With baseball season around the corner, there’s no doubt that Cubs fans are anxious to see what’s in store for their team. Management suffered a complete overhaul of changes this off-season. The biggest of them was the signing of team President Theo Epstein, the man from Boston who is given a lot of credit for ending baseball’s second longest World Series drought (Boston’s last title before the 2004 World Series was won in 1918). As a Cubs fan myself, I’m one of the more anxious fans waiting to see how Epstein plans on bringing the Cubs organization its first World Series in over 100 years. Epstein, however, may not be the savior the Cubs’ faithful have hoped for after all. Continue reading
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I think I’ve found the key to the Cubs success next year. If every time the opposing team scored a run, we just do this to them. We’d be flawless at home.
We are only a few short weeks away (July 31, 3:00 pm CT) from one of the most exciting times in regular season baseball: the trade deadline. Unfortunately for Cubs’ fans, this time will likely mean the end of the road for one of your favorite players wearing Cubby blue. For the South siders, you may see a fresh face or two in black and white to help the Sox playoff push.
The White Sox are the only ball club in Chicago right now with a fighting chance to make the postseason this year. The Sox are 44-48 and are surprisingly only five games behind the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central. The Cubs, meanwhile, have been struggling, which has led to them holding the second-worst record in all of baseball at 37-55.
Top Play: Tyler Colvin throws out runner for double play
This was clutch for the Cubs at the time, even though they ended up losing 5-4 to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Also note how Geovany Soto face checks Jaramillo during the tag. Priceless.
Runner-up: Brent Seabrook destroys Steve Downie
Got to show some love for Brent Seabrook for this great hit on cheap-shot artist Steve Downie. Love seeing Downie trying to get into a scuffle only to be shrugged off like a fly.
For the last 10 years of my life I’ve heard this question asked at the beginning of the MLB season: Is this the year the Cubs finally win the World Series?
The short answer here is “probably not”.
After coming off of a horrific 75-87 year in 2010, the Cubs are looking to rebound with the additions of starting pitcher Matt Garza, first basemen Carlos Peña, and relief pitcher Kerry Wood. But are these newcomers enough to get us a division title?
The answer, once again, is “probably not”.
Notice a trend here? General Manager Jim Hendry seems to have dug a hole for the Cubbies in his recent years with the franchise. Currently, we are in a bind financially due to the overpaying of players like Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome, and Aramis Ramirez. Thankfully, most of these contracts are up at the end of this season. That means no more double play balls from Aramis Ramirez. No more .260 seasons from Kosuke Fukudome. Hopefully in 2012 we can witness Pujols in Cubby blue. But we can all dream right?
But this isn’t about next year. This is about this year.
On the bright side, the Cubs took a 14.6 percent decrease in payroll this season, the first cut since 2005. Also, (not to celebrate an injury) the injury to Cardinals’ ace pitcher Adam Wainwright only helps the rest of the division. Now we only have to deal with Chris Carpenter, who is 35 years old and isn’t the most durable. A division title is definitely attainable if all things go our way.
Another roadblock that stands in our way is the Milwaukee Brewers, who seemed to benefit the most from the Wainwright injury. They are debatably the favorites in the NL Central, after adding pitchers Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum through trades. Offensively, the Brewers pack power with first basemen Prince Fielder and outfielder Ryan Braun, in addition to third basemen Casey McGehee and Rickie Weeks, who combined for 52 home runs last year.
On another note, the Cubs have a bright future in shortstop Starlin Castro and outfielder Tyler Colvin. Castro, at 20 years old, hit .300 and got 31 doubles and 5 triples. Colvin hit 20 home runs as a rookie last season. Hopefully the sophomore slump doesn’t affect either of these guys, or the Cubs will be in big trouble.
The X-factor for the Cubs has to be Aramis Ramirez. A former 38 home run hitter, the Cubs success seems to revolve around his play. When he’s on, the Cubs are on. Recently he hasn’t been hitting at all, which seems to correlate directly to the Cubs lack of success in the past few seasons. In a contract year, Ramirez needs to get back in form if he wants a job next season or he will be remembered as one Jim Hendry’s many questionable signings.
Pitching is still a question mark. Will Carlos Zambrano remain inconsistent? Will Matt Garza rebound from his less-than-mediocre spring training play? Great pitching for the Cubs seems to be as rare as great quarterbacking for the Bears. Garza should be able to easily dominate in the National League, considering he’s coming from the stacked American League East, where he had to face teams like the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees more than most pitchers. Moving down to the bottom of the rotation is where the Cubs will likely struggle the most. Randy Wells is coming off of a 8-14, 4.26 ERA season. 2008 first round pick Andrew Cashner will anchor the fifth spot in the rotation, after the Cubs released the other fat, angry Venezuelan. Cashner possesses a mid-to-high 90s fastball and a hard breaking slider that resembles a curveball. He’s a former closer and pitched in relief for the Cubs last season. It will be interesting to see how he pans out as a starter at the major league level.
The bullpen may be a pleasant surprise for Cubs fans this season. Jeff Samardzija, Sean Marshall, and rookie Marcos Matteo all look like solid middle-inning options. The acquisition of set-up man Kerry Wood certainly helps. Carlos Marmol may end up as one of the game’s best closers at the end of the year, barring a lack of run support. If the Cubs somehow make a playoff push, I can see him with upwards of 50 saves. Realistically, he’ll get around 30-35.
Overall, 2011 looks like it’ll be year 103 in the longest drought in sports. As a Cub fan it hurts me to say it, but sorry to have to break it to you: we aren’t winning it this year. To make it all up I made a predictions list below:
2011 Predicted Record: 72-90, fifth in the central
Cubs’ MVP: Starlin Castro
X-factor: Aramis Ramirez
Home run leader: Carlos Peña
Breakout player: Jeff Samardzija