Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Things to look for in the last month

With the Cubs season more or less over we will be treated to six weeks of bad, meaningless baseball. That means that those of us who will still be watching every night need some things to cheer for while realizing that wins won't exactly be occurring very often. I've got five things I'll be cheering for this season.

1. Milton Bradley continued strong play
Milton has been the player we all wanted him to be so far this second half. His line of .291/.415/.436/.851 is pretty darn good, and right about what we should have expected out of Bradley. Hopefully Bradley continues to hit the ball and play good defense. He has been remarkably healthy this season and his batting eye doesn't really slump. 
Bradley having a great finish to the season is also probably needed so that Jim Hendry doesn't go something stupid by trading him this offseason. Fukudome-Bradley would be a great 1-2 in the batting order next season, and fan venom/stupid media members may prevent that from happening.

2. Randy Wells
I know last week I wrote the Cubs should think of shutting down Wells, and I stand by that, but if he continues to pitch I will be rooting for him to continue his brilliance. JA Happ probably has the ROY award wrapped up, but anything can happen in the last month of the season. If Wells can get three or four more wins and keep his ERA under 3 (a tall task I know) then he should be in prime position to win the award. If the Cubs shut him down, well then I know his arm will be rested a ready for next season.

3. A resolution to the second base issue
This means Jeff Baker being good at baseball the rest of the season. While I think the Mike Fontenot experience will go away after this season, Baker continuing to be good is important. Lou and Hendry must see that Fontenot, even in small doses, belongs in AAA. I also hope Baker can end the need for Aaron Miles.
If the Cubs want to platoon at second base, why not have Andres Blanco be Baker's partner? He won't produce offensively at all, but his defense at second and short combined with his ability to switch hit means he can take both Miles and Fontenot's spots. 

4. See what we have with Jake Fox and Sam Fuld
Give Soriano and Aramis plenty of time off, I would be in favor of shutting them both down completely, but I don't know that they would agree to this. The Dave Kaplan's of the world want to see Fox and Fuld play on a regular basis so show them what they would have. Odds are both fall off from what they've been doing, and if they do we get to end all the dump Soriano and Bradley for Fox and Fuld stuff. 
If they continue their hot play then the offseason options open up like crazy. Fuld and Fox might be attractive options in a trade, or can fill valuable backup spots for the Cubs.

5. Carlos Marmol the closer
The rest of the season will serve as the 2010 closer audition for Marmol. We've talked about his before, but it bears repeating. If Marmol can take care of the ninth inning the rest of this season, he will lock down the closer role.
If he can't show that he's the closer of the future, there are plenty of free agent closer options that can be looked at. Heck I wouldn't be against signing one of them anyway, but knowing exactly how Marmol responds as closer is important.  

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