2008 Chicago Cubs Baseball Preview
The Chicago Cubs (85- 77) took the NL Central with tough pitching, average hitting and new manager Lou Piniella at the helm. It’s been 100 years since the Cubbies have been World Champs with 2008 offering the most promise for a return to the top spot since the club last won the title.
Last season’s rotation was one of the best in the NL. RHP Carlos Zambrano (18- 13, 3.95 ERA, 177 SO) showed a massive fastball that peaked at 96 mph, plus four other bat bending pitches. Two lefties—Ted Lilly (15- 8, 3.83 ERA, 174 SO) and Rich Hill (11- 8, 3.92 ERA, 183 SO)—offered double digits in the win column. Jason Marquis (12- 9, 4.60 ERA, 109 SO), though inconsistent, found a way to notch a dozen victories. Bob Howry (6- 7, 3.32 ERA, 8 SV, 72 SO), former closer who’s manned the setup role recently, moves back into the pressure position and looks ready to do so.
At the plate, 1B Derrek Lee (.317 BA, 22 HR, 82 RBI) has a good eye for good pitches, while Aramis Ramirez (.310 BA, 26 HR, 101 RBI) uses his fast bat to hit for average and with power. Fastball hitter Alfonso Soriano (.299 BA, 33 HR, 70 RBI) seemed to find a home with the Cubs. Newly signed Kosuke Fukudome, who hit .294 with 13 homers and 48 RBI in 79 games with the Chunichi Dragons, should be a good addition to the team. Versatile 2B/OF Mark DeRosa (.293, BA, 10 HR, 72 RBI) is a disciplined hitter.
The Cubs’ outfield looks solid with Soriano and Fukudome at the corners and a developing, wide-ranging Felix Pie in center. Catcher Henry Blanco, who missed almost three months last season with a herniated disc in his neck, is the backup for the inexperienced but talented Geovany Soto. The weakest point for the infield is at second base.
GM Jim Hendry spent $400 million dollars last season and made it payoff. Lou Piniella certainly had a period of adjustment with his new team, as early-season feuds festered, but Lou won the guys over by mid-season. Many think the World Series could welcome the Cubs back after a century-long hiatus.
For more info on Chicago check out the MLB website for the Cubs.