Since pitchers and catchers reported to Mesa in February of 2004, every year has had hype of that being the year the Cubs break the curse. The year, they finally get all the stars aligned just right, get a huge amount of help from Lady Luck, and hoist the World Series trophy.
In the previous years, the Cubs have managed to win a total of one playoff game while watching the Red Sox break their curse in 2004 (and again in 2007 for good measure), the cross-town rival White Sox win their rings in 2005, the rival Cardinals win their ring in 2006, and the Yankees win World Series No. 27.
This year seems to be different, though. A lot of predictions have the Cubs as an outside possibility to get into the playoffs—as the wild card—and only to scuffle in the NLDS. Questions are abundant for this team, namely those about the abilities of Carlos Zambrano, Carlos Marmol, Carlos Silva, Geovany Soto, Derrek Lee, Alfonso Soriano, and Mike Fontenot, amongst others.
However, these doubts can work to the advantage of the North Siders. The failures of the 2009 season can absorb all these doubts and not leave the team questioning itself this year. Instead, the 25 men who head north this April can just go out and play ball.
A large number of guys on the Cubs could wind up having bounce-back years, which could put the team in a good spot. Geovany Soto, Aramis Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano, and Mike Fontenot are the potential starting players with question marks about their ability to perform—whether it be from poor stats or poor health. Also potentially on the bench with offensive question marks are Xavier Nady, Chad Tracy, and outside possibility, Kevin Millar.
On the rubber, the Cubs first and second starters the past three seasons have the biggest questions. If Zambrano can control his emotions, he can turn into the pitcher that threw a no-hitter in 2008; if Ted Lilly can bounce back and remain the Cubs most consistent starter. Carlos Silva and Carlos Marmol have the same question: Can the hole in their pitching styles be covered by their pitching strengths? Angel Guzman's shoulder is another dark spot for the Cubs; but should Guzman be healthy, he could easily be a lethal setup man.
The 2010 Cubs are full of questions. However, the answers to these questions could lead to the largest baseball-induced celebration in history.