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CUBS GET NOMAR!!!!

Today's game post was going to be titled "Tomato Failure", and I'll get to that in a moment.

By now you know of the four-team trade consummated right before the 3 pm CT deadline, in which the Cubs acquired five-time All-Star SS Nomar Garciaparra from the Red Sox.

Here are the details as first reported on WGN Radio:

The Cubs sent prospect pitcher Justin Jones from Lansing, to the Minnesota Twins for Doug Mientkiewicz.

Then, Mientkiewicz, Alex Gonzalez, Brendan Harris and Francis Beltran were sent to the Red Sox for Garciaparra and a minor leaguer from Sarasota in the Florida State League named Matt Murton.

The Red Sox -- you following this? -- then sent Gonzalez, Harris and Beltran to the Montreal Expos for Orlando Cabrera.

There you have it. This is a huge, huge, HUGE deal, the Cubs get a player who has been a superstar, and who, even injured, is right below that level, and upgrade their offense without losing anyone off the major league roster other than Gonzalez. Remember the rumors that Matt Clement would be going in this deal? Well, Jim Hendry pulled it off and kept the major league pitching staff intact -- and tomorrow, Ryan Dempster may be recalled from Iowa to further bolster the bullpen.

I'm thrilled. This trade is a major boost not only for the offense, but it's an emotional boost for a ballclub that's been flat, that's been surrounded by these sorts of trade rumors for a couple of weeks now, and now that the biggest rumor of all has come true, I'd imagine the players are going to be jazzed to come to work tomorrow.

And can you imagine Garciaparra, who's actually used to seeing sellout crowds every day, walking in tomorrow not only to see another one, but to know that he might be part of a history-making start by Greg Maddux? He ought to be just as excited to go as we will be to walk in and see him play.

Nomar's had a great career, and yes, he may not be the player he was two or three years ago, and yes, he's had a injury that has slowed him down this year (although he's hitting .321 with 21 RBI in 156 AB, not too shabby, and who has hit over .300 every year of his career, save his September callup season, and 2001 when he missed all but 21 games due to injury.). He clearly was hurt terribly when the Red Sox made their abortive attempt to get Alex Rodriguez to replace him in the off-season, and then with the injury and his upcoming free agency, it was clear that they had absolutely no intention to re-sign him, and that indeed, they'd make every effort to trade him.

I'd like to think that for a player like this, the change of scenery will work wonders. My friend Phil kept saying that about Orlando Cabrera (who, ironically, winds up as the Red Sox starting SS in this deal), but Garciaparra's a far better player than Cabrera, and is having a much better year. And IF Nomar plays well over the last two months, and helps the Cubs into the postseason, and appears to be healthy -- then, why not sign him and keep him for the next few years? He just turned 31 a week ago, and should have four or five good years left... with the caveat that he's got to be 100% healed from the Achilles injury, before you sign him. Seeing him play every day for two months ought to give a good indication of whether or not that's true.

I'll be very interested to see where Dusty bats him. In this lineup he ought to bat third, but you know how that goes. It wouldn't be a bad thing to bat him second and drop Corey down to seventh where he belongs. Tomorrow, with Randy Wolf, a lefty, going for the Phillies, and Paul Bako catching Maddux, I'd expect Mark Grudzielanek to lead off and Nomar to bat second.

This afternoon, the Cubs lost to the Phillies 4-3, their twentieth one-run loss of the season, and at least this one can't be chalked up to bullpen failure.

Well, that's it for today. Check back here tomorrow!

No, that's not it, really, although that's just about it. Howard brought his father-in-law today, and as a result was a bit late getting to the ballpark, and as a result, the tomato wasn't dropped until after the lineups had already been written on the scorecard. This has happened one other time and the result was similar, an offensive failure.

The game, unfortunately, turned on two errors, one by Todd Walker and the other, uncharacteristically, by Derrek Lee, and each one was followed by a two-run homer, and that was it. The Cubs also got a gift baserunner on an error, but Moises Alou couldn't follow it with a homer, only a run-scoring double, and despite the fact that the Cubs actually had an inning in which two batters walked and both of them scored, they had only one baserunner after the fourth inning, ruining yet another excellent Matt Clement start (at one point, he retired 13 in a row).

This problem, in theory, will be at least partly solved tomorrow when Nomar takes the field in a Cub uniform. Incidentally, I wonder -- will Michael Barrett surrender his #5 to Nomar, who's worn it his entire career?

I almost forgot to mention this sign of things to come that I saw while waiting in line to get in today -- a small boy walking down the street with his dad. The boy was wearing a Cubs cap and a Garciaparra T-shirt.

He knew.

In case you care, today's crowd of 39,086 brought the season total to 2,007,402, the first time ever that the Cubs have reached this milestone by the end of July. There are thirty home dates remaining -- that projects to about 3,200,000 for the season, an amazing number.

Today started cloudy and cool, but the sun broke through during the early innings and by the end of the game it was finally summer, warm, in the 80's (and supposed to be pushing 90 by tomorrow), and perhaps tomorrow, summer truly begins, and not a moment too soon.

Hope arrives tonight, on a plane from Minneapolis.