Saturday, January 30, 2010

Pitchers and Catchers

Februrary 17th is fast approaching and that's the day Chicago Cubs pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training. For the first time since the conclusion of the 2003 season(which I'm replaying here), I'm not excited to see the date approach.

For the past few years, the pitchers and catchers reporting date was the renewal of Cubs optimism. The season starts with everyone starting off at 0-0 and tied for 1st. The chances that you can win a division title and more is still there. The 2010 Cubs don't have that same feel to it.

In 2009, the lineup was improved by the addition of Milton Bradley to play in RF and help provide some left-handed power that was sorely missing from the 2008 division series loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Through injuries and a mysterious loss of power, Bradley never won over the fans in Chicago and was shipped out this past offseason. His production was replaced with newcomer Marlon Byrd, expected to provide a bigger lift than the 2009 Bradley did. That's been the only major move this offseason. however. Sure, they also picked up Xavier Nady, but he's coming off his second Tommy John surgery and no one knows what to expect from him. The Cubs also picked up Carlos Silva is exchange for Milton Bradley but he's just a warm body to throw out to lose ever 5th day.

Worse for the Cubs, is what they lost this offseason. Their close from 2009 Kevin Gregg is moving on to greener pasture. Rich Harden has signed with the Texas Rangers on a one year deal. Bradley is gone to Seattle to help Cliff Lee win a Cy Young and they traded Aaron Miles and Jake Fox to Oakland. Miles and Fox were nothing but bench/role players, but with a weak bench to begin with, well that's not going to help much.

Where is the leadoff hitter they desperately needed last season? Who are the Cubs going to rely on after Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano and Ted Lily? Who is going to setup Carlos Marmol? Who is going play 2nd? All those questions weren't answered this offseason and will leave the Cubs looking at a 3rd place finish. Not a great way to end the Lou Pinella/Jim Hendry era.

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