This is part of a series of posts in which we call out all 30 teams for their wily offseason moves and tragic offseason blunders.
Obviously, the Cubs made a lot of noise this offseason. But spending money doesn’t necessarily always translate into wins. Just ask the Orioles.
Still, it’s hard to argue that the Cubs won’t be significantly better in 2007 than they were in 2006. Frankly, it would be hard for the Cubs to be any worse than they were last season.
First and foremost, the Cubs are going to score runs. Three words: Soriano, Lee, Ramirez. That’s all you need to know. If those guys are healthy, the Cubs will score.
So it’ll come down to pitching and defense. First, the pitching.
Carlos Zambrano is about as close to a guarantee as you get. He eats innings and craps wins. New starter Ted Lilly should add stability. But the Cubs’ staff is again full of question marks. Can Mark Prior stay healthy? Will new addition Jason Marquis rebound from a horrid 2006? Can Wade Miller finally return to his pre-surgery form?
This season, the Cubs’ bullpen will feature Kerry Wood as the closer. Clearly, Wood has dominant stuff. He is exactly the kind of guy you want coming in at the end of the game. Except that there’s a chance his arm could fall off. The Cubs’ bullpen was one of the few bright spots, with the sixth best ERA in the majors last year. If Wood holds up, it could be even better this year. But even if he doesn’t, sixth in the majors is probably good enough.
The Cubs’ infield defense could be good (Izturis, Lee, DeRosa, Ramirez) and their outfield defense could be really bad (Soriano, Jones, Floyd). Soriano in center is a major gamble and Cliff Floyd playing anywhere but DH seems like a terrible idea.
Will the Cubs compete in 2007? Absolutely. But will they have enough pitching and defense to stay in it down the stretch? Doubtful.
Offseason Grade: A-
Acquisitions: Alfonso Soriano, Mark DeRosa, Cliff Floyd, Henry Blanco, Ted Lilly, Jason Marquis.
Losses: Juan Pierre, Todd Walker.
Projected Lineup, Rotation, and Closer
CF Alfonso Soriano .277/.351/.560, 46 HRs
2B Mark DeRosa .296/.357/.456, 13 HRs
1B Derrek Lee .286/.368/.474, 8 HRs
3B Aramis Ramirez .291/.352/.561, 38 HRs
RF Jaque Jones .285/.334/.499, 27 HRs
LF Cliff Floyd .244/.324./.407, 11 HRs
SS Cesar Izturis .245/.295/.318, 1 SB
C Michael Barrett .307/.368/.517, 16 HRs
SP Carlos Zambrano 16-7, 3.41
SP Jason Marquis 14-16, 6.02
SP Ted Lilly 15-13, 4.31
SP Wade Miller 0-2, 4.57
SP Mark Prior 1-6, 7.21
CL Kerry Wood 1-2, 4.12