Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Chicago Cubs 2008 Preview

100 years. That's how long it has been since the Cubs have tasted the sweetness that is a World Series title. In that same time span, half ass organizations such as the Marlins, Royals, and Cardinals have taken home the crown. Hell, even the Rockies have been to the WS more recently than the Cubs. From Bartman to a Billy Goat, who knows what this season will bring (probably more bitter defeat).

Key Additions:

Kosuke Fukudome, OF
Jon Lieber, SP

Key Losses:

Cliff Floyd, OF
Jacque Jones, OF
Jason Kenall, C
Craig Monroe, OF
Mark Prior

Can losing Cliff Floyd and Craig Monroe really be considered "Key Losses"? For arguments sake, let's just say yes, but I would prefer to call it "trimming the fat". Anyways, word on the street is that Prior's arm is looking good (of course, that has been the word for the last half a decade, so who knows), so there is a CHANCE that could be a tough loss for the Cubs to bear. The "big" acquisition was Fukudome, a Japanese product supposedly able to combine the speed and athleticism of Ichiro, with the power of Hideki Matsui. The Cubs have been big spenders in the off season as of late, so it will be interesting to see if they get what they paid for: a hybrid of Ichiro and Matsui, or a toad like creature the likes of which we have never seen before (I take that back, Japan did send us one Hideki Irabu and we all know how that worked out).

Projected Line-Up:

1.) Alfonso Soriano, OF
2.) Ryan Theriot, SS
3.) Derrek Lee, 1B
4.) Aramis Ramirez, 3B
5.) Kosuke Fukudome, OF
6.) Mark DeRosa, 2B
7.) Geovanny Soto, C
8.) Felix Pie, OF

Lineup Grade: A-

Power will not be a problem for this team, as potential 30+ HR hitters Soriano, Lee, and Ramirez begin the order for this team. Add in scrappy Ryan Theriot (I would call him a "poor man's" David Eckstein, but they are the exact same person). The bottom of the order is solid, but unproven. A pair of prospects in Pie and Soto hope to bring some added depth to the line-up. Then... there is Fukudome. Naturally, he is a huge question mark as the season begins. If the reports are true about his mixture of power and speed, then Fukudome makes this line-up easily among the top 5 most potent in baseball.

Projected Rotation:

1.) Carlos Zambrano
2.) Ted Lilly
3.) Rich Hill
4.) Jason Marquis
5.) Jon Lieber
Closer) Kerry Wood (default)

Rotation Grade: B

The top of the rotation is great. Big Z is a (normally) an annual Cy Young candidate, and after getting him money last year, there is a chance his mind will be focused on actually being worth all of that cash. Lilly is a pitcher with great control and Hill is an up and coming ace would should provide great innings for the team. Then you get to the bottom half and things go to hell. Marquis went 12-5 last year, but at the same time posted an atrocious ERA. That may be fine sometimes, as the Cubs have the pop in the bat to defend such an ERA, but he can't come in day in and day out expecting to be bailed out. Jon Lieber is Jon Lieber, and may not even be a mainstay in the rotation with the likes of Ryan Demster and a few prospects moving their way up the ranks. The real backbone of the pitching staff will be the pen. Bob Howry, Carlos Marmol, and (gasp... healthy?) Kerry Wood should be a top quality trio to close out games for this team.

Projected Finish: 94-68, 1st Place in the NL Central

I'm not really sure what Cicero was thinking when he said that the Brew Crew were gonna take the NL Central crown this year. I think the Cubs will break out of the gate quickly this year, with 14 of their first 20 at home. I think that this being Soriano's second year under Sweet Lou, he will be much more aggressive on the basepath, translating into more runs and scoring opportunities for the Cubs. Word is that Chicago isn't done in the free agent market, and want to add one more lefty in the line-up. If the Cubs get a deal done with Brian Roberts, watch out NL, this could be the team to beat.


Young Cicero said...

If that add former anabolic steroid addict B-Rob then fine, whatever, they MIGHT win the division. otherwise they'll just be garbage again. Either way, look for another first-round playoff loss, just like the other two times this decade they have made playoff appearances.

Young Por 'que said...

Such a bitter Cards fan. Didn't they make it to the NLCS back in 2003? I believe that would be the second round.

But you are right. Everyone should brace for further disappointment based up lofty expectations. I just don't see anyone beating the Mets in the NL if Maine improves from last year, Pedro shows any of his previous juice, and Oliver Perez can just be consistent.

Young Knuckleballer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.