Thursday, April 1, 2010

Seriously...some big questions for the 2010 season

As we inch closer and closer to opening day, here are some questions I have about the 2010 season. These aren't really specific for the Cubs, but to all of baseball.

1. Will Albert Pujols be plagued by back problems all year (or for the rest of his career)? PED talk aside, the stress that Pujols puts on his back due to the torque from his swing has to be taking a toll on his body. I've said that he might have peeked as player. His stats have not shown much improvement since his rookie year, but we've never seen a player put up numbers like this at such a consistent rate like this.  Cardinal nation is holding their breath right now.

That's not natural.

2. Can the Phillies continue to be the best team in the NL? What other NL team really has come up to their level? The Cardinals? I don't think so, as I've argued that they not as good of a team as they were last year. The Dodgers should have been about at the same level, but see #3. The Phils are probably as strong as they were last year, and last year they had a number of players who had "off" seasons. But for a team to make 3 straight trips to the World Series is a really tough thing to do unless you are the Yankees.

3. Will the Dodgers ownership issues affect the team on the field? We've seen first hand that ownership limbo has an effect to the on-field operations of a team. Honestly, that was as big (if not bigger) of an issue for the Cubs under-achievement last year than the injuries (or a certain right fielder) had done. The Padres have had similar problems as the Dodgers currently have...and that franchise is just a mess right now. The Dodgers spent virtually no money this off-season and they might not be able to make any moves during the season either.  The divorce between Frank McCourt and his wife is an ugly situation.  How do you divide a baseball team in half?

 Never let love get in the way of your baseball team.

4. Will the Rangers ownership resolution affect the team on the field? The Rangers were actually good last year. Nolan Ryan has really done a good job as president of the organization, and he soon will be a minority owner in the club once the Greenburg group finally takes control of the team after Tom Hicks ran it into the ground. In the next few years, the Rangers could be poised to be one of the best teams in the American League with the Angles, Yankees, Red Sox and Rays.

5. How messed up are things between Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen? The media is playing up this website/twitter/son thing between Kenny and Ozzie quite a bit. This is finally a team that Ozzie has wanted for a long time...scrappy. But if things don't go well initially for the White Sox, the tension between the two could escalate. I'm guessing the Sox pitching will be so good that it can ease any problems that the team might have.

Am I the only person that wants to see these two fight?

6. Are the Mariners doomed to fail? They signed everyone under the sun, dumped much of the dead weight that has bogged down this organization over the last 4 years...but you have to wonder if they've gone about this in the right way. And they have that one outfielder too.

7. What's wrong with Brad Lidge? He was bad last year. It was amazing that the Phillies made it to the World Series with Lidge as flaky as he was. He isn't looking much better this spring, and his velocity is down even more from where it was last year.  Maybe the cortisone shot he got recently will help.

 "Dear Lord, why has my fastball forsaken me?"

8. When will Aroldis Chapman and Stephen Strasburg make their debuts? (And when will they go down with injuries?) I think Strasburg will make his debut relatively soon, some time between early May and the end of June. The Nationals probably aren't going to compete, so outside of putting more people in the stands, there shouldn't be any reason to rush him. Chapman? Well, many people think the Reds will be competitive this year, and if any hole develops in their rotation, Chapman could be rushed up. I've already commented about all this.

9. How much of an affect will the new stadium in Minneapolis have on the Twins this season? As crappy of a place as the Metrodome is (and it isn't even a good football stadium), it was a huge home field advantage for the Twins. They've spent quite a bit this off-season hoping to make a huge splash as they unveil their new ballpark. The Twins have lived off of their ability to assemble teams that fit the stadium they play in. But do they actually know what type of stadium they are going to play in this year?

10. How long until Jerry Manual is fired? Look, the Mets have a higher payroll than the Cubs. The results under Omar Minaya have been horrible. If Minaya isn't going anywhere, then Manual has to get the ax, right? High profile signing after high profile signing has resulted in complete under-achievement. Jerry isn't really to blame for the flailing Mets, but if this team gets off to another slow start, he's going to be fired.

 Why is this guy smiling?

11. With a new stadium being built, will Marlins fans actually start showing up? They were slapped on their hands for not spending enough of their revenue sharing money on players. Their owner has a reputation for keeping fans away. But Loria finally has something he was never able to get when he owned the Expos...he's getting his new stadium. It won't be ready for another 2 seasons, but it will be quite a nice place. Some excitement should be building in Miami, right? They have spent some money this year to keep a number of those really good, young, talented players. But do the people of Miami care?

12. Will any movement be made to try to resolve the pending expiration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement? The CBA expires in 2011. Anyone following the NFL knows that they will likely have a lockout after this coming season as their CBA has already expired. MLB and the players union are on much better terms than what the NFL has right now. That is actually a credit to Bud Selig (believe it or not) and hopefully something will be worked out soon. But along with that, talks of a salary cap or a restructuring of the revenue sharing stuff will need to be put on the table. If that happens, tensions might rise. 

 Can this guy screw up one last thing before he retires?


Many more questions will come during the season, but these are the things I'm watching closely as opening day arrives.