Key Additions—David DeJesus, Chris Volstad, Theo Epstein
Key Losses——-Sean Marshall, Carlos Zambrano, Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Pena
Lineup—When you lose both your corner infielders who were middle of the order type of bats last year, and basically try to replace them by signing David DeJesus, who batted .240 with 10 HR in 2011, that will not get the job done. But essentially that is what the Cubs did. They were not a very good offense last year, and only got worse. Let’s start with the outfield, where DeJesus will man right field. Add him to Marlon Byrd and the vastly overpaid Alfonso Soriano, who amazingly has 3 years and 54 million left on that deal, and Dave Sveum has got to wonder what he has took over. The bright spot may be youngster Starlin Castro, who is a star in the making. The problem is he is not surrounded by an infield that will help him. Ian Stewart will get the majority of the starts at 3b and Darwin Barney at 2b. Neither of those adds too much excitement about their bats. The 1b position will not provide much, until Anthony Rizzo gets the call, and the Cubs hope he will turn into the hitter they think he can be. Geovany Soto will once again try to emulate what he did his rookie year, but so far he has not been able to do so. All in all, in what I think will be a competitive NL Central, this offense will be shut down time and time again.
Pitching—The pitching staff has some old and some new faces going into 2012. Matt Garza is still around, although I am not sure for how long. Like the #2 man in this rotation, Ryan Dempster, both of these players have much more value on other teams. I think without a doubt 1 if not both of these guys are dealt before the trade deadline to try to help this team build out for the future. They do have some depth, as they have guys like Paul Maholm, Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood and Chris Volstad vying for 3 spots. That is a good solid core of starters, who should provide innings and allow for the Cubs to deal one of their front end starters. Their bullpen remains anchored by Carlos Marmol and Kerry Wood. Wood apparently loves the Cubs, because with offers from other teams there was no reason to come back. As for Marmol, there are rumors circulating around him and I expect him to also be dealt as the house cleaning continues. Once that happens, this bullpen will be in complete shambles.
Outlook—I know Cubs fans don’t want to hear it, but the next few seasons in Chicago will be all about trying to win in 2015. They are still hamstrung by the Soriano contract, and have very few parts to make a run at a division title. But they are on the right path with the additional of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. I fully believe these guys know what it takes to win a title, and will ultimately bring that elusive title to the north side of Chicago. But for the next few years, when teams like the Reds/Brewers/Cards are making a run at the division, the Cubs will be wallowing near the cellar of the division.