Imrem: Cubs have some big decisions to make

Cubs mover Theo Epstein and shaker Jed Hoyer always had to figure they would have quite a few decisions to make when the offseason arrived.

The time has arrived after the Mets won 8-3 Wednesday night and eliminated the Cubs from the National League championship series.

"They did not let us up for air at any point," Cubs' manager Joe Maddon said.

The Mets also might have exposed some Cubs' flaws that they were able to mask until this week.

Kyle Schwarber didn't look like a left fielder. The starting pitching rotation wasn't nearly deep enough. The offense had too many holes to deal with the Mets' power pitching.

Maddon said he told his players to "really understand and celebrate what they accomplished this year."

The front office, though, will have to get right back to work on those looming decisions, some of which are:

• What in the world to do with Kyle Schwarber.

The young man's mammoth home runs carried from minor leaguer to folk hero in just a few months.

But right now hitter is his position. He wants to also be catcher but isn't ready for that. Meanwhile, he'll need to take a million flyballs to become a credible outfielder.

"It's an interesting conundrum," Jason McLeod, Cubs senior vice president of scouting and player development, was quoted as saying recently.

A conundrum wrapped in a dilemma wrapped in a puzzle.

"This guy is quickly becoming a legend in Chicago," McLeod added. "We don't have an answer right now.

Maybe the answer is that the Cubs should campaign for the designated hitter to be instituted in the National League.

• How will the Cubs view the top starting pitchers in their rotation, Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester, this winter?

Arrieta can't possibly be as good next season as he was in the second half of this season, so the Cubs have to wonder how much of a drop-off there will be from great to good.

At the same time the Cubs also have to wonder whether Lester, with his $155 million contract, can go from good back to great in his second season with the club.

Speculation long has been that the Cubs will make a big splash and pursue someone like David Price in free agency.

But do they really need one more expensive top-of-the-rotation pitcher or a couple affordable middle-rotation pitchers to complement Arrieta and Lester?

• The Cubs must determine whether they have the makings of a great team or just a bunch of great young players.

Sometimes the pieces looked like they don't fit very well.

So many infielders, so many outfielders, that Schwarber guy ... who plays where and who is shipped elsewhere?

These are nice decisions to have to make but they are decisions just the same.

• Maddon will have to determine whether and when his players will begin to tune out his gimmicks.

The magician, the wild animals, the American Legion Day, the theme road trips and the rest aren't going to work forever.

They did work for quite awhile when he managed Tampa Bay, but players might have been growing weary of them by the time he left.

• The Cubs will have to decide whether there's a medical procedure or a clothing company out there that could make Jorge Soler hit as well in the cold as the heat.

• All in all, Maddon said, "I'm a pretty good company guy, Whatever (Epstein and Hoyer) decide to do I'll be there for them."

It sounds like Joe Maddon is as curious as Cubs' fans are to see what happens this offseason.

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