I must admit that I am as big as optimist as any concerning the Cubs chances every year. However this year the Cubs management has actually tried to support my optimism. I can't say that we have the best man in the GM position, as I probably would've spent $300M a little differently, but hey, they at least started spending.
I know that wild spending in and of itself is not a recipe for success, but contrasted to the vanilla approach towards acquiring talent in the past, I'll take the Donald Trump approach embraced by the new Cubs Prez.
So the Cubs have now assembled a cast that will compete for the 2007 campaign and hopefully the overall needs of the club will be evaluated, not just a players raw stats.
As I look at teams that have succeeded in past post seasons, I have a few observations as to what approach Pinella should take on assembling the 25 man roster to break camp with.
The pitching may not be spectacular but should be deep enough to produce a healthy rotation that will at least be on par with any other NL Central foe and the bullpen regardless of Dempster, should be one of the best in the entire NL.
The offense becomes light years more productive, with just the Soriano addition and the healthy return of Lee.
Even with the lighter than light hitting Izturis at SS, it's hard to imagine that he won't produce better at the plate than Cedeneo.
What concerns me most is the defense.
Their is no question in my mind that Hank White has proved he can be more than just a no hit, all glove backup, and with the number of day games the Cubs play, Pinella would be wise to start him about a third of the time. I'm as big a fan of Barrett as the next guy, but in probably the most defensive demanding position on the field, I think it's a mistake not to make better use of Blanco's superior defensive skills, especially against above average running teams. The Cubs offense can surely afford Barrett not starting say 50 games a year and that would keep Barrett fresh as well.
The outfield is the next concern as hard hats may be required if the early prognostications of who plays there holds to be factual.
I could care less if a 20 man platoon needs to be implemented in the outfield. If Pie can hit 250, he'll more than make up for the loss of Jones HR's with his superior defense. Pie's a natural CF'er and has a strong enough arm to play RF, but with Soriano attempting a new position, why put Soriano in CF?
2B is the next weak link in the defense I'd address. It doesn't matter that DeRosa was brought in to be the everyday 2B, he's played there a little over 40 games his entire career. The insertion of The Riot, assuming he doesn't pull a Cedeneo on us, will give us at least as strong a glove as DeRosa, not to mention some speed.
Outside of Soriano, the Cubs have some real plow horses clogging the bases and the addition of Pie and The Riot would address the issue.
Can you tell me that the Cubs can't afford the loss of Jones and DeRosa offensive production when the team defense and speed, two of the team's bigger weaknesses are upgraded significantly?
It's time for youth to be served!