Now, it's time to turn our attention to the 2010 Cubs. While the Cubs may still be looking for some backup infield help or another reliever, most likely the 25 men who will show up in Atlanta on April 5 are already on the 40-man roster.
Come with me after the jump to see who I think will be on that roster -- you may disagree; if you do, post your thoughts as well.
C Geovany Soto 1B Derrek Lee 2B Jeff Baker SS Ryan Theriot 3B Aramis Ramirez LF Alfonso Soriano CF Marlon Byrd RF Kosuke Fukudome
If Soriano is healthy; if Soto can even come close to his 2008 performance; and if Ramirez stays healthy and plays at his usual level for 140 games, this lineup will produce far more runs than the 2009 Cubs did. I like Jeff Baker -- he could wind up being one of Jim Hendry's best acquisitions, and Mike Fontenot as backup can't possibly be as bad as he was last year. He's probably not as good as the 2008 version, either, but somewhere in between would be OK with me.
... and a fifth outfielder to be determined. It could be Reed Johnson, who has yet to sign with anyone. It could be Tyler Colvin -- Colvin did look overmatched in his September callup, but he does have defensive ability and maybe he'll show up well in spring training. It could be Micah Hoffpauir, although he's not really an outfielder, and he hit poorly most of last year. Or it could be someone yet to be invited to spring training, someone on the NRI list, or someone acquired later. Also, I'd like to see Andres Blanco get more playing time. His defense is outstanding, and he showed just enough bat to give him maybe 30-40 starts at SS, thus resting Ryan Theriot -- who wore out again last September.
I know a lot of you cringe when you see Silva's name, but unless he completely bombs out in spring training (admittedly, very possible), he'll take Ted Lilly's place until Ted is ready. At this writing no one really knows when Lilly will be ready; hopefully it will be by the end of April. Lou seems to like Sean Marshall better in the bullpen, so the last spot (I've put it fourth) likely goes to Tom Gorzelanny.
Carlos Marmol, Angel Guzman, John Grabow, Jeff Gray, Sean Marshall, Justin Berg, Esmailin Caridad
Despite the Cubs' statement that they might like another veteran reliever, they could easily go north with these seven -- and I think all of us will be happy with Berg and Caridad in the last two slots. They both have good arms and threw well in callup duty last year. Not signing a veteran reliever would save money, which could be used for a midseason pickup.
It's only January 7 -- but that's the way I see it, barring injury, an unexpected deal or signing, or a spring training phenom beating someone out. Is it a great team? No, of course not. I see the holes as well as all of you can. But it is a team that should be at least as good as last year's, and if healthy, and with a little luck that all winners have to have, will be a strong contender for the division title.