Baseball Toaster Cub Town
Questions in the Central
2005-01-13 07:41
by alex ciepley

Just like my recent trip to New Jersey (Trader Joe's was a plus, but other than that it was Jersey), the Cubs' offseason has been mixed. Keeping Nomar, Todd, and Glendon by giving them short, inexpensive contracts was a great start. All three contracts happened fairly early in the offseason, and now look like genuine bargains in the current marketplace.

But it hasn't been too rosy since. The Cubs have failed to fix a couple of their biggest problems. Chicago desperately needed to add some OBP to the lineup, and other than having Nomar around for the entire year, they've failed at that task. OBP, yeah you know me.

They also haven't added a relief ace (no, this doesn't need to be a "closer" per se). Adding another big bullpen arm isn't as crucial as fixing the lineup's lack of on-base skills, but it would be nice to enter the season with a few less question marks in the endgame.

There's still a lot of time between now and the beginning of the season, so we can all play the waiting game and see if Hendry can do some quick wheelin' and dealin' in the next couple months. Until then, can solace be taken in the offseason fate of the Cubs' division mates? Here's a question or two about each team.

1) St. Louis: Mark Mulder was long a great pitcher in Oakland, though most of his numbers (strikeout rate, walk rate, age) were heading in the wrong direction. Will Mulder be much better than Danny Haren, who the Cards gave up in the deal, even next year? Or better than Woody Williams for that matter? How much will the losses of Williams, Renteria, Womack, and Matheny affect the team?

2) Houston: Carlos Beltran, Jeff Kent, Wade Miller. All gone. Would another go-round by the Rocket be enough to keep this team competitive?

3) Cincinnati: You have $8.5M a year to spend, and you blow it all on... Eric Milton?

4) Pittsburgh: Jason Kendall is out, Matt Lawton is in. Will this be the worst offense in the National League next year?

5) Milwaukee: Somehow, the Brewers have had the best offseason in the division. Scott Podsednik is now Carlos Lee. Craig Counsell is now J.J. Hardy. Chad Moeller is now Damian Miller. Jose Capellan, young and promising, enters the rotation. Rickie Weeks and Prince Fielder are on their way. Could this team sneak into, I dunno, third place next year?

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