2012 MLB Season Preview: Chicago Cubs

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2011 Chicago Cubs Season Recap

Bad news on the doorstep, as the Don McLean song “American Pie” goes. That was the story of the Chicago Cubs’ season last year. After not winning the World Series since 1908, Cubs fans alternate between delusional optimism and relentless fatalism and 2011 was pretty fatalistic.

Lou Piniella had called it a managing career at the end of the 2010 season, not even waiting for the last out to be recorded. With a September flourish, his temporary replacement, Mike Quade, fooled management into believing that he could become the appropriate permanent replacement.

Wrong. Quade was not the right answer. Chalk up 2011 to a wasted year. Quade is gone. General manager Jim Hendry was shown the door, too. Hendry spent big bucks to hold onto a select group of players whose skills were diminishing and demonstrated they could no longer get the job done. All they did was drain the bank account.

So last year the Cubs finished 71-91 overall, in fifth place in the National League Central Division. There was not a lot of positive things to report from Wrigley Field last season, except that the fans still sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” along with a guest conductor, with gusto, in homage to Harry Caray, every home game.

Plus, young shortstop Starlin Castro proved he could be a star of the future. He batted .307 and stroked 207 hits. And the young Dominican is still only 22.

On the pitching staff, one of the biggest winners from last year who is still a Cubbie, is Ryan Dempster. Dempster, who dabbles in stand-up comedy as a hobby, needed to retain his sense of humor after finishing 10-14. Matt Garza is back, but is considered trade bait, and he went 10-10.

Carlos Zambrano, who some believed would grow into a Hall of Fame caliber thrower, instead seemed to lose his mind. He threw tantrums and punches, and was suspended. The handwriting on the dugout wall, in gigantic letters, was that if Zambrano got his temper under control enough to pitch again it would be in a zip code far, far away from Chicago.

As it so happened, Ozzie Guillen, formerly skipper of the across-town White Sox, moved to Miami with the Marlins, and took a chance on his fellow Venezuelan. They will either be more combustible than the Odd Couple, or Ozzie will straighten Zambrano out by convincing him he is residing in Last Chanceville. Either way he is no longer the Cubs’ headache.