The Cubs on paper have a roster that could contend for a playoff spot, but there are many questions that come along with their roster. So lets take a look at 5 players that will make or break the Cubs in 2010.
Carlos Zambrano- It’s time for the so-called ace of the Cubs to finally start to pitch like one. Going into the season the Cubs will be missing Ted Lilly for the first month, who in all reality has been their best pitcher for the last 3 years. With Lilly being out, the Cubs are going to have to depend on Zambrano to pick up the slack for Lilly’s absence. Zambrano, so far has shown that he lacks discipline by not keeping himself healthy due to a poor work ethic. He also needs to control his emotions in a more mature manner. It is time that he stops the non-sense of exploding if an umpire calls against him. Zambrano has improved his work ethic during the off-season, and hopefully that can lead to strong year from him on the mound.
Aramis Ramirez- The Cubs need a healthy Aramis Ramirez for the whole season. Last year showed that Aramis Ramirez is the silent leader of the Cubs. The offense looked non-existent when Ramirez was injured for two months, and when he returned the Cubs offense also returned. So assuming Ramirez stays healthy for the whole year, he should easily have a rebound year and the Cubs offense will benefit from that.
Carlos Marmol- After waiting two years, Carlos Marmol has finally been anointed the closer of the Cubs. Last year Marmol finished the year 11 for 11 in save opportunities, replacing the erratic Kevin Gregg, who blew 7 saves and was the losing pitcher in 6 games. The lack of a “shut down” closer hurt the Cubs last year, and is a big part of why the Cubs only had 83 wins last year. So if Marmol can be a successful closer, the Cubs will likely be strong contenders for a playoff spot.
Alfonso Soriano- There is no question that last year was an all around bad year for Soriano. As he struggled with knee problems for majority of the season, which could be a key factor in why his average took hit as well when he only hit .241 last year, and 20 home runs. But Soriano has had successful knee surgery, which could very well rekindle his offense this year. Soriano, also will be locked in at the sixth spot in the lineup, which will give him the chance to be more of a run producer for the Cubs.
Randy Wells- Wells may have been the surprise of the year for the Cubs last year, when he came up in late May, and went 12-10 for the Cubs as a starter and produced an ERA of 3.05. Now, I don’t see Wells repeating those numbers, but the Cubs will need him to win at least 10 games and have an ERA around the high 3’s or low 4’s. Wells will likely be the 3rd starter for the Cubs when the season starts, but he eventually will end up as the 4th starter for the Cubs once Lilly returns from his injury.
So, If these five player are able to have successful campaigns in 2010 for the Cubs, the Cubs will likely find their way back into the playoffs.