Restoring the rosters: No. 24 - Chicago Cubs
This is part of a series of articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1. No. 30 - Cincinnati No. 29 - Kansas City No. 28 - San Diego No. 27 - Milwaukee No. 26 - Baltimore No. 25 - Chicago (AL) The teams couldn’t be much more different, but the two Chicago squads come in back-to-back in this set of rankings. Rotation Carlos Zambrano Ricky Nolasco Kyle Lohse Randy Wells Jon Garland Bullpen Carlos Marmol Kerry Wood Scott Downs Angel Guzman Michael Wuertz Sean Marshall Renyel Pinto Guzman gets the one asterisk in the whole set of rankings. Technically, he was signed by the Royals, but he had his contract voided before ever pitching for one of the team’s affiliates. If I were giving credit for all of the talent developed by a club, the Cubs would have to rank higher on this list. However, I’m more ranking the 25-man rosters and that just doesn’t give the team credit for it’s wealth of pitching depth. Whereas guys like Kyle Snyder, Buddy Carlyle, Brett Tomko, Glendon Rusch, Tim Dillard and Tim Stauffer have made previous rotations in these rankings, the Cubs have seven legitimate starters and additional borderline guys. As a matter of fact, their second 12 would likely best the Reds’ first 12. Jamie Moyer Todd Wellemeyer Dontrelle Willis Rich Hill Sean Gallagher Juan Cruz Kyle Farnsworth Jerry Blevins Will Ohman Justin Speier Jeff Samardzija Sergio Mitre From a quantity standpoint, only the Dodgers really compare. The quality of the group can be argued about, but Zambrano and Nolasco is a very good one-two punch and that bullpen, with five legitimate eighth- and ninth-inning guys, rates as perhaps the best any team has produced. So why do the Cubs come in 24th? Lineup CF Kosuke Fukudome SS Ryan Theriot C Geovany Soto 1B Eric Hinske LF Jake Fox RF Micah Hoffpauir 3B Casey McGehee 2B Brendan Harris Bench OF Felix Pie SS Ronny Cedeno OF Sam Fuld 2B/OF Eric Patterson C Jose Molina You have to feel a lot better about the long-term prospects of Fox, Hoffpauir and McGehee than I do to consider that to be a legitimate lineup. Actually, the defense is bad enough that I’d prefer to live with Pie in center and push Fukudome to right and Hoffpauir to the bench. Hinske in left field and Fox at first base might also be a preferable arrangement. The pitchers are going to be frustrated regardless. Oddly enough, of the 13 position players listed above, Pie was the only one particularly highly regarded as a prospect. Fukudome was bought and Theriot and Soto were never expected to turn into the players they are now. At least it’s a better group than the Cubs would have boasted a couple of years ago. Corey Patterson can’t even make the squad, though he was considered as an alternative to Fuld. Summary An inability to develop hitters has forced the Cubs to pay for offense and in many cases they’ve overpaid. It’s a real shame that the wealth of pitching talent and big payrolls have combined to produce just one NLCS appearance and no World Series appearances during the decade. Unless that changes this year, the new ownership should seriously consider replacing GM Jim Hendry.