Wednesday, January 14, 2004

posted by James - 6:21 PM

Looks like someone shook up the snowglobe here again, but this is nothing compared to what's going down in Houston, or more correctly blasting off.

I'm talking of course about the Astros signing five-time Cy Young award winner Roger Clemens to a one-year deal, which also includes a sweet 10-year personal services contract.

But most importantly, it includes a contract to pitch at the back-end of an already frighteningly good and young rotation, which didn't need to add a future Hall-of-Famer and 300-game winner.

This is frightening of course for Cubs fans, who have watched their team have an outstanding offseason only to watch the team that finished just one game behind in the standings steal a whole bunch of thunder back their way.

All hope is not lost in Wrigleyville because the Astros can't start all 8 of their rotation candidates, so they're still just on par at best with the Cubs' high-enders. But watch out Chicago River if one of them goes down, because as of right now they don't have many who could step in and weather the storm of a tightly contested NL Central race.

The signing of Clemens could easily turn into a positive in the eyes of Cubs fans if it triggers the Cubs' front office to make a big move to provide depth for the Cubs rotation.

Instead of leaving the fifth-starter's post to young right-handers Juan Cruz and Angel Guzman, maybe the Cubs go out and get their own multiple-time Cy Young winner.

Maybe the Cubs go out and bring their own favorite son back to the Friendly Confines.

Maybe the Cubs go out and bring back their own future Hall-of-Famer to win his 300th game and cement his Hall-of-Fame career in the uniform he never should have taken off.

Maybe the Cubs go out and sign Greg Maddux, who they offered a two-year deal to today.

Maybe Cubs fans would rather Cubs GM Jim Hendry squeeze some more money out of the Tribune Co. and sign catcher Ivan Rodriguez, but they've made their choice, and they want Maddux (which isn't to say both is totally out of the question).

Signing "Mad Dog" (that's such a cooler nickname than "the Rocket) does something else very important to the race for the NL Central crown. It keeps him out of the St. Louis Cardinals' rotation and keeps them on the search to fill their many holes.

It shows the Astros, Cardinals and the rest of the National League that they were contenders last year, they're contenders this year and they've made improvements... Now how about you?

Ok, that would make for a lousy spirit rally cheer, but it makes for a great pennant race.

And Cub fans everywhere would be able to shout out loud, we're in it.

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