Friday, October 19, 2007

Looking Ahead: 2008 Cubs

What's good, people? There's not a whole lot going on today, so with that in mind, considering I did a 2008 preview for the White Sox a month ago, and while the Cubs have been done for the past two weeks now I figure I might as well do theirs. It might not be the most timely thing, but fuck it, baseball is still being played and it works for me. So with that said, I will forgive my enemies to the North Side and peer into my crystal ball to see what needs to happen if the Cubbies are going to do more then just show up to the postseason dance next year. Here's my key issues for the 100th anniversary of futility to end:

- Leadoff situaiton resolvement
- Left handed bats
- Left handed reliever
- 5th starter

Leadoff Situation: Outside of September when Alfonso Soriano was hotter then hell, the Cubs' leadoff hitters did a terrible job of getting on base. While his OBP was better then Ryan Theriot's by a percentage point, .337 is not even good enough for the top 100 in the league this year. Factor that in with the Cubs' lack of sacrificing runs which will be discussed later in this post, and it was feast or famine for runs. In order to present a more stable scoring option, it has to start at the top of the batting order. Whether that means expectations of Theriot or Soriano taking more pitches, or finding someone else either internally or externally, something has to be done.

Left-Handed Bats: The Cubs lineup is dominated by righties, and there needs to be more of a balance as Steve Stone noted during a conversation with Mike North in the morning within the past month. This would give the Cubs the more of a threat to disrupt how other teams go about their bullpen options later in the game, and in turn give them a chance to exploit advantages with some as well in the dugout. While Felix Pie, Daryle Ward, Mike Fontenot, Cliff Floyd and Jaque Jones are lefties, Floyd is a walking accident waiting to happen, and Ward wasn't much healthier either.

Southpaws in the Bullpen: In the 'give-nothing get-nothing' swap between the Cubs and White Sox before the '07 season, the Cubs got one month out of Neal Cotts before he vanished to who the fuck knows where. Will Ohman and Scott Eyre were not good, and should not be thought of as viable options in the late innings as witnessed many times throughout the year. With that said, a lefty specialist is exactly what they need for key situations.

Fifth Starter: Although he started the season strong, Jason Marquis tailed off towards the end of the season, but still managed a 12-9 record which is pretty respectable considering his tumultuous '06 season with the Redbirds. I think you pencil in Marquis again next year in the fourth spot, which leaves questions at the end of the rotation. From Sean Estes to Sean Marshall, the fifth starter has been a constant question mark for the Cubs in the past decade (but who really has a decent fifth starter anyways?). Marshall finished with a 7-8 record and 3.92 ERA, and should be given the spot in Spring Training to start. But the Cubs will need to look for a free agent, because after looking at some of their pitchers in the minors, things don't look too good.

FUNDAMENTALS: This picture should be in every hitters' locker when the Cubs return for Spring Training. This how you properly bunt: square your shoulders to the pitcher, and deaden the ball with the end of the bat. Why is this such a mystifying concept to National League teams? I don't get it, and neither do they. TEACH SOME FUCKING FUNDAMENTALS! I could only imagine how many more wins they might have been able to compile if they were able to lay down a god-damn sacrifice bunt.

Well, that's my solution for the 2008 Cubs, but like always, all these things will have to WAIT TIL' NEXT YEAR.

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