(Milwaukee fans, fully prepared to fight it out until early September)

As promised, the Cubs Mailbag is back, and overflowing with questions from around the nation. Keep in mind, these are the actual questions sent into Cubs™ beat reporter Carrie Muskat, answered in a way that her job description prevents her from doing. This week™s mailbag has it all: power trades, baseball™s rules on Cubs’ perfect games, the last gasps of the Cardinals organization, and the cheese capital of the Midwest, Milwaukee, makes a bold claim for second place in the NL Central. But our first question actually caught my eye in this week’s St. Louis Cardinals mailbag, and is more properly answered here than there:

Mike P., Bedford, In: Is it just me, or did Yadier Molina and Rick Ankiel get hosed with the All-Star selections? It’s great that Ryan Ludwick made it, but Ankiel is having a better year than at least two of the starting outfielders — both from Chicago I might add. How is he not in the Final Vote at least? Yadi is batting over .300, and is by far the best defensive catcher in the game. How is he not in?

Mike: It™s just you. St. Louis is on the way out as a Midwestern baseball power. Ever heard of the St. Louis Browns? Even your fellow Card fans get it, and have been voting in Cubs (see the next question, kid). Over the winter break, which starts in late August for you, I suggest Molina and Ankiel visit a Cubs Fantasy Baseball Camp so they can undergo the same top training that Jim Edmonds has received.

Beth G., St. Louis, Mo.: Do you think Alfonso Soriano will be back before the All-Star break, because that’s what people are saying. Or do you think he’ll be out the whole six weeks?

Beth: Thanks for your vote and making St. Louis a blue city. Clearly, you™re used to Tony La Russa putting hurt players out there. La Russa’s used to it, too, because Cardinals like Mark McGwire used to heal so fast … somehow. I know La Russa wasn™t aware of any steroid use on his team, so I guess he™s not aware his 3rd place team stopped taking them, too. Is Yadier Molina able to ride a bike again after his second concussion for La Genius?

Jake R., Springfield, Ill: Is it just me, or does anybody else think Kosuke Fukudome has scuffled in the leadoff role? I could be wrong, but he doesn’t seem to be his normal self ever since he was put in that role. Maybe it’s just bad timing or a coincidence.

Jake: It’s such a drag when the mailbag gets “political” … your obviously racist anti-immigration question doesn’t fool anyone, Jake. Like so many inspirational stories, Kosuke Fukodome came to this country with nothing but a translator, a dream, and $48 million dollars. He’s only hoping to make good so he can afford to bring his girlfriend over and get married.
Jack E., Iowa City, Iowa: Do you think Jim Hendry will pull the trigger and acquire a starting pitcher like [C.C.] Sabathia, [Freddy] Garcia or even Greg Maddux? Rich Hill is going through the Rick Ankiel situation, and the Cubs could use some help.

Jack (NOTE: this answer was written before the Cubs/A™s trade): there™s a wide range of possibilities, Jack. First, CC Sabbitha has a notorious weakness for raw bratwurst and cheese, which made him unhappy in Cleveland, so Chicago may not be his town. Here™s some thoughts, just speculation, but the mailbag™s guess is that the Cubs will deal some prospects, say, Matt Murton, Sean Gallagher, Eric Patterson, or a Josh Donaldson. In return, they would want someone whose good, even someone with an injury-prone career who could perform in October, as long as they get an insurance pitcher. Few teams fit that bill, so maybe Oakland™s Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin? Just thinking out loud ¦

Noel T., Lincoln, Ill.: What’s the update on Hill? I’ve read a number of articles stating there is nothing physically wrong with him. I was shocked to see Marshall called up before Hill was. Any plans on getting Hill back in the rotation?

Noel: Maybe you haven™t read the trade news, we got a new “Rich H” on the team. Rich Hill will spend 2008 in hypnosis classes and angling for a one-on-one with Dr. Phil to focus career goals.

Nick D., Palatine, Ill.: I’m having a debate with a friend over the definition of a perfect game. He believes a perfect game is when a pitcher has “no walks, no hits, no errors.” By that definition, a strikeout with a passed ball or a wild pitch would still constitute as a perfect game. Tell me I’m not crazy, and a perfect game means no one reaches base, period.

Nick: Great question! Especially in the middle of a pennant race, major NL Central trades, an upcoming All-Important All-Star Game, and so relevant to the Cubs “ a team that™s NEVER HAD a perfect game, just provided them for people like Sandy Koufax. Please send more timely questions that only bring up bad memories, Nick, and hurry.

Ray N., Sarasota, Fla.: What happened to the Cubs’ Minor League roundup? I can’t seem to find it.

Ray: We just traded it to Oakland.
Jon O., Eaton, Ohio: I’ve been a Cubs fan my whole life. I’m tired of hearing about the curse. Do you think Cubs fans will stop talking about the curse any time soon, or do the Cubs have to win it all to quiet the talk?

Jon: There™s no such thing as a Cubs Curse. And please stop talking about “the Curse” while the Cubs are winning the NL Central with the best record in the National League, you™ll jinx the whole goddamn thing.