Of course, we all know it has been awhile since the Chicago Cubs tasted a World Series victory, although many fans just refer to it as "Back in '08." Just to make sure you're caught up, Henry Ford produced his first Model T the same year the Cubs last won, in 1908.
What can the Cubs do to end of of the most scrutinized and devastating losing streaks in sports history? Well, there are many, but here are the five most important steps the Cubs need to take to grasp a World Series title in 2011.
The Cincinnati Reds were the somewhat surprising winner of the National League Central this past year, finishing with a very respectable record of 91-71. The main contributor to this run was Joey Votto, who batted .324 with 37 home runs and 113 runs batted in. With a lack of any major changes in the lineup, the Reds will hope to repeat with the same cast.
The reasoning for the goats and cats are self explanatory, at least if you know the Cubs at all. However, let me introduce you non-Cubs fans to John Grabow.
I think the first thing that you should know is that his top highlight on ESPN.com is "Grabow throws perfect inning." No, not a perfect game, not a perfect outing, simply a perfect inning. Given he was on and off the DL all season, Grabow threw a stellar 7.36 ERA while surrendering 1.87 walks and hits per inning. All I want to know is who owns him on fantasy baseball (0.1 percent owned)?
*I apologize to any John Grabow other than the pitcher in the Chicago area. Also, we don't have to kill the pitcher, we can just release him. Either or.
This is more directed towards Kosuke Fukudome, the Cubs outfielder. He always has a decent stretch of hitting to get all of the Chicago fans excited, but is always followed by chasing outside pitches that he can't hit due to his pulling type of swing for the rest of the season. His .263 batting average, with 14 home runs and 44 runs batted in just aren't getting it done while he's being payed 14 million this year. Also, with four other outfielders in Soriano, Byrd, Colvin, and newly acquired Fernando Perez, Fukudome could be seeing less playing time anyway.
On the other hand, Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez hit .241 last season with 25 homers. Unfortunately, Ramirez took the majority of the season to get into the swing of things, pun intended. He batted sub .200 through the first week of July, before hitting a hot streak that involved nine home runs in twelve games. If Ramirez could find a way to make that kind of streak last, then there is absolutely no way the Cubs would trade him. All he needs is some consistency.
Simply put, this deal didn't work out for Jim Hendry. There are a multitude of options that the Cubs have in place for Soriano; although the majority wouldn't work.
1. Trade him:
I can't think of a team unintelligent enough to pay out Soriano's contract for the level of play he is putting out. The only possible solution would be for Soriano to come out of the gates hot and have a Yankees' outfielder go down. Then, and only then, would there be any way Soriano is traded.
2. Release him:
This option isn't worth it. If you're paying someone that much money, you may as well have him on your team, right? Hopefully there is some kind of loophole that the Cubs can find that, if Soriano does something wrong, he can be released without the Cubs having to fully pay out his contract. Come on, Soriano, the drugs are waiting for you.
3. Trick him into giving his money back in order to afford Pujols next year:
This could work. I think we could all agree this is the best solution. I'm sure Hendry could find a way to make Soriano agree to this, as I'm sure Soriano is tired of Pujols hitting balls over Soriano's head and the left field wall. Three hundred million dollars is a lot of money, and the Cubs are going to need any help they can get to sign Pujols next off-season.
Tyler Colvin and Starlin Castro both had promising seasons last year, now they just need to continue the growth.
Tyler Colvin: The outfielder (and for a short stint, first basemen) batted .254, struggling down the stretch somewhat. He has a solid glove, but unfortunately his season ended early after being stabbed in the chest by a broken bat while running from third base.
Starlin Castro: Starlin was the only Cubs who managed to bat .300. However, he struggled with his fielding throughout the season. Castro could be a possible lead off hitter with his speed and ability to put the ball in play. His biggest issue is the hitting.
The Cubs also feature some young arms such as Justin Berg, Andrew Cashner, and Casey Coleman. Fans will learn more about them as this season begins. Cashner is one of many pitchers in line for the fifth starting job in the rotation.