Goatriders of the Apocalypse

How full is YOUR cup?

Since it certainly appears that the bulk of the off-season manuvering is complete, today's question is: when you look at the roster today, how full is YOUR cup?  Oh, I suppose Hendry's got his sights on some depth positions, like a backup SS and/or a LOOGY.  We don't have a Left-handed One Out Guy, and Aaron Miles is our backup shortstop.  Since Lou Pinella has noticed that Ryan Theriot has ran out of gas the last two seasons, Lou has pledged that Ryan will get somewhat more rest during the course of the season.  He did attempt to put Cedeno in there in May and June, and Ronny did Ronny-esque things, like get picked off of bases.  That's why Theriot was left out there every day, to wilt under the hot summer sun. 

So, when I go out to the official site and peruse the roster, I see a team that, assuming those two small parts are thrown in, will compete in the Central.  They may even win the Central, perhaps even sooner than last year's team.  When you consider that no other teams in the division have made any big improvements, and that we won by 6 games last year, the fact that our net impact is relatively flat can be forgiven, at least as much as the Central is concerned.

I imagine at some point a Kurt or Colin will list out all 25 roster spots, compare and contrast the incumbent (2008) entry with this year's entry, compile the sum values, and draw conclusions based on the numerical facts.  I'm not going to dig that deep today, primarily because I am suffering from the combined effects of a vile winter's cold and the intentional overdose of NyQuil.  But also because I am numerically lazy too.  Hell, let's be honest.  I just want to divert attention away from the epic PTBNL struggle.  Cool

I see rough improvements in productivity from RF and the front end of the bullpen.  I also see slight dropoffs in CF, SS and C, and a substantial dropoff at 2B.  We may gain an edge at closer if Marmol can grow into the role.  Re-signing Dempster was huge, although we will be fortunate if he can merely match his 2008 performance.  In fact, the way we are constructed, I cannot see our starting staff performing any better in 2009 as they did last year. 

This team won 97 games last year - they may drop down several games, and that may still be plenty to win the Central. 

My big question for you, the reader today, is what we have enough to win a World Series? 

The logical answer, all else being equal, is sure.  If a team can qualify for the playoffs, then "anything can happen" once you're there.  It's a very old, very tired adage, but it is so old because for nearly every other team in the league, it holds true.  Last year, Tampa Bay won a Pennant in their first post-season appearence.  The Cardinals won a World Series in 2006 after having won only 85 regular season games as the weakest qualifier that year.  The White Sox broke a 78 year old drought in 2005, and the Sawx broke their own 70-some year old drought the year before.  So I understand that a casual fan can stand there and toss out the "anything can happen" screed without fear of ridicule.  The 2009 Cubs, as constituted, can make the postseason, so therefore they have a shot.

But I know, and if you read this every day, you should also know, by now.  It isn't enough to just MAKE the playoffs.  Are there gaps?  Are there low spots?  Are there parts of this roster that can come back and bite us next October?  I have maintained, and will still maintain until proven otherwise, that for the Chicago Cubs to overcome the competitive and karmic hump placed on themselves, that they need to be built to be foolproof, a sure fire lead pipe lock of a roster, so that any margin for error is eliminated. 

If all you want is to win the division, then your Cubs glass is fairly high and brimmin' with refreshing blue Cub Kool-Aid.  But we're no closer to a title than last year, not really.  I can't help but to be a bit disappointed.  This is what the Peavy trade would have accomplished.  We wouldn't be foolproof, but we'd be closer than we are now. 

What do YOU think?


I think the more solid point

I think the more solid point is that not only can anything happen, but it's just a total crapshoot. If we could wave a wand and magically remember how we've felt about the playoff situation every year for the past decade - as in, it's October 1 and we are about to predict the most likely WS winner - probably no more than 2 or 3 times has the most LIKELY, complete team actually won it.

I'm absolutely convinced that the Cubs as built COULD win. But it's also true that like all teams, they will enter the season with question marks. Those include things like ...

Will Milton and Soriano stay healthy? Will Fukudome out produce his rookie year? How will the arms of Zambrano, Harden, and even Dempster hold up? Will Marmol be a good closer or will he have melt downs?

In general, the biggest real concern I have are the health issues surrounding some of the most important players on the team. But in terms of on the field ability and the way this team has been constructed, I'd say they've got to be the odds on favorites to reach the World Series.

Not that something like that actually MEANS anything, 2004 Cubs.

This team is solid, and if

This team is solid, and if anything their chances to win it all have improved since last season. The team's rotation remains intact with a middle of the order hitter added to balance the lineup. The roster as a whole has few weaknesses, and arms will be available in AAA when needed. So as pathetic as the cubs' farm system may be altogether, the team still has some pitchers that are ready to contribute at the major league level whenever they are called upon.

The loss of DeRosa is really a major loss of depth all around the diamond. Backup SS could be an issue, but if Fontenot proves that he can handle SS on occasion he could backup Theriot with Miles playing 2B. And I see no reason that Miles can't backup 2B and SS giving rest to both Theriot & Fontenot when they need it. The question in my mind is who does the team presently have to backup Aramis at 3B? I also feel the team did a poor job with their backup catcher situation, where I think they downgraded unnecessarily and could have done much better given what's available. Health is going to be as key an issue as any.

Most would disagree, but I feel the team could use a lefty in the bullpen. I'm not in favor of any one in particular, as any would do. The cubs ultimate goal is to get to the Series and win the the thing. The Central shouldn't be much of a challenge for this team to lock up, but in all likelihood the road to the World Series in the NL will go through the Phillies at some point. I can see their lineup presenting an extremely tough matchup for the cubs pitching staff; with lefties including Rollins, Victorino, Utley, Howard, & Ibanez. Good luck in a 5 or 7 game series against that, someone tell Neal Cotts & Sean Marshall to pack a cooler that's going to be long week for those two.

I believe

and correct me if I'm wrong, but Miles was acquired because he does have experience playing 3B.

Addressing your article Rob, I have to give a nod to the 2009 version. Remember as wonderful as the ride was last year, that team could have very easily lost another game each month and this debate would be about the Cubs winning 91 games last year, not 97. The 2009 Cubs may not win 97 games, but it doesn't necessarily mean they are a worse team this year because they didn't.

As far as playoff success goes, let me put it this way...Let's say that the Cubs have a record that would translate into making them a 70% favorite to win a playoff series. All that means is that they should win 7 out of 10 playoff series and lose the other 3. Now it is certainly a stretch to think that their record could be that much superior to another playoff opponent and therefore it REALLY IS a crap shoot come playoff time.

Last year's World Champion Phillies had Rollins and Howard in the tank until the World Series but where still able to advance because others, most notably Utley & Victorino picked up the slack, and that is what most likely will have to happen with any eventual winner.

My glass is overflowing.

I'm gonna do a blog post with this; too many words for a comment.

Just a slight correction

The 2006 World Champion* Cardinals actually only won 83 games in the regular season. A total that was bested by TWELVE (12) other teams that year. Do not ever give them more credit than they earned. They embarrassed baseball. Never forget.

thank you

That should be a GoatDirective: Do not ever give them (Cardinals) more credit than they earned.

We are good enough

There is no reason that this roster can not win the World Series other than the fact that they have no done it for 100 years and they are the Cub's. Health is the issue (as with all teams) and mostly because of Soriano's and Bradley's history. I would feel better with a better back up to A. Ram than Miles and a go to left hander in the pen. An upgrade over Hoffpauir would be nice.

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