UPDATED: JULY 2012
Before you pull out the Cubs tee and start dreaming about summertime happy hours in Wrigley, take the time to read through this list and familiarize yourself with the guys on the team. The 2012 Cubs roster has only half of the players from last season after new President of Baseball Operations, Theo Epstein, and crew cleaned house this off-season. For more info on Epstein & his huge impact on the Cubs, click HERE.
The new roster is a combination of young ‘no-names’, a few rising stars, and a handful of veterans. Gone are some of the biggest Cubs names from last few seasons: 3rd baseman and power hitter, Aramis Ramirez went to the Milwaukee Brewers. First baseman and consistent slugger, Carlos Pena went back to his former team, the Tampa Bay Rays, and the hot-headed ticking time-bomb starting pitcher, Carlos Zambrano, was shipped down to the Miami Marlins; ironically now managed by fellow Venezuelan and former White Sox manager, Ozzie Guillen.
You’ll keep hearing folks say that this is a ‘rebuilding year’ for the Cubs, and they’re right. Between a new front office, low expectations from most, and an unproven roster with a lot of talent, you’ve got just enough unpredictability that makes this upcoming season one to watch for. Definitely leaner, and hopefully meaner, read on to learn who landed the starting jobs on the North Side and make this the season your Cubs knowledge is just as good as your ability to throw back Old Styles in the ballpark.
Anthony Rizzo: 1st Base Anthony Rizzo is an absolute must-know Cub because of the high-expectations that have been placed on him to help transform the Cubs into the a winning team over the next few years. Rizzo got the “call-up” from Triple-A in early July after incubating in Des Moines, IA (home of the Cub’s Triple-A team, the Iowa Cubs) the first half of the season. For a complete look at this new face of the franchise, read HERE.
Darwin Barney: 2nd Base
With such a unique name, this guy should be easy to remember. Definitely keep this guy’s name on your hot list – Barney is one to watch this season. Barney is ready for a break-out season after a stellar performance in spring training and a fantastic first half of 2011, his first year in the big leagues.
Barney was named Rookie of the Month in April of 2011 and batted an amazing .306 in the first half of last season. But after the All-Star Break, Barney started to melt – and we mean that literally. Barney unintentionally dropped 15-20 lbs from the grueling schedules the second half of the season, and his dramatic weight loss affected his performance on the field. This year, Barney has beefed up and is looking better than ever and is in position for a comeback performance.
Starlin Castro: Short Stop
If there’s one name you take away from this entire list, make sure it’s Starlin Castro’s. Castro is becoming the face of the Cubs franchise as their most exciting player with the most opportunity to be a future MLB MVP. The 22-year old slugger from the Dominican Republic is the youngest MLB player to ever make the All-Star Team (in 2011) and at the short stop position, is a critical part of the Cubs’ defense. Starlin had a rough off-season in the public eye as he was dealing with accusations of sexual assault from a woman he met in a club. Charges have yet to be filed and the Cubs brass are keeping a much closer eye on their valuable, albeit young and naive, asset.
Geovany Soto: Catcher
Soto is one of two catchers that the Cubs will rotate this season. The other is Steve Clevenger. For now, we’re going to tell you to remember Soto if you have to pick one. Soto is the veteran of the two – this is his fifth year as the starting catcher for the Cubs – so it’s his job to lose. Soto, who’s career has only been with the Cubs, had his break-out year in 2008 with ridiculous hitting. Unfortunately, since then, his performance at the plate has been erratic.
Good offensive years followed by crummy ones, keeps Soto’s name constantly on the list of possible trades. Soto is due a good year, and maybe new blood in the manager’s position (Dale Sveum) is just what Soto needs. If not, Clevenger will be there in his place. Regardless, Soto just looks like a cool dude we want to party with. Rumor is he’s a really good guy.
David DeJesus: Right Field
DeJesus, a Brooklyn, NY native, is one of the best hitters the Cubs have and has been awarded the #1 slot in the batting lineup. He’s also the best looking Cub on the roster.
This is DeJesus’ first year with the Cubs. This fine looking fielder came from the Oakland As where he only spent a year in 2011, his entire career before Oakland was with the Kansas City Royals. At 32, DeJesus is considered a veteran on the team.
Bryan LaHair: Outfield Bryan LaHair lost his job at 1st Base when Anthony Rizzo got called up. LaHair kindly moved to the outfield. This is LaHair’s first full year in the big leagues as a Cub, he spent all last year playing for the Cub’s Triple-A team in Iowa. This guy’s a beast at 6-5, 240 lbs, we’re hoping that mass carries over to hits
LaHair has been one of the best surprises of the season for the Cubs producing runs and being a consistent force at the plate. LaHair was one of two Cubs named to the 2012 All-Star team this year – along with Starlin Castro. Pretty impressive considering this is his 1st year in the Big Leagues.
Alfonso Soriano: Left Field
Soriano is the highest paid Cub on the team. When Soriano was acquired by the Cubs from the Washington Nationals in 2007, his 8-year $137 million contract was the biggest in Cubs history. Soriano’s mega-ridiculous contract that lasts until 2014 also includes a no-trade clause, which basically means the Cubs can’t trade him to another team without Soriano’s consent.
But after struggling the last 3 seasons, Soriano’s ridiculous contract and poor performance has been a hot topic among Cubs fans and Cubs management. Problem is, the Cubs are going to have a hard time trading Soriano before his contract expires because no other team is going to pick up the rest of his salary with the way he has been playing. The good news is Soriano had a great spring training filled with home runs, and if he can stay healthy, he has the potential regain his status of one of the Cubs best sluggers. But the hopes that Soirano will return to his glory days where he was considered one of the best players in the MLB, are as far-fetched as the Cubs’ chances of winning the World Series this year.