Jim Hendry is learning from the past, and making better decisions this year. Chad Tracy has struggled with injuries but on a cheap minor league contract, it's a low risk move, and if he can return to his earlier form, with help from Jaramillo, he can be a legitimate 3 or 4 hole hitter (against RHP) when he plays, and we do need his depth at third base with Ramirez's shoulder. I would love for Brad Snyder to get his chance, but that is unlikely since he doesn't play first or third base.
We can't change the past with the Soriano, Fukodome, Bradley moves. But we do have better depth this year. Xavier Nady is a risk, for sure but he also has tremendous upside, and on a one year deal with 3.3 million guaranteed it isn't a bad deal.
Marlon Byrd with a 3 year 15 million contract isn't terrible either, (although it's backloaded) especially when you figure Fukodome makes 13 million a year, and Soriano makes 18 million a year. Byrd and Nady don't have no trade clauses though, so that's a plus too. Hendry's moves this year aren't further hamstringing the future, like his moves of the past.
Tim Wilken the Cubs scouting director has done a great job building up the farm system, that is quickly rising up ranks, he was a great hire by Hendry. Rudy Jaramillo the best hitting coach in the majors, is an asset, with his ability to develop young hitters, turn players like Mark Derosa, and Marlon Byrd (career back ups) into solid role players, and help once prominent, struggling veterans return to form. Jaramillo is another great move by Hendry. Hendry gets a B for this off-season, in my book.
If Sandberg takes over next year, look for a lot more youth being infused with the team, it is a good thing he is seeing our prospects in the minors on a regular basis, he get's to see what they can contribute, and I think he is much more likely to play the younger guys, than Pinella. Pinella has no patience for younger players.Gregg Maddux maybe Sandberg's pitching coach. Bob Brenly would be a very interesting possibility as the bench coach.
The future will likely be more of a mixed bag of veterans and youth. Will Derek Lee, Ted Lily, and Aramis Ramirez be cubs in 2011? It's anyone's guess at this point, with Ted Lily he will probably be on another team next year, with rising prospects like Andrew Cashner, Jay Jackson, Casey Coleman, and Chris Carpenter as possibilities to take his spot. Also Jeff Samardzija, and Tom Gorzellany could take his spot as well.
Derek Lee will be a free agent unless the Cubs re-sign him, he is aging and has neck problems, but is still one of the best first basemen in the game. If he is re-signed, I think it will likely be on a short-term deal.
Aramis Ramirez has a player option for next year, so that is out of the cubs hands. I think that both Starlin Castro, and Josh Vitters will be on the Cubs opening day roster next year, whether Vitters replaces Ramirez or Lee, only the future will tell. In 2012 look for Castro at second base and Hak Ju Lee at SS. With the possibiliy of Vitters at third base and Ramirez at first base. Look for Brett Jackson and Kyler Burke to be possibilities in the outfield, with Fukodome gone and Marlon Byrd as 4th outfielder.
The future for the Cubs is bright with all sorts of possibilities, and I do think the Cubs will be contenders year in and year out for the next few years at least. We will have an upgraded Wrigley field, young position players taking the place of aging veterans, and a good farm system. Stay optimistic Cubs fans the future is bright. Go Cubs Go!
Here's a couple links of other articles pertaining to the cubs future.
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