For years Cubs expectations have been based on them being overdue to win a championship. We’ve all heard this phrase, “It’s been 90+ years and the Cubs MUST win a championship this year.”
For the record, it’s now a 100+ years but the Cubs are expected to play deep into October because they’re one of the most talented teams in all of baseball. The expectations have nothing to do with their World Series drought.
There’s no doubt that playing for the Chicago Cubs comes with a lot of pressure and high expectations. That said, the 2009 Cubs are as talented as they’ve ever been.
The fans, media, and front office are not asking the Cubs to do something they’re not capable of doing. The 2009 Cubs have a surplus of talent and very few question marks. The Cubs could certainly use another left-handed arm in the pen, but that will likely be addressed sometime down the road.
Assuming everyone plays to their expectations and stays healthy, this should be a great season for the Cubs. One through five their rotation is one of the best in all of baseball.
Some will argue the Cubs don’t have a legitimate number one starter. I tend to disagree with that, I am comfortable with calling Zambrano my number one starter. With a career record of 96-61, it’s difficult to say big Z is not a number one starter.
For years, number one starters were identified by 20 game winners. There are very few 20 game winners in today’s baseball. All I know is Zambrano has thrown the ball extremely well in the postseason the past two years, despite going 0-1.
The Cubs pen will miss Kerry Wood, but the addition of Gregg will prove to be a solid addition. Carlos Marmol and what appears to be a healthy Kevin Gregg are battling for the closer spot. Gregg has a total of 61 saves the past two years. He struggled mightily last August while battling a knee injury. Gregg is throwing the ball well this spring and appears to be close to 100 percent.
The other option is Carlos Marmol. Marmol spent much of last years second half as both the Cubs setup man and closer picking up th slack for Wood who was sidelined for over a month with a blister. Marmol had 4 saves while giving up just 12 hits in 35 innings during the second half last year.
Despite winning 97 games in 2008, Cubs GM Jim Hendry went out and made a very right-handed lineup much more balanced. The moves have been debated all offseason, but the reality is the Cubs went out and spent a lot of money to become much more balanced. Some have called it careless spending, while others have applauded Hendry for being aggressive.
The Cubs opening day lineup will feature three left-handed bats. Milton Bradley, Mike Fontenot , and Kosuke Fukudome will likely be in the opening day lineup. The Cubs will certainly miss the versatile Mark DeRosa, but they’re confident they can get that versatility from Miles.
The switch hitting Miles hit .317 in 2008 starting at third, second, short, and left field. The Cubs will look to Bradley and Miles to replace DeRosa’s offensive numbers.
Bottom line, the Chicago Cubs have one of the highest payrolls in all of baseball. They have one of the highest paid managers in Lou Piniella, to go along with 10 all stars on their 25 man roster. If that’s not enough, the Cubs will make another major move at the trade deadline. While most baseball teams find themselves subtracting, the recession proof Cubs continue to add on.
Other then major injuries, there’s no reason why this team shouldn’t be playing come mid to late October. There’s a lot of pressure, but that comes with the territory. This Cubs team can beat you so many different ways. They can out slug you 10-8, beat you 1-0, or beat you with small ball.
There’s a lot that goes into winning a World Series Championship, but there’s no reason why the Cubs shouldn’t be part of the conversation.