Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Can they win?

Imagine that it's April 1, 2009, and the Cubs then are exactly as the Cubs are today.  Jason Marquis is still the 5th starter.  Neal Cotts remains in the bullpen.  Theriot still plays shortstop, while Mark DeRosa splits RF with Fukudome (who splits CF with Reed Johnson) and 2B with Mike Fontenot (who splits the stepping stool with Eric the Midget, team mascot of the '09 Cubs).  Alfonso Soriano still leads off.  Derrek Lee still bats third.  Carlos Marmol still anchors himself to the pitching mount, lest his wind-sail ears pick him up and carry him off over Lake Michigan.  Cub fans still wake up with the sweats the night before a Zambrano start, and develop nervous twitches any time Soriano hoppingly one-hands a fly ball to left.

Would it be enough?  Could the Cubs win with a team that looks like this?

C Geovany Soto
1B Derrek Lee
2B Mike Fontenot/Mark DeRosa
3B Aramis Ramirez
SS Ryan Theriot
LF Alfonso Soriano
CF Kosuke Fukudome/Reed Johnson
RF Mark DeRosa/Kosuke Fukudome
IF Ronny Cedeno
OF Felix Pie/Micah Hoffpauir/Joey Gathright
C Koyie Hill

SP Carlos Zambrano/Ted Lilly/Ryan Dempster/Rich Harden/Jason Marquis
MR Neal Cotts/Chad Gaudin/Sean Marshall/Michael Wuertz*/Kevin Gregg/Carlos Marmol

(*I almost switched out Wuertz for Samardzija, but I think that the Shark pitches in Iowa unless he starts)

The short answer is "yes."  With that team, with those players, with that rotation, the Cubs could - and perhaps should - blaze a trail into their third consecutive NL Central title.  But perhaps a more appropriate question would be Can They Win the World Series?

Well, the likely answer is no.  These Cubs would not be better than last year's Cubs.  They would be weaker offensively, at the very least.  Then again, the playoffs are a crapshoot.  The 83 win Cardinals can win the World Series.  The 116 win Mariners can fail to even get there.  Alfonso Soriano cautionists* should know - Barry Bonds can bat .198 in the playoffs over 6 trips and more than 100 at bats, with a 1 HR and 7 RBI, and then his head can grow three sizes larger and he can bat .356 in one post season trip and hit 8 homers in 45 at bats and drive in 16 RBI.  Anything can happen, and precedence means nothing - just ask the '04 Red Sox who stared the Bambino Curse, the Yankees Dynasty, and a 3 game deficit in the face and smacked it down with the fury of an O.J. scorned.

(*Yes, I just invented a word.)

Regardless, as a fan of the Cubs and a realist, I can't help but wish that our favorite would find a way to upgrade.  And that's the rub - when your team has the best hitting, pitching, and NL record, it's reallllly hard to improve.

I suppose we should keep that in mind while we lament over Hendry doing little-to-nothing.  Still, while stepping up may be hard, stepping back shouldn't be necessary either.

Three playoff appearances in

Three playoff appearances in a row would be an historic achievement for this club, sad as that may be. If they keep getting to October, I think something positive is bound to happen.

Having said that, I absolutely agree that an upgrade to either the offense, rotation, or bullpen is essential for this offseason to be considered anything but a failure. Not signing a free agent to play right field would be seriously disappointing.

Absolutely

This team can absolutely win a World Series with what they have now. Are they as good as last year's team? No. Are they still a playoff team? Most likely. As you pointed out in the post, the best team doesn't always win the Series and once you get into the playoffs, anything can happen.

The rotation is still dominant. Other than the Yankees, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better rotation than Zambrano/Harden/Dempster/Lilly/Marquis. On that point, and this is NEVER a popular idea among Cubs fans and will probably get me banned from the site; Jason Marquis may be the best 5th starter in baseball. Is he great? No. Is he good? Probably not. But find me another 5th starter who is as reliable, durable, and proven as Jason Marquis.

The offense is still very good, featuring two of the league's premiere sluggers in Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano. Geovany Soto, Mark DeRosa, and Derrek Lee provide an incredibly strong supporting cast while Theriot can set the table. The outfield situation may cause some problems, but is there anyone out there who honestly DOESN'T believe Fukudome will be better this year?? He may not be great, but I see him playing much better with a season under his belt. Again, not a bad bench. It provides versatility, speed, defense, and power. The problem here is going to be getting enough AB's to go around.

Don't forget Gregg in the pen, he was left out of the original post. If he sets up for Marmol, which I assume he will, that's not a bad 8th and 9th. Howry is out of the picture thank God, and the combination of Wuertz, Gaudin, and Marshall provide solid options for the middle innings. I'll have to see more of Wells...and hopefully we can keep Neal Cotts off the Wrigley mound.

While they may not be as good as the 2008 Cubs, they don't have to be (for what it's worth, I don't think the '08 Dodgers were as good as the '08 Cubs, but we know how that worked out). This team can stand on it's own merits and is more than capable of bringing a championship to Chicago.

Go Cubbies!

You're forgetting Gregg, and

You're forgetting Gregg, and that puts the roster up to 26 men.

Also, is Shark starting at AAA?

Another Omission

Oh, good point, Samrdkzkdslsja should be in there too.

Good points. I meant to

Good points. I meant to insert Gregg instead of Wells, but I will find a revised place for Shark. So long, Wuertz.

Can they win

shouldn't be the question. It should be, why wouldn't you improve the club with the resources they have?

Doesn't it improve the offense to balance the lineup?

As the bullpen sits today, can anyone say it's as solid?

Does anyone think Soriano wouldn't be more productive hitting down in the order?

Wouldn't a legit lead off man be sweet?

How about a slick fielding SS?

I know the Cubs won't or can't spend like the Yankees, but they still have room in the payroll to improve the club. Even if Hendry can't address all of these needs, it's just crazy to stand pat.

While I agree that the present Cub team could win it all, probably most of last years playoff teams could say the same thing. Still, the Cubs are a big market team, and big market teams this close to winning it all try to improve.

The Cubs playoff window is closing folks, and now certainly isn't the fucking time for Hendry not use every bit of payroll available.

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