There are many new faces on the new-look 2012 Cubs team.
With that said, the opening-day roster is far from set in stone. Spring training is nearing its’ end and the season looms less than two weeks away now. No one is certain what talent the team will or won’t have heading into the real-deal.
Many questions remain such as swirling trade rumors surrounding starter Matt Garza and outfielder Marlon Byrd. Jed Hoyer, the Cubs GM, has said several times that the team is active in trade conversations.
Possibly dealing Byrd and Garza should be no surprise to Cubbie fans as President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and Hoyer have been active in the short time they have been at the helm guiding the departures of Sean Marshall, Andrew Cashner, Aramis Ramirez, and Carlos Pena since their take-over.
Regardless of trade rumors, the real question should be; what will the new-faces bring to the 2012 team and how quickly can they make an impact?
From the top down the 2012 team is much different from years past.
Aside from Epstein and Hoyer, rookie manager Dale Sveum will try to improve on the Cubs dismal 71-91 record last season under Mike Quade.
The manager has struggled this spring going 8-12, part due to the many young faces on roster.
Youngster Bryan LaHair looks locked in at first for the Cubs while Steve Clevenger will back-up Geovany Soto behind the plate and 26 year-old Tony Campana and Adrian Cardenas fight for a roster spot.
However, youth does not equate for all the unfamiliar faces that accumulate on the Cubs depth-chart. Experienced, yet, new arrivals Ian Stewart and David DeJesus will start respectively at third base and left-field.
Stewart and DeJesus struggled in their most recent campaign with the Rockies and Royals last year. Each will need to be more productive in the up-and-coming season filling their starting roles.
On the other side, pitching, both in the pen and the starting rotations have many voids to be filled as well.
The team looks to the last two weeks of spring to find another setup man in what looks to be either Rafael Dolis or the 26 year-old James Russell.
As far as the rotation Randy Wells, Travis Wood, Rodrigo Lopez, Chris Volstad and Jeff Samardzija have been slugging it out for two openings.
For the time being it seems Wood is the only candidate struggling while Samardzija has been stellar.
Samardzija has recorded 10 innings of work this spring that scattered just six hits that went for three runs and nine K’s.
The 2012 Cubs team truly is a puzzle that remains to be solved – whether it can be put together in time remains unknown. Whether it can win? That’s an entirely new question.