Chicago Cubs: 5 Players Most Key to a Turnaround in 2012

Matt CoanCorrespondent IIAugust 4, 2011

Chicago Cubs: 5 Players Most Key to a Turnaround in 2012

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    The Chicago Cubs are currently stuck in the middle of a horrible season.

    Things are looking as bleak as ever as the 102 year World Series drought will move to 103 and Cubs fan's aren't happy.

    With that said, sometimes things need to hit rock bottom before starting to rise back to the top.

    This season could be rock bottom and, with a few major roster moves, the Cubs could be right back in contention next season.

    Here are five players who are keys to a 2012 turnaround for the Cubs and how they will contribute to the comeback season.

Carlos Zambrano

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    Carlos Zambrano making this list may surprise some Chicago Cubs fan's, but he is still a quality pitcher that can make an impact on this team.

    Zambrano will be entering the fifth year of his contract (that has an option for a sixth year) and he will begin to start pitching for his next contract.

    Zambrano was never a good fit to be the ace of a quality pitching staff, but in the role of a second or third starter he can thrive.

    If the Cubs make a splash and sign a big name pitcher this offseason, they can move Zambrano down in the rotation and take some of the pressure off him.

    Zambrano also needs to mature.

    It has been said hundreds of times before, but it still needs to come true. If Zambrano can grow up, which is a gigantic if, he could help out the Cubs in the future and maybe even someday live up to his massive contract.

    Zambrano only makes sense on this list if the Cubs can deal for a legitimate No. 1 starter, which is a very difficult thing to do.

    Then again, so is not winning the World Series in 103 years. 

Aramis Ramirez

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    Now that the trade deadline has passed and the Chicago Cubs have kept Aramis Ramirez, it's time to look into how he can help the club in the future.

    Aramis is a great bat to have in a lineup, one that can drive in runs with power and extra base hits.

    Aramis isn't good enough to be the best hitter in a lineup and the Cubs' plan of having him bat third or fourth in order to lead the offense was a mistake from the start.

    Where Aramis can thrive is batting behind a quality hitter and driving in clutch runs.

    The Cubs have a lot of moves to make and they should start by putting some talent around Aramis. Turn him into their third or fourth best hitter down is best for everyone.

    Aramis is going to be playing for a contract in the next few years and could really help the Cubs turn around their offense.

Starlin Castro

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    Starlin Castro is the future of the Chicago Cubs and there is no doubting it.

    Whether he ends up playing shortstop, third base or even outfield for the rest of his career, he has a great bat and will go down as an all-time great.

    The Cubs' front office knows they need to build the lineup around Castro and with his ability to bat in almost any spot in the lineup, it shouldn't be a very difficult thing to do.

    I see Castro batting second for most of his career and the only way that will work is if the Cubs bring in a high quality No. 1 hitter. This years' free agent class has a few world-class players who fill that role that the Cubs need to take a serious look at.

    Castro is a great starting piece to build a lineup around, but it is going to be how the Cubs build around him that really matters.

Albert Pujols

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    Albert Pujols is second on this list only because of the small chance the Chicago Cubs actually have of signing him.

    I really don't see Pujols leaving St. Louis and, unless they end up really undercutting him, I think he will return to the Cardinals.

    With that said, there is always a chance he could have interest in playing for another team and that team could very well be the Cubs.

    Pujols would cost a ton of money and could end up getting close to ten years, $300 million.

    That is a high price to pay for a guy who would be 40 by the time the contract ended, but with Pujols still in his prime, one would be getting the best hitter in baseball.

    Pujols would be a huge help to the Cubs and adding him to the lineup could single-handedly turn them into N.L. Central contenders.

    Throwing Pujols into the lineup would make everyone better and give a ton of run support to a decent-at-best pitching staff.

    Albert would be huge for the Cubs and a 2012 turnaround.

Prince Fielder

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    The Chicago Cubs have been looking for a left-handed run producer for as long as I can remember.

    They are also in need of power in their lineup and will need a first basemen after Carlos Pena's contract expires.

    They have a ton of salary coming off the books and will be able to sign a top free agent to a big contract.

    Prince Fielder is a perfect fit for the Chicago Cubs.

    Fielder will fill the role of the left-handed run producer/power hitter. He can bat third, allowing Starlin Castro to move up to second and Aramis Ramirez down to fourth plus he can fill the hole at first base.

    The Chicago Cubs need to sign Prince Fielder in order to begin building a lineup around Starlin Castro that can compete.

    Fielder is young and has a pretty healthy track record so it wouldn't be a huge risk giving him a lot of money/years on a deal.

    Fielder can be the start of a new team and help bring the Cubs back to contention. Not only in the N.L. Central, but in the entire major leagues as well.