We are stacked with quality arms. This could be the best staff that the both the Cubs and any major league team has ever had. The blend of youth, proven winners, and a Hall of Fame, soon to be 300 game winner Greg Maddux, I can see 3-4 guys with 20 wins. The starters will pitch deep into most games meaning less work for the bullpen who also looks a lot more solid with Hawkins and Mercker.
Everyone has been talking about the Cubs starting pitching but many of us including myself forget to mention the new look of our offense. I compare it to the Braves lineup of last year. Every hitter in the everyday lineup including a few Cubs pitchers are a threat to drive the ball out of the park on any given pitch. This team could shatter the team record for home runs. What makes baseball fun to watch are the ups and downs players experience in the course of a 162 game season. This year we don't need Sammy to hit 2 homers a game to win. Someone is always going to be hot in this lineup. In April it has been Ramírez and Alou. Once Sammy gets hot, I would hate to be a pitcher facing this Cubs lineup.
The Cubs seem to be walking with a new swagger, a new found confidence. I don't think this is cocky or bad at all. Something we have learned to deal with every year is the over-confidence of Sammy Sosa this year. We hear about his radio in the locker room and how some teammates become annoyed with Sammy and the media that swarms around him. I have not heard a lot from Sammy this year. I think this all stems from Dusty Baker. Baker has been known as the best player's coaches and the best communicators in the game. And I think this philosophy and attitude trickles all the way down to the 25th guy on the bench. According to Baker, Jose Macias is just as important to the Cubs success as Sosa and Prior. And the Cubs respond to Baker. They want to win for Baker. They want to win for the fans. This is a new, winning attitude. Something we have not seen since 1908.
This is big. Maybe because I am a big fan and I think I have something to do with the Cubs winning, but I have also heard quotes from players and coaches that the fans inspire them. I have never heard a player that said they did not like playing for the Cubs. The obvious reason you can give is Wrigley Field, but that park would be nothing without the fact that it is almost always filled with passionate fans. Many have also told me that Cubs fans just go to games to drink beers and socialize and that is true in part, but go to a Cubs game and chat with the people sitting around you and you will quickly learn the knowledge of a common Cubs fan. I think this excitement Cubs fans bring to Wrigley is good for at least 10 home wins a year.
And you might have noticed that I have not mentioned what mainstream media people always say, "barring any injuries." I did this on purpose. I think that even with injuries, the Cubs will win this year. Our bench is deep and we have quality backups ready to step in. Look at the Opening Day roster, you don't see Prior and Remlinger and most recently Grudzielanek right? And now look at the Cubs record, they are 12-6. My point is that even with our best starter, veteran lefty, and starting second baseman that was batting over .400, we are still alone in 1st place.