2011 MLB Preview: Chicago Cubs

Ryan GaydosSenior Analyst IMarch 4, 2011

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - MARCH 01:  Aramis Ramirez #16 of the Chicago Cubs during the spring training game against the San Francisco Giants at Scottsdale Stadium on March 1, 2011 in Scottsdale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

9 Innings Blog will be bringing you previews of every Major League Baseball team for the next 30 days. This is in accordance with our 30 teams in 30 days series. Today we are taking a look at the 2011 Chicago Cubs squad that is ready and raring to make it back to the playoffs and the may have the team to do it this year.

The Cubs had a disappointing 2010 campaign, finishing in fourth in the National League Central division with a 75-87 record. Even worse for the Cubs was the announcement of Lou Pinella’s retirement coming during the middle of the season.

Piniella announced in July of 2010 that he would retire at the end of the season, but due to his mother’s illness, Piniella called it quits early. The Cubs replaced him with Mike Quade, who led the team to a 24-13 record, which was the best down that stretch. So yes, there is some light at the end of the tunnel for the Cubs.

Quade’s interim tag was removed at the beginning of the offseason this year, as he got named as the full-time manager. The Cubs also began making some moves during this offseason.

The Cubs made a splash when they signed power-hitting first baseman Carlos Pena as well as being able to re-sign third baseman Aramis Ramirez. The Cubs also signed reliever Kerry Wood, who was in the Yankees and Indians bullpen last year.

Probably the biggest move they made was the trade for Matt Garza. The Cubs acquired Garza, OF Fernando Perez and LHP Zachary Rosscup for CA Robinson Chirinos, SS Hak-Ju Lee, OF Brandon Guyer, and RHP Chris Archer.

Clearly we see that the Cubs are aiming to win now instead of down the line. We hope to see the Cubs being competitive and maybe they could pull out a first place victory.

Key Addition: Matt Garza, P and Carlos Pena, 1B

Breakout Player: Starlin Castro, SS

Prediction: Second NL Central

CA: Geovany Soto
1B: Carlos Pena
2B: Blake DeWitt
3B: Aramis Ramirez
SS: Starlin Castro
OF: Kosuke Fukudome
OF: Marlon Bryd
OF: Alfonso Soriano

Pitching Rotation
SP: Carlos Zambrano
SP: Matt Garza
SP: Ryan Dempster
SP: Randy Wells
SP: Carlos Silva

RP: Todd Wellemeyer
RP: Marcos Mateo
RP: John Grabow
RP: Andrew Cashner
RP: Sean Marshall
RP: Kerry Wood
CP: Carlos Marmol

CA: Koyie Hill
INF: Darwin Barney
UTL: Jeff Baker
OF: Tyler Colvin
OF: Fernando Perez

Top Prospects
1). Brett Jackson, OF
2). Trey McNutt, RHP
3). Josh Vitters, 3B
4). Chris Carpenter, RHP
5). Michale Burgess, OF