Absolutely nothing is certain for the Chicago Cubs of 2012. They might trade Matt Garza this spring—or as late the trade deadline—or they might give him a long-term contract extension. They might, in a perfect world, scratch and claw their way over .500 and contend for the championship in what looks like a bad division. They might lose 100 games.
Starlin Castro is the one seeming anchor of the rebuilding plan that the Cubs engaged at the outset of the offseason. But given the legal entanglements he still faces in Chicago following a September incident and sexual assault allegation, even that is not guaranteed. It's possible, if improbable, that not one player on the next Cubs team to attain the World Series will have ever donned the uniform of the parent club for a regular-season game.
Even so, optimism abounds in Cubs Country, where fans have largely bought into the model imported by new front office mavens Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. Not even a losing season would truly dampen spirits in Wrigleyville. Here is a preview of the season to come, losing or otherwise.