When the Cubs were out of it under Dusty Baker, the Cubs continued to trot out Prior, Wood and the rest of the regulars for the sake of a "fair" pennant race for everyone else. For the record, I don't give two turds about anyone else's playoff races. The Cubs' season is already spoiled, so I don't understand the point of endangering a key member for the 2010 team for the sake of competition.
So here is an idiot's guide of how to approach the next 39 games.
1. Shut down Big Z, Lilly, Harden & Wells. Yeah, that's four-fifths of the starting rotation, but they did their jobs this year and there is no point wasting next year's bullets on this year's squad. Wells is approaching a career-high in innings pitched and Lilly, Harden & Zambrano have each seen some time on the DL this year. Those are your horses, give them some rest and restart them once February rolls around.
Trot out Dempster, Gorzelanny, Marshall and ...
2. Free Jeff Samardzija. Let him start. There's your fourth starter. $10 million guaranteed and a no-trade clause, let's see what this guy is all about. Let's see what he has. If he's got something worth a damn, put him somewhere he can succeed or trade him to a place where he won't invoke that stupid clause. If all else fails, ship 'em off to Halas Hall. Jay Cutler might want a new play toy.
3. Rest Ramirez. While we're on the topic of shutting people down, might as well do that to Aramis. See if he needs surgery, if so, get it done. If not, tell him to stay away from cock-fighting this summer before Roger Goodell spanks him. Let Jake Fox play third every day from here on out.
4. Send an edict to Alfonso Soriano. I want at least two stolen bases from you every week from here on out until the season is over. Also, I want you to play second base. I want you to take infield practice like Roger Dorn at second base. That will be your new position because the Cubs need to open up an outfield spot to get a more athletic player to play in those
Let's be honest, signing Chone Figgins makes too much sense for the Cubs to do.
5. Let's see if Carlos Marmol can close. Lou: "Carlos, you pitch the ninth inning and the ninth inning only, got it?" Carlos: "Yes sir, Mr. Piniella." Lou: "Good you (expletive deleted), now get some outs." That's it. No need to waste Marmolade in an extra-inning affair -- it's not like you're going to win it anyway.
6. Set up the rest of 2009 bullpen. One last shut down victim: Angel Guzman. Shut him down before his arm flies off. He had a good year, but has been injury prone in the past. As for the rest of the pen, Piniella should let Justin Berg, Esmailin Caridad, Jeff Stevens and any other youngster who thinks they can pitch at this level do their damn thing and be done with it. If the Cubs can avoid spending a ton of money on over-the-hill bullpen pitchers, it would be greatly appreciated.
7. Send Aaron Miles & Aaron Heilman away. Send 'em far away. Don't let them come back. Ever.
Soon enough, I'll have an offseason guide that will be more detailed than the irresponsibly early guide. This one will be chock-full of the similar sarcastic B.S. you get from me any how. But with real, heart-touching advice.