Chicago's Mediocre Baseball Season

Matt AnayaContributor IMay 7, 2009

CHICAGO - MAY 02: Alfonso Soriano #12 of the Chicago Cubs smiles and greets teammate Ryan Theriot after Theriot's 1st inning home run against the Florida Marlins on May 2, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the Marlins 6-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Before reading...I am a Cubs fan and I like the Sox.

Both the White Sox (currently 12-14) and the Cubs (15-12) are off to inauspicious/mediocre/uneventful starts and it is starting to bug me. The White Sox are not very talented and the Cubs are the most apathetic team in MLB.

There are reasons why the White Sox are not going to be very good this season, they do not have very much talent and they have old players on the verge of breaking down. The Cubs, on the other hand, look like the same team from last season and I have already decided they will not win the World Series this year. Why won't they win it? Because the personnel refuses to make adjustments and I do not think they care.

Lets go over the White Sox roster...

Their best player is easily the slugging Carlos Quentin. Face it Cub fans, the guy is a monster and could start for the Cubs, not in LF, but over Milton Bradley (and I am one of the few Milton Bradley fans) or Kosuke, and Carlos would start in RF.

The rest of the Sox OF is barely above average. An aging Jermaine Dye is still mashing but is injury prone and I do not even want to think about the Sox CF position. It is so bad the best part about the Sox CF is his wife.

The Sox second best player is Alexei Ramirez (pronounced Alex-A or Alex-Ay, not Alex-Ee) and he is struggling mightily, although I expect him to come around by season's end. Remember, playing SS has a lot more responsibility than 2B.

The rest of the South Side IF is below average. Josh Fields is a decent player right now but will never hit over .280, at least he is drawing walks and getting on base because he is useless when he does not hit HRs. Paul Konerko is another aging vet that is producing (over .300, good OBP, good RBI) but brings little on defense and nothing on the bases.

The Sox 2B position is one of the worst in MLB. That now makes two positions (CF and 2B) the Sox have the worst player in MLB at, not good. The DH is, of course, Mr. Incredible, Jim Thome.

Another aging vet, but he is not producing much and is spending more time on the trainer's table than on the field. Thome is likely going to retire after this season. The Catcher is AJ Pierzynski, a player better known for his game management than he is for his bat.

The White Sox offense is average at best. They do have good players (Quentin, Dye, Konerko, Alexei, and even Thome) but their glaring holes in CF and at 2B considerably pulls their team down. Kenny Williams needs to address his team's weaknesses but is likely to stand pat and wait for his kids in the minors to grow up.

The White Sox pitching staff is not bad but it still has some holes (all teams do). Their bullpen is one of the best in MLB and it was so good last season (with similar pitchers), Hall Of Famer Joe Morgan called it, "the best bullpen EVER!" (Morgan should have been fired for that comment).

The starters include Mark Buehrle, Gavin Floyd and their best pitcher and second best pitcher in Chicago, John Danks. After Danks it is awful. Bartolo Colon should not be on a MLB team and Jose Contreras' career is likely over. I do not care what Colon's numbers are this season, he should not be on an MLB team and neither should Jose Contreras.

It seems White Sox GM Kenny Williams had the idea of having about eight good players on his team and surround them with role players who care about winning. That could work but their five worst players are awful and that will lose them at least 10 games this season. The White Sox do have some good young players in their farm system, but this year their spots will be occupied by aging vets.

Now to the fun part...let's talk about my favorite team in the world...the Chicago Cubs.

The Cubs are a team full of apathetic high-priced talent. High-priced talent is a double-edged sword. Very rarely, can a team have all kinds of high-priced talent (sorry, I'll stop saying high-priced) and maintain the vigor needed to win a title.

The Cubs OF is good but their overall best player is one of the dumbest players in MLB, my man, Alfonso Soriano. He drives me nuts sometimes but when he gets hot, look out. He can hit any pitch (except the outside slider) anywhere and hit it 500 feet, and that is why I love the guy.

The CF position currently consists of Kosuke and Reed Johnson. Kosuke started off hot (I have heard that before) and looks good so far and Reed is a role player. I do not expect much out of Johnson but Kosuke is making $12 million and we (the Cubs) need him to hit .300 if we want to win the World Series.

Milton Bradley is insane and will come around, but he will not do what he did last season, which was lead MLB in OPS (an important stat).

The Cubs IF includes two all stars (Aramis and Lee) and two college teammates/role players (Fontenot and Theriot). Aramis, like Manny Ramirez or my friend Andre, will always be himself and you can count on Aramis to be Aramis.

He will never exude the effort needed to be great, he will always be damn good and that's it. He will swing his hardest with two strikes and never protect the plate, which drives me nuts but I have learned to deal with Aramis and I am fine with him as long as he hits close to .300, 30 HR, 100 RBI.

Derrek Lee has started to lose fans at a considerable rate. His routine 6-4-3 double plays with runners in scoring position and less than two outs have driven fans to the point where his outstanding defensive play does not outweigh his lack of offense. Derek Lee needs to learn how to hit (he is killing me in fantasy).

Other than the bullpen, the Cubs worst positions are up the middle (SS, 2B, CF). Baseball has been around for over 150 years and the key to winning titles is strength up the middle, good work Hendry.

I love Mike Fontenot and Ryan Theriot, I think they are good little ball players, I think Mike Fontenot will hit more HRs than Derrek Lee this season, I think The Riot has improved his offense substantially.

That does not mean they do not have glaring deficiencies. The Riot and Fontenot both went to LSU, a school known for their offensive prowess (they call it Guerrilla Ball down there) but both players are awful on defense and they will lose the Cubs more games than they will win.

Geo Soto won the Rookie Of The Year last season and it looks like that will be his best season as a pro. His game management is good and he is getting pull happy at the plate (a recipe for disaster). Geo will likely hit 15 HRs, hit close to .270, and drive in 80 but it is safe to say last season will be his best season as a pro.

The Cubs starting pitching has been good. Zambrano is not the ace we thought he would be a few years ago, but we are still paying him ace money and he is now on the DL. He is a fan favorite and is an expensive fan favorite. Ryan Dempster is starting to find the strike zone, thank god, it has been missing since October.

Ironically, the Cubs best pitcher is, by far, Ted Lilly (he might be the best pitcher in Chicago). All he does is go 7 strong, strike out 10, lay down a few sacrifices, and get the W (sounds like Dempster last season). If the playoffs started today, with a healthy Zambrano, Lilly would be starting game 1, no doubt about it. I do not want to discuss the Cubs bullpen, it is that bad.

In conclusion...

The White Sox have a few good players but are a few years away from contending again. They will build around Alexei, CQ, Danks, Floyd and the stud Beckham. The Cubs had a great opportunity to win the title last season and now that window is closing.

I do not see many changes on the South Side, as they are waiting for the kids to come up, but there might be some changes on the North Side, including Zambrano and the bullpen.

My prediction...

84 W for the White Sox 3rd place

90 W for the Cubs 2nd place

- both not going to playoffs


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