The Chicago Cubs have certainly been media darlings this off-season. While the Cubs avoided any blockbuster signings or trades, the team made several notable acquisitions including the signing of starting pitcher Edwin Jackson to a four year, $52 million contract. The addition of Jackson only bolsters what should be one of the strengths of the 2013 Cubs, that strength being the team’s starting rotation.
Jackson included, the Cubs starting rotation in 2013 will feature Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija, and Scott Baker with Travis Wood likely serving as the fifth starter. At the start of the 2012 season, the Cubs rotation featured Dempster, Garza, Paul Maholm, Samardzija, and Chris Volstad. While Volstad struggled, the other four excelled during the first half of the season. The Cubs will look for each of their starting five pitchers to excel in the beginning portions and throughout the 2013 season. The Chicago Cubs’ bullpen should also be a strong point for the 2013 team. It remains to be seen what will result from the criminal accusations against Carlos Marmol in the Dominican Republican, but the closer is expected to arrive at the Cubs’ Spring Training facilities later this weekend. Marmol will join James Russell and Japanese reliever Kyuji Fujikawa as the late-inning relievers for the Cubs’ bullpen.
For as strong as the Cubs’ pitching staff appears to be on paper, there is nothing but uncertainty for the Cubs’ offense. Certainly shortstop Starlin Castro and first baseman Anthony Rizzo will look to carry the team offensively, but beyond Rizzo and Castro, there is nothing but unanswered questions. Will Alfonso Soriano be able to repeat his 2012 offensive performance? Will Ian Stewart finally return to being 20+ home run hitter? Can Nate Schierholtz produce to a level that is worthy of the outfielder playing on a semi-regular basis? How will Welington Castillo respond to being the everyday catcher? The most important piece to the Cubs’ offense may be Stewart. If Stewart is able to have an impact on offense for the Cubs, that could be the difference between whether the Cubs win 60 games this season or 75 to 80 games.
All in all, the Cubs have the potential to be a 75 to 80 win team during the 2013 season. Nonetheless, please a submit a vote on the total amount of games that you think the Cubs will win during the 2013 season.