With the acquisition of Rich Harden from the Oakland A's this week, the Chicago Cubs feel like they have all the integral parts necessary to bring some very elusive hardware back to the Windy City.
Adding Harden to the NL's already top-rated starting pitching staff only further strengthens their rotation. Having Carlos Zambrano and Rich Harden as their 1-2 punch is very formidable, not to mention having Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly, and Jason Marquis to round out things.
Plus, the "other guy" acquired in the deal, Chad Gaudin, gives the Cubs some insurance if Marquis would continue to struggle down the stretch—as Gaudin could easily step in as the 5th starter.
Combine all this with the simple fact that Alfonso Soriano is due to return from his hand injury very soon, and it would seem that all the pieces are starting to fit together.
In terms of what the Cubs may still acquire before the trade deadline, I still think Jim Hendry will try and pick up a left-handed power hitter of some kind. Not Barry Bonds kind of power, but someone that can come off the bench and give them another left-handed bat with Daryl Ward in the late innings.
Some names I would think are "available" would include: Raul Ibanez (Mariners), David Dellucci (Indians), and Brad Wilkerson (Blue Jays). Plus, I'm sure there are tons of other guys out there that I can't think of.
Of those three, obviously Ibanez would be quite an addition, and probably a bit more costly in terms of prospects, etc. to acquire him than I would be willing to pay if I were Hendry. Luckily, since Jim Edmonds has starting to turn things around, it doesn't make this such a pressing need. It doesn't hurt that Mike Fontenot has been playing better of late, either.
Scott Eyre could be coming back soon as well, to add another lefty to the bullpen mix with Neal Cotts and probably Sean Marshall when the rosters expand in September.
There doesn't appear to be too many weaknesses in the Cubs armor moving forward.
The Cubs can score runs with the long ball, playing "small ball" with sacrifices and stealing bases, and with their pitchers the way they're going, they will keep the Cubs in games long enough to let the offense help out.
Things are looking good in the Windy City—just need to get better at winning on the road, and they will be set for a run at a ring.
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