2009 ended with a loss. And this season? (Cubbie Nation/file)
I really wasn’t going to do this.
Defining in advance the success or failure of 30 major league teams over a 162 game season is probably something of a fool’s errand. But after receiving yet another e-mail from an editor asking for predictions and prognostications on the upcoming 2010 season, I’m going to take my shot.
Let me say a few things specifically about the Cubs first. I like this team. Some of my readers might disagree with that statement, but there are some good things happening here, in my opinion. If the Cubs were committed to a rebuilding effort, this team would be a textbook case on how to properly do it.
By that I mean a competitive team, with significant money cycling off after the season, the best of an up-and-coming farm system competing for significant playing time, and a mindset that they won’t spend for the sake of spending. Not to mention that this may be the first time in my memory that I felt like you could stick every man on the bench—assuming a back-in-form Xavier Nady—into the lineup for a week or two, and lose little.
But supposedly, this team was created with the goal of competing for a pennant, which as composed, is most unlikely. Good front-line pitching and solid, albeit not great offensive players will not make up for an inability to catch the ball. It won’t make up for rookies in the bullpen. It won’t make up for so-so table setters. It won’t make up for a manager that seemed asleep at times last season, and remains uncommitted about managing in the future. And it won’t make money appear at mid-season to acquire major talent.
Pains me as it is to say, no team in the NL Central has done much to make up ground to the Cardinals, who may have actually gotten a bit better with the progression of players like Adam Wainwright and Colby Rasmus, and a full season of Matt Holliday.
Could this change? Maybe, but as constituted, this looks like a nice 85-win team, not the sort of contender that the Cubs organization is selling. By my count, unfortunately, that’s a third-place team in what I think will be a surprisingly competitive NL Central.