These moves though hold many positives. Garciaparra will play today and Sunday, with Neifi giving him a hardly much-needed day off tomorrow. Still, if Nomar can manage to play two thirds of the games from here on out, hitting the ball squarely, showing decent range and throwing accurately, we'll be getting upgraded production from the shortstop position. Damned with faint praise. Meanwhile, Ronny Cedeno bizarrely remains on the roster, now as the third shortstop. Since June 28th, the Cubs have handed him just 39 plate appearances from the major league bench. They ought to be ashamed of themselves. There's one thing worse than a youngster being left to rot, and it's not Enrique Wilson: it's the starter hitting .227/.244/.319 all that time. The honeymoon period is over: hopefully Dusty can now at last tell Neifi to sleep on the couch. The Cubs aren't losing much in the bullpen. Sergio Mitre has been criminally underused since the All-Star Break, throwing just 6 innings of extremely ineffective relief. This sinkerballer belongs in a rotation, any rotation. Personally, I still believe the Cubs ought to have traded him when the memory of his complete game start against the Marlins was fresh in the mind. He's still a useful pitcher even now though, and projects as and probably even is right now a decent back of the rotation guy, but it's hard to remember that when he every fifth day he's allowed to go just the one irrelevant inning. He'll be better off in Iowa for now. As for Remlinger, he's past it, regardless of whether or not he goes on a streak of consecutive scoreless outings as a Tampa Bay Devil Ray. Past it. He serves as a lesson both that throwing money at middle relief, particularly elderly middle relief, is unwise, and that Dusty doesn't know a reverse split from a banana split. Whether Kerry Wood and Scott Williamson will be a big upgrades remains to be seen. In limited time against rather feeble (and impatient) minor league opposition, Kerry Wood looked excellent, regularly throwing both a high-90s fastball and a slider for strikes. As long as he can continue to do that in the major leagues, he ought to be a premium reliever. Heck, he ought to be a premium starter. But the Cubs have come to a dubious conclusion that this same old Kerry Wood will succeed as a reliever where he's too often failed as a starter - regularly spotting his pitches and staying healthy. It's a gamble, and if Wood reinjures himself the Cubs may well live to rue delaying the arthroscopic surgery that he apparently requires on his right shoulder to clean up fraying of the rotator cuff muscles. While Kerry Wood awaits his surgery, Scott Williamson is recovering from his. Last year's Tommy John rescue is doing reasonably well as the Cubs' closer this year, but a healthy Williamson features far more dominating stuff than Dempster even, so Hendry did exceedingly well to pick him up at the same price. Williamson's recovery from the surgery has been miraculously fast, one of the quickest in the history of the procedure (he went under the knife on October 11th last year, with the surgeon memorably commenting that "it looked as like a grenade had gone off in there"). Practice makes perfect, I guess you could say, for this is Williamson's second Tommy John. All the same, if Williamson can eventually get back to his best, he'll be one of the best Cub relievers in a long time. In the immediate future, don't expect quite that much though, because neither his velocity nor control are all the way back yet. As for Hairston, his elbow injury, a tiny tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his non-throwing arm that he sustained as he attempted a diving catch on Wednesday, is a blessing in disguise, as callous as it may be to say it. His defence in centre field has largely been a liability, and since being moved permanently into the leadoff spot about six weeks ago, his bat has been icy cold too. It's a slump for his bat, rather than a more permanent malaise, so given time things would have improved. I'm not sure I can say the same for his jumps on flyballs. Anyway, there's presently no real timetable for his return beyond the official mutterings of "we hope he'll be back in a few weeks", which has been known to roughly translate as "out for the season". We'll see. No-one has yet been called up to replace Hairston, which leaves the Cubs with just Murton, Lawton, Burnitz, Hollandsworth and Macias as outfield options. Brace yourselves, for Jose Macias could be seeing a lot more playing time, even though an outfield of Murton, Burnitz and Lawton, from left to right, would clearly be the better choice. But, in a way, standing pat isn't the worst decision, because it's possible the Cubs for a while considered recalling Corey Patterson. Such a move would be a mistake. The Cubs sent Patterson down in order that they could work on his game and get him to the stage where he could once again be a good major league hitter. While Corey has reportedly been working on the processes - being more selective, laying off the high fastball, going the other way and not pulling everything, and so on - the results as yet haven't been entirely forthcoming. His walk and strikeout rates have importantly both headed very much in the right directions (7 walks and 15 strikeouts in 86 plate appearances), but he's still not hitting the ball particularly well, as evidenced by his .234 batting average. Given that we've heard all this talk about Patterson working on his game before, in camp this spring for instance, waiting until Corey's supposed new processes are yielding exactly the kind of results that'd make even Corey sit up and take notice is the right way to go. It's only that way that the processes will stick and the confidence return. And confidence is crucial. It's the single best thing any player can have going for him, an unflappable belief in his own ability. For a long time this year, Corey didn't have any of that. Personally, I'd have sent Cedeno down, and recalled Adam Greenberg, who's playing again at Double-A (and I'd also still be looking for an opportunity to purchase Jermaine Van Buren from Iowa, though in fairness the Cubs are still carrying twelve pitchers as it is). But these are good moves, if not good enough. This team stands at five hundred after exactly two thirds of the season, dead in the division and not far from that in the wild card. It's going to take something quite a bit more shocking to get this team back to life. Like a defibrillator. Charge! Stand clear!