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updated: 9/23/2012 3:34 PM

Cubs have plenty to accomplish in closing stretch

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  • Alfonso Soriano, right, has a chance to win the RBI title as the Cubs enter the final days of the regular season. Soriano and Darwin Barney are also contenders for Gold Glove awards.

    Alfonso Soriano, right, has a chance to win the RBI title as the Cubs enter the final days of the regular season. Soriano and Darwin Barney are also contenders for Gold Glove awards.
    Associated Press/Nam Y. Huh


Q. What's left to accomplish for the Cubs with just over a week to go this season?

A. Team-wise, avoiding that 100th loss is still the main goal. That hopefully will be taken care of in short order.

Individually, there are several interesting goals. Alfonso Soriano has a good shot at the National League RBI title, which would be a pretty remarkable feat considering the Cubs' offense has struggled so much collectively this year. RBI are a function of opportunity and he has made the most of those chances.

Darwin Barney should win the Gold Glove at second base. The record errorless streak, his ranking in many advanced defensive metrics, and his impressive ability to catch pop-ups and shallow flyballs all add up to a Gold Glove player. The question is, will people choose him over Brandon Phillips, who is widely considered the best defender in the league at second?

And back to Soriano, I would absolutely vote for him to win the Gold Glove in left field. I don't know if he can garner enough votes based on his past reputation out there, but he is absolutely worthy of the award this season.

Anthony Rizzo's name will come up in the rookie of the year race, although there are other candidates who will likely garner more support.

Lastly, you'd like to see Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters finish strong. Jackson has shown more flashes than Vitters, but you'd like to have a good idea of where both are in terms of their development and where they fit on the depth chart going into next year.

Q. As the playoff races come into focus, do you think a wild-card team can win the World Series, considering the extra "round" those teams now have to play?

A. Yes I do. Because of the small sample sizes of playoff series, it is still impossible to make concrete predictions. It is a bit tougher for a wild-card team to do it now, but that team only has to win one more playoff game than a division winner does -- not a stretch by any means.

Q. What do you think of the agreement between MLB and the players' union to disqualify the suspended Melky Cabrera from the NL batting title race?

A. I think it could open up a dangerous can of worms. Look, Cabrera is far from a sympathetic character here and this decision won't be a big deal for most fans, especially considering he apparently asked to have his name removed from the batting race.

Since he was 1 plate appearance short of qualifying, MLB worked in a one-time amendment that negated a rule that would have normally added a hitless at-bat to his yearly total, thus making him eligible to win.

My simple point is that you can't erase the fact that Cabrera played in 113 games, hit .346 and got suspended 50 games for a positive drug test. Those things happened.

And I feel like documented history has been arbitrarily finagled here. Cabrera was already punished for his misdeed by being suspended and has to additionally suffer the resulting public shame and he will not get the huge free-agent contract he previously thought he would receive. That's not enough?

If you look at 2000, Jason Giambi is still the AL MVP from that year. And Barry Bonds still led the league with 73 home runs in 2001. People can judge the merits of those accomplishments however they wish, but unless MLB itself goes back and officially wipes away those statistical achievements or awards, I don't see how it can do it now with a guy who hit .346, with or without help from PEDs.

• 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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