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Columnist
Seriously, why not Santana?
By Barry Rozner | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 1/15/2008 12:30 AM

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You can understand why the White Sox can't get Johan Santana.

Playing in the same division makes it impossible, and even if Minnesota were willing, the Sox don't have unlimited resources or prospects.

On the other hand, the Cubs have nothing but money to spend, can afford Santana's $13 million in 2008, and have enough young players to make this deal possible.

Santana might insist on a long-term deal before he waives his no-trade clause, and that's fine, too, since the Cubs have no issues with piling up debt.

Obviously, it's not going to benefit the franchise long term if they don't sign Santana to a contract extension, but nothing the Cubs do these days has anything to do with the long-term health of the franchise.

They're running this like it's a government operation, and the last thing they're concerned about is 2009 or beyond.

This is about reaching the World Series in 2008, and if they don't a lot of people are going to lose their jobs, sale or no sale.

So what do they care what it takes to get Santana, or their chances of re-signing him?

This has become an all-or-nothing exercise, and let's face it, folks, when some of the really bad long-term deals come home to roost, this club faces some pretty lean years.

If all the eggs aren't already in one basket, tossing Santana in with the rest certainly would make it so, and maybe put the Cubs over the top.

So give the Twins a Felix Pie and Donald Veal. Hand over Rich Hill if you must. Toss in Jeff Samardzija and Matt Murton. Don't fret over the loss of Kevin Hart.

This is Johan Santana we're talking about, and he gives you the best chance yet of ending the drought before you hit the magic century mark without a World Series.

With Santana and Carlos Zambrano at the top, and Ted Lilly a solid No. 3, you can get by with Jason Marquis and Sean Marshall.

If you're still unhappy, go sign a Livan Hernandez to fill out your playoff rotation.

In the meantime, add Kenny Lofton to play center, and on the days he can't go, the Cubs can use Kosuke Fukudome.

Go get Brian Roberts and then hope the Cubs can stay healthy enough to get past Arizona in October.

You're probably thinking that with all these moves the Cubs would get a whole lot older.

And while waiting for a title, so do the fans.

Road tripped

The possibility of taking the road show to Springfield to stump for votes has been squashed by the Cubs, after news leaked that they were pondering a caravan move to the land of lawmakers to push for the state's purchase of Wrigley Field.

Idol chatter

Thanks to truehoop.com, and a German-made documentary from a few years back, we saw Dirk Nowitzki explain that he was a big fan of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen growing up.

Until he met Pippen.

"That was an amazing feeling. You stand out there on the court and play against him,'' Nowitzki said. "That was kind of difficult in my first year, all these posters I had in my room, and suddenly I played against those people.

"And then I was also totally disappointed because Scottie Pippen, who is really my idol, is an arrogant (bleep) like you wouldn't believe. I was so disappointed.''

Shocking.

Ivan Boldirev-ing

The Blackhawks have never had it better at the top with Rocky Wirtz, John McDonough and Jay Blunk, but below them it remains a circus with all three rings occupied and opulent.

In the last 12 months they've had 10-game and eight-game losing streaks, but instead of making changes where they need to be, players are shuffled back and forth between Chicago and the minors.

One who departed recently was Troy Brouwer. The Hawks proceeded to tell the entire world Brouwer couldn't skate, this determination made after 12 minutes of one game.

That's a terrific way to boost the player's market value, not to mention his self-esteem. It also really makes a player want to bleed for the sweater after being humiliated by the parent club.

That's how you develop young players, by telling the rest of the league they can't skate?

Of course, this is the same group that benches Dustin Byfuglien for a mistake, but when Brent Sopel commits the same turnover in the same period he gets more ice time and a contract extension.

Now that they're out of the race, the Hawks are back to telling everyone how young they are again. That was predictable. But if they're going to brag about all kids, shouldn't they have a staff here that can develop them?

Rumor mill

Teams have been sniffing around Rangers 6-foot-6, 240-pound defenseman Marek Malik, an 11-year vet, and it would be logical to think the Hawks might be one of them.

On the other hand, since everyone we know in hockey thinks the Hawks are going to overpay to get Buffalo free agent Brian Campbell next summer, why not deal for him now and get him acclimated to Barnum and Bailey?

Bright side

NBC's Jay Leno, on Marion Jones' six-month prison term: "The good news? Because she's the fastest woman on earth, she'll be able to serve it in three days, 28 minutes.''

Best headline

Sportspickle.com: "BCS commissioners propose 2-team playoff.''

And finally …

Comedian Alex Kaseberg: "Sir Edmund Hillary passed away in New Zealand. The funeral will be held in Auckland. Why? Because it's there.''

brozner@dailyherald.com