Chicago CubsManager: Joe Maddon
Stadium: Wrigley Field
2008 Record: 97-64 (1st in NL Cent)
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-- Tim Kurkjian
HITTER TO WATCH:
If Derrek Lee gets hurt, you could see Micah Hoffpauir at first base; he has power but is below-average in every other tool.
PITCHER TO WATCH:
Jeff Samardzija should garner some middle-relief innings this year even if he doesn't make the club right away; he has closer stuff but below-average command and no history of missing bats.
-- Keith Law, Scouts Inc.
Is Geovany Soto the best catcher in the National League? Do the Cubs have the best starting rotation? Will Milton Bradley stay healthy and play right field enough to emerge as one of the NL's best? Register your vote.
Mike Fontenot batted .360 after the All-Star break and has been over .300 for much of the spring. Since he's at least the lefty part -- the better part -- of a second-base platoon with Aaron Miles, he'll stand a great chance at a .290-15 year with upside.
People still seem to think Derrek Lee is capable of a .335 batting average and 46 homers, his numbers in 2005, but the truth is that these days, he's more of a .290-hitting, 20-homer type. That's not a bad player, but it's not even top-10 material at what is a deep position.
--Tristan H. Cockcroft
INJURY TO WATCH
Rich Harden. He is awesome when he plays. But his health history leaves everyone on the edge of their seats wondering when the injury bug is going to strike again. Harden had his highest number of starts in four years in 2008, and his shoulder, which had limited him previously, appeared much improved. It's also worth noting that his outings were carefully managed, and he will continue to be monitored for pitch counts in 2009. So far this spring, the only thing to affect him was an unpleasant round of food poisoning. The Cubs have to be keeping their fingers crossed that this is the worst thing Harden has to deal with this year.
-- Stephania Bell
PRESEASON POWER RANKINGS
No. 3 overall
No. 1 overall
No. 5 overall
No. 4 overall
No. 2 overall