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Before the season started, Scott Lange of The Northside Lounge offered to host a contest among members of the Cubs Blog Army, for various things we thought would happen to the club during the season.

Sixteen of us replied. Among the categories was MVP voting, and now with the awards finalized, so are the contest results.

Well, eleventh is better than sixteenth, I suppose.

In other Cub off-season news today, USA Today Sports Weekly reports that the Cubs have had "preliminary talks" with the Brewers about acquiring their closer, Dan Kolb.

Good, I say. Kolb isn't your traditional closer -- he strikes out about one every two innings -- but he throws strikes, rarely walks anyone and in the last two seasons, covering 98 2/3 IP, he has allowed only five homers. He'll be 30 just before the 2005 season starts, and probably wouldn't be that expensive, either in dollars or in players (say, think they'd take Dr. Tightpants?).

The Tigers did the Cubs a favor today by signing the injury-prone Troy Percival to an overpriced, two-year, $12 million contract. I say a favor because the interest between Percival and the Cubs was mutual, and this many dollars would have been way too much. If the Cubs can acquire Kolb, that might help free up contract money to sign Carlos Beltran.

The Sports Weekly "Buzz" column (sorry, they don't seem to have online links to this at the USA Today website!) also said that the Cubs were making a push to sign Edgar Renteria.

Well, I dunno. Renteria's a good player, but his 2004 wasn't as good as his 2003, so he may have peaked. He'll cost a lot of money, and that's one reason I think the Cubs should stick with Nomar, who, coming off an injury-filled season, will have to prove he can play at his All-Star level, and thus could probably be signed to an incentive-laden contract, perhaps with option years that would vest with plate appearances, etc.

It is very early in the free-agent process, let us remember that, and much still depends on what the Cubs can do with Sammy Sosa. I have the sense this could happen soon, but we shall just have to wait and watch.

Finally, in the latest attempt to expand the Wrigley Field bleachers, the Cubs are now proposing to move the back bleacher walls ten feet onto the sidewalks on both sides, reducing the sidewalk width to between 12 and 16 feet. A new member of the CBA, 1060west, says this would be out to the curb, but the Tribune article doesn't specifically say that.

I'll reserve judgment on this till I can see new renderings.