Riley Blevins – Editor
There are many uncertainties for the Cubs heading into this season – too many.
With this said, I do believe the Cubs will improve on their last year 71 win total under then manager Mike Quade. The main reason being Dale Sveum’s aggressive tendencies on the base paths. Legging out the extra base or two, the newly created scoring opportunities will help the Cubs edge out a few more wins than seasons past – but not many.
Ian Steward and David DeJesus, both coming off of down years with their respective teams, had lackluster springs. This is cause for extra concern as DeJesus is a lock in the leadoff role. If he continues to hit around his spring .162 average, the Cubs will be in deep trouble.
While players like Darwin Barney, boasting a .450 batting average, had promising springs, I see Samardzija struggling in the rotation and issues arising in the bullpen related to the health of the weary Kerry Wood and unreliable Carlos Marmol.
Yes, the rookie had a down spring hitting no home runs and just six RBI’s in 61 at bats, but I feel the youngster will shine come the real-deal.
At the age of 29, LaHair played in 576 Triple-A games where he totaled a .297 average and .528 OPS and had considerable power to match. Plagued all spring by back spasms, healthy LaHair will contribute considerably.
Matthew Osborne – Columnist
The pieces are not quite in place for this team to make a run to the postseason.
Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney are expected to be the future of the franchise but neither player is over the age of 26. Look for players like Marlon Byrd and Alfonso Soriano to not be around at the end of the season because they will be shipped out to playoff contenders and new pieces of the puzzle will come in.
The pitching staff features Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza with newcomers to the starting rotation Jeff Samardzija, Chad Volstad, and Paul Maholm that is not extremely strong. Last year’s staff had the fewest quality starts in the NL, but this staff may be a little better than that.
Carlos Marmol (2011 Stats: 2-6, 4.01 ERA, 34 SV, 74 IP, 99 KO, 48 BB)
Carlos Marmol, the Cubs’ closer, has been known in the past to be somewhat inconsistent. In the 2011 season, Marmol blew 10 save opportunities.
The Cubs will need Marmol to close out every save opportunity this season because there will be few and far between for the team. If Marmol can close, the Cubs could go far.
Sean Linstrom – Columnist
This team has a lot of unknowns - will DeJesus, Stewart, LaHair, and Volstad. Will they be able to have good seasons, like they have in the past? The answer is probably no.
Our rotation is below average, our lineup doesn't hit for power and doesn't have many run producers.
Marmol is a shaky closer, and with Kerry Wood enduring injuries often and Shark in the rotation now, it'll be pretty bad. No world series for the Epstein headed Cubs just yet.
I think that Garza will have a pretty good season, with quality 1-2 punch of slider and fastball. I think Garza will be the Cubs MVP, assuming he's not dealt at the deadline.