National League Central Previews: Cubs

Today’s Focus: Chicago Cubs

2010 Record:  75-87, 5th Place NL Central

The Cubs look a lot different than they did on opening day of the 2010 season.  Derek Lee and Mike Fontenot were traded during the season, manger Lou Pinella resigned, and Ryan Theriot and Ted Lilly were gone after the season ended.  The Team picked up Matt Garza, Kerry Wood and Carlos Pena in the offseason but that’s not enough to get this cursed team into the playoffs.

Matt Garza will greatly improve the shaky starting rotation the Cubs had last year. Former ace/head case Carlos Zambrano had a turbulent season that included a demotion to the bullpen and enrollment in anger management classes.  Despite all the drama, he still managed to end the season with solid numbers.  If Zambrano can keep his cool this year, the Cubs should have a decent rotation with Garza and Ryan Dempster.

The Cubs offense, on the other hand, is full of questions marks.  Can Aramis Ramirez stay healthy and return to form?  Can Carlos Pena hit over .200?  Will Geovany Soto play well again or regress like he did after his ROY season?  How disappointing and overpaid will Alfonso Soriano be?  Can rookies Starlin Castro and Tyler Colvin build on their strong debut seasons?

Notable Losses:  Xavier Nady, Tom Gorzelanny, Ryan Theriot, Ted Lilly
Notable Pickups:  Matt Garza, Kerry Wood, Carlos Pena

The Cubs have a lot of players who are capable of putting together a solid season, but the chances of them all doing it this year are slim to none. Soriano, Pena, and Ramirez are in decline or past their prime, and Castro, Colvin, and Soto haven’t yet reached theirs. The Cubs will be in the middle of pack in the NL Central again.

Prediction 79-83, 4th Place NL Central

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