It’s cold. Really cold. It’s this time of year that makes me yearn for the dog days of summer. Remember August 2? The Cubs were in first place. That seems like a long time ago.
Though it was a long time ago, the long, cold and irritating winter has made many a fan forget the reality that is connected to the 2010 Cubs. What is that reality? They are barely an above-average team. Lou claims this team will improve by 10 games. How? I am the eternal optimist, but I am just being honest. If Aramis Ramirez gets hurt and Jeff Baker and Mike Fontenot are starting in the same infield. I think we saw how awesome that approach is last year.
Rudy Jaramillo, JAMarillo, as some like to say, is considered a master craftsman when it comes to the Louisville slugger, but I have a hard time believing he can resurrect careers on the North Side. Can he cause improvement? Sure, but miracles don’t happen too often at 1060 W. Addison.
Is Marlon Byrd an improvement over Milton Bradley? I sure as heck hope so, but nothing is guaranteed. Is Starlin Castro the real deal? I don’t know. Ask Jerome Walton. Heck, ask Geovany Soto.
So many things have to go right for this team. Theodore Lilly has to return from his shoulder surgery and be the pitcher he has been for the past three years. Ryan Dempster needs to find his ’08 form. Carlos Zambrano needs, well, that is a long list, but he needs a lot. Will Tom Gorzelanny regain his form? Is Andrew Cashner for real? Or Jeff Samardzija or Jay Jackson? Will Sean Marshall get a chance to pitch in the rotation for a full season?
In the weirdest of ways, Cubs fans started expecting good teams the past few years. As any fan who has cut his or her teeth with this team will tell you, that is a quick departure from the mindset fans have had for 100 years. Expect the Cubs to be good … never, but now we do.
So going into 2010, Cubs fans are hoping and expecting for the team to compete. I don’t think it will happen. There is a saying that talks about “ifs and buts’ being candy and nuts,” and that is pretty much what this team needs:
- If Derrek Lee plays like last year
- If Aramis stays healthy
- If Zambrano … yada, yada, yada
- If Lilly returns healthy
- If Soriano learns how to hit again
- If Fukudome turns out to be the player we initially signed
- If Byrd can replicate his 2009 performance
- If Marmol can find the strike zone (did we all forget about how awful he can be?)
- If the bullpen is decent
- If Soto is ’08 Geo
We can play this game for hours and hours. The 2010 Cubs could be good. They have the ability to be good, but it does not appear to be that likely. However, baseball is a hard game on which to put your finger. It doesn’t have the same parity as the NFL, but pre-season predictions rarely come to fruition. If they did, the Cubs would have won the World Series at least two or three times in the past eight years.
So, after saying all of that, who knows what will happen. That is why we watch the games and root for the Cubs. That is one of the great things about sports. No one knows what will happen.
Sports create their own drama. Hopefully, the 2010 Cubs will create some of their own drama as well, the good kind. And if they produce enough positive drama, maybe they can win. And when they do, I will tell you, “I called it.”
Until next time …
Stay Classy Cubs Fans!