With 24 games left in the season, the Chicago Cubs are 11.5 games back in the NL Central Division and eight games back in the Wild Card race. While the Cubs aren’t mathematically eliminated from postseason contention, they might as well start looking ahead to 2010.
At this point, the age old question arises: Do the Cubs continue to try and put out their best roster in an effort to win as many games as possible? Or do they focus on getting younger players in the game in an audition for next year while resting veterans who are less than 100 percent?
For the 2009 Cubs, there needs to be a balance between the two.
The Cubs have 15 home games left, and fans (including this one) have paid major league prices to see major league baseball for those contests. When I head to Wrigley Field on Tuesday, I don’t want to see a lineup of players whose names I wouldn’t have known on Opening Day 2008.
By the same token, risking further injury in essentially meaningless games would be foolish. The Cubs have already held out left fielder Alfonso Soriano indefinitely with a knee injury (and general terribleness). Soriano may or may not play again this season, and this writer sees no reason why he should.
The Cubs, in my opinion, should do the same with 3B Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez has only played in 65 games so far this season due to a separated shoulder and then a recurrence of the injury. He is clearly less than 100 percent at the moment, and every time he dives for a ball or slides into a base, Cubs fans hold their collective breath.
While I'm sure Ramirez wants to be out there and helping his team win, all he can do right now is further damage to himself. His shoulder cannot heal without rest (as seen with his two-month layoff), so doesn't it make sense for him to get a one-month jump on the offseason?
If the Cubs were in striking distance, that would be one thing. But with the first-place Cardinals seemingly unable to lose a baseball game, and two other teams in between the Cubs and Rockies in the Wild Card race, it makes no sense to play Aramis anymore.
By holding out Soriano and Ramirez, they not only get them healthy for next year, but also audition guys like Jake Fox, Sam Fuld, Andres Blanco, Bobby Scales, and others for next season. At this point, as much as it pains me to say it, it’s time.
This article originally posted on Chicago Sports Then and Now.