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Jayson Stark on the Cubbies

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Jayson Stark has a piece today on the spending spree that the Cubbies went on this winter, and how it has put the pressure on them to do something this season in the N.L. Central.

At this point, the N.L. Central still looks like a pretty bleah division. I think the Astros and Brewers will be .500 teams, maybe a little less, and the Reds and Pirates will have win totals in the 70s.

So the field is left open for the Cards (who are heavily reliant on a handful of really great players) and the Cubs, who are something of an enigma.

The Cubbies have made a big splash this offseason, of course...but if you ignore the money, and just look at who they've added -- Alfonso Soriano, Mark DeRosa, Ted Lilly, Jason Marquis, Daryle Ward and Cliff Floyd -- does that really get you hot and bothered?

And this is a team that won only 66 wins last year, with a 70-92 Pythagorean won/loss performance. A team with Ryan Dempster as its closer, a set-for-life Alfonso Soriano having to move to centerfield, and a career utilityman as its regular second baseman.

I just don't see the Cubs being that good in 2007. I wouldn't be surprised if they finished below .500 again, in fact, causing a bunch of sanctimonious columns from around the globe about how spending money doesn't guarantee you a championship, and comparing them to the Twins or A's or something like that.