The Calm Before the Storm:
As baseball fans nationwide prepare to reconvene, hopes remain high for 32 fan bases that 2010 will be the year for their team, and that is a familiar tale to Cubs fans. Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on February 18, and this marks the day that Cubs fans have been waiting for- yet again- since last October.
The disappointing 2009 season was marred by a series of continued frustrations, highlighted by injuries and underperformance on all organizational levels. For Cubs fans, the brightest hope for 2010 is marked by the beginning of the Carlos Silva era. Whie the ex-Mariner posed a sad 8.60 ERA in only eight games last season, his presence marks the absence of last year's biggest disappointment: Milton Bradley.
Aside from the lackluster acquisition of free agent veteran outfielder Marlon Byrd (see career stats), or the minor league agreement with the aging Kevin Milar, the trade of Bradley for Silva was the only major offseason move made by Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry. While Cubs fans will not miss the pouting and inconsistent production Bradley offered the team last year, fans should count on Silva's ERA to be equally as frustrating by early May.
The only hope that Cubs fans can cling to is that 2010 will be a fresh start. Without the distraction of another egomaniac wearing No. 21 in right field, perhaps the team can regain its grasp on fundamental baseball that it seemed to demonstrate through the first two years under manager Lou Piniella.
The starting rotation remains strong with Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells, and the rehabbing Ted Lilly all returning. The addition of Xavier Nady as a fourth outfielding option could prove to be helpful as well, assuming he stays healthy and can produce. Carlos
The Cubs certainly could be good again, but remember the expectations heading into last season? Cubs fans, of ALL fans, should know to be hesitant to cling to expectations or to count on smooth sailing. After all, it is only February and all is still calm: we have warm dreams of summer baseball, but we haven't even reached those treacherous April showers yet...