Thursday, March 26, 2009

Top Ten Cubs/Sox Players Who May Be Busts in 2009

There are some high expectations for the 2009 baseball season in Chicago. The Cubs have been tabbed to repeat as NL Central division champs and bring back another loaded roster.

The Sox - picked to finish dead last in some publications - figure to be a squad that will only go as far as their starting rotation takes them.

But with the good there also comes the bad. And with that in mind, we took a look at who we think could potentially be the biggest bust on both sides of town.

Here are the Top Ten candidates:

10. Carlos Quentin

If it wasn't for a self inflicted wrist injury, Quentin very well could have finished 2008 as the American League MVP.

An injury like that may come off as insignificant, but don't forget how long it took Derek Lee to bounce back after hurting his wrist. Some would actually argue that he never recovered and lost his power because of it.

The hardest thing to do in baseball is to produce at a high level year after year. Can Quentin repeat his stellar 2008 season?

9. Carlos Marmol

If Marmol's meltdown in the World Baseball Classic was any indication, tough days may be ahead for their prized relief man.

There's no denying the kid is absolutely filthy when on top of his game, consistently making established big leaguers look foolish at the plate. But there have been moments where Marmol has struggled to stay out of the zone, a problem that leads to nothing but trouble.

8. Ryan Dempster

Raise your hand if you thought Dempster would finish a sparkling 17-6 in his first full season as a starter since 2002.

Many thought he'd be decent, even good. But nobody could have predicted a 14-3 record at Wrigley.

But remember, it's a lot easier to exceed expectations when they're low as opposed to when they're high. Dempster has all the makings of a player destined to fall face first back to earth in 2009.

Raise your hand if you'd be surprised.

7. Jim Thome

Can Big Jim deliver another 30+ HR season for the Sox in what will be his 19th season?

Thome's defied the odds for a couple years now but we all know that can't continue forever.

6. Jose Contreras

I have no idea how Contreras is even on the field already. After so many pundits declared his ACL injury a 'career killer', I was ready to say my farewell to the Cuban and let him go sign up for an AARP card.

Yet, I can't shake the feeling that what we're seeing is an illusion. The pounding a pitcher's body takes during a full season is brutal, making the idea of Contreras breaking down only seem inevitable.

5. Rich Harden

I half expect the Cubs to borrow the car the Vatican uses to cart the Pope around in for their oft-injured right-hander. Imagine if they brought him out to the mound in that thing.

The guy has all the potential in the world, but Cubs fans should know better than anyone the danger in placing your trust in an injury prone pitcher.

4. Milton Bradley

We've chronicled Bradley's checkered past at length here at TTCS, so we'll stay away from that stuff.

Bradley is coming off of a career year with the Rangers and with the constant pressure from Cubs fans and Chicago media, delivering comparable numbers will be a hefty challenge.

One that Bradley may not be up to.

3. Josh Fields

Chicago is notorious for falling in love with its highly touted prospects. Guys like Joe Borchard and Corey Patterson make Cubs and Sox fans cringe merely at the mention of their names.

Fields is next in line for the Sox after the team let go of fan favorite Joe Crede.

His number was called last season but struggled to get in any rhythm at the plate; the one place where he's known to be comfortable. It could get ugly quick on the South Side.

2. Paul Konerko

Since 2004, Konerko's stats have declined and potentially hit rock bottom in 2008.

Konerko's biggest strength was his ability to get around on the fastball and yank it down the left field line into the pen. But with a rash of injuries, most notably one to his wrist, Paulie 'Walnuts' is a shell of his former self.

1. Kosuke Fukudome

Fukudome's fall from grace in the eyes of Chicago may only be comparable to that of the insufferable Cade McNown.

While we haven't reached those proportions just yet, Fukudome has become a thorn in the side of Lou Piniella and Cubs fans everywhere.

Will he be able to bounce back from the second half collapse of 2008?

Watching the WBC certainly did nothing to allay those fears and 2009 may end up with Fukudome on a plane back to Japan.


Jimmy said...

The most likely candidate is for sure Kevin Gregg. He couldn't close the side of a barn door last year in non-pressure Florida, how's he going to handle Wrigley?

The Celebrity Spot said...

Jim Thome is going to break out, and have an awesome season.

Brian said...

If you are talking about players who may not live up to their numbers of last year (or the hype of this year), then I think Alexei Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano need to be added to the list. Although I think Alexei will have a good season, some other people disagree. Soriano I can very well see getting less than 400 at-bats and I wouldn't touch for fantasy-purposes.

Brian said...

Speaking of Cubs and Sox I posted a position-by-position breakdown for the upcoming season on my blog that might be cool to check out