SportsPickle is previewing each MLB team in the lead up to Opening Day 2010. Today:Chicago Cubs (2009: 83-78, 2nd in NL Central)
STARTING PITCHING … The Cubs expect to contend for a championship this season. Their starting rotation is Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly, Randy Wells and Tom Gorzelanny. No starting pitchers were acquired in the offseason. It's amazing this franchise hasn't won a World Series in more than 100 years.
LINEUP … The Cubs have to win now. Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd, andKosuke Fukudome are all 32 or older. Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot will both be 30 this year. That means 27-year-old catcher Geovany Soto is the youngest player in the lineup, and he played last year as though he has progeria.
BULLPEN … Carlos Marmol did well in the closer's role last year, and new acquisition Carlos Silva will handle the front of the bullpen as a long reliever. Put them with Carlos Zambrano and the Cubs have a "Three Carlos" pitching staff. Mets general manager Omar Minaya will probably cry himself to sleep every night looking at the Cubs' roster.
BENCH … New acquisitionsXavier Nady and Kevin Millar offerveteran bats off the bench, but you have to wonder if the Cubs would be better served jettisoning one of them to open up a spot for 20-year-old shortstop Starlin Marte, one of the organization's best prospects in years. Although since Cubs prospects tend to turn into players like Bobby Hill and Corey Patterson, perhaps it's best he stay out of Chicago for as long as possible. If another prospect flames out, angrier Cubs fans might treat Starlin like FBI cadet Starling:
OVERALL … Statistical analysis has taken over baseball in the past decade. So let's use statistical analysis to weigh Chicago's chances this year. Ready? Okay, take their years since they've won a title (101), subtract from that the games over .500 they were last year (5), and now subtract the significant offseason acquisitions they made to a team that was only five games over .500 (0) and then add 1 for the team being another year older. That gives us 97. What does that 97 mean? I have no idea. So let's just add 3 from somewhere and say that they have a 100-percent chance of not winning the World Series again. BOOM. Statistical genius. I await your call, Michael Lewis.