It's finally baseball season. Spring training has just begun, and it's time for another chance for the "lovable losers" to make another run at ending their 100+ year World Series Drought. But is this really the year for the Cubs to end that drought?
If you look at the Cub's players you see a lot of high class names: Derek Lee, Alfonsio Soriano, Carlos Zambrano, and Aramis Rameriez. The problem is all these guys, with the exception of Rameriz, have not fulfilled the expectations that the fans and general managers had for them. In fact they have been big letdowns, failing to win a playoff game in the last six chances.
So how does it look for this year? Nothing looks quite that difference so it's very hard to say this team will make the playoffs, let alone win the World Series. The pitching staff is more or less the same. Rich Harden is now gone and Notre Dame football star, Jeff Samardzija, is looking to take the 5th starting role.
For what we have seen from Samardzija it doesn't look like he has the stuff to be a high-caliber pitcher. He has a nice fastball but is off-speed stuff is really lacking. Carlos Zambrano is already on the decline as he gets worse year after year. The guy has a temper and control problem. He's not going to be that ace you need.
Carlos Silva is just plain bad. His record the last two years is 5-18. He has some serious ERA problems, posting a 6.46 ERA in 28 appearances in 2008. I don't seem him having the kind of year that can help you win championships. Ted Lily is defiantly the teams' most consistent pitcher, winning at least 12 games the last three seasons, but how well will he do after recovering from a knee injury?
The only for sure bright spot in the Cubs' rotation is youngster, Randy Wells.Like I said before, Wells is the up-and-coming Cub. He is a great young talent and it's be a disgrace if the Cubs didn't capitalize on his talents.
The infielders might be the Cubs' best group of players. Third basemen, Aramis Rameriz, is by far the best hitter on the team. He has posted outstanding numbers his whole tenure with the Cubs. First baseman, Derek Lee, has shown he can still be a good hitter, batting .306 with 35 home runs and 111 RBI's. But he is an aging player about to turn 35. Can he still post numbers like that?
Ryan Theriot always starts the season off really well, but cools off towards the middle to the end. He is the most likely pick to start the season off as the lead-off hitter and it suits him really well. As long as he can get on for the Cubs in the lead-off role, Theriot can be a really good contact hitter for the Cubs.
Jeff Baker will most likely get the nod to start second base as he was handed the starting role towards the end of the season last year. He put up some pretty good numbers. A .288 AVG with 4 HR's and 24 RBI's in 81 games.
Geovany Soto will get the nod for the Cubs this year, but he is coming off a sophomore slump in which he only batted .218. Soto admitted he had gained some weight, but he is supposed to lose some of it before the season begins. Soto adds some power to the Cubs' offense as well as the ability to drive players in. His bat will be much needed this year if the Cubs want to make the playoffs.
The staring outfielders for the Cubs are a given. Alfonso Soriano will be in left, Marlon Byrd in center, and Kosuke Fukudome in right. Soriano's stay in Chicago has been plagued by injuries and missing easy pop flys, leaving him on the bitter side of the fans. His average sunk all the way to .241 last year. His power and run driving ability have been over-shadowed by his high strikeout rate and his failure to produce during the playoffs.
Marlon Bryd is spending his first year wearing a Cubs' uniform after spending three years with the Texas Rangers. Byrd is an average hitter who had his breakout season last year which landed him a three year contract with the Cubs. He doesn't bring much power to the plate, but he can drive players, hit for contact, and get to fly balls in center.
Kosuke Fukudome, while not being a total bust, has, like most Cubs' players, not met to expectations. He hasn't batted over .260 in his two years in the league, but his defensive skills are better than average, saving some of the pain.
Overall the Cubs don't have the team, on paper, that can win you a World Series. You never know what these players will play like. Inconsistency will kill your chances at a division title.
Therefore I see the Cubs coming in third this year with ST. Louis winning the division. Sorry Cubs' fans but you'll have to wait another year.