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Thirty seconds.

That's how long Jeff timed Phil, after he sat down and before he started trading half the roster again.

Maybe he's on to something. The current Cub roster couldn't do a thing today against the Diamondbacks, losing 6-0, and looking bad doing it.

The trade talk between Phil and Dave got so vehement at one point that Mike said to me, "A 25-year friendship is about to go down the drain!"

Well, I don't think it'll get quite that bad. We talked about quite a few possible deals, all the ones that have been rumored and some that haven't.

We talked about Manny Ramirez. Dave said, "Absolutely. He's the best right-handed hitter in the game." That might be a bit overstated -- Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols might have something to say about that -- but Ramirez, who just turned 33, is still a tremendous hitter. He would be a wonderful upgrade in left field -- yes, even though he's an adventure on nearly every fly ball. For that sort of offense, you can live with the occasional ball-popping-out-of-the glove (as happened in last year's World Series).

Phil was offering half the minor league system, and Dave was laughing his head off. "Murton, Mitre and Wellemeyer," Phil said.

That, of course, is ridiculous. Boston would probably start by asking for Carlos Zambrano, and I wouldn't do that. However, as this article says, quoting Red Sox president Larry Lucchino:

Because of the size of his contract, obviously, it's hard. There aren't a lot of clubs that are going to be interested, but it depends how little you're willing to take in return with respect to trades. I'm not talking about Manny specifically, although it certainly applies to him.

$57 million remains on the three years (after 2005) on Ramirez' contract. But -- the Cubs take Sammy Sosa's money off the books after this year, and that's nearly enough to pay for Ramirez' deal. The Cubs, in fact, might be about the only team that could take on this sort of contract without having to incur a luxury tax.

It's an intriguing thought. Jim Hendry has made a big-splash sort of trade each of the last two years. I'm nearly certain he's at least called Lucchino and Theo Epstein to explore whether this is even feasible.

It'd give a huge injection of offense to the club, not to mention a boost to the clubhouse, and it would make a bold statement. Maybe the Red Sox would be so happy to get out from under $57 million that they'd take lesser players.

I guess I'm writing more about this than about the game because -- well, there's not much to write about. The Cubs were lucky to get the game as far as the sixth inning losing only 1-0 (on a Chad "Don't Call Me Jim" Tracy solo homer in the first), because Jerome Williams threw 120 pitches and couldn't even finish the inning. For once, Dusty called on the proper pitcher to face the mostly left-handed hitting Diamondbacks, Will Ohman, and he saved Williams for the moment by getting out of a bases loaded, one-out jam.

The Cubs couldn't do a thing with lefthander Brad Halsey, despite loading the bases in the bottom of the sixth. Jody Gerut, who had come into the game with Ohman on a double-switch, doubled into the left-center gap, his first Cub hit, leading off the sixth, and then Dusty had Jerry Hairston bunt.

Frankly, I thought that was silly. The Cubs had been hitting Halsey hard all day, but right at people. Gerut's hit led me to believe that they could keep doing this -- and Baker's playing one-run ball in the sixth inning?

The Cubs did load the bases eventually, because Derrek Lee was intentionally walked and Aramis Ramirez was hit by a pitch -- I think these pitches are hitting him in his baggy shirt. It was his fifth HBP of the season. Michael Barrett ended the threat with a grounder to third, and that was pretty much it. The last nine outs were recorded by D'backs relievers -- five on strikeouts, after only one Cub had struck out in the first six innings.

Ohman couldn't do the same, allowing a two-run homer to Luis Gonzalez in the seventh that sucked most of the air out of a crowd of 39,154 that thought the Cubs could at least tie the game. Then Michael Wuertz blew the game open for Arizona in the ninth with an ugly, ugly inning that included a double, three walks, a wild pitch and an RBI single by Luis Terrero, who had entered the game as a pinch-runner in the seventh.

So, we are reduced to these sorts of things: when Gerut came into the game, Dave was beaming, because before Dave got into team ownership, he was a player and coach of a semi-pro team that toured the midwest in the summertime, and his players came mainly from local high school and college ranks. Both Hairston and Gerut played for Dave's team, and he was pretty proud looking down seeing 2/3 of a major league outfield being players he coached. I'd like to see Gerut get more playing time -- he also walked today and made a sparkling diving catch on a line drive hit by Craig Counsell. Considering Todd Hollandsworth failed miserably (a three-pitch strikeout) today in a pinch-hitting appearance -- something he's supposedly good at -- I hope Gerut is in left field tomorrow against right-hander Javier Vazquez.

My friend Miles from Georgia has been in town for this series; he's one of the proprietors of Distant Replays,a shop and website that sells "throwback" memorabilia. He was wearing a Cubs T-shirt that had on the back, a "history of the Cubbie Bear logo" which Jeff and I both thought was cool, so we're both going to get one.

It looks like this:



If you guys think it's as cool as we did, go get one! Click through on the Distant Replays logo on the left sidebar to get to their website. Hey, I can be pretty shameless -- the advertisers help this site be here, so it'd be great if you'd help support them.

Oh, and as predicted, it was an absolutely gorgeous day today, the sort of day where the civic boosters send photographers out to take photos of the city for tourist brochures; some puffy white clouds going by, low humidity, nice breeze and game-time temperature of 80 degrees. Too bad the baseball didn't match the day. Howard and I were also a little upset at the Cubs' publications department -- after the Giants series, where they had placed a "track Maddux' 3000th strikeout" form at the bottom of the scorecard, and taken one of the pitcher slots off, they hadn't restored it for this series, leaving only three lines for pitchers. What team uses only three pitchers in a game these days?

Chuck from Ivy Chat was at the game today. So let's say it's his fault. (I'M KIDDING, CHUCK!)

The Cubs have to make some kind of move before Sunday. Maybe shooting past the predictable and getting Manny Ramirez here is the thing to do.

For the immediate future, I figured before this series that the Cubs had to win three of four. Therefore, winning the next three is not only imperative, it's pretty much absolutely necessary.

Never give up hope.