March Madness- 30 teams in 30 days. 2012 MLB Season Preview: Chicago Cubs

Team: Chicago Cubs

Manager: Dale Sveum

2011 Record: 71-91

Playoff Result: No playoffs

Top Player: Matt Garza (5.0 WAR)

What happened last season: The Chicago Cubs continued to wallow in mediocrity in 2011. They finished with the third worst record in the National League, mostly because their pitching staff finished with the third worst ERA in the National League. The offense also struggled, middle of the back in the NL in most categories. All of this added up to a 5th place finish in the NL Central, behind the Pittsburgh Pirates!

What they did in the offseason: The Cubs had a big offseason to start what looks to be a long and painful rebuilding process. The team first cleared house in management by firing long time GM Jim Hendry and first year manager Mike Quade. Replacing them are former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein and Dale Sveum. But perhaps the most important move of the offseason was the ability to finally unload the cancer known as Carlos Zambrano onto the newlook Miami Marlins.

Projected starting lineup:

Catcher: Geovany Soto

First Base: Bryan LaHair

Second Base: Darwin Barney

Third Base: Ian Stewart

Shortstop: Starlin Castro

Left Field: Alfonso Soriano

Center Field: Marlon Byrd

Right Field: David DeJesus

Rotation:

RHP Matt Garza

RHP Ryan Dempster

LHP Travis Wood

RHP Randy Wells

LHP Paul Maholm

Closer: Carlos Marmol

Outlook for 2012: The Cubs look to continue to rebuild. It will be quite some time before they return to the team they were in 2003, 2007 and 2008. Epstein will keep trying to unload players, particularly Alfonso Soriano, who has three years left on his deal and Matt Garza, a free agent after next season. This is all in an effort to build towards eventually ending the Curse of the Billy Goat. Until then, the Cubs are not a very good baseball team at all.

Regular Season Prediction:  61-101. 5th in NL Central

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