I'm sick of reading about the idiocy and stupidity surrounding this team. I'm looking forward to September and 2012 already. Even if this team does nothing in free agency and Hendry is retained, we can assume a few things for next year, which should put us in a better position.
Next year's roster should look something like this
C: Soto or Castillo or Clevenger. Exciting options in the minors, I'd really love to see us trade Soto and get something back. Either a starting pitcher or some prospects. Soto is a pretty good catcher who is still under team control
1B: Who knows. I'd like to bring back Pena. I think a 2 year, $24 million dollar deal is not unreasonable. His defense alone with the likes of Castro and whoever is playing 2B makes it worth it.
2B: I'd like to to be LeMahieu but it could very well be Barney or Marquez Smith. Maybe someone else shocks management during ST. I think one of Baker or Dewitt is let go
SS: Castro. A young star who is only going to get better. I'm so excited to watch the kid blossom
3B: Bring back Aramis Ramirez. If you can get him back for cheaper than his option which IIRC is worth $16 mil, DO IT. Sign him for 3 years. His veteran presence and potential to teach Vitters and possibly a move to 1B will be worth it.
LF: Soriano. Deal with it
CF: Brett Jackson. The future. I'm stoked to see what this kid can do. A .250 season with 15-20 SB and 10-20 HRs (a large gap I realize) is a satisfying season for me. Jackson may never be a HOF'er, but he should be an all star a few times before it's all said and done
RF: Byrd. His last year in his contract. He's been more than solid for us. Starting to slow down just a tad. An excellent hustler on defense coupled with a strong arm, he should be able to handle right field at Wrigley.
Bench: Barney/LeMaheiu (whoever isn't starting), one of Baker/DeWitt, Clevenger or Castillo, Colvin/Reed Johnson/Random 4th OF.
Changes: Not much here. I think you trade Soto to a team with a big hole at catcher (Rangers, Rays, and Yankees jump to mind) and if Colvin doesn't do much the rest of this year, send him to Iowa for one more and if he blows it, cut him loose. I think you bring back Pena for cheaper than Pujols/Fielder are worth. Can't afford to give them mega deals a la Soriano. Koyie Hill is GONE which makes the team a lot better.
Rotation: Zambrano. He's really been solid for us this year and I'm happy to bring him back. You aren't going to get full value for him in a trade unless you eat a majority of the contract.
CJ WILSON: Go get this guy. Don't spend money on 3B or outfield help. Wilson is a top end of the rotation guy and he's probably better than Z. Proven winner, great teammate from what I've read, and moving to a ball park that isn't the launching pad that Texas plays in
Garza. Still under team control. No reason not to bring him back
Dempster. Still under contract. We all love him. Hope he bounces back next year
Cashner. Give the kid a chance. I hope he isn't delegated to the pen full time
Changes: I think it's time to let Wells go. He's a fifth starter at best and could possibly bring back something in a trade. He served his time and we thank him for it. I'd rather see Cashner/Struck/McNutt get a shot here than Wells. Go use the Pujols/Fielder money on a legit pitcher for the top end of the rotation.
Closer: Marmol. If you can't trade him for what he's worth, bring him back. Has the stuff to be the closer and has proven to be dominant in this league
Set Up: Marshall and bring back Kerry Wood. Pay Wood more than $5 and Marshall gets an arb raise
Others: Samardjiza, Russell, Carpenter, find a free agent
Changes: Grabow is gone. Immediate upgrade. I think the pen was solid for us this year. No real options in the minors other than Carpenter, but I say let's see what he can do.
I think this team could win 80 games, without a lot of ifs. Assuming Soriano hits .250 with 20 homers and his awful defense, assuming Pena continues to hit .220, assuming Z and Dempster struggle, it's not impossible to think that this team could be better. Shark and Russell STAY IN THE PEN and get better with experience, as does Carpenter. Garza gets better luck. Cashner is a legit pitcher and not someone at the end of his career who has no business starting. Aramis has a .280, 20+ HRs, around 90 RBI's can be expected.
I'd like to see Quade and Hendry gone as much as anyone but I think even an idiot could make these basic changes and make the team that much better. Use the Fuk money for Pena. Take the Silva/Grabow/Soto money to go get Wilson. You're around the same payroll but with functional players. Z has less pressure on him. A starting lineup of Castro, 2B, Ramirez, Pena, Byrd, Soriano, Jackson, C is pretty solid if you ask me.
Curious to see what your thoughts are.