With the Preseason in full swing, Diamond Hoggers will attempt to forecast several aspects of each team in baseball. Before Opening day we plan to have a pretty good outline of what you’ll be seeing in 2007. Today we take our hacks at the Chicago Cubs:
Predicted Finish: 91-71 (1st place NL Central)
Projected Stats: Zambrano (21-4, 2.78 ERA), Wood (8-5, 4.45 ERA), Prior (12-7, 3.94 ERA), Marshall (11-6, 3.78 ERA), Hill (15-8, 3.67 ERA), Wade Miller (5-3, 4.34 ERA), Lilly (9-5, 4.20 ERA), Dempster (2-6, 4.34 ERA, 35 Saves), Barrett (.278, 18 HR, 76 RBI), Lee (.310, 41 HR, 119 RBI), A. Ramirez (.289, 34 HR, 94 RBI), Izturis (.283, 6 HR, 44 RBI), DeRosa (.275, 11 HR, 51 RBI), Soriano (.306, 37 HR, 104 RBI, 42 SB), Floyd (.279, 14 HR, 39 RBI), Felix Pie (.280, 3 HR, 19 RBI, 24 SB), Murton (.277, 16 HR, 53 RBI, 10 SB), Jacque Jones (.279, 21 HR, 67 RBI, 12 SB)
Biggest Storyline: How will Lou Piniella’s leadership and management affect this veteran and heavily loaded team? Expectations are high, and we see Piniella delivering a pennant and deep postseason run. This should be one of the best teams on paper in the National League. How much contribution can this team get from Prior and Wood?
Strengths: They play in Wrigley Field, where baseballs fly out like crazy. It’s a lineup full of hitters that swing for the fence, and they should put up a ton of runs. The NL Central is competitive but full of teams that are marginally mediocre. They’ll beat up on eachother and with no team with a ton of firepower, the Cubs look to be the team with the most talent if healthy. They’ve got an abundance of capable starting pitchers, they could easily make the case for about 8 guys to be in the rotation.
Weaknesses: Ryan Dempster has a yellow streak a mile wide as the closer. One wonders why this team didn’t make more of an effort in the offseason to try and sign someone with proven success in the role. Look for them to upgrade this spot soon if he isn’t lights out. They have many veteran players who are at an age where a serious injury could be expected. Beyond the powerful starting lineup, they don’t have a ton of depth off the bench. They’re in the same division as the Cardinals, which means they have to face Albert Pujols at the plate some 75 + times.
Now, a brutal Harry Caray video: