So I was looking at an old NBA Preview blog that I completed in Oct. I was quite accurate on all by the Clippers and Jazz, and I little off on the Bulls. Hell, I even predicted a trade the Knicks made last week before the season started.
I will be doing this with the MLB here in a week or so, once the rosters are more set, I know more about baseball than I should and should be fun.
Anyways, the Cubs.......what the heck are they going to do about starting pitching? They need to get a lefty besides Koronka (Who has an ERA of 7.47 last year) and Rusch (Who was 1-12 just two seasons ago).
The health of Wood and Prior are always in question, but an ailing Prior is still better than Rusch. Bring in Rich Hill and let him get some more experience, they traded away Sergio Mitre to acquire lead-off man and Centerfielder, Juan Pierre, which will be of great help. The Cubs have one of the deepest farm systems behind the Brewers and should unload a few mid-season if they are in contention for a Wild Card.
My other concerns are with the Second basemen. Todd Walker, where was the .300 hitter that they acquired from the Red Sox? I don't believe he has even played in a 100 games in each of the last two seasons. Jerry hairston Jr. blamed a preseason injury with his subpar season last year and said to be 100 percent. I say enough already, either move Neifi over there or trade for Soriano from Washington. The Nationals park is not a good park for a home run hitter, but with his speed, it could be just as dangerous. The Nationals need him as an outfielder, since Vidro is an annual all-star and better defensively. Trade Walker and maybe a Single-A player for Soriano, Washington just needs to dump him 'cause he'll be a virus to that team if he doesn't get his way. Aramis, Ronny Cedeno, Soriano, and Lee is a powerful infield and very offensive. It would relieve the outfielders that burden and they would just need to draw walks and try to get on base and maybe steal a couple.
Bullpen concerns? Not too many, They need a solid closer, Dempster was nice in the meantime, but we need a big-boy closer like the cross-town rivals have. I just don't see it, the closest thing they had to a possible closer potential was Farnsworth (who lost more games than ever came close to saving) and Juan Cruz, who is a decent set-up man for Huston Street in Oakland. With the lack of quality closers in the league, the Cubs are not the only team that his this problem, so Dempster is better than LaTroy Hawkins, but Jerome Williams, whom they acquired in a trade for Hawkins, I don't see anything special in this kid.
Cubs bullpen doesn't worry me too much, they acquired a few new faces and re-signed Ohman, which was their best reliever last year. They should keep them in games. But with the damage Prior and Wood have had to their bodies from pitching too many innings, Baker should look after them and Zambrano, who was the work horse last year and in my opinion, their best pitcher at the moment, until I see something from Prior that he's healthy. Howry, who was probably the best reliever that no one knew about came over from Cleveland, via free angency and Eyre was a pickup from the Giants, who is a nice addition. Both of these pitchers can eat some innings up and rest the arm of Dempster for games they need him in down the stretch.
Opening Day Starting 5 - Zambrano, Prior, Maddux, Williams, Koronka (Wood will be thrown into that group in late May) Spot starts will be made by Hill and Rusch - - -- All this depends on Rich Hill's performance in preseason, he could be called up mid-season as well. He should be a factor. Zambrano is the ace of this staff, I don't care about the hype with Prior, Zambrano eats up innings and his intensity sparks this team. The need another quality starter, but don't all teams!
The Cubs catchers are two-dimensional, Blanco is more of a defensive threat more than Barrett, but Barrett is a .280/30/80 threat and should be in there more often. Blanco is lucky if he is a .240/5/35 man.
Outfielders, they need a power hitter acquisition by the trading deadline. With the losses of Patterson and Burnitz, I do not believe Piere and Jones can put up power numbers that they need if they do not get Soriano. Pie will be a Pre-1999 Sosa. He is fast, can get on base, can hit for power, but the major difference is that he doesn't strike out as much as Sosa. Pie may need another year of development before he's ready to be throw into the "Friendly Confinds" permanently. Murton should be a solid Left-fielder and hit some dingers, but they need an upgrade while he develops, a one-year deal for a power guy.
My one regret that will bite the Cubs in the butt. They traded Jason Dubois to the Indians for Gerut, which they sent right away to the Pirates for practically nothing. The Indians with Dubois, Sizemore, and Hafner are going to be Cleveland mainstays in the outfield for quite some time and they will be a force in the AL Central.
To wrap it up, I see the Cubs being a 3rd place team. Everyone in the division has improved. The Cardinals might have digressed a little, but as much of a lead they had in rest of the pack, they can do that. The Astros will still end up second, I don't see Biggio and Berkman having productive years, Berkman yo-yos too much and is not consistent in back-to-back years. Next will be the Cubs, I see them as a 88-74 team. Barring some monster deal or something terrible happens to the Astros or Cards. The Brewers will be fourth, heck, they might even crack the .500 mark, they have TONS of young talent and they need to grow up fast since Fielder and Weeks seem to be opening day starters at their positions. They could be the next Minnesota Twins, by winning with farm system talent and not having a lot of money to play with. Sadly, the Reds and Pirates will be jockeying for the basement. With a healthy Griffey, the Reds may challenge the Brewers for their spot, but the Reds need pitching and more base hits from Dunn and their other outfielders. The Pirates, I can't say much about them, but I wish them luck, they have some young pitching that could develop into something nice, but they let a few key free agents go like Mackowiak.
So, as much as I love the Cubbies, I don't see them finishing any higher than third.......unless them getting rid of Nomar uncursed them like the Red Sox and Wood's arm magically heals and throws like the kid from the movie Rookie of The Year.......where's GARDENHOSER when you need him?
Comment on your thoughts people!