So, your votes are in. These are the players you don't see as being with the team in 2012.
IF: Lee, Theriot, Fontenot, Baker
OF: Nady, Fukudome
P: Zambrano, Lilly, Silva, Howry, Grabow
We could keep going, but no one else was picking up significant votes, and it seems like everyone's tired of this.
I realized I left Aramis off my last poll, so he could have been voted off, too. It seems highly unlikely that the Cubs would pick up their team option for 2012, even if he comes back in 2011 and does well.
What does this leave?
OF: Soriano, Byrd, Colvin
C: Soto, Hill
P: Dempster, Wells, Gorzelanny, Marmol, Marshall, Cashner, and several other young players
Not a big surprise to anyone who's been following the team. But I'll just note that the best case scenario for significant help from the minors by 2012 is probably a couple of pitchers and Brett Jackson. Nobody in the infield. Sure, a Vitters might be ready to play by then, but he wouldn't be a star.
Have we seen this much turnover before? Sure, just not recently. Two years ago, in 2008, the team started the season with guys like DeRosa, Blanco, Reed Johnson, Jason Marquis, and Rich Hill. But the core was the same.
A somewhat recent comparison would be the changes from 2006 to 2008. The following hitters appeared in at least 70 games in 2006, and were gone by 2008: Juan Pierre, Ronny Cedeno, Jacque Jones, Matt Murton, John Mabry, Michael Barrett, Todd Walker, Neifi Perez, Angel Pagan, Henry Blanco, Freddie Bynum. That's five starters and most of the bench. The following pitchers made substantial appearances--Glendon Rusch, Will Ohman, David Aardsma--and were gone by the start of 2008. The 2006 club also started the year with Mark Prior on the roster.
The 2012 team might also have 5 or 6 new starters compared to April, 2010. Two of the possibilities, Castro and Colvin, are here already. The pitching staff will probably see even more changes.
The 2006 to 2008 period saw the team go from 66 to 97 wins. Major additions from the minors were Soto and Marmol. Several other first or second-year players pitched in. But the biggest additions were free agents. From 2010 to 2012, the farm system should provide more of a boost, with a possible 3rd or 4th starter, relievers, a younger backup catcher, and the development of Castro. The real question is whether the team can clear enough money or get any help from trading their aging stars.
Thanks for participating. I know this is no great revelation. But it seems we do have pretty good consensus as a fanbase about the amount of turnover that needs to happen. I believe history shows that amount of personnel change can turn a team around in two years.