Why the Chicago Cubs Will Win the National League Central
As spring training is well underway, teams throughout the league have a sense of hope for the upcoming season. Whether it be hope for a title run or just hope for improvement, every club is excited to get the season started.
The Chicago Cubs in particular are coming off a successful winter in which they acquired players such as Carlos Pena, Matt Garza and Kerry Wood. These moves alone have been enough to get Cub fans back in the groove and excited for what's to come in 2011.
However, it isn't strictly fans that are jumping on the Cub bandwagon. Multiple experts have Chicago making the postseason as well.
So with all this hype surrounding the team, why are the Cubs title contenders?
1. Solid Rotation
The Cubs added Matt Garza to the mix this past offseason, strengthening their pitching staff. With already talented pitchers such as Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and Randy Wells, the team has four solid hurlers that can eat up plenty of innings.
They also have a lot of depth that they can rely on if one of the starters goes down with an injury. Veteran pitchers such as Carlos Silva can provide a few spot starts, while young pitchers such as Chris Carpenter and Jay Jackson are possible mid-season call-ups.
Solid, consistent pitching will be a key component to their success this year.
2. Strong Offense
This year’s team has arguably one of the most underrated lineups in the MLB. While they aren’t exactly stacked with guys who can hit 30+ long balls, they are solid from top to bottom.
Kosuke Fukudome will man the leadoff spot against right-handed pitchers, while Jeff Baker will likely do the same against lefties.
Baker, 29, killed left-handed pitching last year, hitting .350 and slugging .550.
They also have good power in the middle of the order, with above average hitters at the bottom. If healthy all year, this lineup can easily be one of the most dangerous in the league.
3. Young talent
Even after trading away four promising prospects, the Cubs still have some of the best young talent in all of baseball.Players such as Brett Jackson and Andrew Cashner may see big league action as early as this year.
Jackson, 22, will likely follow the path of Starlin Castro last year and get a mid-season call-up. While Cashner, 24, may be ready to start the year at the major league level.
Though these players are not yet difference makers, they can still contribute to a large amount of the team's success with the energy they will bring on a daily basis.
With a great abundance of youth, the Cubs could very well outlast some of the older teams in the league.
Many Cub fans seem to view the Kerry Wood acquisition as nothing more than a reunion of a franchise and its long lost prodigal son. However, this signing is far more than that.
Kerry Wood did a phenomenal job for the Yankees in a very tough AL East. In 24 games, he posted a 0.69 ERA while allowing only one home run in the process.
With Wood going in the eighth followed by Carlos Marmol in the ninth, I don’t see the Cubs blowing very many leads this year.
Chicago has had enough.
The Cubs have played over a century of baseball and have not one title to show for it. Cub fans have endured multiple losing seasons and early playoff exits. These fans are ready for their team to shed the tag of lovable losers and start winning games. The north side of Chicago will not rest until their team is labeled as world champions.
And trust me, if these fans feel that they can have any influence on their team’s success, they will. Look for Wrigley to be rocking louder than it has in years.