Ever since the 2003 collapse in the playoffs against the Florida Marlins, I have been waiting for the Cubs to return to the post season and win. 2007 and 2008 were great regular seasons followed by utter disappointment by getting swept out of the playoffs each season. This year is different for me. I am not as confident as I was last year. I look at this current team and still see some holes that need to be filled. However, I strongly believe that any issues the Cubs have this year will be taken care of once the sale of the team is finalized. I am putting a lot of faith into Tom Ricketts, Jim Hendry, Lou Piniella and the players and other coaches. Here’s my quick preview of what I think this year’s team has entering spring training.
The starters should look something like this to start the season:
Here’s the bench:
Aaron Miles-2B, SS, 3B
Jake Fox has a chance to make the team as a versatile player capable of playing 1B, 3B, C, LF and RF.
Koyie Hill has a chance to make the team as a backup Catcher.
Here’s a quick look at our pitchers:
Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, Rich Harden and Ted Lilly.
Guys that could start or come out of the bullpen.
Sean Marshall, Jeff Samardzija, Chad Gaudin, Angel Guzman and Aaron Heilman
Guys out of the pen.
Carlos Marmol, Kevin Gregg, Luis Vizcaino, Neal Cotts, and Kevin Hart.
I am sure things will look a little different when the season starts, but I imagine the team will come out of spring training with a roster consisting of most of the players listed above. A few will start the season at Iowa and hopefully get called up when needed.
Things look bright for 2009. But we can always improve. Go Cubs Go!
Last season Carlos Zambrano was up and down with shoulder problems. It was the first time in several years that he did not pitch over 200 innings. I believe that this could turn out to be a good thing. Big ‘Z’ is also not going to pitch in the World Baseball Classic for Venezuela. That’s also good news in my opinion. The Cubs need a healthy and fresh Zambrano in 2009 if they want to repeat as Central Division Champs. What has me concerned now though, is an eye infection. He was already considering having laser surgery to help correct a vision problem. Now, with the infection he may have to put the surgery off until later this spring. I hope he doesn’t do it during the regular season. I think the surgery is a good idea, but he needs to have it done when his eye is completely recovered from the infection and before the season starts.
I mentioned that Zambrano won’t be competing in the World Baseball Classic and I think that is a good thing. Fellow Cubs pitcher, Rich Harden, has also chosen not to compete in the Classic. This is great news for the Cubs.
There are several Cubs players that are going to participate in the World Baseball Classic this spring. Carlos Marmol, Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez will be playing for the Dominican team. Ted Lilly and Derek Lee are on the USAs team roster. Geovany Soto may play for Puerto Rico. Outfielder Kosuke Fukudome will be playing for team Japan. There are other players from the Cubs that will be participating, but these are the main guys. These are the guys that will either be in the everyday lineup or play a major role on the pitching staff. I think the only guy that will really benefit from playing inthe WBC is going to be Fukudome. He needs to have a good WBC to gain confidence. He finished last year on a sour note, even losing his starting role. The Cubs invested a lot of money into him and they need for him to deliver this season. I believe he is capable of hitting over .280 this year. We will have to wait and see.
I wish the World Baseball Classic would take place in November after the regular season. I feel that having the games before the season starts isn’t a good thing. I went to Florida in 2006 to watch some spring training games. Several players were absent because they were representing their country in the WBC. It wasn’t the same for me. But I guess I am complaining and I know I don’t have any say in the matter. Yet, I think it would be better to have the games after the season rather than before.
Okay, I have been reading that the Cubs should trade Derek Lee. I have read that he is getting old and that it could free up his $13 million salary. I think this is a crazy idea and doesn’t make any sense to me. D. Lee plays great defense, hits for decent power and average and is an important member of this team. Trading him would definitely hurt the team’s clubhouse chemistry too. There is something to be said for an organization staying loyal to it’s players. D. Lee hit .291 this past season and drove in 90 runs. Why in the world would you want to trade away a player like him!?! I say keep him through his contract and then see what happens. Plus, he has a complete no-trade clause. I don’t see him wanting to leave this team any time soon. The players in the Cubs’ clubhouse seem to have a bond that you don’t see that often in professional sports. The Cubs won 97 games this season and now all they have to do is figure out how to win in the post-season. The roster only needs tweaked. No major overhaul as some out there have suggested. If you want to rest Derek Lee more you have that option with Micah Hauffpauir.
When it’s all said and done I know Derek Lee will be a Cub in 2009. I don’t Jim Hendry would even consider trading him. Plus, Hendry needs to focus on re-signing Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood.
The Cubs are not off to a good start since the All Star break. Carlos Marmol has pitched a lot of innings in the first half of the season and needs some rest. Kerry Wood has a blister on his finger and hasn’t been able to pitch for a while now and who knows when he will be able to return. Bob Howry hasn’t look near as sharp this season compared to last year. Overall, the bullpen could use a quality veteran pitcher. I have read where the Cubs are interested in Colorado Rockies pitcher Brian Fuentes. I think that would be an excellent move. Jim Hendry has made some solid moves over that last few years. Acquiring Derek Lee and Aramis Ramirez were huge and have laid the foundation for this current team. I like the fact that he went out and traded for Harden after the Brewers got Sabathia. But I am concerned about the team’s bullpen. The Brewers are hot right now and keep finding ways to win. The Cardinals will be getting Adam Wainwright back soon and possibly Chris Carpenter. That’s two start of the rotation pitchers! The Cubs need to add a little more depth to this team in my opinion. Just enough to put them over the top. I am talking about role players. Guys that round out your team. We already have the big names in the right spots, but we desperately need to add those ever so important role players. Acquiring Brian Fuetes or someone like him would fill that need. Hopefully! I don’t think it would take too much to get him, but you never know. I think the offense will get out of its funk soon. With Soriano coming back it will change the lineup and hopefully help the entire team. I look for Hendry to make one or two more moves before the trading deadline.