster
2) Matt Murton
3) Zambrano's arm didn't fall off

The free agent market is one of the weakest in years, but the Cubs look to have plenty of cash to spend on it. Should they spend, spend, spend, and if so what should their targets be? Or should they hold on to it until next year or use it to take some garbage contracts off other teams? Should they spend it on extensions for any current players?

We have pitching prospects dying on the vine. I would utilize every single pitcher in the organization outside of Zambrano, Prior and Dempster in trades for versatile outfielders like Ryan Freel and Vlad Guerrero - I'm not saying they are available, but I would NOT be afraid to overpay for anyone worthwhile. And I would aim for the sky.

What are 3 moves the Cubs MUST DO this off-season?
1) Sack the coaching staff; hire Joe Girardi
2) Since they won't do #1, what's the point for 2 & 3?

What are 3 moves the Cubs MUST NOT DO this off-season?
1) Allow Dusty Baker to fill out the lineup card
2) Since they won't do #1, what's the point for 2 & 3?

Let's talk specific players. Should Baker and Hendry give the keys to left-field to Matt Murton or do they look for other options?
I wish he could play center. Since he cannot, we need to get at least 2, hopefully three, hitters in the outfield. I wouldn't die if Burnitz was here another year, just not for $7M. Perhaps Nomar COULD play left, but not for $8M. I wouldn't die if Murton was the fourth outfielder in a rotation.

Is Ryan Dempster the closer next year or should the Cubs look elsewhere?
Yes. Next question.

Nomar Garciaparra: try to resign to another incentive-laden deal OR say thanks for the memories and the groin jokes? If he comes back, where should he play?
He could be my left fielder for half the money he made this year.

Neifi Perez: uber-backup, starter, or agent's phone calls immediately transferred to voice mail?
He is NOT a backup player. I'm not saying he's a good starter, I'm saying that Perez is ATROCIOUS if he has to sit on the bench. I would let him go.

Can Corey Patterson's brain and/or bat be salvaged?
Not by the Cubs. Quite possibly, in the right situation, he may enjoy modest success elsewhere. Personally, I doubt it.

Kerry Wood: bullpen or rotation?
This is the most fucked-up situation we have on this team. He makes the most money of any Cub, and he's the best set-up man in baseball. He might be a great closer, but we have Dempster, and frankly, in my world, Dempster keeps the job until he loses it himself.

Jeromy Burnitz: pick up his $7 mil option or buy him out for $500K?

$500K. I would love to obtain an All-star RF, damn the price. Burnitz will still be there in February if we cannot.

Todd Walker: good facial hair, gimpy leg, Cubs beat writers' best friend. Pick up his option or look elsewhere?

Yeah, you hit the nail on the head. He seems better than he is, because he talks to the media. I need to close my eyes and cut bait with this one.

Which lil' Cubs would you like to see get a shot at a roster spot in spring training?

I want to see Cedeno get a shot starting at second if we can sign Furcal, or short if we cannot. I want to see more of Rich Hall, and I want to see how Leicester and Wellemeyer do with a new pitching coach.

Is 2006 the Year of the Cub? Why or why not?

Any year with Baker as the manager of the Cubs will NOT be the year of the Cubs. Since they are bound to him, then no.