Mark Prior Is Key To The Chicago Cubs Season
Posted by sportsmaven on February 27, 2007
I’ve been holding off on writing posts on spring training baseball, mainly because I believe the early part of spring training is mostly eventless and I don’t want to write on eventless matters just to fill space (of course Kerry Wood changed that a bit for the Chicago Cubs this spring) and that everyone is an eternal optimist (especially Cubs fans) when it comes to the first week of spring training, so I didn’t want to take that approach either. After careful and plentiful reading about the Chicago Cubs chances in 2007, my thought is that the success of this season comes down to the effectiveness of the Cubs starting pitching, and the effectiveness of Cubs starting rotation is dependent on essentially one person, RHP Mark Prior. Given that it is difficult to put the burden of team success on any one individual, if every other player on the Cubs performs in the manner in which he is capable of performing, success is really dependent on the wildest of all wildcards, the most unknown of the unknowns, Mark Prior.
(AP photo by Morry Gash)
Mark Prior can be anywhere from the #2 starter to the #5 starter, to no place on the team, that’s how wide a gap his potential has for this coming season. If Prior pitches closer to his 2003 form, where he went 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA, the Cubs would have a very solid top of the rotation in RHP Carlos Zambrano who is a leading Cy Young Award candidate and a good bet to post his first 20 win season of his career. Oh, by the way, he is in a contract year, if he needs any extra motivation. Slide in a continually improving LHP Rich Hill, who I think is the sleeper of this staff and LHP Ted Lilly, the top 4 starters look very solid. Mix in a rehabilitated RHP Jason Marquis and this appears to be a rotation that has great potential. The Cubs have improved the offensive production of their everyday lineup and their bench looks deep and strong, the Cubs bullpen looks outstanding with the addition of LHP Neal Cotts, and RHP Kerry Wood (who could be the best 50 pitch pitcher in MLB this season) and a rejuvinated and motivated closer Ryan Dempster, so we’re back to where we started….the potential of the starting pitching lies with the right arm (or the right shoulder) of Mark Prior. Prior is scheduled to pitch the second or third Cactus League outing of his entire life on March 5th, so for me, that is when this Cubs season starts.