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posted: 9/17/2012 12:01 AM

Positives are there for Cubs' future

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  • Cubs prospect Jorge Soler has the build and swing of a power hitter, says Len Kasper after watching Soler take batting practice at Wrigley Field.

      Cubs prospect Jorge Soler has the build and swing of a power hitter, says Len Kasper after watching Soler take batting practice at Wrigley Field.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer


Q. You got a quick look at outfield prospects Albert Almora and Jorge Soler last week. Thoughts?

A. It's way too early to tell, but Almora put up good numbers in a small sample size in the low minors, and Soler showed a quick, very powerful swing in his batting practice session at Wrigley Field.

Soler has the build and swing of a power hitter, something the Cubs definitely could use down the road.

Q. When fans frustrated by all the losses this year ask you if next year is finally going to be "the year," what do you tell them?

A. I try to be as honest as I can and tell them that the process of stocking the organization with young, impact talent is not an overnight thing.

I envision this off-season being very similar to last winter -- a couple of modest free-agent signings to supplement the rotation and fill a couple of holes around the diamond (third base possibly) and that's probably it.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have been very upfront about how they are attacking the talent deficit in the organization, and signing marquee free agents to long-term deals is not at the top of their priority list.

I don't think they will completely ignore all the top free agents, but I highly doubt they will overreach on a veteran guy in terms of dollars and years.

Q. You and Bob Brenly recently suggested the playoffs be included when voting on manager of the year. Do you think that will ever happen?

A. To not include the postseason for managers is missing the point of the award.

I understand for player honors you want all the competitors on a level playing field in terms of statistics and games played, but for managers that isn't as particularly relevant.

Last year Kirk Gibson was deserving of the regular-season award for leading his Arizona Diamondbacks to the NL West title. But when the dust settled after the World Series, how can anybody say that Tony La Russa wasn't the best manager in the league?

Why is it that we exclude the most important, pressure-filled games of each season when determining who the best manager is in each league?

Q. It seems many critics of the added wild-card round are hoping for final-day-of-the-season chaos. Are you one of those people?

A. I don't love the added wild card. The one-game round doesn't fit the essence of baseball, which is to win a "series."

Furthermore, by adding another spot, you open yourself to all kinds of scenarios in terms of ties and play-in games to get to the play-in game.

No, I'm not necessarily rooting for chaos, but I do think that at some point that worst-case scenario of three or four teams tied for one spot is going to make the wild-card round more than a little onerous.

Clearly, MLB is comfortable with that possibility, but it seems like an unnecessary addition to me. I think late-September/early-October baseball was exciting enough as it was.

The one thing I do like is that division winners have a big advantage over the wild cards now, which was long overdue.

Q. Do you like next year's reconfigured schedule, including just four intracity games on consecutive days between the Cubs and the White Sox?

A. I kind of relate this question to the previous one. The schedule is starting to look a little jumbled with all the interleague action sprinkled throughout the season.

I do really like the fact that both leagues and all six divisions will have the same amount of teams. That's the best part of this.

But hopefully we get to the point where the Cubs play the exact same interdivision/interleague schedule as all the other NL Central clubs. Right now the schedules still vary a bit.

All in all though, I do like having the Cubs and the Sox continue to play, and four games a season is plenty.

•Len Kasper is the TV play-by-play broadcaster for the Chicago Cubs. Follow him on Twitter;[URL]. Subscriber Total Access members can email him [/URL]questions;[URL] each week via our online link.[/URL]

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