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Chicago Cubs Expectations Based on Talent, Not Crushing the Curse

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.

-Pat DeMarco

Cubs Add Versatility with Smart Signing

Today’s Chicago Cubs signing didn’t make the headlines, but it may turn out to be an important signing for Cubs General Manager, Jim Hendry.

The Cubs have signed utility man, Esteban German, to a minor league contract.

I know, The name doesn’t make you jump out of your seat. The 31-year old German will likely fill out the Cubs roster as their 25th man.

Lou Piniella and Jim Hendry love versatility and that’s exactly what they’re getting from German.

A career .277 hitter, German played four different positions in 2008: short, third, second and left field.

The Royals released German last week. In 2008, he batted .245 with no home runs and 22 RBI in 89 games. German’s best year was 2006, when he batted .326 in 106 games.

Similar to a long relief pitcher eating up innings, German will be asked to fill many holes especially in those lopsided games or those long marathon extra inning ball games.

It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s very important to have a player like German in a 162 game season.

Don’t expect power from the former Royal. He has just seven career home runs in six seasons.

That said, he’s the type of player who will slap a base hit through a drawn in infield in the 15th inning. He will play four or five different positions in a four-hour ball game.

With Aaron Miles and Esteban German, the Cubs have two guys who can play at least four different positions.

The Cubs recently signed Corey Koskie to battle for the team’s last infield spot. If healthy, Koskie who hasn’t played since 2006 will provide more offense than German.

What he won’t provide is versatility.

I believe German wins the 25th man spot on this years Cubs team. It’s all about filling holes and the Cubs filled a hole with German.

-Pat DeMarco

Halfway to Houston: Cubs Fifth Starter Spot Still Up in the Air

Pat DeMarco is a new writer for The Daily Cub. He will bring some more experience and insight to The Daily Cub.

With just about half of spring training behind us, I thought it would be a good time to look at the Cubs battle for the No. 5 starter’s job.

The battle for the final starting pitcher’s job is turning into a great battle between Sean Marshall and Aaron Heilman. About a month ago, I wrote an article stating that Heilman won’t succeed as a starter.

Heilman is doing everything to prove me wrong. The 30-year-old has given up just one run in eight innings while striking out 12.

I’m not saying that he should win the spot, but his stuff has been electric this spring. That won’t be ignored. Can Heilman be last year’s Dempster? Time will tell.

Sean Marshall has matched Heilman pitch by pitch this spring. The 26-year old is 1-0 this spring with a 1.00 ERA. Marshall has allowed just 6 hits while striking out 5 in 9 innings.

Heilman has been outstanding this spring, but I still believe Marshall will win the number 5 spot. Then again, I also wrote this article 6 weeks ago.

Both Chad Gaudin and Jeff Samardzija have pitched well in spurts, but it’s doubtful that Piniella will choose them over Marshall or Heilman. If this is truly a wide open battle then Heilman and Marshall are clearly ahead of Gaudin and Samardzija.

It’s very difficult to get a read on players during spring training. That said Marshall and Heilman look like they’re in mid-season form. Marshall is doing a great job of changing speeds and turning his pitches over.

Heilman’s slider is very sharp this spring, and his fastball seems to have much more pop then years past. Both pitchers are keeping the ball down and throwing strikes. That’s a very difficult thing to do in the thin Arizona air.

This great battle for the No. 5 starter’s job will come down to the wire. I give the edge to Sean Marshall but not by much.

-Pat DeMarco

Meet the Staff

Joe Willett

Hi there Cubbie faithful. My name is Joe Willett and I’m here to give you every piece of Chicago Cub information that you could ever want.

I started to take journalism in high school as a way to pass the time and as something that seemed interesting.

I tried news journalism but it just wasn’t for me, so I went to my passion, sports journalism and I am now the Sports Editor for my high school paper.

I have been writing for Bleacher Report and have achieved Senior Writer status along with 83 fans to date.

I have tried but failed to blog in the past, but am going to stick with this one because of more discipline.

I hope that everybody here can enjoy your Daily Cub.

Bob Warja

I am a lifelong Chicagoan who roots for all of the Chicago sports teams, not surprisingly, but the Cubs in particular. I am a sports fan in general, but I gravitate toward all things baseball, and as a Cubs fan, am no stranger to suffering. I am a Senior Writer for BR who has a passion for writing, but I must warn you: I am not shy when it comes to expressing my opinions. But the good thing is I’m always willing to hear another side of the story, so feel free to challenge me if you do not agree with something I’ve written. I enjoy friendly debate.

If you want to know more about me, Sam Wenk was kind enough to do a brief profile on me for BR:

I am the Chicago Cubs Community Leader, and we’re always looking for fresh Cubbie talent, so drop me a line on my Bulletin Board below, or via my personal e-mail at – I’d be happy to help you in any way possible.

Katelyn Grabarek

I am a diehard Cubs fan, from South Bend Indiana (near Notre Dame). I am a college student studying communications, with a passion for journalism. I love sports in general, and I’m a tennis player.

I am a soon to be college sophomore at Saint Mary’s College, and I write for Notre Dame’s newspaper and get to cover a lot of their sports. It’s been a great experience covering Notre Dame, but my real passions are baseball and football.

I have more than a few quirks about stats I keep track of especially when it comes to the Cubs. I guess when you live and die every year with them, you become superstitious and an eternal optimist, or in my case pessimist who dreads the worst. Go Cubs!

Pat DeMarco

My favorite sports are baseball, football, and basketball. Baseball is clearly my favorite sport. Growing up in Chicago, I have always been a huge Cubs fan. I love watching and analyzing Chicago Cubs baseball. I’m also a huge Chicago Bears fan. It’s not to difficult to find me on Sunday. You will find me watching the NFL.

I graduated from Southern Illinois University with a degree in Communications. I love following SIU basketball. I hope you enjoy my articles. I’m going to try and mix things up a little writing about baseball, football, basketball, and sometimes a few random articles.

Prior to working in the Transportation/Logistics industry, I spent a few years working in the Radio and TV industry. I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to cover numerous sporting events and teams. I covered the 2001 Chicago Cubs, and Chicago White Sox. I’ve also covered the Western Open Golf Tournament, and numerous high school, and college sporting events.

While attending Southern Illinois University, I worked at a local NPR station and PBS station covering soft news, hard news, Illinois politics, and local sports.

Hope you enjoy all articles.