Muskat: Work in progress, but Cubs aim to be competitive

I saw the title of this article a couple days ago, but didn't bother reading it. I don't believe the Cubs have attempted to be competitive in the short term in any way whatsoever so the title made me laugh. I thought I'd answer the questions just for fun.

1. Are Matt Garza, Scott Baker and Arodys Vizcaino healthy?

Yes. Probably. Not for awhile.

I'm confident Garza is going to be healthy. He's had plenty of time to recover and while there's always a chance a pitcher reaggravates an arm injury, I think he'll at least be healthy when the season starts. After that? It's really anybody's guess to whether or not a pitcher is going to be healthy, which makes this question all that more odd.

Baker? He's returning from TJS and there's a solid track record of success. The question isn't so much whether or not he'll be healthy, it's how will he perform? Based on research, it suggests he'll underperform his projections quite a bit in 2013 and should be back to normal in 2014 when he's no longer a Cub.

Vizcaino? The Yankees traded him to the Braves because he was an injury risk and the Braves traded him to the Cubs because he was injured and even when he returned, he'll be a significant injury risk. Vizcaino will still be out for some time and we won't get a look at him until September at the earliest (that would be my guess). That's a lot of time for an injury-risk to get injured so if you're going to bet money on whether or not he'll be healthy, you'd probably be wise to bet on not healthy.

2. Can Anthony Rizzo carry the team?

No. Rizzo is a good ballplayer, especially for his age, but even among 1st basemen in the NL Central, he comes out trailing many of them. It's entirely possible Rizzo continues to develop and becomes the awesome ballplayer so many think he can become, but odds are in favor of him just being a good and valuable player for the Cubs.

3. Can Brett Jackson have a Rizzo moment?

Yes. Jackson has been a very good prospect in his career with the Cubs and there's plenty of reason to believe he'll be a productive player at the MLB level. Not to mention, Rizzo wasn't exactly a superstar. Rizzo hit .285/.342/.463, which is good for a wOBA of .349 and a wRC+ of 116. Of the 25 qualified 1st basemen last season (Rizzo is not one of them), there were 12 who had a wRC+ of 116 or greater. Rizzo's moment was going from awful to basically league average for a 1st baseman. Rizzo should improve somewhat on those numbers though.

For Jackson to be in the middle of qualified CF last year he'd need only a 106 wRC+ so yeah, Jackson can definitely have a Rizzo moment. And then some.

Can and will are two different things. Jackson has significant strikeout issues. He's going to strike out a lot, but he can't do it as many times as he did last year. Really, he can't even do it as many times as he did in the minor leagues either. So it's going to be difficult, but he can do it.

4. Is Welington Castillo ready?

I'm sure he's ready. I don't know what he's ready for, but surely there is something that Castillo is ready for. Is he ready to be an every day MLB catcher? Maybe. Maybe not. His projections are promising so there's that. I remain unconvinced, but I'm wrong a lot.

5. Will Starlin Castro benefit from new deal?

I don't see how. The New Deal was established during the Depression and while the economy kind of sucks, it's not that bad. Even if it was, I'm pretty sure Castro would not qualify for any of the programs seeing he's making millions of dollars.

6. Is Ian Stewart healthy?

Shouldn't this have been included with question 1? Stewart is likely healthier than he was last year, but he also likely still sucks so I don't see the point in this question.

7. Is Kyuji Fujikawa the new closer?

If Carlos Marmol gets traded, Fujikawa might have a chance to earn that role, but I highly doubt that will be given to him considering he has had no success against MLB pitching. Stranger things have happened so who knows?

8. Can Alfonso Soriano stay young?

No. Soriano, like everyone else, will only get older.

9. Who's in right field?

I think the answer is Nate Schierholtz. At least until the Cubs find someone better than Nate Schierholtz, which wouldn't take long if they're looking.

10. Will they lose 100 games again?

My gut says yes, but brain says no. It's damn hard to lose 100 games so more than likely the Cubs will not lose that many again, but they are bad. Just as bad as last year.

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