Monday, January 02, 2006

New Year, Same Old Story

Sorry I have been away, but I was on vacation back to Alabama over the Holidays. Then, Christmas basketball tournaments started. I hope to have some time to post over the next few weeks and I am working on the next part of the Wrigley Tales series. Hopefully, I am not putting too much of a negative spin on things.
It is just the signings of Jacque Jones and the handful of relievers do not stir my emotions in a good way. There is also the problem that Jones can't hit left handed pitching. Also, Corey Patterson is a still a Cub. I am not totally against this, but my buddy is up in arms that he is still in the club house. We have three 2B on the roster. There are still concerns with the health of our pitching.
I remember after the NLCS loss in 03 that things were set up to dominate. What a pipe dream that was. Be ready folks, our time is slipping and it scares me. I really thought rebuilding was a thing of the past, but things could crumble at any moment.
Lets look at some of what we may suspect in 2006.
SP - Maddux, Wood, Prior, Zambrano, Rusch-Williams
If Wood and Prior make 30 starts then it is an improvement. If not, we could be in serious trouble. Maddux will probably turn in a worse season. Zambrano's arm might fall off. We might deal Prior and who knows about Rusch and Williams.
Prediction - Starters improve
RP - Dempster, Howery, Eyre, Ohman, Novao, Wurtz, ?????
On paper the pen looks better, but on paper we looked better in 2004 when we signed LaTroy Hawkins. We spent quite a bit on money on the pen. Dempster is another year removed from surgery, so he might be better. Howery and Eyre are coming off big contract years.
Prediction - Pen improves slightly
1B - Lee
Monster 2005, no way he puts up those great numbers.
Prediction - decrease
2B - Walker, Hairston, Perez
Walker is the best with the bat. Perez is better with the glove and Hairston is happy medium. My guy says Walker is dealt before the Cubs break camp and then Hairston becomes the starter at 2B.
Prediction - About the same
SS - Cedeno, Perez
It looks like Dusty will have to play Cedeno for at least a month. My nightmare is that he gets hurt and Neifi is our starting SS for the year. I really want to see how Cedeno does in a full season.
Prediction - With all the injuries a year ago, Cedeno actually produces more
3B - Ramirez
If he is healthy, he is on the better 3B in the game. If the leg problems continue, it is a good chance that John Mabry or Neifi gets more playing time
Prediction - Ramirez puts up slightly better numbers.
LF - Murton
The Cubs rushed Murton along and he has yet to show much power. If he only hits 10 HR and walks a ton, then I am happy. I am glad to see a guy in Cub uniform that actually takes a walk. A line of .295/.360 would be real nice. Add a little slugging and we have a great find. Lets just hope Hairston or Mabry do not make it into Dusty's good graces.
Prediction - Better production
CF - Pierre
Here is one place that there is improvement that can be seen. Pierre fills the leadoff hole the Cubs have had for years. As long as he plays a decent CF and gets on base it is an improvement.
Perdiction - Better production
RF - Jones
Before the O's signed Burnitz this was the worst deal of the off season. Jones had two good seasons in Minnesota and if by some miracle returns to that form, then the Cubs have made a steal. Too bad this is not going to happen. He probably will produce about the same as Burnitz (man what were the O's thinking). Still this was a bad deal, three years and he can't hit left handed pitching.
Prediction - same, maybe worse, praying for better.

There is a quick breakdown, but it looks like no joy in Mudville this season and the 100 year mark draws even closer. Happy New Year and at least we are tied for first right now.