The Chicago Cubs fans have suffered every year since 1908. That was the last year their beloved Cubs won the World Series. To explain how long it has been for Cubs fans, the New York Yankees weren’t the Yankees until 1913. The Cubs last World Series appearance was 1945. Thus the Curse of the Billy Goat was born with this last World Series appearance, and has haunted the franchise and it’s fans since.
The Cubs lost 101 games last season, they hadn’t lost 100 plus games in a season since 1966. Last season was one of the worst in Cubs history. The 101 losses was third worst in franchise history. Their problems were not just in one area. The batting lacked consistency and power, the pitching had a collective 4.51 ERA. Without a player batting .300, hitting 137 home runs and only scoring 613 runs the Cubs offense didn’t offer that much threat to opposing pitching staffs.
This off-season the Cubs did little to improve their Opening Day roster. Yes they landed Edwin Jackson, but is he a player to take you to the next level? He too has been on a 101 loss team with the Rays, and then went to the World Series with the same Rays team. Hopefully he can bring some knowledge and insight to this Cubs team on how the Rays went from worst to first. Last season he was 10-11 with a 4.03 ERA , not franchise changing numbers, but he does bring that intangible experience with him. The Cubs also signed Nate Schierholtz, Scott Baker, Scott Feldman, Dioner Navarro and Carlos Villanueva. Schierholtz is expected to start in right field, and Scott Baker seems to be the their fourth or fifth starter. These though are not the players Cubs fans were hoping for in year two of Theo Epstein’s renovation project.
Alfonso Soriano is easily the Cubs best offensive weapon. Last year he lead the team with 32 HR and 108 RBI, even with this production he is not in the Cubs future plans. They tried to trade him to the San Francisco Giants but Soriano turned the trade down as he has a no-trade clause in his contract. Soriano’s reason for denying the trade, “Cold weather in San Francicso.” Soriano may want to hire a meteorologist to explain Chicago’s climate versus San Francisco’s. Well at least he didn’t have to take part in that World Championship parade the Giants had in that “cold weather”.
The question with Soriano is how much is his heart into it. Coming off that 101 loss season and not much added in the off-season will he be fully immersed in the Cubs season. Only time will tell.
The division isn’t what it was a few years ago, the Astros are among the leagues worst teams, the Brewers are a step off of what they were a few years ago. The Cardinals are always competitive and in the mix for a playoff spot. The Reds are getting better and better each year as the team matures, and the Pirates are an enigma. They play well for long stretches in the season, then they for apart for the same amount of stretches.
If the starting rotation can keep games close and the defense is solid the Cubs have a shot at a wild card spot. Theo Epstein wasn’t brought in to create a .500 team, the names are not big for the most part. Teamwork though, can make up for that, just ask the Oakland Athletics. By Steve Kish