[Editor’s Note: With the regular season just a week away, we asked some friends and frenemies of the 35th Street Review to weigh in with what they see from their corner of the baseball world. If you would like to contribute a blurb or two, drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today, we close out prediction week first with our good friend Rex from i94 Sports, then by taking it to the streets asking strangers and passersby on the streets of Chicago the following question: “What do you think will happen in Chicago baseball this year?” The answers may surprise you. Or, conversely, they may not. Enjoy.]
The Cubs will enter 2009 with a new look of sorts, which is something 97-win teams rarely do. After the most recent playoff debacle, the need to make changes in a right-handed-heavy lineup was obvious. Enter Milton Bradley, the talented but oft-injured switch hitter who led the American League in batting average in 2008. The addition gives the Cubs what was sorely missing from the lineup last season, but his injury history makes their outfield depth (Joey Gaithright, Reed Johnson, Micah Hoffpauir, Kosuke Fukudome) all the more important.
The rotation should be one of the best in the Central if not all of the NL, beginning with 27-year old Carlos Zambrano. At what should be the prime of his career, Zambrano, is looking to prove that he deserves the title of “ace,” despite Ryan Dempster’s career year in 2008. Following Zambrano and Dempster are Ted Lilly, Rich Harden and Sean Marshall. Aaron Heliman, who was acquired from the Seattle Mariners via a trade, will jump in when Harden needs to rest between starts.
The Cubs appear to have the lineup balance, the defensive depth, and the pitching depth to be the favorites in the NL Central once again in 2009. I expect them to win around 95 games and another division crown. After that, I have no expectations. Why should I? — Rex Jaybels
“The 35th what?” — Girl in a green sweater near Michigan and Van Buren, laughing
“Sox suck, man!” — Jon, West Town
“Honestly, I don’t think either team will be very good. The Cubs will just find a way to choke and the Sox suck. Sorry.” — Tom, South Loop
“I don’t really like baseball.” — Older gentleman in a killer suit near Wabash and Randolph
“Cubs are gonna do it. Last year was just practice, this is the year it finally happens.” — No name given, corner of Grand and State
“Q’s gonna hit 50, just you watch. South Side, baby. South Side!” — Gary, South Side
“I just hope people stop saying we’re going to get Jake Peavy. Someone will have more to offer the Padres for him. I mean, he’s good, and we the type of rotation he would help a lot, but I don’t see it.” — Scott, Ravenswood
“We’re good but when we get Peavy, watch out.” — No name given, near Union Station
“I think the Cubs win it all this year. They have to sometime, and they have a better team with Milton Bradley. Kosuke will come around since he’s used to the schedule now, just you watch. This is the year. [laughs] Again.” — Joe, Rogers Park
“I have to be somewhere.” — Younger woman in a hurry near Clinton and Lake
“I don’t really take the Red Line that much, but the Brown Line has been getting a lot better since they finished up at Belmont and Fullerton.” — Dan, Ravenswood [ed. note: I think he confused us with the excellent CTA Tattler. In many ways, this is a compliment.]
“I think a lot of it depends Alexei and Carlos Quentin at least doing as good as they did last year. Gavin Floyd and John Danks too. You look at that team and two-thirds of them are on the way down. We need to have some guys coming up and not just having their one good season all at the same time, otherwise this is gonna be a bad next two or three years.” — Steve, Printer’s Row
“Well, I’m a Cubs fan and my wife Nikki is a Sox fan, and we both decided this year’s gonna let us down just like last year. We think both teams will make the playoffs again, and neither of us think our team will do anything with it.” — Jon, Lakeview
“That’s true. But we’ll sweep the Crosstown Series. [laughs]” — Nikki, Lakeview