Can the Cubs Surprise Us and Compete for the NL Central?
The Chicago Cubs aren’t supposed to be relevant to the MLB Playoffs this season. They aren’t a favorite to win the NL Central Division, or even the NL Wild Card. They haven’t been mentioned in the same breath as the MLB playoffs.
In fact, almost every major sports site has the Cubs predicted to finish fourth or lower in the wild NL Central. Some even have them finishing dead last.
With no one predicting the Cubs to do anything this season, many still think. Why not us?
It’s possible the Cubs could shock the world this season, and somehow win the NL Central and earn a playoff spot. Just two years removed from the playoffs, the Cubs are hungry to get back.
There are many new faces since that magical 2008 season that ended in heartbreak. Even a new manager at the helm. Current manager Mike Quade replaced former skipper Lou Pinella in August of 2010. Quade was awarded the job in the off-season.
The Cubs traded away Derek Lee, Ryan Theriot, Mike Fontenot, and pitcher Ted Lilly last season at the trade deadline.
But there’s just something about this Cubs team that makes me believe they can shock the world.
During the off-season, the Cubs seem like they have caught some breaks. Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright is now out for the 2011 season, giving the Cardinals a blow to their staff.
The Brewers acquired Zack Grienke, which was a great move, until he hurt himself playing Basketball. Another break for the Cubs.
With things falling into place, one can only wonder if the Cubs can shock the world.
To do so however, they will need huge production from guys like Aramis Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano, and Carlos Pena. Guys who have proved they can hit 25+ homers in a year. Ramirez hasn’t been the same since a injury plagued 2009 season. So getting him back and healthy is a major boost to the team.
The youth on the team must play their roles. Guys like Starlin Castro, Tyler Colvin, and Andrew Cashner all look like they have bright futures in the big leagues. And all of them will get their chance to shine this season.
Pitching will be another key for the Cubs. Acquiring Matt Garza from the Rays to help solidify the rotation was a good move by Jim Hendry. The rotation will feature veterans like Ryan Dempster, Garza and Carlos Zambrano. As well as younger guys like Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner.
If it’s one thing the Cubs have that could keep them in the race, it’s pitching. Outside of Carlos Marmol, their bullpen has a few small issues. Middle relief could be a spoiler for the Cubs this season.
While the NL Central doesn’t have a clear cut winner, the Cubs could surprise some teams and win the division.
It would take about 89 wins to beat out the Brewers or Reds. But hey, anything