There is a question that has been lingering around for over a century now:
When will the Cubs win the World Series again?
Well, I will answer that question with three simple words that have been repeated hundreds of times: Not this year. The Cubs have strong talent on their roster, but nothing good enough to get them to the World Champion title.
There are a few keys that will lead the Cubs to success this year.
First, they can't have injuries overtake the team. Last year, injuries plagued them, causing them to not reach their full potential.
Second, they need their key players to strive and be leaders for this team. Third, they need their pitchers to show up this year. With Carlos Zambrano as their leader, along with Ted Lilly, Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells, and Tom Gorzelanny, the Cubs have a solid pitching rotation. Along with the starters, I hope to see Carlos Marmol as the closer, because if he has a good year, he will be among the top relievers in the league. The health of the pitchers is still my main concern though.
Another thing they need to do is find a lead-off hitter who can deliver for them. I think the best move for them is to put Ryan Theriot at lead-off and Kosuke Fukudome as the second batter. The line-up will then look like this: Ryan Theriot, Kosuke Fukudome, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Marlon Byrd, Alfonso Soriano, Mike Fontenot/Jeff Baker, Geovany Soto, and the pitcher. If they can live up to these main keys, they have the potential to have a very productive year.
The Cubs have some key players that need to step up this year, starting off with the veteran first baseman Derek Lee. Last year he led the team in HRs, RBIs, runs, and OPS. They will need another productive year out of him to have any chance to stay in the race for the NL Central title.
Second, Aramis Ramirez, who was devastated by injuries last year, limiting him to 82 games needs to stay healthy and get back to his old-self.
Next, Alfonso Soriano really needs to improve his game. He had one of the worst years of his baseball career last year batting .241. He had knee surgery over the summer, so hopefully that will cooperate fully so he can help the team, instead of hurting them.
Last, they need Carlos Zambrano to play to the best of his ability. He had a very disappointing year last year, going 9-7 with a 3.77 ERA. If these players can step up, along with one more players outside of these four, Cubs fans will be excited.
It will be interesting to see how the Cubs finish at the end of this year. They can either finish towards the top, or towards the very bottom. There are a lot of factors that will determine how well they do.
This is how I see it playing out: Injuries will be a non-factor until around the All Star break. They will be towards the top of the NL Central at that point, but after the All Star break injuries will limit them again and things will go downhill.
If all were to go smooth and nothing drastic happens over the course of the season, they will get 2nd and grab a Wild Card spot.
Then, they will get swept in the first round of the playoffs. Either way, the World Series drought will continue for the 102nd year.
To all the Cub fans out there, we will yet again have to digest another year of sour disappointment. There have been many years where the Cubs have had unbelievable talent, yet failed to succeed in their goal of winning the World Series. Maybe this year will be the opposite, and they will win unexpectedly. That is a very slim possibility, but us Cub fans will never give up.
Good luck to the Cubbies!