Are the 2012 Cubs a 100-loss team, a surprise contender or something in between? I think we can at least all agree that they will likely have a better record than the Astros.
Bob Warja: "I wrote a piece suggesting the Cubs could surprise, but in reality it's anybody's guess.The Cardinals will miss Pujols and the Brewers will miss Fielder, but the Reds are better, and on paper only the Astros would appear to be worse than Chicago. I'll say the team is better than projected and finishes 80-82, third place."
Eli Greenspan: "Because no one expects anything from the Cubs, I do expect them to be contenders. It would not surprise me if the Cubs added a veteran infielder in the middle of the season to shore things up a bit. They are looking to compete with what they have, and while it does not look like much on paper, there are some very touted players on the Cubs roster this season.
That being said, I put the Cubs somewhere near .500, in the 75-win range. While that is not great for the draft, I think the Cubs will contend if their pitchers are not throwing away the bullpen arms too early. That probably puts them in the third-to-fourth-place range."
Jeff Chase: "Oh boy, I wish I didn’t have to answer this question. While I was optimistic early on, as I always am, the additions of Carlos Beltran in St. Louis and Ryan Braun being activated in Milwaukee really scares me. The Cubs are clearly rebuilding, and if they move Garza, this season has no hope. Hate to say it, but this will be a tough year for the Cubs. I see them going 60-102. Yep, I didn’t like writing it myself. That will have the Cubs sitting in last in the Central, but one can only hope the team has made all the right moves to take 2013 and beyond by storm."
Joel Reuter: "As crazy as it sounds, the Cubs should improve on last season's 71-91 record. After enduring the likes of Doug Davis, Rodrigo Lopez and James Russell in the rotation last season, not to mention Carlos Zambrano, the additions of Chris Volstad, Paul Maholm and Travis Wood alone make the team better. However, runs will likely be hard to come by with Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena gone, and that could off-set the improvements to the rotation. We'll say the team finishes a little better and goes 78-84, finishing fifth in the NL Central ahead of the Astros."
Matt Trueblood: "Probably so. My number is 70, and I think they will top it, but slightly. The team in place is going to really struggle to score runs, but they get credit for the depth of the starting rotation. I think Byrd, Garza and Soto all get traded before the season ends, making for a lot of August and September losses, and I don’t expect impact rookie showings from Jackson or Rizzo.
A scenario exists that gets them to 80 wins, but it involves a whole lot of ifs and maybes. Moreover, the new CBA incentives are tanking, so trading away talent might give the team an easy excuse for losing 100 games and making a run at the top five in next year’s draft."