MLB MLB Team News NL Central — 23 February 2011

The Cubs made some nice moves in the off-season adding Matt Garza and Carlos Pena in an attempt to strengthen their club. While the Cubs are probably a tier below Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Milwaukee in terms of talent, they should still be a decent ball club. The lineup probably won’t jump off the paper at anyone; while they still have some big names, it seems as if injuries and age are starting to take a toll on some of their stars.

Alfonso Soriano certainly isn’t the player he used to be, and it seems as if Kosuke Fukudome, while an average talent, could be replaced. The rotation will, however, be pretty solid. The addition of Matt Garza makes this staff very formidable, and they should be able to pick up the slack should the offense stumble at all. The Cubs probably won’t win the Central in what should be an extremely competitive year within the division, but anything less than a .500 season would be a disappointment.

Key Additions: Matt Garza, Carlos Pena

Key Losses: Derek Lee, Ryan Theriot

Lineup:

C: Geovanny Soto
1B: Carlos Pena
2B: Blake DeWitt
3B: Aramis Ramirez
SS: Starlin Castro
LF: Alfonso Soriano
CF: Marlon Byrd
RF: Kosuke Fukudome

Rotation:

1: Ryan Dempster
2: Matt Garza
3: Carlos Zambrano
4: Randy Wells
5: Carlos Silva
CL: Carlos Marmol

Critical Players to Success:

Carlos Zambrano: The Cubs are paying Big Z way too much money for him to be a mediocre middle of the rotation kind of guy. Fortunately, he was able to post some solid numbers after returning to the rotation last year. Continuing this success would make life a lot easier on Mike Quade and the Cubs front office.

Aramis Ramirez: When healthy, Ramirez is capable of being one of the best third basemen in the game. Lately however, he has been susceptible to injuries and his numbers have taken a hit as a result. The Cubs need him to be healthy and productive if they want to score runs.

Carlos Pena: The Cubs signed Pena to boost the heart of their lineup, and when playing well, will be more than able to do so. However, his batting average dipped all the way below the Mendoza line to an ugly .196 last year. While Pena has never been known for his ability to hit for average, any further regression in his batting average could almost be too detrimental for his power numbers to compensate.

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